Digital nomads, rejoice: world’s top beaches named by Flight Network

Qixingtan Beach, Taiwan

Happy New Year! 

The start of another year is a good time for must-see and must-do this that and the other lists, including places and experiences from around the world.

If you’re already planning a 2019 getaway somewhere special, online travel agency Flight Network has helpfully identified the top beaches across all continents with the support of 1,000 travel professionals. Judges included journalists, editors, bloggers and agencies. I was kindly asked for my own nominations. Being the well-seasoned traveller that I am, I was happy to oblige.

The index of 411 beaches is topped by perennial postcard favourite Shipwreck Beach in Zakynthos, whose eye-searingly blue image has adorned office screensavers for decades (probably).

Shipwreck Beach is followed by Whitehaven Beach in Queensland, Hidden Beach in El Nido, Praia do Sancho in Pernambuco, and Tulum Beach in Quintana Roo – all suggesting that we all love a beach in the tropics more than anywhere.

Maya Bay in Phi Phi, Thailand, is curiously ranked 9th – while stunning, it’s currently closed to tourists, a victim of its own success.

A great beach needn’t be palm-fringed perfection, however. A suggestion of mine, Qixingtan Beach in Taiwan, was ranked 23rd among Asian beaches. It’s spectacular location, where 3,000 metre mountains drop sharply to meet crystal-clear waters of the Pacific, make it a winner in my eyes. 

In addition to listing beaches by continent, Flight Network has compiled untouched beaches and city beaches – the latter is useful if you’re planning to relocate as a digital nomad or professional this year. 

 You can see the full World’s Best Beaches for 2018 here.

InfoSyte, an IT trainer with an eye on the future

It probably goes without saying that to stay in the job market these days, amidst so much uncertainty, you have to keep learning. It’s evolve, or die (not literally). While there are still many cushy jobs about, the days of milking a piece of paper you received 20 years ago are over for most of us.

So I’m excited to be working with InfoSyte, a leading IT trainer in Malaysia, for two reasons: 1) I get to tell their story through data-driven approaches, which is always fun; and 2) I’m familiarising myself with the latest IT skills and certifications. In other words, I’m learning about learning at a time when ICT matters more than ever. Very meta.

For example, I knew that cybersecurity was important. But I was less sure about the skills or qualifications necessary to succeed in the cybersecurity world. It all seemed very cryptic (excuse the pun) and even off-limits – until now.

InfoSyte partners with the likes of Cisco, Huawei, Microsoft, Oracle and CompTIA to provide the very latest IT training. They also offer soft skills training, which is equally important in today’s world – ultimately, while having technical skills are important, you will be more marketable if you can influence people, especially as automation gathers pace.

Their location is also a strategic advantage: InfoSyte is based in Malaysia, located in the heart of the fast-growing ASEAN region and within sight of China.

While they have two training centres in the KL area, InfoSyte also deliver classes around the world. In recent weeks they were in South Africa, Ghana and Zambia (the latter two are also Belt & Road countries).

If you’re working in IT and interested in taking a course, and quite frankly you should be – because the world is undergoing rapid change at the moment – then take a look at InfoSyte’s new website.

And if you’re not working in IT, then take a look at the website anyway – IT is a safer career choice than most.

How to fly a drone for the first time (without crashing)

Much of the Fourth Industrial Revolution feels abstract – AI, data and smart cities are not something you can simply pick up and hold.

Drones, however, can be picked up, held, flown, and in unfortunate circumstances crashed, sometimes in big numbers. In Hong Kong recently 46 went down over Victoria Harbour during a public show.

Hong Kong isn’t the best place in the world for drone flights, partly because of all the skyscrapers and hills (it’s the most vertical city in the world), which is why I waited patiently, very patiently, to let loose for the first time my own drone – purchased from DJI’s flashy store in Causeway Bay – in a more spacious environment.

After several weeks, my Spark was debuted in Penang, Malaysia, an island almost like Hong Kong in appearance with its hills and Chinese culture, yet without all the towering concrete and thick crowds.

I chose a hillside spot surrounded by forest, the Bao Sheng Durian Farm. In case you’re wondering, a “durian” is a spiky fruit native to Southeast Asia that is so uniquely stinky that it’s banned in public places.

Despite the rural location, the young chap running the farm was surprisingly no stranger to drones himself: he was also a Spark owner. This was handy, as I was later to crash the thing.

Actually, I crashed it twice. The first time, I launched the drone from a slope (I’m still unsure why I did this) and it careered into a bush.

The second occasion was more serious, when I knocked the drone into a metal pole, sending it plummeting several feet into thick grass. A handyman retrieved the drone, now scuffed and with broken propellers.

This left me thinking. Flying a drone is harder than it looks. However, there are certain principles you can follow for a smoother flight:

  1. Read the instructions first. Seriously. It’s not a video game you can just pick up and play. There are very specific steps that you must follow before and landing the drone especially (think of it like flying an aircraft – taking off and landing are the most dangerous parts of the flight)
  2. It’s also not a toy. It looks like a toy and sounds like a toy, but it’s definitely not a toy. It’s expensive and it’s dangerous, so handle responsibly. That means keeping it away from other people and animals. Don’t fly while drunk; that’s definitely a bad idea.
  3. Exercise common sense. If you do ignore the instructions – like I did – use your brain at least. Don’t launch the drone off a slope, for example.
  4. If you can’t use your brain, use someone else’s. Airline pilots fly planes in pairs. Flying a drone is a lot easier and safer when you have someone next to you who can “co-pilot” or watch for hazards.