Comebacks and Second Chances

Would you like to know what is The Number One Question I get asked all the time? It is not “What’s this- water ?” (ok this was a crew joke and unless you’ve ever done a round of drinks you are not likely to understand it.) And strangely it is not “Where are you from?” (oh – how much has my life changed in just two years!). The one thing people always seem to want to know is how long am I “in it for and what’s next?”. How long am I gonna stay in Dubai and have I considered what I wanna do next? As if it is quite impossible to believe that I would want to stay in Dubai forever and fly until I can’t lift my cabin bag no more. 

Dubai is so conveniently located which is one of the reasons why the Airline I work for became so successful. It connects the East and the West, it makes travelling to and from Down Under so much more bearable and brings Asia to everybody’s doorstep. You can now take a flight that’s shorter than 6 hours from pretty much anywhere in Europe, spend a layover in the glorified Sandpit and travel on refreshed a couple of days later. Which is what everyone seems to be doing. The popular opinion is that none in Dubai is here for the long run. All of us expats have come for a more or less a layover that can sometimes last years – to have our fun, earn some tax-free cash, travel as much as we can whilst we have the rest of the world within our reach… and then eventually return back and start living the responsible life. Nobody moves to Dubai to establish themselves. Or do they? Having read back my latest post it occurred to me I could have left you feeling like I don’t particularly like living over here. Which would have been a very wrong impression. I love Dubai and my life here. I don’t love it all day every day. But I love it enough every day to consider it my home and staying here for as long as they would have me.  Not to mention the fact that -unlike many others- I don’t really have anywhere to go back to. See – I don’t do comebacks. When I left Czech all those years ago I always knew that was it. I was never to come back and live there. I do adore my country and I would proudly ramble on about its wonders to everyone who is or isn’t willing to listen. But it’s just not for me. Ever since I could remember I never saw myself actually spending my life in Czech – it was never even an option to consider. So I lived there for as long as I could take it or for as long as it was necessary to come up with a plan and then took off. I never looked back. I never doubted the decision to leave a respectable job in a respectable company where I was earning twice as much as anyone else my age that I knew (I was 22 then). My heart just wasn’t in it. My heart was in the hands of a guy I thought I loved then. So much I would have followed him anywhere in the world. Oh wait – I actually did that! Many years later this romantic affair has ended in a disaster but despite that or maybe just because of that I decided not to run back “home” and heal my wounds but to stay right where I was and make this new life work for me. And so somehow I found myself living in the UK and liking it. But me and the English don’t seem to agree with one another. My relationship with the country has followed the same pattern as the relationship with the guy – after being initially smitten with each other we started to see each other’s flaws in the everyday life’s light and slowly but surely we have come to a point where none of us could take it anymore. I was allergic to pretty much anything the country has laid my way and in return it seemed to have rejected me. I was ready to move on. The only issue was – I was much older than when I so carelessly thrown a great job opportunity away and followed my heart. I was worried. My life wasn’t going the direction I had wanted it to but I felt I was too scared to change it completely. And so I waited. And waited. And waited, For what I did not know. I think I was waiting for the brave 22 yo old girl to wake up in me and take charge of our live again. And as the time passed me by I started to realise that wasn’t going to happen. I was going to have to (wo)man up. And so I did and moved to the Middle East. When I told my family I didn’t get a single “Oh but..” not a single eyebrow was raised not even a little bit. They all knew just like myself that that’s the kinda person I am. The kinda person that takes “moving on” literally. And then up a notch. How was I feeling leaving the UK for Dubai? Relieved most of all. I have come to the end of the road and for all I knew I could never see myself coming back to live there. Because as I told you – I do not do comebacks. Ever. To anywhere. Or anyone.

And that’s where my job comes in. After more than 18 months of flying – it turns out not only do I do comebacks. I also give second chances. Who knew? I most certainly did not. August 2014 saw me give a lot of second chances. It had me coming back to many places I have visited and left behind before too. August 2014 has been one big learning curve, one big journey into the depth of my own self and mind you – it is still not over yet..

 

Exploring new places and flying to new destinations can be exciting… as much as it is tiring. Sometimes all I want from my roster is for it to be easy, short and familiar. And as Asian as possible. And my late summer roster has turned me into the Queen of Asia. Singapore, Bangkok, Shanghai, Hong Kong on top of Rome and Frankfurt. I could not have been happier or more familiar with any of them having visited all of these places at least 3 times before. Sometimes it is just so nice to know what to pack, where to go, what to eat and how to behave. It’s also nice to give another chance to a place I wasn’t too sure about. Like Singapore. It’s a great place no doubts about that. It’s just not the kinda place I thought I would ever want to visit again once I’ve seen it. Singapore is quite spectacular with its clean green and luscious streets, friendly people, big expensive cars and delicious food. It’s also a little too high maintenance for my liking. I feel like I should try hard and harder… like I can’t really let go and be myself in a place that has literally made it to the top of world’s capitols. I always feel a little lost when in Singapore. And as I was wondering and wandering in the SinCity I suddenly found the one spot I needed to calm my slightly agitated senses. I little beach bar on the Sentosa Island. A piece of heaven. A sanctuary. The Bikini Bar. Where they played good music, served mean frozen Margaritas and I could read my book undisturbed. And just like that Singapore and I became friends for life. Because as it turns out I don’t need that much to be friendly. Just a little time and space to be myself…

 

The Bikini Bar

                       The Bikini Bar

 

As for the other comebacks I have mentioned – well not much new has gone down in Bangkok and even less so in Shanghai. And I’m not about to bore you to death talking about my massages . I guess one very successful return I should tell you about was to the Friday Brunch at the Atlantis hotel – the crime scene of my mad birthday bash back in January which I have still not been able to blog about… Some stories should remain untold. There was no particular occasion to celebrate this time apart from Salma coming back to Dubai and with the pressure off we simply let go and enjoyed ourselves to the fullest. And Saffron has not disappointed us.

Brunch in Jan

           Brunch in Jan

Brunch in Aug.. same same

Brunch in Aug.. same same

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OK- this post could go on for hours. Yes I indeed have so much on my chest about second chances and comebacks. But I’m gonna spare you this time since I also want to tell you about a few first times I have gone thru in the past month or so… Y’all just wait :)!

Lots of love 

G. 

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The Tale of Two Girls and One More City

At the end of the last month Dolly and I found ourselves having a few days off together. Rather than wasting it doing our usual sweet nothings in Dubai we decided- very spontaneously – to go on a girly shopping trip to Bangkok. Just like that. Yes – feel free to hate me all you want. This part of my job is so insanely cool ! We have booked our stand-by tickets online, packed a few bits and pieces and headed for the airport. All within a matter of one afternoon.

Our Airline flies to Bangkok pretty much every 5 hours and we were therefore lucky enough to get our pick on the most comfortable flight (most comfortable meaning the one with the least paying passengers on it meaning more space for us non-paying passengers to spread over 4 seats and sleep).

We landed in Bangkok late at night , checked into our hotel and went straight to bed (well that’s a lie actually I skipped the part when we ventured out to find the nearest 7/11 to get the compulsory bubble tea. You know what they say “When in Asia drink as much bubble tea as you can get your hands on”). We had a big day ahead of us. We got up nice and early and made our way to the spa we looked up before leaving Dubs and booked ourselves in for a day full of pampering. Sauna, body scrubs, massages and much much more… All super cheap and super professional. Samsara Wellness definitely got our seal of approval ! I even left with a bag full of goodies such as organic coconut oil, pineapple vinegar and some organic ointments.

And after the relaxing couple of hours in the spa it was time to get down to business. Aka The MBK. The massive shopping centre where -among others – people go to get all those not-so-real designer handbags, watches, shoes, clothes etc. We spent the entire afternoon fussing over purses and wallets and had to reminded to leave since the mall was about to close. It was decided then that we absolutely HAVE to come back the next day since our thirst for shopping has not been quenched yet.

Since this was Dolly’s first time to Bangkok or to Thailand in general it has been agreed to we should also do some turist-ey stuff. I let her decide what she wanted to see and only prayed it wouldn’t involve any Buddhas. After having backpacked in Thailand couple of years ago and having been in and out of Asia in my first couple of months of flying I felt like I have seen enough Buddhas for at least two life times. Thankfully my gurl wanted to do a boat trip instead. I was pleasantly surprised since it was once again a side of Bangkok I haven’t seen before. This city just keeps on amazing me. What we didn’t expect was the tour to finish at The Grand Temple which coincidentally is the home to the biggest reclining Buddha in Thailand. Now I can safely say I have seen Buddha to do everything. Sit, stand, lie down, dance, smile, sleep and recline. Oh – and laugh.485521_10201575075871050_1009096869_n

The Grand Temple is called “grand” for a reason. One could easily spend a whole day walking around. But Dolly once again proved why exactly is she one of my best friends by saing after mere 40 mins “Okay, enough culture, let’s go shopping!”. And off we were to the kind of temple that’s much closer to my spoiled consumer’s heart.

Shopping in Thailand is always easier when armed with a bubble tea or two. So we searched the of whole of MBK to find one stand at last. The lady serving us looked like the last thing she wanted in life was to get any business. After a very long international conversation she finally decided to understand what we were after (strangely enough bubble tea was THE ONLY thing she was selling so her confusion was quite… well confusing)  and when we dared to ask for no ice she looked at us disgusted and said one thing that will forever score Number One on my Top chart of Misunderstandings:

“No ice? We don’t have!” Whilst adding some extra ice cubes to our drinks.

All that was left for us was to laugh. The rest of the day was delightful! I left with my brand new wallet much lighter and my shopping bags much fuller. You can rest assured that my winter wardrobe has been all taken care of here in Bangkok…

There was one more place I wanted Dolly to see before we left. The infamous Khao San Road. I remembered it be wild and shocking. But perhaps we were too early in the night. Or too late. Or maybe I have seen wilder and more shocking since. Because this time the KSR seemed calm and civilised. We considered watching a ping pong show but in end rather opted for yet another massage, a little more shopping and some Thai curry.1378077_10201575102271710_1529465280_n

All of our Thai cravings have been fully satisfied and we left Bangkok relaxed and totally shopped out. The nest city break we have panned is Pre-Xmas Prague in two weeks. Watch this space of more mis-adventure and tales of the two girls:)

x

Love

G.

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