Archive for Traveling

Arriving in China

I started my big adventure the 22nd of January and I was looking forward to arriving in China. I planned everything from the places i wanted to visit to agreeing the companies with the university and the apartment i am going to stay in. I Spend planning everything since almost a year back. Although this can be a pain in the ass when dealing with Chinese people they just don’t see why you should plan so far ahead they have the mentality of wait as long as possible and then push everything as quickly as possible.  So the last weeks my apartment was being taken care of, I would get picked up from the airport, I saw I was going to work with an Intel Software Partner. So this all got me reassured and excited.

Side note this is the second article a series of doing my internship in China.

So more ready than I would ever be I was waiting to board and start a new chapter of my life.

So after a not so long flight from Brussels to Dubai  on the Boeing 777 which I absolutely loved. I waited for the glorious king of the sky the Airbus A380. After a quick nap and some chatting with my fellow passenger I arrived in Shanghai, desperately searching for the Skyline from the plane.

Having collected my baggage I was searching for the teaching assistant. A bit jet lagged but well prepared and with a good mood and recognizable T-Shirt from the university I found him under a minute. After a quick introduction we decided to leave for Hangzhou. When chatting to him he told me he never been to Shanghai, guess I was lucky than that we quickly found our way around the airport.  As soon as we waited for the bus I noticed not that many foreigners took the regional busses. So more people were a bit curious about me and secretly took some pictures I found it kinda funny. If I had spoken more chinese at that time I would have talked to them and asked about their lives because I am as curious about them as they where about me.

I noticed some of the chinese people are well-known the Western apps on their iPhones. I saw snapchat and Facebook pop up more than once(a lot of the chinese people have alternative apps or know how to use google in China).  Unfortunately i saw a girl was not feeling that well  and i saw many of the chinese started talking to her. I asked my Chinese friend what was wrong with her. He told me she felt a bit ill and felt a fever coming up. So i asked him whether she had any medicine to help her feel better.  Suddenly she replied in English to me, no I don’t trust the chinese medicine, so I asked what symptoms she felt and decided to give her something that would help reduce the fever. After a 3 hour bus ride we arrived in Hangzhou where we exchanged the bus for the Subway.  after a quick ride and 5 min taxi drive to Zhejiang Gongshang University.  We arrived at the Campus “Hotel” where I would spend the first nights.  More about that in the following blog post.

 

 

 

Doing an Internship in China

This is going to be a series of blog post about my internship in China. Most of them will be a critical look at the western and chinese world. This series of articles also lead to my bachelor thesis. which I did for Howest where I recently graduated majoring in Advanced Computer Sciences.

My internship was in China, in the city of Hangzhou, in the Zhejiang province in the e-
commerce startup. I also want to thank everyone who helped me in and outside of China.

Tim Tijssens on the Great Wall when doing his internship in China

Tim Tijssens on the Great Wall when doing his internship in China

 

Why did I chose to perform my internship in China?

I first came across  Zhejiang Gongshang University during the three weeks SEPP. This was the first time i went to China.
There I have had the pleasure, of taking an introductory course in the Chinese way of life.
In the course of this stay, I discovered a land of beauty and opportunities, and con-sequently I wanted to return once more to the amazing country.
Moreover, as a result of my previous visit, I believed I possessed the necessary back-ground information to start an internship in the People’s Republic of China.
During my 4-month internship, I saw in real life what I have only studied up until now.
I expected it to be a good preparation, to start working afterwards in a European or global context. Therefore, I think this international internship was the perfect stepping-stone to a possibly bright cosmopolitan future.
With the aftermath of my international internship, I hope I will be able to give advice to improve the communications between Western and Chinese Companies. To help those to be even more specialized, specifically concerning the manner in which the Asiatic world handles technology development.

However, the main reason is that I hope to stimulate an international career. Above all, I treasured the prospect of working for highly motivated computer experts, and networking with Chinese developers and gaining practical skills relevant
interest in developing a career outside of my Belgian context.

i will add an link to the article when future articles have been posted.

 

Holiday Inn Express Collingwood

After a somewhat bad experience in the Holiday Inn Express in Montreal i was a little bit sceptical about our upcoming stay in the one in Collingwood. After a stay in Canadas Best Value Inn in Parry Sound which absolutely horrible we leaved early to see our new destination and our new Hotel.

Arriving 3 hour before Check In time we weren’t sure if we would be able to check in already. But the lady at desk said it was absolutely not a problem. we where immediately greeted as an IHG member with some water and a little muesli bar. If we forgot some of our personal health attributes like a razor or a toothbrush we were informed that we could one at the desk.  The Hotel looked really clean from the outside and even on the inside it was maintained pretty good.  Being treated so well at check in we had already forgotten our previous stay and were relaxing in our room.

 

The Room was well maintained and had a fresh feel to it. we immediately liked it. The double bed feeled nice and soft (not as good as the Marriott tough but very descent ) . Internet connection was easy to set up and we were able to perform a hangout without any issues.  The bathroom was kept tidy and i did not have any complaints about it.

 

Finding a place to eat dinner in Collingwood.
We had a nice dinner just around the corner fo the hotel in an Brasserie Restaurant called the Iron Skillet and i loved the fact that they offered regional products and daily fresh suggestions this just makes a good restaurant for me. I even loved the fact that they had a pale ale from Collingwood to bad i only saw it after my second beer. The slogan of the beer fits the town with some ski slobs perfectly “Relax, Its all downhill from here”.

Swimming Pool

The pool was a major factor why we chose this Hotel and after the Best Value inn (Kids lessons and aquagym for the public) i was not sure anymore i would go to a Hotel pool anymore. But the pool was really tidy and the water had the perfect temperature. I was able to swim a few tracks.

Breakfast

The next day after a good sleep we wondered about the breakfast but once again were amazed by the fact that everything was kept tidy and there was a person continuously checking in on everything and making sure there was enough freshly baked bacon and so on.

Although i did not book using the ihg app or website i was treated as  an IHG member when showing my card  and i have to say it was a very pleasant stay at the Holiday Inn Express Collingwood.

Marriott adds wireless charging to Hotels

Marriott announced that it will outfit wireless chargers to their hotels in their lobby’s at first the wirelesses charger will be installed in October  in 29 Hotels.

Marriott Wireless qi charging Station

Marriott adds wireless charging to Hotels using this small Wireless qi charging Station

So no need to worry or hassle with cables forgotten. just lay your device on top of the charger and it will start charging using the Qi technology. Some of the Qi supported devices are the Nexus range from Google and Nokia Lumia series, but many other cellphones do have qi charging capabilities, or Qi charging can be installed using a small shield or case.

Also the hotel guests that don’t have a phone that supports wireless charging  are able to charge their phone regularly by using the built in Lightning and USB cables .

The wireless charging stations are able to to power up six devices simultaneously.

As this  will only be installed in 29 of the 500 Marriott Hotels its sounds like they are testing and see if the charges will be used and if their worth installing in all of their lobby .

The idea to place wireless chargers dint came from Marriott themselves but was suggested by the  clients of their travel website Travel brilliantly  . according to surveys taken by the Marriott group business travelers use 2 to 3 portable  electronic devices.

Since the creation of Travel Brilliantly multiple changes have been made to Marriott hotels the website has been launched in June 2013 and according to Mariott it has been a big succes leading to engaging customers which resulted in following products:  Stylish and modern looking Lobbies.

Marriott Lounge

Marriott Lounge

Mobile check in and checkout from anywhere using just you mobile, a vending machine which serves a healthy range of fresh and healthy food by the push of a button.

 

My First Airbnb stay Algonquin Lodge

Staying in a hotel using Hotel Loyalty points is nice but if you want to meet locals and have a local experience perhaps this isn’t the best solution. Or perhaps you want to keep your budget in place. If one of those sentences makes sense to you than Airbnb is the solution. I had chosen to stay at an Airbnb in Canada near the Algonquin Park (Ontario) It was a great place to start discovering the beautiful wild life or and the  start of the exchange of seasons.

Why did i pick Airbnb for this Stay ?

-When reading about Canada I quickly find out that they advise people to stay at a Lodge, but after searching for a while i didn’t find any lodges nearby that fitted my expectations.
I wanted a home that was fully built-in Wood and which offered view of a Lake not just 4 wooden walls that were put up and called a Lodge.

-The travel experience staying with local people is the best you will ever have. They know the area and are also interested in you so  you have plenty of stuff to talk about.

So i tought the Algonquin park was the perfect spot to find a Wooden Lodge. after a quick search on Hotels websites I quickly find some old lodges that where out of their glory and some supper expensive beautiful lodges in a whole resort park .

Then i tought why not use airbnb. And after a quick search I’ve found a beautiful wooden lodge near the Algonquin Park .

Algonquin park Lodge

Airbnb Wooden Lodge Algonquin Parc

Airbnb Wooden Lodge Algonquin Parc

After a quick sign up and verifying our details which improves the chances of getting accepted with your host  we introduced our self to our host about who were and  are our lodge was requested. And in the next 24 hours we got a confirmation that your request was approved and we where welcome to join them in September. (if you host does not respond in 24 hours the booking will automatically canceled and this will affect the renters profile.)

Our host were called Sandra and Dale and they where  already asking us if wanted to eat dinner with them for a reasonable price.  We gladly accepted the offer and wont regret it Dale is a great chef.

After a long ride from Ottawa we arrived at our Airbnb.  Dale and Sandra immediately greeted us and offered us some hors oeuvres and some refreshing drinks after a quick snack i decided to jump in the Lake and swim around a bit, although I wasnt that confident due the fact that i shared the lake with some Snapping Turtles so i hoped they would not greet me with a bite .  After the swim Dale showed us the house which was made entirely of wood and explained why they lived  near the Algonquin park.

Even the decorations where carefully picked  in all the Lodge was just amazing and beautiful.

After some quick chatting with out hosts and the other guests . We decided to have lunch. Dale cooked an amazing meal. and after that we called it a day because we where tired from driving .

The second day we were greeted with a lovely kitchen smell and Sandra was making us  Blueberry pancakes which where absolutely  amazing they where the best pancakes i had in Canada . Before leaving on the third day we enjoyed  some eggs benidect which where once again superb. And dale took us for a boat ride on the Lakes.

So these experience were wonderful but we probably wouldn’t have had these experiences when we would have stayed in a Hotel.

Do you want to book a stay  with Airbnb use my discount link and get 20 Euros or 25 Dollars of  your first stay.

Airbnb sign up link 

 

Flying in Economy with British Airways Boeing 747 London New York

Flying  one British Airways oldest in the fleet the 747. It is one of the original jet planes, i was really looking forward to fly on it before the retired all the 747 .

The Flight itself

BRU-LHR Brussels to London Heathrow

Our first flight was at 6 55 heading to London Heathrow when we arrived at the gate we are amazed by the small size of the aircraft. When boarding they told us the flight was fully booked.
We didn’t expect for a flight of only one hour that they would serve us breakfast. We had a Croissant with sausages and tomato and mayonaise (kinda a weird combination).
British airways offered a ideal space of legroom on the first flight which i didn’t expect.

LHR-JFK London Heathrow to New York John F Kennedy Airport

Boeing 747 British Airways London To New York

Boeing 747 British Airways London To New York

Our second flight was from London Heathrow to New York JFK. The flight was again operated by British Airways this time with a Boeing 747 400.
The Boeing 747 has always amazed me as one of the first jumbo jets, but you could defiantly see that this Boeing had his age.
The leg room was a little bit smaler than our first flight (and that for a transatlantic flight.) and the inflight entertainment system was older but the movies where still up to date and it worked perfectly. Our crew was very friendly and the meals where of good quality our breakfast was an (option meat or vegetable “beans”) omelet with beef companioned by mushrooms and a Tomato.
And  with this meal there was also a fruit juice, a bun and a fresh fruit salad which was very welcoming due to its fresh taste . Just before landing we had a late snack which was the first time i had a snack before landing that was actually tastefully. They served us  a Chicken Ceasar Sandwich and a Kitkat as dessert.
I’d have to say British Airways really impressed me with the foodservice in Economy class especially with the fresh fruit nothing better to fight the jetlag than some fresh vitamines.  When arriving in New york we had a bout 4 hours to pass customs and TSA control.
What i really noticed was how empty terminal 8 was i think when arriving at most 200 people where here so it was really calm and ideal to relax a little bit and take a quick snack/ Nap. Continuing to our last flight which was operated American Airlines (American Eagle) . which i will describe later on so keep checking back .

British Airways Boeing 787 Economy Toronto London

Returning from our  great road trip from Canada  we were flying once again with British Airways. This time we weren’t flying with one of its oldest aircraft’s in its fleet the  747 but one of the newest the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

British Airways Boeing 787 Toronto London Economy

Flying with the British Airways Boeing 787 Toronto London Economy

 

Leaving From Toronto which is a very fine airport (Brussels Airport should take a look how to modernize) a clean and nice check in . I was amazed about the quiet and  relax security checking coming from an TSA control  or similar checking in London and JFK.

After checking in we went for a quick Starbucks oh  i love the Pumpkin Spiced late. I was amazed by the fact that some of the restaurants offered free WiFi on a I pad and you didn’t need to consume anything from that Restaurant or Bar, although you where able to order some food an drinks from the Ipad. They even kept track of your flight so you  won’t miss it by reading the news or enjoying an PSL or a Glass of wine.

Toronto AIrport

Toronto AIrport

Continuing to my Gate i saw that the Dream liner had all ready been docked.  I was really looking forward to flying on this Plane because it has been featured in lots of magazines and TV shows as an “planes that helps fight the Jet Lag” so i was eager to find out if any of the mentioned advantages where true.

Boeing 787 Advantages

 

  • It makes 60% precent less noise than similar aircrafts  thanks to its design and use of materials.
  • It has a range of 15200 Kilometers
  • More cabin bagage size (so no longer carrying that suitcase underneath your seat is guaranteed)
  • Windows are 30 percent larger and should be able to be seen from the middle row. The special thing about the windows is that they don’t have any shades. the windows are controlled electronically and will dim according to  the user preferences.
  • Better Air filters that keep away annoying smelling gases and help filtering out those bacteria.
  •  Keeping the Air Pressure at 6000 instead of 8000 so you will absorb more oxygen
  • Turbulence detection system and counteracting parts.
  • Changing lights that wil help you move trough Day and night by adjusting the lights to the mood

The Flight itself

 

British AIrways Boeing 787 Economy Cabin

In overall i had to say when i boarded the plane it was kept very tidy (as always with British Airways) and indeed smelt fresh and clean. The blue lights give you   a calm and fresh feeling when boarding and seats look to have been more streamlined. The legroom looks increased (but according to seat guru is hasnt). I am quite big so i am always trying to push my legs in a direction where i can have some space(probably the only disadvantage of British Airways is their legroom in economy) .

 

Starting of with a smooth ascent we were given a drink before the meal in which they offered wide range of drinks i chose a Gin Tonic. which consisted of a Schweppes Tonic and a Gordon Gin ( i always wondered myself what you would get in first class when ordering a similar drink. ) . The Gin Tonic was a nice and refreshing start of the flight.

British AIrways GIn Tonic

 

The In flight system was really up to date apparently British Airways made a deal with HBO so i was able to watch Game Of Thrones. Also the screens were of high quality im not sure but i think they where HD.

British AIrways inflight System Boeiing 787

 

Then meal service started unfortunately the did not have any chicken no more so we’ve got the the Pasta Instead

 

 

British Airways Economy Food

British Airways Red Wine Economy Class

British Airways Red Wine Economy Class

 

The meal contained a Cesar Salad as starter and some bread and best butter . Main Course was a pasta with tomato juice and cheese.  Dessert was simply excellent it was a piece of Chocolate pie.  I have to say British Airways food service is quite good.
After that i took a quick nap and just before landing which was 45 minutes early we receive a nice muffin as a snack.

 

Wagamama English Breakfast

Wagamama English Breakfast

 

After a quick taxi to the gate i enjoyed once more the view and proceeded to security check at Heathrow and then Ordered some breakfast  at Wagamama  which was absolutely  amazing after a flight i never enjoyed breakfast so much (perhaps i was felling tired of the jet-lag) . After that i got some rest and wait for my connection flight back to Belgium.