lazy summer days

Jun 28, 2011

I'm enjoying every minute of being back home in Canada. Well, almost every minute. There are a few moments when I'm overcome by frustration due to my pollen induced allergy symptoms, but once those moments pass I'm back to loving my life and the fact that I'm back where I belong.

For a quick sample of what I've been up to lately:

I turned 25 on June 24th. It was a quiet day that I actually started with a trip to the gym. I know... how rare and unheard of for me! Content with the fact that I'd done my daily exercise, I proceeded to begin what would be a weekend of over-eating. Ryan was flying airplanes all morning, so I lazed around the house with my puppies waiting patiently (sort of) for him to finish. When he did, we met up with my Grandma who took us for lunch and shopping for the next day's party. It wasn't too much of an eventful day, but I suppose that's what happens when you find that you've all of a sudden become a grown up!
We had dinner with my mom at a new restaurant in town called "The Rock". They serve delicious pizza and yummy cocktails in sand buckets! That pretty much summed up my birthday!
The next day, however, was far less low key. My mom had planned a huge birthday bash in my honour. It served as a welcome home party as well, and our house quickly filled up with tons of family and friends... and oh my goodness, food. It was like a never-ending buffet of deliciousness. Each person that arrived had something new and yummy. My personal favourites went with the theme of the party.
First off, my beautiful cake! How awesome was it?! It was perfectly suited to my travel-themed celebration. Best of all, it was chocolate cake and tasted great. I may have over-indulged a bit.
Also a hit, were my cookies. I'd had the idea before leaving Dubai, thinking that it would never actually work out. I'd failed to realize that my fiance is absolutely amazing and creative, and with the help of his mom we set to work creating these tasty little masterpieces. His mom did the baking and painted on the ocean, while Ryan meticulously drew on the continents. I finished the cookies off with the name and airport code of each city. In my biased opinion, I think that they turned out amazing.

The party was great, stretching late into the night. It was so nice to see so many people that I'd missed oh so much.
The rest of my days home have been rather uneventful. Being unemployed really isn't all that thrilling without a car or humans to keep me company. My family is gone all day, while Ryan flies every morning. I've been spending a lot of quality time with Titan and Armani, my fuzzy cuddly babies. On that note, I'll leave you with an overload of puppy photos, because they happen to be 2 of the loves of my life.

Quarter Century

Jun 24, 2011

A few years back I remember reading an article in which middle aged men and women stated what age they'd like to stay if they could choose any year to freeze. The consensus? The average age chosen was 25. In my youthful 18 year old state I was certain that these people must have been crazy. Why would anyone want to be 25?! It was so old! Life certainly wouldn't be as much fun by then. I didn't understand, and I was convinced that I never would.

Fast forward a few years and I'm sitting here on my 25th birthday reflecting on life and how awesome it really is right now... and you know what? I get it. Today, I wouldn't want to be at any other point in my life.

Initially I was worried about the jump from 24 to 25. It's a pretty tough one to accept for anyone desperate to hang on to their youth. How did I possibly become old enough to rent a car? That had always seemed like such a distant, far off number. Now that I've reached the milestone, I'm content. After the fear subsided I took a moment to try to think of what was possibly so bad about being 25, and I struggled to find valid points.

I'm 25 years old and I've already achieved my biggest dreams and goals. Some people spend their entire lives trying to do the same. I've seen the world, I'm surrounded by amazing friends and family and when I look back at being 25 I'll be able to say "That was the year that I married my best friend!". I'm the happiest that I've been in a long time, and though I'm still hesitant about this aging thing, I know that this could be one of the best years of my life.

If nothing else, I have an awesome excuse to eat cake!

Happy Birthday to me! I'm spending it in Canada for the first time in 4 years!

Ryan and I on my 21st birthday, oblivious to the fact that 4 years later we'd be planning our wedding!

The Recovery Phase

Jun 23, 2011

It's currently 6 am and any normal unemployed person would be happily curled up in the warmth and comfort of their bed. I wish that I could be doing the same, as I've just purchased a new feather down duvet that makes my bed extra amazingly comfortable, especially in comparison to the rock solid mattress that I slept on in Dubai.

I'm tired and I have no commitments today that require my consciousness. Unfortunately, I'm also jet lagged. While convincing myself that I was immune to it after 18 months of constant globe hopping, it appears that crossing 10 time zones really confuses a person's body.

So here I am, wishing and hoping to be asleep, but wide awake instead. My lovely sleepy fiance was not too appreciative of my constant tossing and turning, so I gave up and accepted my defeat, leaving him to sleep in peace. I'm awake now, and it's going to be a long day.

Aside from my combined insomnia and fatigue, I've had a great first few days back home. I've spent time with my puppies, Ryan, and my mom. Ryan and I decided to get right back into our former routine, purchasing a gym membership and forcing our bodies to endure tough workouts. The post gym endorphins felt great, but day 3 and every inch of my body aches. Ryan and I are walking around sounding like an elderly couple, complaining about how sore we are with every step that we take. Getting back into it won't be easy, but we are determined to regain our former fitness level. Having a wedding in less than a year is good motivation.

As I spend my mornings lazing around the house, Ryan is off flying airplanes. This is still a bit odd to me, as we seem to have reversed roles. It's not often that I'm the one on the ground. I'm excited for him, and he loves the sky. It's nice to share in an interest that not many people have.

Yesterday we went to West Edmonton Mall, which I must add used to be the world's biggest until Dubai stole the title with the overpopulated Dubai Mall. Despite traveling to many great shopping destinations in my job, I rarely purchased new clothing and my wardrobe was desperately in need of an overhaul. I wandered from shop to shop, spending my hard earned cash on pretty new summer attire.

As we browsed a random homewares store, I spotted one of my very best friends from college. "Davey!!!" I screamed, excitedly. This was a huge surprise, as neither of us actually live in Edmonton, nor do we visit it very often. Davey lived in the dorm room across from mine and I believe that a time or 2 (okay, more like a few times a week) I wandered into his dorm and browsed his kitchen for food more appealing than what was in mine. It was great to see him again after so many years. It just so happened that Ryan and I had dinner plans with my friend Carley, who was my roommate in my college days. Davey joined us and we giggled about old times and laughed at how some things still hadn't changed. We've all matured, but only boring people ever truly grow up. It was a great night, and I left happy to be home. There are just so many amazing people in my life here!

Next up is a rather large party in honour of my homecoming and (this one is tough to admit) my 25th birthday. I'll be reunited with friends, family, and my favourite foods. I'm looking forward to it and I'm sure that there will be photos and stories to follow!

guess who's back?

Jun 21, 2011

It's the first day of summer! It's a beautiful, sunny day and the sky is a bright shade of blue. Best of all, I'm home!!

After 18 hours in the sky and over 24 hours of total travel time, I arrived back in Alberta, Canada late last night. As sad as I was to say goodbye to my amazing friends in Dubai (especially my roommate Kim, Frances, Glen, Sam, and Tenaya, all of whom were at the airport as I fled the sandpit one last time), I can't describe how amazing it feels to be home.


I'm getting reacquainted with one time zone, small towns, family, the real world, my puppies, and my fiance. It's going to take some time to adjust to the normalcy of it all, but I'm looking forward to it! For now, I'm off to cuddle with my beloved puppy Titan as I recover from my jet lag.

Ahh, there is no place like home!

one last thai-m

Jun 15, 2011

My excitement was building in the days leading up to the release of the June roster. Knowing that it would be my last month of flying, I was eager to see where I'd be sent. The day came and I opened the email to reveal just 2 flights. The first was my 48 hour Hong Kong, which I was very much looking forward to, and the second? Manchester.
Now don't get me wrong, I've had my share of decent Manchester layovers, but when it comes to least exciting destinations on the A380 fleet, Manchester is second only to Jeddah. If you like to shop, it's great. If you like to sleep, it's even better! But this was my very last flight as crew for my airline and I didn't want to do either of those things. I was rather disappointed and made a desperate attempt to swap the flight for either a Seoul or Paris. Somebody had to be willing to take the flight from me!! I seemed to be out of luck. Every request came back as rejected, and I began to accept my fate.
A few days later I landed from my Toronto flight, and having just missed the bus back to my apartment I decided to occupy my time using the crew computers. Just for curiosity, I decided to check the online swap shop to see if anybody had decided that they in fact wanted to go to Manchester. I couldn't believe my eyes... somebody was actually offering me a Bangkok trip in exchange! Knowing how popular that trip is, I hadn't even attempted to request it before. I clicked accept as fast as possible and went home ecstatic... my last flight would be to Thailand!
I was certain that things couldn't get any better, but boy was I wrong. Once I got home I checked out more details of the flight, just to see if I knew any of the crew. I actually had to do a double take when I saw my roommate Kim's smiling face on the crew list. Was this really happening?! After 6 months of wishing for a flight together, we'd been magically blessed with 4 day trip to finish off what's been an amazing career.
When Kim returned home I shared my happy news and we squealed with excitement, likely waking up our neighbours. It was going to be one awesome trip!
We set off at a ridiculous time of day, bound for the airport. Sleepy, but excited, we proceeded to the briefing room, passed our safety questions and we were off to the aircraft! It was an easy flight over, as Bangkok flights typically are. Kim and I snapped dozens of silly photos and happily worked together for the first and last time.
5 1/2 hours later, we were in Thailand! The long bus ride to the hotel served as a much needed nap time. Upon arrival, I headed to my room... room # 1111! This made me happy, as I've always made wishes when the clock hits 11:11. I'm sure that in the past I've even wished to be a flight attendant going on layovers. It seemed rather fitting for my final trip. I had a quick shower and tried to make myself look presentable before Kim came knocking on my door ready to go. We were all set for adventures in Bangkok! Our first stop was a very non-touristy one... Starbucks. Frappucinos in hand, we kept cool in the humid air.
Our plan for the afternoon was to spend our meal allowance at MBK, the massive mall that I manage to end up at each layover. We ventured to the street in search of a taxi but instead hopped onboard a tuk-tuk when the driver offered to bring us to the mall for the bargain price of 20 baht... less than 1 Canadian dollar. The only condition was that we stop at a tailor along the way. We weren't obligated to buy anything, but if the driver stopped and brought potential customers the shop owners would pay for his fuel. We walked into the store and were quickly attacked by the employees eager for a sale. I made up a a grand story about how I would return with my mom to get my wedding dress made. Leaving them feeling a bit hopeful, we dashed for the exit and back to our tuk-tuk.
We cruised through the streets and weaved in and out of traffic in ways that would strike fear to most Canadians, but as an expat living in Dubai scary driving no longer phases me.
We made it to the mall safely and paid the driver double the fare for a tip, but still less than you'd pay for a chocolate bar in most countries. MBK was chaos as always. Jam packed with tourists and locals, we wandered from floor to floor in search of items that we didn't need. As I'm preparing to leave Dubai forever, my lonely roommate stocked up movies and TV series to occupy her time when she finds herself alone in the big apartment.
Next up was the best part of trips to Thailand... dinner time! We headed to the food court where I ordered my favourite... Tom yum goong soup! It was delicious as always and went perfectly with my banana milkshake. I felt great sympathy for Kim, who is allergic to seafood. I just couldn't imagine a life without prawns!
Full and ready to carry on with our day, we left the food court for our next adventure. A few months back I'd discovered a Thai photo studio in the mall, and since then I'd been eager to visit and have a Thai-style makeover. Much to my luck, Kim agreed to join me and we headed to the studio where we choose dresses to wear before being rushed to makeup. As someone who rarely wears much makeup, I must admit I felt ridiculous. Layer after layer of makeup was applied to my face. I was relieved when I glanced over at Kim to see that the ladyboy applying her makeup was making her equally cake faced. Next up was hair. There was a lot of backcombing, a lot of hairspray, and uncontrollable laughter as we were made into Thai princesses with extremely big hair. Once it was finally time to change, it all came together.
In our flowing colourful dresses, we looked the part and were quickly ushered to have our photos taken. As a photographer's fiance and flight attendant with a rather unique uniform, I'm more than used to having my photo taken. However, I couldn't help but to struggle with the extremely unnatural posing and giggle when the photographer made me tilt my head to the side. I could never be a model. It was absolutely hilarious and despite the awkward posing we had a blast being photographed. When we were finally able to see the photos, they were perfect! We looked like Thai royalty.
We ordered our favourites to be printed and then decided to return to the hotel. We'd been up for nearly 24 hours and our bodies were struggling for energy. We taxied back to the hotel and called it a night, hoping to get a good amount of sleep before our flight in the morning.
The next day we were off to Hong Kong! It's always a long day as we must return to Bangkok the same evening, but we were motivated by the buffet lunch in the airport lounge. First though, was breakfast! I made sure that I was one of the first ones through the passport line so that I had enough time to pick up one of my favourite snacks... mango sticky rice! Once onboard, Kim and I hid in the galley eating our delicious Thai dessert until it was time to board the passengers.
The flight over was busy and quick, as usual. At the end of the flight the purser approached me to tell me that he'd sent one of the business class crew members to sit in my jumpseat and take over my door. I was going to the cockpit for landing!! Since joining the A380 I've never had the opportunity to sit up front, as I've always been responsible for a door. I ran to the flight deck and took a seat next to a girl from business class who was also in her finals days as a crew member.
I've had the opportunity to sit in the flight deck for landings into Dubai, India and other places in the middle east, but nothing compared to the view of Hong Kong. On an unusually clear day, the mountains, sea, and skyline normally buried beneath a layer of smog were all visible. Even the captain was excited, pulling out his camera for a few shots of his own.
It was in that moment that I remembered why I was here in the first place. I didn't move across the world to go shopping in glamourous destinations or for the flight discounts. I'd did it simply because I loved to fly. I felt the same feeling that I'd had on my very first flight. This was my dream that I'd spent years trying to achieve and it was great to have a reminder of that fact. I was sitting in the cockpit of an Airbus A380, the most advanced passenger plane in the world, landing in one of the most incredible cities that I've ever visited. It felt like I'd reached some important revelation, like I could leave now on a positive note. All homesickness aside, it has been an absolutely incredible 18 months and I'm just happy that I'm one of the few people fortunate enough to have ever lived my dream, even if it was only for awhile.
I listened to the radio thinking of my pilot-to-be husband-to-be. If he feels the same way that I do up there, I couldn't be happier for him. We've got exciting futures in the skies!
Once we'd reached the gate we disembarked and made our way to the lounge for lunch. I loaded my plate with spring rolls and researched things to do in Bangkok with Kim. She went back to the plane early to sleep while I remained in the lounge, eating and wasting time online. I was feeling pretty sleepy when it was time to finally fly back, but the thought of sitting in the flight deck again woke me up. It was a beautiful evening as we departed Hong Kong, flying over the shining lights of the massive city. The moonlight lit up the mountains around us and I selfishly felt as if the day had cooperated just for me. Once the seatbelt signs had been switched off, I went back into the cabin to do some work before heading back in for landing into Bangkok. What is normally an exhausting and uneventful day had been pretty darn great.
Once we'd landed, left the airport, and reached our hotel, Kim and I were tired but determined to go for ice cream. It was 1:30 am as we headed to the mini-mart across the street for a much deserved treat.
We ate our ice cream and agreed to meet up the next morning early to make plans for the day. With only 4 hours of sleep I was less than eager to get out of bed, but I reminded myself that today was my last day of my last layover and my last flight working for my airline. I hopped into the shower and waited for Kim's phone call to meet her downstairs. Equally drowsy, she was quick to agree that our first stop should be to get coffee. We walked through the rain to Starbucks, got caffeinated, and then headed onwards to MBK to collect our photos from the other day.
We laughed rather uncontrollably as we pulled them out of the envelope. It had been so much fun, and the results were great. We happily proceeded to grab lunch... one last Pad Thai, of course.
It was nearly noon and we still hadn't made any concrete plans for the day, so we retuned to the hotel to ask the concierge to arrange transportation for us to go to the Tiger Temple. It was a 2 1/2 hour drive and we both knew that we should have left earlier in the day, but that didn't change our minds. We'd just be extra sleepy for the return flight to Dubai!
Our driver arrived 15 minutes later and we began the long ride to the Kanchanaburi province where the temple was located. I'd planned to use the time to sleep in the car, but our awesome driver kept us awake with his unusual music selection... a bit of my personal favourite, Jason Mraz, some classic power ballads, and the highlight... an acoustic version of the YMCA. Kim and I sang along in the back seat, excited for the day ahead.
It seemed to take forever, but we finally made it. We'd failed to realize that wearing shorts was not permitted inside of a temple, and were forced to buy a pair of pants at the entrance. They were baggy and we looked funny, but I must say, they sure were comfy! Once we'd paid our admission we were off to see the tigers! I didn't know what to expect of the place, but I was happily surprised. We wandered through the quiet paths, searching for signs or indications of where to go, when all of a sudden I caught a glimpse of a crowded area and spotted a tiger! We excitedly made our way there, happy to find that it was where we could have our photos taken. A volunteer took my camera as another took my hand and led me from tiger to tiger. I was able to sit down next to them, and smile happy but nervously as I had my photos taken with the beautiful animals.
We were assured that the tigers are not drugged, they have simply been raised with people and even in the wild tigers spend most of the day sleeping. Kim and I were ecstatic about our photos as we continued through the park. It was really an amazing place. Monks wandered the grounds walking tigers, and deer, birds, cows and other animals roamed free. It was free from the chaos and crowds of a zoo, and we were free to interact with the animals. We spent awhile watching the tigers, amazed and happy that we'd made the trip. My already perfect layover had just become so much better.
It was getting late and we both realized that we had to return to Bangkok to get some rest before our flight. We didn't want to leave, but we got in the car and began the long journey back with even more music to sing along with. By the time we reached our hotel it was nearly 7 pm and we had only a few hours before we had to leave. I quickly packed my suitcase and crawled into bed for a short but much needed nap. My wake up call came too soon, and I put on my uniform one last time to go check out of the hotel. It was such a bittersweet feeling.
We flew back to Dubai. The crew was great, and I'm really going to miss this job and my great roommate. Once we'd landed in Dubai one last time, everyone wished me good luck as they said goodbye. I've finally come to the end of my journey here, and I really couldn't think of a much better layover to have finished it off with!

It's a Delicious World!

Jun 9, 2011

A word of warning before proceeding: If you are currently hungry, please close this window and get a snack before returning. I really don't want any hate mail!

Carrying on... One of the best aspects of my job is the fact that I get to taste some delicious, authentic food from all over the world. My friends and family always giggle at the fact that the majority of my blog posts focus heavily on what I ate rather than what I saw and did. What can I say? I love my food. I know that I'm actually an obese girl trapped in this small body, but I like to think that my hours spent walking around different cities and running up and down the aisles of a massive airplane entitle me a little bit. I think if there is one part of the job that I'll miss the most, this is it. To please all of my fellow food lovers and make everyone else shake their heads at my addiction, here is a tiny sample of some of the yummy meals I've tasted in my travels:

Aussie Meat Pies, but not too authentic as I ate them in Dubai. Yummy, regardless.

Jjimdak in Seoul, South Korea

French Onion Soup in Paris, France

Bibimbap in Seoul, South Korea

Laduree Macaroons in Paris, France

Berry Waffles in Toronto, Canada

Pad Thai in Bangkok, Thailand

Fruit salad with lemon sorbet in Zurich, Switzerland

My personal favourite... Lindt chocolate in Zurich, Switzerland

Champagne at the world's only 7 star hotel, Burj Al Arab, Dubai

German sausages, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes in Frankfurt, Germany

Pretzel in Munich, Germany

Real pizza in Milan, Italy

My goodness I'm lucky... and now I'm hungry.

Happy Days in Hong Kong!

Jun 8, 2011

First of all... WOW. Thank you all for your support and sweet well wishes after my last post. I was overwhelmed, and I can't thank you enough. I've received so many emails and nice comments and I promise to reply shortly, but first... on to a new post!

While this job comes with many travel perks, the majority of my layovers are no more than 24 hours. Within those 24 hours we must disembark our passengers, make our way through airports, customs, ride a bus to our hotel, check in to our hotel, get a good night's sleep, get ready for the return flight and ride the bus back to the airport. It's really not that much time when you think about it. As you can imagine, I was thrilled when I discovered a 48 hour layover in Hong Kong on my roster this month. 48 hours?! Whatever would I do with all of my free time??
I was in a great mood as I headed to the briefing room. It was the 2nd last time that I'd leave Dubai as a crew member.
The flight over was a breeze. In our massive economy cabin, we had only 140 passengers. I thought it was a joke at first, as such numbers are unheard of in our normally full airplane. We have the capacity for 427 in economy, just to give you an idea of how empty it really was. Needless to say, it was one of the easiest flights that I've ever worked, and I had the privilege of working with some really great crew members. We made plans for our layover, as I repeatedly insisted that it had to be amazing as it was one of my last trips.
After landing and checking in, myself and a few others agreed to meet in the morning for breakfast, after which we'd head to Macau! I headed to my room and straight into bed, exhausted after a long day of flying.
I was extremely tired when I woke up early in the morning, forcing myself out of bed despite my desire to stay there all day. There were adventures to be had, and I was not going to miss out!
One of my favourite things about Hong Kong is the breakfast buffet. I've mentioned it before, but I feel the need to bring it up again. I filled up on enough food to last me through until lunch time, and best of all, it was free! What could possibly be better than free food?
Cameras, passports and train tickets in hand, I headed to the station with Simone from Australia, Stephanie from Germany, and Jerome from France. Despite a recent string of miserable crew putting a damper on my layovers, these 3 were happy, optimistic and excited for our day. I couldn't have chosen better people to spend the day with! We rode the train to Hong Kong island, caught a taxi to the ferry terminal, and bought tickets to Macau. What we hadn't considered was how busy it would be. It was only 10:30 and the next available tickets weren't until 12:45. Disappointed, we splurged and bought overpriced tickets for the 11:15 boat from a man selling a handful off to the side of the ticket line.
We headed towards the gates, feeling as though we were about to board a plane. We passed through customs, got stamps on our passports, and set off in search of our boarding gate. Once there, we waited until it was time to board the ferry. In typical cabin crew style, we read the safety card and joked about pressing the call bell. The journey to Macau was an hour long, cruising through the sparkling green water as we passed small islands and ships.
When we docked at the ferry terminal we were excited to head out and explore. We had no idea that hundreds of others would be just as eager as us. The lines for the immigration counters were ridiculous. There was no organization, people pushed for a spot hoping to get through quickly. We spent over an hour standing there, witnessing strange things such as a mother pulling down her child's pants and holding a plastic bag as he urinated inside of it. She then tied the pee filled bag and casually tossed it in a garbage bin. The 4 of us were greatly disturbed by this, but nobody else seemed to notice. Chinese cities always win top spot on my list of places with the most culture shock. We finally reached the immigration officer, got our passports stamped and we were free!
We'd agreed to find a tour guide to drive us around for the day, as we had limited time and wanted to see as much as we could. Our tour guide found us instead, introducing himself as Tony and convincing us that he was the best person to show us around Macau. We bargained for a better price, and once we all agreed, he led us to his car and passed us paper fans from the MGM Grand to keep cool in the summer heat. We stopped a few times outside of casinos and hotels for photos. It was oddly similar to Las Vegas, with fake volcanos, Greek ruins, and flashy lights. Formerly a Portuguese colony, all of the street signs were written in both Chinese and Portuguese, making it a very strange place indeed. We took all of the necessary tourist photos and headed onwards to the Macau Tower. We hadn't planned to go to the top, but an over eager Tony purchased our tickets and handed them to us, informing us that we needed to pay him afterwards. This was a bit annoying, but we figured we may as well go check out the view. At the top, we took in the stunning views of the islands and the casinos all built on reclaimed land. The Macau Tower is also home to the world's tallest bungee jump. Before that day I'd considered jumping myself, but once we saw a girl fall from the nauseating height my mind was changed. Walking on the glass floors was enough of a rush for me. For somebody who is an adventure seeker (not to mention working in the sky) I sure don't do well with heights!
After we'd seen the sights we headed back to a lower altitude, met again by Tony. He drove us around, pointing out buildings and statues and explaining their significance. We took photos out the windows like the tourists that we were.
Next stop was the Sao Paulo Cathedral. In 1835 it was destroyed in a fire during a typhoon, and today all that remains is one wall. On a distinctly Chinese street, the European-looking Catholic cathedral seemed very out of place. As we tried to take photos, we found ourselves as the tourist attraction. 3 girls, clearly not of Asian descent. People posed next to us and took photos, ignoring the historic building behind us. As flight attendants, we are accustomed to this, but as tourists it struck us as a bit odd. We walked down the street, picking up the essential fridge magnet (I have on from nearly every country that I've visited!) and losing our appetite at the sight and smell of the street food. It was extremely hot and humid, and we were ready to seek refuge inside an air conditioned building. We returned to our car, where Tony said goodbye and introduced us to our new driver. We told him to take us to the Venetian hotel, a replica of the same one in Vegas. We wandered the busy casino and the halls lined with designer shops. Having been to Vegas it was all very strange to me. They even had a Grand Canel, complete with gondola rides. It had been hours since breakfast and we were starving, so we set out in search of the food court and dined on Americanized food.
We refrained from gambling and instead went back to find our driver. We'd booked our ferry ticket for 5:45 and it was time to return to the terminal.
Fortunately, passing customs was much easier this time around. We were a bit early and decided to try getting on the earlier ferry. We were let on and boarded immediately, saving us from having to wait an extra half hour! Exhausted from an early morning and a day in the sun, the 4 of us slept on the journey back to Hong Kong.
Once we were back, we went our separate ways.... Simone and Jerome headed to the hotel to nap in preparation for a big night out, while Stephanie and myself decided to hang around the city for awhile longer. We caught a ferry across the harbour to Kowloon, where we stood anxiously awaiting the light show over the Hong Kong skyline. We waited, and we waited, but all that ever happened were a few beams of light from some of the buildings. It was uneventful, but I still managed to take many, many photos. The colourful buildings were beautifully lit up across the water. It was another moment to add to my long list of "Wow, this is my job" moments.
Content with our fun filled day, we returned to the train station and caught the train back to the hotel. I honestly don't know how I managed to stay up so long, but I was quick to fall asleep once I'd changed into my pyjamas and crawled into bed.
The next morning I woke up and headed downstairs for breakfast again. I still had an entire day in Hong Kong! Since I'd already seen the majority of the attractions that I'd hoped to and since I'd spent the majority of my money the previous day, I opted for a low key day. I bought a train ticket and headed for the city, deciding to wander it on foot.
I really love Hong Kong for its fast pace and mix of nationalities living together. It's like what Dubai strives to be, but Hong Kong pulls it off so much better. After a short walk around the busy downtown, I headed across the water once again to Kowloon. I strolled along the Avenue of Stars... like the Chinese version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The only names that I recognized were Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, but I'm assuming that in culture with more than a billion people some of the handprints on the path must have been from mega stars.
The clouds looked threatening but the rain held off as I continued wandering along the water, enjoying what may have been my last day ever in Hong Kong. Seeking air conditioning, I ventured inside of a huge mall. I wandered the many shops, fascinated with the useless yet adorable quirky items for sale. If it weren't for my extreme lack of suitcase space I would have pulled out my credit card right then and there... who doesn't need a rubber duck that doubles as a shower radio, or a pedometer that translates steps walked into how much chocolate you've earned? I was rather impressed with how well I resisted making any purchases, and treated myself to a green tea frappucino from Starbucks as a reward.
I knew that I had to return to the hotel shortly to get some sleep before the flight. On the way over I'd struggled to stay awake in my jumpseat during take off and landing, and this time I was going to be a bit more conscious. I reluctantly returned to the hotel, procrastinated sleep by spending some time online, and then finally gave in and took a nap.
I'm glad that I did, because the flight back seemed to last an eternity! It was quiet once again, with all of our passengers sleeping and the crew too tired for conversation. We eventually landed in Dubai, where I sadly said goodbye to my friend Cathy, who was in my original training batch. She was traveling as a passenger and it would be the last time I'd see her before moving home. More hugs, goodbyes, and well wishes followed as I parted ways with the crew after my suitcase showed up on the belt. If every crew was as great as these ones had been, leaving would be a lot more difficult. I'd had a great trip and made more great memories.
Just one more trip and I'm officially unemployed. I plan to make the next one the best, ever!

What Goes Up, Must Come Down

Jun 2, 2011

18 months ago I packed up my life and boarded a plane bound for Dubai. I'd never felt so many emotions at one time in my life... I was terrified, excited, happy and heartbroken. I'd spent years dreaming of that very moment. After great perseverance I was finally going to be able to call myself a flight attendant. I was off to see the world.
Leaving didn't come without sacrifice. I said goodbye to my boyfriend, my family, my friends, and my puppy. It wasn't easy, but this was the opportunity of a lifetime and I was definitely not going to let it slip through my fingers.
And so I set off for what would be a great adventure. I made amazing friends and experienced more in most months than many do in their entire lifetime. It's been one incredible journey. Without further ado, the purpose of this blog post is to inform you all of my resignation from my airline. A couple of weeks ago I went to meet with my manager to break the news. I'm leaving. It's been amazing, but it's time for me to move back to Canada and start the next chapter of my life.
This job and life in the Middle East has come with its share of ups and downs. I've dealt with homesickness and loneliness but I've also experienced happy moments that will live in my memory for the rest of my life. I'd be lying if I said that I won't miss it, but I'm looking forward to the future and all that comes with it.
What exactly does the future have in store for me? Well, I'm still trying to figure that out myself. If all goes to plan I'll be working in the same industry, because truth be told I really can't see myself doing anything else. You know how they say that some people are born to be doctors or teachers... it might sound silly, but I'm meant to fly. The sky is my home and for the first time in my life I've looked forward to going to work. I'm going to take some time off to relax and enjoy being back home, but stay tuned, my travel tales are far from over.
As most of you know, my non-career life has big things coming too. Ryan and I are planning a January 2012 wedding and I can't imagine being married and separated by an ocean. No, it's not the sole reason that I'm going home, but yes, it most certainly was a factor in my decision. I've never met anybody more suited to me. We are both so passionate about travel, photos, food, and aviation... in fact, just last week in Toronto he surprised me by announcing that while I've been hopping around the world, he's been in the process of obtaining his pilot's license. It's something that he's always wanted to do, and it means a lot to me that we share that common interest. The flight attendant will marry her pilot... how romantic!
This job has been hard work. I've been challenged emotionally and physically, dealing with jet lag and missing home more than I ever thought possible. If you ask me, it's been worth it. I feel like I'm a different person than I was a year and a half ago. I'm more adventurous, brave, and I know exactly what I want in life. I've accumulated dozens of passport stamps, hundreds of stories, and a bit unrelated, but I even gained a fiance.
It's not the end, but rather a new beginning. New memories are to be made, new adventures to be had. I'll miss the people that made this place that much more bearable. I've made some genuine friends and I'll never forget them.
Thanks for following the most crazy journey of my life so far. This blog evolved to become more popular than I could have imagined, and I'm truly grateful for the kind words and support I've received from those of you who read it.
Stick around, I promise to keep you updated as I continue my travels... and don't worry, I still have a couple more layovers that I'll be sure to write about before I depart the sandpit for good.
I'll leave you with a slideshow of some of my favourite moments that I've been blessed to experience.

Thank you, buh-bye.

A Romantic Weekend Courtesy of My Job

Jun 1, 2011

To finish off an already amazing month, I was once again bound for my home country and another 3 day layover in Toronto. While thoughts of Tim Horton's and buying groceries were exciting, the true icing on the cake was the fact that my fiance Ryan would be flying in from Alberta to spend the weekend with me! It had been nearly 2 months since we'd seen each other last, and we were most definitely due for a reunion.
Of course, before we could reunite I was forced to work a 14 hour flight to make me wait in anticipation for as long as possible. It was nothing less than chaotic, filled with a handful of crazy passengers and a good serving of crew drama. With all of that out of the way, we landed happy and safe in beautiful Canada. I rushed through the airport to the bus, eager to get to the hotel and see a smiling Ryan waiting for my arrival. The traffic on the way was less than favourable, added to my already high level of impatience. I couldn't wait any longer! We finally arrived and I was the first one off the bus. I rushed to the lobby ready for a hug, but Ryan was nowhere to be found. I immediately began forming assumptions as to where he could possibly be. Maybe his flight was delayed. Maybe he'd got tired of waiting for my delayed flight. Maybe I was secretly imagining all along that he said he'd meet me in Toronto. I checked into my room and waited around a few more minutes before going upstairs. I wasn't sure what to do. I had no phone, no internet access, and no idea where he was or when he'd arrive. I changed out of my uniform and flicked on the TV, waiting for some news.
Finally, after the longest 20 minutes ever, my phone rang. He was in the lobby! I gave him my room number and waited patiently for a knock at my door. We were together again, and life was lovely!! We talked about our flights and he explained that he'd tried to surprise me by meeting me at the airport. Unfortunately, he'd missed me by a matter of minutes as I rushed to the bus. Once he'd realized that I was gone, he proceeded to the hotel himself, but of course I beat him there. He was frustrated with the timing, but it didn't matter. We were together now and I was one happy girl. I was even happier when he surprised me with some super exciting news that I'll save for another post.
Before succumbing to jet lag and fatigue, I insisted that we go for a walk begin what was sure to be a food-filled weekend. We were leaning towards healthy options and had our hearts set on sushi, but after a few minutes of searching for a particular restaurant, we gave up and caved to our cravings. It was off to Wayne Gretzky's restaurant instead. We shared an order of delicious hot wings and threw in a salad to make us feel a bit less guilty. Everything was yummy, and it was so nice to be in the same place as the person that I love the most!
After dinner we made our way back to the hotel for an early night disturbed by my frequent tossing and turning. Jet lag kills me on this trip, and Ryan was suffering from my sleeplessness as well. I was up early begging him to wake up so that we could go for breakfast. I had bacon on the mind and I wouldn't give up the fight until he was out of bed and dressed to go.
We headed to Marche, a cool restaurant with several different stations. We walked past the waffles and fruit salads straight toward the bacon and eggs, where we loaded up our plates with breakfast amazingness. Oh, bacon... how are you so great? There was a short time in my life that I was a vegetarian (about 5 months to be exact), but my love for bacon drew me back.
After breakfast we continued walking down Yonge Street until we reached Eaton Centre, a popular shopping mall in the area. I got my broken iPod replaced at the Apple store, and proceeded on to do a bit of shopping, dragging Ryan into girly stores as I tried on clothes... he didn't mind though.
We were meeting up with some of my family later in the day, but we decided to go see a movie before they arrived. We saw Bridesmaids, which was hilarious. Just before the end of the movie we noticed Ryan's phone had a message. It turns out that my family was already waiting in the hotel lobby! Fortunately the movie ended a few minutes later and we walked to meet them at the mall. Awaiting our hugs were my grandparents, my Uncle Troy, and Sheri. We walked around the mall chatting and catching up, and then proceeded to the St. Lawrence Market for some yummy food shopping. Ryan and I were feeling pretty hungry, but after circling the market and loading up on samples we were satisfied.
My grandparents were enjoying a mini-holiday of their own, including a night at a nice hotel. It's not often that they come to the big city! We walked to their hotel to check in and went up to their massive room to enjoy some drinks and snacks until my favourite time of day... dinner! Yes, far too much of my life revolves around food and meal time.
After reading my blogs proclaiming my love of Korean BBQ, my grandparents were eager to try it for themselves. Being the technology loving grandparents that they are, they Googled a popular restaurant and we set off to eat.
I explained the basics as we began to cook our meal on the table in front of us. It wasn't quite the same as Seoul, but it was quite delicious nonetheless. Once we'd filled up on more than enough, it was time to go. My grandparents headed to their hotel as Ryan and I headed to Tim Horton's for the first time this trip. I'm amazed that it took me so long to enjoy an iced cappuccino! We got a caffeine buzz and set out for a walk along the waterfront. He took photos of the beautiful city lights reflecting in the water. We sat there awhile, enjoying the view and the company before retreating to our hotel room for the evening.
I tried really hard to sleep in the next day and let Ryan do the same. It was still quite early when I grew restless and once again got him out of bed far earlier than he would have liked to have been. We ate fresh raspberries that I'd bought at the market and lounged around watching TV before going for a quick walk. My grandparents came to the hotel when it was time for them to check out of their own. They left their luggage in our room as they had a few hours to kill before catching the train home. My grandma was set on buying a new dress, so we said goodbye as they headed to the mall and we ventured off in search of lunch.
Ryan and I were both craving sushi, so we walked around until we found a place that was open. It was very yummy, and the fact that it was 50% off on Sunday afternoons made it taste even better! Next on my list of cravings was bubble tea, so after finishing our lunch we asked our waitress where we could find some. We followed her directions and found a tea shop, where we were informed that the tapioca pearls wouldn't be ready for 20 minutes. Ryan was fine with this, but it's just not bubble tea without bubbles, so we decided to wait. We walked down the street and sat on a park bench taking photos.

I figured that 20 minutes had passed, so we returned to the tea place and ordered our drinks.
We'd made plans a few weeks earlier to go to Medieval Times, a dinner show. It was a beautiful day so we opted to walk even though it was about an hour on foot. We strolled along the lakeside, stopping to play on swings like the children that we are. We finally reached Medieval Times and took our seats just in time. If you are ever in the Toronto area, I'd recommend going! We cheered for our yellow knight as we feasted on huge portions of food.
To add to the experience, no utensils were provided and everything had to be eaten by hand. Ryan, myself, and every child in the place loved this part the best. The food was good, and so was the show.
Once it was over we slowly began the walk back to the hotel, stopping for photos along the way. If you ever spend time with Ryan and I you'll get used to the frequent photo stops. It always takes us a long time to get anywhere.
We eventually got back to the hotel, tired but not ready to call it a night. It was our last night together and I was craving a real Canadian caesar so I suggested going out for a few drinks. Our first stop was Jack Astor's, where I satisfied my craving but longed for a fruity cocktail as well. Deciding to explore our options, we headed next door to a restaurant called "The Loose Moose" where we ordered another drink. The place was uneventful, so we continued our wandering down towards Queen Street. A big storm was approaching and we watched as the sky lit up with lightning. It had been a long time since I'd witnessed a thunder storm, and I was a mixture of scared and excited. We didn't have a plan as to where we were going, but when the sky opened up and rain began pouring down our decision was made for us. We ran to the nearest restaurant and sat inside, warm and dry. We watched the storm and waited for the rain to die down before continuing our adventure. Next stop - PIZZA! We each ordered a slice and watched as lighting struck the CN Tower. So crazy! It was late and we were finally ready to call it a night, so we returned to our hotel and got a good night's sleep.
The next morning I purposely woke up early in an attempt to make myself tired enough for an afternoon nap before my flight back to Dubai. We found a cozy little restaurant where we ordered an amazing breakfast complete with bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and French toast.
We wandered the streets for a few hours, stopping for coffee and discussing lunch plans... clearly we need treatment for our food addiction. We hung out around the base of the CN Tower for awhile, talking about life and playing with my camera.
Finally, it was lunch time! We dined at an Asian restaurant that was so great, I only wish that I had discovered it earlier! The menu offered everything, from sushi to Thai to dim sum... everything that I love the most!
We each started with my favourite soup... Tom Yum Goong. It was not quite as spicy as what I'm used to in Bangkok, but pretty darn delicious!
Next up was pork and shrimp dumplings and a platter of salad rolls and tornado shrimp... amazing. We were well fed and ready for bed, but first we stopped for dessert at Wendy's. Mmm, Frosty. Feeling guilty for ruining my healthy eating plan, we walked to the supermarket where I loaded up on healthy goodies to bring back to Dubai... raspberries, blueberries, spinach and peas!
Back at the hotel we napped until it was time to get ready and head to our respective flights. I'm always sad to say goodbye, but after such a great weekend I was staying strong, much unlike my usual emotional self. We parted ways as I jetted back to the desert, but it won't be long until we are reunited once again!
I can't believe that I get paid for weekend getaways with my fiance!