Friday, 24 February 2012

Chinese New Year Parade - Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) Hong Kong

Originally I wasn't really intending to visit the Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) Chinese New Year Parade but after being convinced by a handful of people that it is a very cool event, I decided to go.  We got a group together and we headed off in the early evening to ensure we had a place to stand.  And what a good idea it was to do that...  The result was that we were in one of the best places 'hotspots' during the night and the place soon started getting very busy!  People were pushing and shoving and even managed to bring along footstools in order to see the activities.  The MC's in our zone were lively, entertaining and VERY LOUD (the girl especially) but they were chosen for a good reason - their voices were quite pleasant despite the volume the microphones were set to.

This evening proved to be quite spectacular and I was surprised what a good show was put on.  I didn't expect it to be so elaborate, especially being able to fit performances (dancing, unicycles, marching bands - playing to Lady Gaga believe it or not!!!, etc...) and floats..    My favourite float was SOGO (below), very well designed.  Here are some photos from the evening.

I strongly encourage you to attend next year.  Cathay Pacific put on a great show!

SOGO's float was classy


This was one of my favourite performances.  Here you have the Hong Kong 'Sliding Association' - yes, exactly what you may be thinking.  They were running, jumping to the floor and creating sparks with their metal shin guards.  Absolutely brilliant to watch!

Yes, that's right.  Not only were the girls riding balloon animals, they were wearing balloons from top to bottom.

This dragon was just fantastic!

Band - very lively!  And seriously...  Lady Gaga?  Haha!  Hong Kong seemed to love it!

Quite funny - as bringing these big balloons through the gates in the above photo caused some trouble.  Some got caught in the cables.

Was nice to see the MC's interacting.  They did have a habit of embarrassing people (asking them the day and date - which got everything thinking).  

Cathay Pacific's Float

Some were quite elaborate...

These dancers were awesome!

Of course the Hong Kong Jockey Club brought along a float...

Toy Story...

Here is the fireworks show several days later:  CLICK HERE

Photo Credits:  Zain M.

More information about the parade (official website):

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Why Tiger Airways in Asia rocks!

Anyone who has flown Tiger Airways in Australia will be quite aware of the disastrous management and service on offer. This is really quite a shame as it is damaging the reputation of the Airline as a whole, especially in Australia.  However, very few people have compared the difference between both services: Australia vs Asia.

Aircraft carrier: Tiger Airways
Aircraft type: Airbus 320
Flight duration: 3.5 hours approx
In-flight food rating: N/A
Staff friendliness:  10/10

Tiger Airways in Asia  is nothing short of fantastic for a budget airline.  The moment you walk onto the plane, the staff treat you with utmost respect and happily assist you with any questions you may have.  Now you see, there is one more thing you may be wondering. How do they perform pre-flight, ie. before you board your plane.  Once again, they are efficient and friendly.  If you request a particular seat for a reason, they do not question you. At times, they are quite lenient regarding luggage weight, but can get a bit worried when a family attempts to transport their entire home with them, for a week vacation. You can't blame them. They're a 'no frills' airline and they profit by limiting on certain things.  But cutting corners around service is certainly something they do not agree upon. They care, and for this reason, they are respected by many travellers in Asia.

The last decade has seen quite a shift in the airline industry. With the rapid penetration of budget airlines, others have suffered. They are losing passengers because many people do not see the point of reaching into their wallet for the sake of a few extra inches of legroom.  This view is not to discount the more esteemed airlines, just simply a recognition that a shift is taking place and will continue to do so in the near future (at least in my opinion).  Corporate travelers will continue to take higher tier airlines for the simple reason of increased flexibility.  Whether its flight changes, extra baggage, loyalty programs or the status that Is associated with high class airlines, they certainly continue to attract a decent amount of passengers for their target market, and market share remains fairly stable for now but I begin to wonder for how very much longer?

For those who want a quick, cheap and pleasant trip, you need not worry when travelling with budget airlines. Much publicity is focused around airlines' standards, but I can assure you a lot is formed to destroy not only their reputation but also existence.

My plane arriving before my flight to Singapore

My recent flight with Tiger Airways was another example of why I admire their organizational culture. They are very similar to their key rival AirAsia but have a unique feel to them. My flight from Hog Kong - Singapore was smooth, picturesque and fairly on time.  The only issue we had on arrival back to Hong Kong several days later was that we were #12 in the taxiway line up!  The whole aircrafts burst into laughter and somehow everyone seemed quite relaxed.  Despite taking off 30minutes late, we arrived very close to our scheduled time on Hong Kong, the pilots making up for it.  It was wonderful arriving back as usual, only it was a shame to return from the sunny skies of Singapore to a misty and quite dull evening back in Hong Kong. Nonetheless, it proved to be a busy week for me ahead and still will be.  Attending the Singapore Airshow was good fun (I will post a blog soon) and meeting with old spotting friends (aircraft photographers) and new ones was also a plus!

View before touchdown - Skyline with the distinct Marina Bay Sands. Sorry for the quality, it was very far away...

VH-OQA - Qantas A380 that has been grounded since its mid-air disaster last year.  The entire aircraft looks terrible...

Lucky to get this departing - Singapore Airbus A330

Once again, a big thank you goes out to the crew for the wonderful flight and for the opportunity to - yet again - arrange a cabin photo with the Captain and First officer.

Here is my photographic souvenir!

Have you travelled with Tiger Airways before?  Hope to hear of your experiences!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Chinese New Year Fireworks in Hong Kong

Do you know what makes travelling exciting for me?  I guess the normal reply you'd get from most people is something along the lines of 'when everything works out just right...'.  For me, it's usually the opposite.  It's 'satisfying' when things work out no doubt, but when events take a wild turn, that's when the biggest thrill usually occurs.

Several weeks ago, Hong Kong hosted the Chinese New Year Fireworks, which we shot off Victoria Harbour.

5 Best places to view Fireworks in Hong Kong:

1) TST (Kowloon side)
2) Wan Chai - (HK Island side)
3) Central - (HK Island side) - OUR SPOT THIS YEAR
4) North Point (HK Island side)
5) Along Victoria Harbour (Ferry)

Hong Kong hosts quite a lot of fireworks during the year and I had already seen them from TST.  I loved the view from this side so much that I just had to go back as it offered views such as these. But a group of us gathered for the celebrations and we all agreed that IFC (International Finance Centre - tallest building in the link above) would be even better, so we decided to stay on the Hong Kong Island side instead of join the crowds at TST (Tsim Sha Tsui).

We decided to venture up to the roof of IFC, a spectacular building which was completed in 2003.  It is now the second tallest building in Hong Kong following the ICC (International Commerce Centre) which opened in 2011.  See this link for photos of the ICC.  If you want to see the view from the ICC, then see this link.

The night went on, we braved the cold and had some snacks (well, maybe some of us ate a LOT) and waited *read: counted* down for the show to begin.  We were lucky that we came early, as it soon got packed.

And this.... is where the thrill began...  THE FIREWORKS exploded but we DIDN'T SEE them!  No matter where we went to on the roof, we just could not see them well.  Swarms of people started running around the rooftop, many almost slipping on the wet floor.  Some got up on backs, others pushed ahead to the front.  Somehow, the fireworks had been shot from a different position from where everyone anticipated.

So, deciding to take the risk and loose our spots, we rushed downstairs, flying down escalators until we felt dizzy.  It didn't matter.  We passed the apple store (which by the way, had a PRICELESS view!) and burst through the main glass doors out onto the footbridge.  It was packed to and people were pushing.  Somehow we secured some spots and sighed in relief as we saw the remainder of a spectacular 20 minute performance.  For those who have photographed fireworks at night will know how difficult it may be at times to get a good shot.  Believe it or not, these are all hand-held and I'm happy they turned out so well.

View from the Roof of the IFC

It was raining, check out the railing...

Note the ICC - it keeps changing patterns...

Best pattern so far...

And it BEGINS!

Smart, wish I could...

Most of the fireworks were to the left...

Now we take a chance and run from the roof downstairs...  By the way, think of the 'roof' as more of a 'terrace'...

Sky turned blood red!

My FAVOURITE PHOTO from the night!

Sometimes heads just... ruin photos...


and again...

You better be taking photos!  Loving the 'BOKEH' from my camera!

And it all comes to an end in a spectacular last few seconds of random explosions...

Why don't you visit Hong Kong next time for an exciting fireworks display!  I promise that you will not be disappointed!  It's an amazing destination for tourists...

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Did you attend the show, if so where were you and how did you find it?  Comment below!
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