I had a work trip in January 2018 where we were invited to a UITP CEO Forum in Brussels followed by various railway related meetings in the UK.
Monday 22 January 2018
The plan for today was to head for the airport right after our meeting at Ministry of Transport (MOT) in Putrajaya. Given our packed day, I needed a place to change and shower before going into the plane, hence I decided to try out the shower facilities at Sama-Sama Express in the departure terminal.
Turns out it was rather decent. I freshen up and then boarded my KUL-SIN (transit) flight at 8:30PM.
My connecting flight was at Terminal 3 in Changi Airport. I had about 2 hours before the flight at 11:45PM so I went around sightseeing and had dinner at the food court.
For this trip, I traveled together with 2 other colleagues, Fadli and Adleen, going for the same meeting in London. I am so used to travelling for work alone I forgot how fun it was to have friends flying together.
My SIN-LHR (London) flight was on Premium Economy. I definitely appreciated the extra leg room and comfort given that it was a 14 hour flight.
Tuesday 23 January 2018
We arrived in London at 6AM. While the rest of the team headed to their hotel in London (as they had other meetings to attend), I headed to St Pancras for my Eurostar train to Brussels.
It was my first train ride on the Eurostar. Honestly I was not very impressed with the train. The seats were old and the ride was rather noisy, as compared to my Shinkansen experience in Japan (blogpost here). However, they provide a number of reading materials, a decent cafe and breakfast (photos above).
Upon arriving in Brussels, I took a taxi to Marriott Hotel Grand Place. The hotel is located in the middle of the city with easy access to many of the top attractions.
I was given an Executive Room for my 2 nights stay. Despite the Marriott name, the hotel felt dated and tired. I checked-in, stored all my stuff in the room and then headed out to explore the city.
My first stop is the Bourse de Bruxelles (Brussels Stock Exchange, BSE). It was located right next to the hotel. BSE was founded in 1801 by Napoleon Bonaparte. In September 2000, the BSE merged with various European bourses and became the Euronext N.V, the first European wide stock exchange.
From there, I walked further to Grand Place, the central square of Brussels. The historic square traces its roots back to a simple 10th century market prior to the formation of Brussels.
After all that walking, I had a quick dinner at Sultans of Kebab near the hotel, which turned out to be quite good! I noticed the fries (known as pomme frites here) here are chunkier and taste better too!
Wednesday 24 January 2018
In the morning, I met up with the CEO over breakfast to go through some work related matters. The breakfast spread at the hotel was decent. I find the “do it yourself waffle station” rather interesting (as other hotels tend to have it ready made or a chef would do it for you).
In the afternoon, we made our way to Cercle de Lorraine, the venue of the event. SPAD was invited to speak at the UITP CEO Forum on Public Transport. The slot given to us is on day 2 of the event. The venue is opposite of Belgium’s Palais de Justice (courthouse).
The forum started at 4:45PM with introduction by the hosts and other key stakeholders. After Session 1, the forum adjourned to dinner. We were treated to dinner at La Maison du Cygne. Originally founded in the 16th century as a modest inn, it is now one of the iconic restaurants at the Grand Palace. The dinner was a great avenue for forum participants to network and get to know other transport players from all around the world.
Thursday 25 January 2018
Our CEO presented on day 2 of the forum. He presented on the challenges and achievements of transforming public transport in Malaysia. These international forums are extremely important as it raises Malaysia’s profile internationally. Other nations, especially developed countries, would be able to learn of our achievements (like how we successfully regulated e-hailing).
After the forum ended, we boarded the EuroStar to London as we have other meetings the next day with the rest of the team.
In the evening, we met up with the team and had dinner at Halepi, a Greek restaurant in Bayswater.
Related Posts: Brussels-London Part 1, Part 2