The Other Bangkok

There is no arguing that flying around the globe and getting paid for it is a pretty sweet gig. I have already spent way too much time on this blog listing reasons why I love what I do for living and I won’t bore you with that again. Let me -just for a while I promise- dwell on a topic I have so far not mentioned. My fellow crew members. Colleagues. The crazy people that make each flight and layover either go up or come down. Quite literally.

The moment a new roster comes out just after you check all the cool destinations you are being sent to the very next thing you do is evaluate your crew. You either get very excited about flying with somebody you know or start scrutinising the pictures of faces you have never seen before and deliberate whether or not you are gonna get on with any of them. And honestly – you can spend hours and days doing that but it won’t matter a bit. The moment you step into the pre-flight briefing room and have a look around you know you are bound to find at least one friend among those people. We are ultimately all the same. The same type of people I mean. We have gone thru the same stressful interview process, thru the same training, we have all moved far away from everything we have been used to and we all do the same job. The paths that have brought us all here to this one quiet pre-briefing room and the reasons that make us wake up at 1am every other day may be different but ultimately there is no fooling each other. Inside we were all crazy enough to turn our lives around and start this mad roller coaster of a lifestyle.

And now there we are – twenty or so people from twenty or so different countries speaking twice as many languages as there are hats on the table. Bound to work together as a team for the next XX hours and then spend a couple of days together on the other side of the planet. This feeling never fails to give me the chills. I love it!

A decade ago, when I was a not-so-rebelious teenager with a mouthful of braces spending every waking minute of my life babysitting my baby brothers I most definitely did not expect my life to turn so exciting. To end up hanging out with people from countries I have never heard of before on daily basis all around the world. To make international bonds that even the UN would be proud of. To get rid of the last piece of prejudice I had left in my body. And to find my long-lost Chinese twin sister. Yes- I couldn’t believe it either when on my recent Bangkok flight I walked into the briefing to find there a girl with the exact hair colour. Cecilia from Honk Kong. Quite naturally I sat right next to her. The rest of the crew found it so hilarious they nicknamed us ” The Twins”. And that name stuck with us for the rest of the 4-day-trip.

CC and I

CC and I

The only reason I was looking forward to going Bangkok was to get my well-deserved full body massage. I have been to Bangkok before and wasn’t too impressed by the sex-tourism culture I have encountered there. As it turns out tho I just hung out in the wrong places the first time around. There is a whole Other Bangkok that I have been introduced to this time around. The Bangkok that belongs to the locals not to the tourists. I know – I should have known better especially after having lived in Prague for so long but there you go I was once again being overly judgemental too early.

As soon as we checked into the hotel and collected our generous allowance I made my way to the nearest massage/beauty salon. Seeing the massive discount crew was getting at that place I went completely overboard. Full body massage, mani, pedi, foot massage, nails. The Full Monty! After about four hours of being pampered by a tiny Thai girl I was so besotted I proposed to her.

“Marry me. You can move to Dubai with me and I’ll take care of everything. All you will ever have to do is give me a massage every day” I said.

She just laughed it off. As for me I have never been more serious about marriage as at that moment. For the first time in my life marriage made complete sense. But alas it wasn’t meant to be for this girl and I.

In case you had an indecent proposal in mind...

In case you had an indecent proposal in mind…

I went back to the hotel broken hearted, met up with some of my fellow crew and we set off in a quest of finding the best green Thai curry in town. Which to be honest with you is no quest at all. Food in Thailand could be my sole purpose of living if I ever needed one. We sat in the street eating , sweating and people watching surrounded by thousands of tuck-tucks and locals. No tourists in sight.

We decided to go with the flow of the night and instructed one of the tuck-tuck drivers to take us to a place where the locals hang out. And that’s how we ended up in Asiatique.

Asiatique

Asiatique

It was truly magical. Just a boat-ride away from the hectic centre of Bangkok lies this Haven full of quirky little butiques, jazz bars, ice cream parlours, amusement corners and- believe it or not- shisha caffes. We walked around, shopped,sat and smoked for hours until none of us could stay up for any longer.

The next day I went back to the salon to try my luck with my little Thai masseuse but again she wasn’t having any of it. So I just had another massage instead. Then it was time for our quick Hong Kong turn-around (as you do:) which included delicious dinner at the business lounge in HKG airport and a two-hour sleep in a business seat on the A380. When we got back to Bangkok around midnight I decided not to give in to the devil in me and go out but stay in the hotel and be reasonable for once. Which paid off because unlike some of my colleagues I was actually able to venture out and explore a bit more of Bangkok the day after.  IMG_1269

I’m hoping to get this pairing again soon – for the amount of work I’m required to do we do get quite a lot of rest plus both of the destinations are in my top 10! Well – fingers crossed 🙂 Anyway – I better start getting ready, it’s almost time to take the bus to the HQ to start yet another adventure – this time to Mauritius – and I haven’t even started packing yet!

Speak soon

x

G

Shanghai I Love You Back (to Back)

“Back to back” in EK-speak means having two separate flight duties in a spam of two days or less. My back-to-back in March meant going to Shanghai for two days, coming back to my beloved Dubai for 40-odd hours and flying back to Shanghai again. Such is the daily life of all cabin crew my dear readers.

You can research all you want before going to China however nothing will ever really prepare you for what’s in store. Number one to be ready for : none (and I mean NONE) speaks or understands English. Number two: it’s an absolutely amazing place you will never want to leave. Out of my four days I got to spent in Shanghai it rained for a total of three and a half – and you already know how strongly I feel about rain, right? (for the newbies to this blog I wanna punch rain in the face every time I see it)- and yet it did not spoil the overall experience one bit.

My first flight to PVG was my first operational and I tried my very best not to mess up. I was so worked up that my adrenalin level went thru the roof. By the time we have landed our very full flight after seven hours of two service and countless call bells I should have been dead. But I wasn’t I was ready to turn around in my hotel room and go out to explore. That’s before I saw the room. The rumour is that the crew hotel in Shanghai is one of the best our company offers. And I’m quite inclined to believe it. It’s the Chinese hospitality combined with the Arabic love for luxury that does the trick I think. Just check out the room service I got :

The Bento Box

The Bento Box

After having spent couple of hours pressing all the possible buttons and going thru all the drawers in my room I decided to join the rest of the crew and go out for a couple of drinks. Which turned out to be Crazy Night in PVG Number One. I loved the night life- it reminded me of my student’s years in Prague rather than the very expensive looking and sometimes rather pretentious going out style in the Middle East. In China pretty much everything goes.

The only presentable picture from Crazy NIght in PVG Number One

The only presentable picture from Crazy NIght in PVG Number One

I woke up the next day, counted all my financial losses and decided for a devil-may-care style shopping spree. O-M-G as my brothers would say. I felt like I have never really shopped before.I hugely recommend to put “Shopping in Shanghai” on your Bucket list and make bloody sure you do it before you die. Because it most definitely is an experience. It changes your life. Ok- maybe it does not quite change your life but it’s helluva fun! I turned out to be pretty damn good at haggling which is something I never knew about myself. I probably still wouldn’t have known have I not spent most of my money the night before. I was only left with a measly part of my allowance and there were simply to many awesome things to buy. So I went for it and haggled like I never did before. And it paid off.

My little trick was that when the seller just wasn’t having my price offer to start walking away. In 9 out of 10 cases they would start calling me back. If they did- I’d let them sizzle for a bit, then turn around and walk back. Then say ” ok- that was my best offer two minutes ago. Now I came back my best would be XX (an even lower number)”. They will roll up their eyes saying ” Ladiiieh – you too hard ladiiieh. No good bizzneeesss, no profiiiet”. And then accept my price. 9 out of 10 I’m telling you. Here is what I got for near to nothing:

Haggler's Paradise

Haggler’s Paradise

I spent the rest of this layover fussing over my shopping, stuffing my face with delicious room service, hanging out with my fellow crew and gymming. Perfection itself!

Crew Pyjama Tea Partea

Crew Pyjama Tea Partea

I couldn’t wait to go back to Shanghai as soon as we took off. My rest days in Dubai flew by (haha- see what I did there?:) and I was on the plane heading back to People’s Republic of No-Social-Media land before I even knew it. My plan this time around was to save all of my allowance for the shopping and enjoy even more time in the lovely gym/spa within the hotel. Well once again my plans proved to be a waste of time . I was in store for a Crazy Night in PVG Number Two- the one that would take an entire day to recover from! I made the effort to actually remember the name of the club we ended up in and it’s (*drumroll*) M2. That place was quite literally insane! Or just very Chinese. One of those two. They had their own “crew” of absolutely stunning dancers but wouldn’t let us take any pictures of them so you are just gonna have to take my word for it! The music was very eclectic and also very loud. I could still feel the drum beat in my ears back in hotel room.

Oh yeah.. .I'm back to the full fringe btw...

Oh yeah.. .I’m back to the full fringe btw…

I slept pretty much the whole of the next day and when I woke up from my coma (mind you I already had a huge sleep deficit coming from Dubai so I guess it just makes sense) I decided to finally venture outside and explore a bit more of Shanghai- it is a gorgeous city:

In answer to your question – no I did not go shopping the second time around. My entire allowance was spent once again on room service and even more room service. Well – that’s a lie. I’m actually left with quite a few yuens which I’m meaning to give Dolly (who is flying to PVG next month) with a detailed description of how to best use them …

Well that’s the story of Shanghai, my dears, hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed living it. There will be many more such stories to come as I just received an update from my bezzie- The Roster- and he is sending me (among others) to Viet Nam, Kuala Lumpur, Mauritius (try not to be too jealous:) and Male next month.

Love y’all

x

G.

The Redhead in the Red Hat

So far in March I have visited three different continents, watched a shooting star out of a cockpit window, saw my hometown from 30 thousand feet above and celebrated my name day. And it’s only the 8th…

Is anyone finding it hard to believe when I say I love my job?

AMS- DXB 04/03/2013

AMS- DXB 04/03/2013

My first rostered week has started off with an absolutely amazing flight to Amsterdam. I was a “Supy” on that flight meaning I was there to observe not to work and I was supposed to walk around asking lots of questions in order to learn all the on-job tricks. However I was too excited to be flying a real plane to just sit around and watch. I made myself useful and helped wherever I could. My fellow crew were too nice to tell me to f**k off and stop slowing the service down so I got a great opportunity to try everything out.

The flight was booked up to the top and customers kept us pretty busy all the way and it was only when we landed in Amsterdam that I realised last time I drunk or ate something was back in Dubai seven hours ago. I would have been up for about 18 hours straight- 10 of which I have spent running around the airport and the massive A380 cabin and my whole body was screaming for bed. Nonetheless I decided to pull thru it and get some food with the rest of the crew. I’m so glad I did -the Dutch beer was totally worth me falling asleep at the table whilst having dinner…

The flight back was a breeze compared to the previous day. With the cabin half empty and only one service round we had enough time to fool around and my colleagues finally got their chance to “christen” me. See -apparently there is a rule that says every Supy needs to be made fun of at least once during their first couple of flights otherwise they will never pass their probation. However us Supys we are not as stupid as we may look and we weren’t born yesterday either so I was very alert and ready for any tricks being played on me. And of course I got the usual ” Go and fetch the vacuum cleaner from the cockpit, please!”(there is no vacuum cleaner anywhere on any aircraft ever unless you bring it there my dear readers) and “Would you please take this to 13A?” (row 13 doesn’t exist neither on the Boeing nor the Airbus) and the most popular one ” Take this hair brush to this and that seat” (to a passenger who turns out to be bald). The one thing I wasn’t ready for came directly from the flight deck couple of hours after take off. I was told to drop anything I was doing and proceed to the cockpit immediately. Which is what I did replaying to myself all I’ve done and evaluating what has probably gone wrong. By the time I got to the front of the cabin I was pretty much convinced I have lost my job already. Thankfully I couldn’t have been more wrong. The reason why I was called was simply because the pilots have looked up my place of birth and realised we were passing it on the way to Dubai. So I got to see the place I grew up like I never did before. Very spontaneously I decided to give my family a little wave imagining them looking up and waving back at me. The pilots have noticed that and joined me in my effort. And so there we were – the Captain,the First Officer and myself flying the flagship of one of the best airlines in the world waving a blowing kisses to the grounds of the Czech Republic. That’s when I thought I really must have the best job on Earth!

My second flight saw me going to Cairo, Egypt. A perfect chance to practice and improve my very limited Arabic. I reckon if I get two turnarounds a month I will be fluent by September. The beauty of doing a turnaround flight is in coming back to your own bed the same day. True – I had to get up at 4am and only got back around 9pm but still – I could say I have been to Africa and back in the meantime !

I’m very excited about tonight- got rostered my first Airport Stand by from 1am onwards. Meaning I could be having breakfast anywhere around the globe tomorrow morning. I’m hoping for a Full English in Manchester !

I will keep you posted x

 

G.

The King is Dead! Long Live the King!

With Boeing exams successfully passed and our flying licences slowly on their way no time was wasted by our trainers to get our batch started on the Airbus A380. We quite literally got a 20 minute break between the actual test and the start of a new chapter of our endless SEP training.

You may think that plane is a plane- it’s got two wings,  a cockpit and it flies. Who cares if it’s a Boeing or an Airbus. Well- you couldn’t be more wrong. From a safety point of view these two are completely different. One of them is a sassy American whereas the other is full of the old European charm. Where Boeing “flashes” Airbus “flickers”, what’s “electric” on Boeing it’s “automatic” on Airbus. There are countless “handles, levers and pulls” inside and outside of a Boeing and “push buttons and sliding icons” of an Airbus.

Boeing is always going to have a special place in my hearth since it was the first aircraft I have ever evacuated and extinguished fire in. However Airbus… well what can I say- it is simply too big to be ignored. I have fallen in love with this flagship aircraft about two years ago as a passenger and our little affair continued throughout my entire career with the Airline. I can’t wait to get to know it better and to see whether I will go on loving it as a crew or if the annoying little habits or this massive piece of a plane are gonna make me fall out of love…