Tuesday, 21 June 2016
Related posts: Beijing Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
In the morning, we attended the Modern Railway exhibition. This is where China showcases their offering within the rail industry.
We were taken for a tour of all major exhibitors. Among others, we visited China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC). CRRC is a major stakeholder in Malaysia as they provide large numbers of rolling stock for KTM and LRTs. They even have an assembly plant in Batu Gajah (in Perak) which provides excellent employment opportunities to Malaysians.
Along the tour, I even got the chance to try out the High Speed Train simulator. Very cool indeed!
In the afternoon, we visited the High Speed Rail (HSR) depot. The depot, like many other complexes in Beijing, is a massive place. When Malaysia builds our own HSR, we’ll be building a similar depot. They didn’t allow photographs but I managed to snap the photo above quickly.
After the depot, we went to the Operations Command and Control Centre (OCC) for HSR, located at the China Railway HQ. It was a massive centre. In fact, it might just be the biggest in the world, considering the vast railway network they have here.
In June 2016, we had a 3 day business trip to Beijing, China. It was my first trip to China so I was quite excited. I bought a Beijing travel book and did some reading on the city prior to my departure.
Monday, 20 June 2016
We arrived in Beijing in the wee hours of 20 June 2016. Some of us wanted to go for sahur (eating a meal before a fasting day, in the Muslim month of Ramadhan), so our host took us to A Thousand and One Nights Restaurant . It was the only Halal restaurant still open at 3AM!
Later in the morning, we attended the opening ceremony of the Modern Railway exhibition. The Malaysian Minister of Transport gave one of the keynote speeches. There were various other presentations from railway operators from around the world.
In the afternoon, we visited the China Academy of Railway Sciences (CARS). They presented their research on the rail catenary (overhead lines) and the various testing equipment being used. It’s interesting to note that their initial research started by reverse engineering existing products from european brands. From there, they modified those products and created their own.
After that, they took us for a ride on their test train within the academy complex.
In the evening, our host took us for iftar (break fast) at Hongbinlou Restaurant, a well known halal restaurant in the city.
Wednesday, 13 April 2016
Related posts: Paris and London Part 1, Part 2
Today is our travelling day to London. We checked out from the hotel in the morning, and headed to Gare du Nord for our Eurostar train.
It was my first time taking the high speed train service from Paris to London. Gare du Nord is one of the major terminals in Paris.
We headed to the first floor to check in to Eurostar. We had to clear the UK immigration stationed there, before going to the platform. The platform itself was rather chaotic. People were forming lines in all directions that it wasn’t clear where we were supposed to go. The terminal overall condition is rather dirty too.
The train ride took around 2 hours 30 mins. Perhaps I’ve been taking too many Shinkansen rides over the past 1 year, somehow I find the Eurostar train and it’s overall experience to be unimpressive.
As we arrived at London St Pancras, the difference is immediately obvious. The station feels modern, much more cleaner than Gare du Nord, and the people friendlier. It’s always a nice feeling to be back in the UK🙂
In London, we stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel on Park Lane. It’s a really nice hotel in the Mayfair area. We checked in, put our bags, and headed out again for a walk.
In the evening, we had dinner at Melur Restaurant (website), a well known Malaysian restaurant in London.
Thursday, 14 April 2016
In the morning, we had a meeting with Transport of London (TfL). We met the following officers:
- Mike Brown (Commissioner of TFL)
- Leon Daniels (Managing Director of Surface Transport)
- Gareth Powell (Director of Strategy and Service Development)
We discussed various current issues and potential areas of collaboration. It was a fruitful meeting.
After the meeting, we walked across central London and had lunch. Along the way we passed by various London landmarks.
In the afternoon, we paid a courtesy visit to the Malaysian High Commissoner to the UK, Datuk Ahmad Rasidi Hazizi. It was my first time going to Belgrave Square, well known for the location of many of the embassies in London. We had a good chat with the Commissioner.
After the courtesy visit, I went to Bayswater to see the venue of our meeting with the Malaysian students tomorrow at Malaysia Hall.
Sunday, 10 April 2016
Related posts: Paris and London Part 1, Part 2
We had a business trip to Paris and London in April 2016 to attend meetings with various public transport companies and institutions.
We arrived in Paris on Sunday afternoon. Since the hotel was only available after 3PM, we went for lunch at Cafe Marly at the Louvre. The cafe had a nice view of the 2 pyramids in the Louvre.
We checked in at the Marriott Champs-Elysee at 3PM. The hotel is situated right in the middle of Avenue Champs-Elysee, the main shopping district of Paris.
In the evening, we had dinner at Rimal, a Lebanese restaurant (website). The food was surprisingly very good! We had a good time. After the dinner, we walked back to the hotel.
Monday, 11 April 2016
The day started off with a meeting with Thales Group. We met the head of their transportation arm and discussed business. They even put up the Malaysian flag at their office in honour of our visit!
After the meeting, they took us for lunch at La Veranda, Trianon Palace Versailles (A Waldorf Astoria Hotel). Part of the Gordon Ramsey chain of restaurants, La Veranda provides an excellent view of the gardens of Versailles.
In the afternoon, we visited Thales University. The University is the education arm for in-house training for Thales employees. SPAD have created our own academy and we’re looking into expanding it into a respectable public transport education institution.
At Thales University, I was given the opportunity to try out the military helicopter simulation. Interesting experience.
From the university, we went to the HQ of Autolib, popular for its electric vehicle sharing service in Paris. They also showcased their electric buses, something that we may want to consider for KL streets. Currently, we have electric buses at Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Sunway, operated by Prasarana.
Back in November 2015, I had a 4 day business trip to Tokyo, Japan. It was a fully sponsored trip by the Japanese government as they wanted to showcase their latest shinkansen (high speed train) to my organisation. The organiser is the International High Speed Rail Association (IHRA), representing the rail industry of Japan.
Monday, 23 Nov 2015
We departed from Kuala Lumpur at 10:30AM and arrived in Tokyo Narita Airport at 6:30PM local time.
For this trip, we stayed at the prestigious Imperial Hotel of Tokyo. The hotel lived up to its grand expectation. The facilities were superb, the staff were extremely polite, the epitome of Japanese hospitality.
I was given a deluxe room. The interior decoration wasn’t very modern but it is full with elegance and style.
Tuesday, 24 Nov 2015
Our day started early. At 7AM, we had a briefing of the new shinkansen that we’ll be visiting, the Hokuriku Shinkansen. From the hotel, we went to Tokyo Station to board the shinkansen.
We took the E6 series shinkansen to Kanazawa (photo above). The E6 series has been in operation since 2010. The 490KM journey to Kanazawa took about 2 hours 50 minutes.
Kanazawa is a city to the north-west of Tokyo. The main agenda of the day is to visit the new shinkansen depot at Hakusan.
At the Kanazawa station, we were received by the station master. He briefed us of the station, and of its unique features. Turns out, Kanazawa station is considered one of the most beautifully designed stations in Japan.
From Kanazawa station, we visited the Ishikawa Prefectural Office for the bosses to pay a courtesy visit to the governor. The working level staff went to the top floor of the governor’s office for a nice view the city.
From the governor’s office, we had lunch at a French restaurant at Hirosaka Ryokuchi Park. It has a nice view of the park which is nearby to the recently restored Kanazawa castle.
After lunch, we headed to the Hakusan depot, located just outside of Kanazawa city.
The depot houses the new W7 Series Shinkansen that was launched in March 2015. The W7 shinkansen is the main train that serves the Hokuriku Shinkansen line (between Tokyo and Kanazawa). Boasting speeds up to 275kmph, it is the most modern and stylish Shinkansen in Japan.
Saturday, 25 October 2014
Today is our last day in Japan. In the morning, I went to get breakfast at Starbucks using our coupons. After that we packed our things and checked out at 11AM. FYI, 11AM is the standard check out time for hotels (and ryokans) in Japan.
Our flight is at 10:50PM tonight so we still have half a day to do some last minute sightseeing. The plan is to visit Sengakuji and Harajuku before heading to the airport at around 7PM.
We took the subway to Sengakuji Temple. Sengakuji is well known in Japan as the graves of the 47 ronin (Ako Gishi).
The Ako Gishi are famous for a historical revenge incident that happened in 18th century Japan. Most recently their tale was made into a Hollywood movie called 47 Ronin, featuring Keanu Reeves (trailer).
From Sengakuji, we took the JR Train to Harajuku. Harajuku is famous as the hub for young people to hang out. A lot of teenage culture and fashion styles could be observed in Harajuku. Apart from that, there are a number of shopping outlets for adults and it is also near the historic Meiji Shrine.
We had lunch at an Italian Restaurant called Italian Tomato near the station, and from there, proceeded to walk down
From the Harajuku Station, we walked along Omotesando. Omotesando is the shopping area in Harajuku. Leading fashion brands and malls are located along this 1KM tree lined avenue. We went into Tokyu Plaza on Omotesando to window shop and have ice cream.
Takeshita Dori (meaning Takeshita Street) is the main attraction at Harajuku. It is a narrow street that is packed with shops, cafes, boutiques targeting mainly Tokyo’s teenagers. We even saw the famous Daiso store in Takeshita Dori.
From there, we walked towards the Meiji Shrine. As we didn’t have enough time, we did a quick tour of the area near the Meiji Shrine Torii (gate). The shrine was completed in 1921 and is dedicated to Emperor Meiji (1867 – 1912) and Empress Shoken (1849 – 1914). Emperor Meiji is widely known to have presided over the Meiji Restoration that saw Japan’s rapid change from a feudal state to a capitalist and later an imperial world power. The Meiji Restoration is also known as Japan’s industrial revolution period.
Friday, 24 October 2014
In the morning, we had breakfast at Starbucks near the hotel as we were given vouchers as part of our stay.
Today we had a half-day tour in the morning. The plan is to attend a tea ceremony tour at Koomon Tea School (website). I booked the tour online from japanican.com for ¥12,000 (US100 or RM350) for 2 people.
The tour was organised by Sunrise Tours. We met the tourguide at the Sunrise Tours gathering point at Hamamatsucho Bus Terminal at 9AM. From there, the tour participants were taken to Koomon Tea School in a bus.
The ceremony was performed in a specialised tea room with a row of chairs for viewing. Tracing its roots in Japan as early as the 9th century, the Japanese tea ceremony is rich in intricate detail and tradition. It is still actively practiced in every day life in Japan, with people taking up classes or joining clubs to master the ancient art of tea ceremony.
After the ceremony was performed, we got the chance to try it out, and took photos with our host.
The tea school is located in the middle of the Nihonbashi district. It is well known to be Tokyo’s business district, along with housing major department stores. We spotted Takashimaya’s flagstore near the tea school. After the tea ceremony, we walked to the department store. It was just 1 block away. Looking at the nice interior, it has a similar feel to Harrods. It was interesting to browse the fine collection of kimonos they have on display. Some were very expensive, ranging in hundreds of thousands of Yen! (~thousands of USD).
We had lunch at Pronto, a nearby Italian restaurant. After lunch, we walked back towards Tokyo Station and took the train back to Hamamatsucho Station. Aliaa was feeling tired so I accompanied her back to the hotel.
Later I went out by myself and took the train to the Edo-Tokyo Museum. The museum is located in the Ryogoku district. The entrance fee was ¥600.
The museum’s main exhibition are the life and times of people living in Edo (the pre-Meiji era nama of Tokyo).
I was amazed to read the history of “graphic novels” in Edo period. As early as mid 18th century, the Edo citizens have developed fiction novels with graphics in it.