useless knowledge

Aug 25, 2010

First off, I'd like to apologize for the lack of blogs lately. It's been awhile since I've had anything interesting enough to write about! I'm still on ground, suffering extreme sky withdrawal. Time seems to go faster from 39,000 feet and the last couple of weeks have felt more like a month.
I've noticed that I've recently surpassed 50 blog followers, on top of the many from back home that I know read updates even if they aren't on the list of followers. As somebody who never imagined that my life would be interesting enough for people to want to read about, I'm honoured. Thank you, each and every one of you... and for the newbies, welcome! Make yourself at home. I promise to get back to interesting layover stories as soon as I make my next escape from the sandpit.
Until then... I figured I'd tell you all a few things about myself. Sure, you can read in the little blurb on the side, but I'll tell you a little more. Perhaps that sounds conceited but really I'm just bored and trying to find a way to pass the time. I miss writing blogs!

So in case you were ever wondering..

1. Basic stuff... I'm Krysta. As much as I hate admitting to it because apparently all woman are in denial of their age, I'm 24. I'm originally from Red Deer, Canada. You won't find it on most world maps. I currently reside in Dubai, which couldn't be much more different than home.
Oh, and this is me...
2. Career of choice... Once upon a time, I was afraid of flying. I was nervous every time that I boarded an aircraft. One day the fear miraculously disappeared and oddly enough, I wanted nothing more than to become a flight attendant. I spent about 4 years desperately trying to reach my goal until finally one day I got the call offering me my dream job. So here I am, working for a big international airline. Is it all it's cracked up to be?? Well, yeah! As hard as living so far from home is, I absolutely love my job.
Check out the view from my office...
3. The love life... I'm happy to say that I'm dating the guy of my dreams. You may know him as Ryan. I never imagined myself being this in love. We are one of those mushy-gushy overly romantic cute couples that people love to hate. I used to be repulsed by couples like us. We are approximately 11,000 kilometers apart, but we manage quite well and the reunions are nothing short of amazing.
This is us last month....
4. The family... I'm the oldest of 3 and an awesome big sister to 2 little brothers. I suppose they aren't little anymore. Dayton is 17 and my little baby brother Kaynyn is only a few months away from being 16, which is very hard for me to accept. They will always be babies to me. My mom is crazy and has the same lame sense of humor as I do. Tell us a joke that any 10 year old would find too childish, and we'll fall to the ground laughing. I have not 1, not 2, but 3 sets of awesome grandparents and many, many awesome little cousins. I have a fluff ball cat named Becker, who drove my mom crazy coughing up hairballs and now has to endure "lion" hair cuts. Last but not least is my baby... Titan. No, I'm not a parent, but I love my little dog more than any other little dog in the whole wide world. He can always cheer me up....
5. My travels... People used to ask me what my hobbies were, and I'd reply "travel". They'd argue that everyone loves travel and that it doesn't count as a hobby, but I beg to differ. When I'm not traveling, I'm making travel plans. What did I study in college?? You guessed it... travel. When I am traveling, I'm considering where to go next. With the help of my job I've visited 30 countries, and I don't plan on stopping any time soon. I spent a year backpacking Australia (and a little bit of Southeast Asia) all by myself, only to come home with an even greater desire to see the world. Fortunately, Ryan shares this passion and I have no doubt that our future has many passport stamps in store for us.
6. Other hobbies... Aside from blogging... I've always loved taking photos, but I never really took it seriously until I started dating Ryan. Okay, I still don't take it seriously, but I try a lot harder these days. He's a photographer and his beautiful photos inspire me to take my own beautiful photos. I never leave home without a camera, and I haul my Nikon D60 around the world despite it taking up half of the space in my little cabin bag. I also love music and singing, but once again, it's not something that I'm serious about. I absolutely love karaoke and whenever I'm back in Red Deer you'll find me up on stage every Monday night. And to think, I used to be too shy to raise my hand in class.

Well, I think that's quite enough talking about myself for the time being. I'm sure it's nothing that you don't already know!
So my beloved blog followers, I've filled you in on my life, now tell me a little about YOU? I'm curious! Where are you from, what do you do, and how did you stumble across my blog?
Thanks for visiting, come back soon! :)

Until then... check out some other awesome blogs from a couple of lovely ladies that I follow on Blogspot and Twitter! They are just a few of the many blogs that entertain me on a regular basis.

In Case of Emergency by Amelia: For those of you who are most interested in knowing about the actual job... read this blog! I've been following for quite some time and she's offered me countless amounts of inspiration, from even before I ever could call myself crew!

Your not-so average ray of sunshine by Ashley: Not only is she a talented writer, but her blogs are interesting and give me a dose of "real world" when I'm feeling a little run down by the flight attendant life. Not to mention, she's from my corner of the world!

Back to Earth... I Miss the Sky!

Aug 19, 2010

It's been a week now that I've been on ground, and I must admit... I miss the sky. I'm not accustomed daily life with schedules, routines, and normal hours of the day. I'm looking forward to finishing training and getting back in the air. I'll tell you more about that in a second.. but FIRST....
I'd like to thank everyone who voted for Ryan and I to win the photo competition. We went a bit spam crazy, begging and pleading for votes and likely driving everyone on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr a bit nuts. It was a tight race, and while we didn't place first, we were both still very happy to win second place... and $200! The money will go towards a flight to Toronto so that Ryan can join me as soon as I get a layover there! I'm really hoping that my September roster will bring me good things.
Anyways, back to training. For those of you who weren't aware, I've made the switch. I'm converting. No, not my religion, although you'd think so given the reaction that I often get when I tell people that I'm moving to the A380. The Airbus A380 is a huge double decker aircraft and the largest passenger airliner in the world. Depending on the configuration, they can carry up to 853 passengers. Fortunately, my airline has opted for a much less intimidating capacity of 517. It's big, it's exciting (lounges and stairs and showers, oh my!) and most of all.. it's just really pretty.
Remember back to when I first begun training and I wrote about the stress of learning the safety procedures, medical training, and service? I've had to face this all over again, just condensed. Rather than 6 weeks of training, I'm back at the Training College for 2. However, when you are used to being on the go hopping around the globe, 2 weeks of sitting in a classroom feels more like 2 months. Today marked the end of week 1, and after successfully passing all of my exams, I'm planning to enjoy my weekend by curling up on the couch with a stack of DVD's.
One more week, one more week.
Another topic that I know some people have been curious about... Ramadan in Dubai. Ramadan is the Holy month in the Islamic faith. Muslims abstain from eating or drinking anything during the day, and break their fast each night at sunset. It's intended to teach them to be appreciative, patient, and to feel hunger in order to understand what life might be like for those that aren't privileged enough to have food on the table every day. So what does that mean for us Non-Muslim residents? Most importantly, eating or drinking (even bottled water) in public can land you a fine. Most restaurants are closed during the day and reopen each evening. For the party crowd, it is a month of boredom as no live or loud music is permitted. Nightclubs become silent and dancing is also against the rules.
Fortunately for me I'm not a party girl and even if I was, I'd be too busy studying for exams. The cafeteria in the Training College remains open, so Ramadan hasn't really affected me all that much aside from not being able to bring coffee to class. At the worst, it's meant that I've had to cook my own meals on occasion rather than waiting for the restaurants to open. It's only a month. Once it's over, we'll be a month closer to winter and much welcomed cooler temperatures.
As much as I'd love to continue updating you on my not so exciting life, the sun is setting and I'm going to catch up with the lovely Miss Piriya as soon as the restaurants open their doors!

I Need Your Help!!

Aug 16, 2010

Dear friends, family, and loyal
blog followers:

Help Ryan and I win a contest??
My good friend Ronnie Rabena is holding a photo contest and top prize is $300... which just so happens to be half of the fare for a trip to Toronto, where I'll soon be enjoying layovers. In simple terms, it would be amazing if he could fly and meet me for a weekend. We need your support, please! Help us to reunite!

The first photo to get 200 "Likes" will win! It's worth a shot!!
Thank you, I love you all!

Exploring Shanghai

Aug 13, 2010

I'll admit that I formed an opinion of Shanghai having absolutely no knowledge about the city. It wasn't that I didn't want to go, it was just that this was my last flight on the main fleet and I was hoping that I'd be jetting off to Rome, Tokyo, or somewhere that the A380 doesn't fly to.
I reluctantly got ready, still exhausted from a not so thrilling turnaround to Cairo a day before.
We arrived in the early evening and after checking into my room I was struggling to stay awake. I'd planned on venturing out, but instead I ordered room service, had a bubble bath, and headed to bed.
The next morning I headed to the lobby early to meet up with 2 other crew members and the first officer. As none of us had been to Shanghai before, we were excited for a day filled with sightseeing.We took the shuttle bus to the city and then caught a taxi to the Oriental Pearl Tower... a tall radio tower that promised a great view of the city from above. The line was moving fast, so we bought tickets and stood outside in the hot, humid air. Once we'd made it inside the building, we were annoyed to discover a line longer than that of the busiest ride at an amusement park in the height of summer. Hundreds of people stood waiting for their turn to go up the tower. Since we'd already paid, we waited... and waited. The flight attendants in us scanned the room, wondering how on earth we'd ever escape in the event of a fire. Being among very few Westerners in the crowd, all eyes were on us. A few giggly girls subtly snapped photos of us. After what felt like forever (but was probably closer to 45 minutes) we'd reached the elevator. We crammed like sardines inside as we rode to the top. Despite a thick layer of smog, the view was still pretty great. Huge buildings stretched out in every direction. Shanghai is such a massive city! We spent awhile on the viewing level, and I even (very briefly) stood on the terrifying glass floor and watched the traffic drive below. Perhaps the most disturbing part of the day was when I spotted a woman holding her young child over a garbage bin in the middle of the busy room. Pants down, the child urinated inside, clearly unable to wait for an available toilet. Deeply disturbed and no longer as hungry as we had been a few minutes earlier, we decided it was time to head back down.
I've traveled the world and sampled local cuisine, but today I wasn't feeling particularly adventurous when it came to food choices. Luckily, the rest of the crew were in agreement, and we happily headed to Starbucks. After we'd finished our delicious drinks we caught a taxi and pointed to an area of the map that we wanted to visit. We were at People's Square, a beautiful green park in the middle of the giant city. For some reason I hadn't expected to see much in terms of grass and trees, as I'd pictured Shanghai to be more of an industrial city. I was pleasantly surprised and snapped the mandatory photos. It had began to rain so we sought shelter inside of a shopping mall where we sat and ate pizza for lunch. It was delicious and our drinks were served with cool light up stir sticks!
The day was passing by quickly and we still hadn't seen all that we'd hoped to, so we quickly caught another taxi. All of the taxis here have big plastic barriers around the driver. I'm assuming it's for his safety, but I found it quite amusing that he was in his own little box. Our next stop was an old area of Shanghai converted into a massive shopping area. Classic Chinese architecture stood tall and beautiful as eager sales people rushed over to show us photos of "real" Rolex watches and Gucci handbags. We wandered the busy lanes lined with lanterns and food stalls selling all sorts of interesting items, including squid on a stick. As touristy and unadventurous as this makes me sound, I think I prefer westernized Chinese food as opposed to the authentic stuff. Spring rolls and chow mein were nowhere to be seen.
Across the street we discovered another park, with paths surrounded by endless bamboo trees. On the edge of the park was a stunning view of the highrises in the city. The sun had began to set and the buildings lit up like gold with the reflection. Sadly, it was time to return to the hotel to prepare for a long night of flying. We soon realized that getting back wouldn't be as easy as we'd anticipated. While attempting to hail taxis none would stop for us, and the 2 that did refused to drive us once we'd got inside. The language barrier left us confused, but I'm assuming that we were going to a different area of town than they wanted to drive to. We walked until we reached a busy main street and finally managed to catch a taxi. Our driver was awesome, honking the horn and shouting "Woo!" in excitement as we promised to tip well.
I was sleepy once I'd arrived back at the hotel, but there was no time for a nap. I got ready for the flight and headed to the airport for what would be a long 8 hours back to Dubai. With a little caffeine induced energy, I made it back and bid farewell to my beloved Boeing 777-300. We've had a great 7 months together, but it's time for me to move on to bigger and better things.
Training commences this week, so there will be no flights in store for me for a few weeks. Please cross your fingers that next month's roster blesses me with a trip to Toronto!

It's Not All Glitz and Glamour

Aug 4, 2010

My most recent layover brought me to Kolkata, India. Generally speaking, I tend to dislike all flights to India. They tend to be at ridiculous hours of the night, they are always extremely busy, and we just head straight back to Dubai once we arrive. I wasn't sure what to expect from this trip, as it would be the very first time that I'd actually leave the aircraft in India.
The flight went by quickly. The passengers were polite and friendly, and most of them slept as it was the middle of the night. We landed in Kolkata and from the moment we stepped into the airport I could tell that it was definitely not a wealthy city. The airport was old and outdated, quite the contrast from most of the major airports I've been to. After an extremely long and
bumpy bus ride, we arrived at one of the nicest hotels I've stayed at so far. I settled into my room and snacked on the bowl of fruit provided on my desk. Some hotels, including this one provide a crew lounge. Usually it's a room with couches thrown in where a bed would normally be. Crew can hang out, have a few drinks, or use the internet. I opted for the internet, having withdrawals as it had been hours since I'd spoke to Ryan. Much to my frustration, I was unable to connect. Impatient and exhausted, I headed back to my room to take a nap.
I woke up starving, so I headed downstairs to meet up with 2 other crew members... Stela from Spain and Gabi from Brazil. The 3 of us indulged in the buffet, sampling Indian specialties as well as pizza and pasta. By the time we'd finished we we so full that we could have crawled right back
into bed. Instead, we went outside to catch a taxi to Mother Theresa's House. She had lived in Kolkata and we'd heard from a few people that we should visit if we had the chance. The half hour taxi ride was the scariest one of my life. We clung to our seats as we watched buses miss us by inches. After that ordeal I'm amazed that there are still Indian passengers afraid of flying. The sky seems like a pretty calm ride in comparison to their chaotic roads.
Our driver dropped us off and pointed us in the wrong direction. Fortunately, friendly locals directed us the right way. While walking we were overwhelmed by the extreme poverty in the area. Thin, impoverished people lined the sidewalks, putting their hands to their mouths in hopes that we'd have food to offer. It was heartbreaking to see, and after our huge buffet lunch we were feeling pretty guilty. People showered themselves using pails of dirty water. One young
boy who was approximately 2 years old ran up to us and grabbed our hands, walking with us. Wearing only a diaper, he chatted happily to us as if we were his new best friends. His mother approached us holding a small baby. The 3 of us looked at eachother, realizing that we didn't have it in us to walk away from them. Still holding the boy's hand, we approached a small shop where we forked over our meal allowance to pay for a large container of powdered milk and a baby bottle. The little boy happily clung to it, enthusiastically shouting "I have milk!! I have milk!!" He was as excited as any child back home would be on Christmas morning when they'd received just what they'd asked Santa for. The mother repeatedly thanked us, holding out her hand in gratitude. We continued walking, feeling both happy that we were able to help, but sad that people live in such terrible conditions. We finally reached our destination and we were welcomed inside by a nun. She showed us where to go and we headed inside. First, we walked
through a room with photos, stories, and objects once owned or used by Mother Theresa. We read about her amazing life and the many people she'd helped. Afterwards, we walked up the stairs to the room where she had lived. It was exactly as she'd left it, with a crown of thorns above her bed and a photo of her greeting the Pope. It was quite surreal. I've been to many sites where prominent people had once lived, but the majority of them had passed away years before I was born. I can still remember hearing about Mother Theresa and watching the news on the day that she died. Maybe the fact that it occurred within my lifetime made it a bit more touching... or maybe it was just the fact that she was an incredible woman who cared so deeply about helping the poor. Either way, it was quite the place to visit. Next, we headed to the room that housed her tomb. A nun offered us "Miraculous Medallions". Mother Theresa used to carry buckets full of the small medallions and hand them out to everyone she met, as a symbol of faith
and devotion. A few people sat praying beside the tomb, some wiping tears from their eyes. It wasn't the Eiffel Tower or the Red Square, or any typical sightseeing during a layover, but the 3 of us were happy that we'd went. We inquired about volunteer work at the orphanages nearby, as it's something I've always wanted to do. I spend so much of my life in fancy hotels, spending my money in shopping malls and on room service, maybe one day I'll take a less selfish vacation.
As we headed back into the streets we were once again bombarded with children begging for food. Adults surrounding them told us "Do not give them any money, give them food". We had limited funds and there was no possible way that we could help even a fraction of them. I had a bag of candy and we handed them out to children as we passed by, promising that we'd come back another time. We walked by the same family that we'd bought milk for. The baby sat in his
mother's arms with a giant grin on his face as he drank from his brand new bottle. It was a quiet ride back to our hotel. It was a bit difficult to enjoy the luxury of our plush accommodations after such an eye opening day. I headed back to my room, soaked in a bubble bath, and crawled into bed. It hadn't been a glamorous, fun layover as most are, but nonetheless I was glad that I had an opportunity to visit India and at the very least, help one extremely desperate family.