The primary reason I booked my flights to Australia in December with Cathay Pacific was that I had unfinished business in Hong Kong, the airline’s hub. I flew to Hong Kong when I travelled to Shenzhen and Shanghai last year for work, but the moment I landed I was scooped up by a people carrier and escorted across the border into mainland China. With my nose pressed against the window I watched as the towers and bridges and unfamiliar geography passed me by. I’ve always been fascinated by Hong Kong because at one point my parents were going to move there — it…

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More often than not over the past few months I’ve ended up in premium economy when I’ve been flying long haul. Premium economy is the bit of the plane that you get to after you’ve passed through after business class (when your heart starts to sink), but before you get to economy (when you just want to burst into tears). Why oh why can’t they board us the other way around? I’ve only flown premium economy for business, but I thought I’d give you a little run down of what the experience is like, as I know it can be a…

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Messing about in boats — there’s nothing quite like it. I first got a taste for it when I was seven years old on Loch Lochy near Inverness. My father stationed me at the helm of the little motorised dinghy we’d hired and off we went, zig-zagging erratically across the water. My ashen-faced little brother nervously gripped the sides, while I struggled to keep control. My parents thought the whole thing was hilarious. I am the first to admit that when it comes to propelling and navigating a craft through water, I am always more enthusiastic than I am skilful.…

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There are few places in the world where you can sunbathe on white sand beaches while admiring volcanoes in the distance; where you can snorkel with turtles right off the beach and yet pay practically nothing for your accommodation. Like the handful of other destinations that fit that description, the Gili Islands are pretty special — which is no doubt why so many of you end up arriving at An Unfamiliar Sky looking for scraps of information about them. I went to the Gili Islands as part of a six-week trip around Indonesia in 2010 and along with my time in…

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When KLM asked me if I wanted to take a Japanese cookery class a couple of weeks ago at Atsuko’s Kitchen in Shoreditch, I jumped at the chance. My favourite events are the ones where you can roll your sleeves up and get stuck into an activity, preferably before then proceeding to eat and drink the results of that activity. Twelve months ago I did a fantastic class at L’atelier des Chefs where I cooked a Christmas dinner and earlier this year I spent a wonderful evening learning to mix some mindblowing gin cocktails at the London Cocktail Club. Gin…

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