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

IMG_7239 IMG_2782IMG_7274 IMG_2828

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. 

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.