The Newest November

It has been the craziest, most surreal month of my life. It’s so difficult to explain what head space I’m in right now. I’ve just woken up from a 16 hour sleep and to tell you what day of the week it is would be a huge achievement.

I haven’t blogged in a while because I’ve been so busy travelling the world, literally. For those of you who have been following my blog I finally moved into permanent accommodation, so no more hotel perks for me. However, it is nice to finally be able to call somewhere home. I’ve also flown to some incredible cities including Sydney, Bangkok and Beijing. I’ve also been spending my days off out and about in Dubai so I‘ve got some restaurant recommendations, as eating out is one of my all time favourite things to do. I also got to see my parents for the first time in 3 months which is the longest time ever for us, it was truly incredible. And now I’m planning my first Christmas in Dubai, so I’m excited to see what December brings.

I’m going to start with my 30 hour lay over in Sydney. This Christmas it will be exactly 10 years since I last visited Australia with my family, for a three week trip around some of it’s most beautiful cities including Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns. Sydney is very clean, something I noticed straight away. The day I was there it was so hot and the mood in the city was just fabulous. Everyone seemed so happy to be walking along the harbour, taking pictures by the Opera House and drinking beers in the open roof top bars.

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We arrived in the evening which was perfect because it gave the crew an opportunity to adjust their body clocks and get some rest. The following day I met two crew members in the lobby and we headed out to explore the city. We didn’t have much of a plan in mind so we just walked and walked, chatting about our lives in Dubai and our lives back home. Once we walked far enough we sat down in a thai restaurant located down by the harbour, and I enjoyed a huge glass of wine. It was nice to be in different surroundings, watching all the people walk by just ‘doing’ life.

Sydney made me understand why so many people from the UK move to Australia. I almost felt quite at home there. Everyone just seemed so chilled out and content with life. It’s definitely something I would consider in the future (no plans just yet). The day seemed to pass so quick and I had to think about resting for the long flight home early the next day. Long haul flights are really tough, especially when it’s your first operational and you have barely any idea what you’re doing. Luckily I had the pleasure of working with some fantastic crew who really helped me through the flight.

After some trashy TV and room service it was time to sleep before heading back to Dubai. The layovers go so fast and before you know it you’re on your way home. Australia is definitely somewhere I would like to see more of so hopefully there will be more flights in the near future. 

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So I finally got the e-mail.. dreading it I certainly was because you have no idea what to expect. Crew accommodation is situated all over Dubai and where you get located is a huge deal. I made so many friends living in the hotel and now we are all separated into different apartments all over the city. Luckily I received the e-mail and got extremely lucky. I live only one metro stop away from Mall of the Emirates which is definitely a bad thing for a self confessed shoppaholic. I also live only a short taxi ride away from the Marina so for dining out and nights out it’s a great location to live in. It’s far from work but the journey is bearable. I’ve lived here for around 3 weeks now and I’ve still not met one of my flat mates. I know she’s from Mexico but that’s all I really know. I find it kind of weird that I’m sharing a kitchen and air conditioning with a girl I’ve never met. I also live with a Romanian girl who is quite a bit older than me and has worked in the company for four years. I feel as though we aren’t going to become best friends any time soon but I’m okay with that.

Nevertheless, I love my new apartment, my room is like my little cave where I catch up on sleep and watch endless episodes of The Walking Dead. I feel as though it’s important to continue to make a conscious effort to meet up with people I’ve become friends with, otherwise life in Dubai can become very lonely. But making plans with friends often means eating lots of food or going out drinking, and so far the gym and me haven’t been reunited. Tasting everything that comes into sight on the aircraft is becoming far too much of an often occurrence. I either need to slow down on what’s going into my mouth or crack the whip and get back on that treadmill. Either way, something has got to change.

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Spending days off with friends at Andreea’s Beach and Horizon Lounge Rooftop Pool, where crew receive free entry and 40% off food and beverages. If you’re feeling like chilling out and catching up on a poolside nap this is definitely my favourite place to do it.

Next stop was Bangkok, this was a destination I was super excited for, as I’ve never been to Thailand and had no idea what to expect. I made a huge mistake on the way over and didn’t get enough sleep before the night flight. I became very drowsy and started to get a sore throat. I tried drinking plenty of water but it’s easy to forget and coffee seems like your best friend when your eye lids are closing down on you.

It was mid morning when we arrived in Bangkok and I felt terrible. I got to the hotel, pulled my hair out of it’s tight up-do and wiped the make-up from my face. I literally sunk into the double bed and fell straight to sleep. I woke up a few hours later and I felt horrendous. I opened my mouth and took a look in the mirror, the back of my throat was so swollen. I knew this was the beginning of a long road to tonsillitis. I’ve had tonsillitis many times before and I can definitely tell the difference between a lousy sore throat and this absolute killer which I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I quickly got dressed and headed to the streets of Bangkok in search of some antibiotics.

I left the hotel and kind of just planned in my head that if I walked in a straight line down the road I can’t possibly get lost. So I did and eventually I came across a pharmacy which was situated amongst rows and rows of stalls selling street food. I was hungry but I wasn’t sure that was going to be the best thing for me. I bought some antibiotics and carried on walking in search of a clean looking local restaurant where I could enjoy a Thai curry. As I was walking along the streets of Bangkok I kept experiencing this eye watering whiff of what I can only describe as sewage. It was literally so unbearable I was having to hold my breath until I thought it might be safe to let go.

I saw a restaurant across the road from a mall and thought “let’s give it a go”. There was a few tables occupied so I thought it can’t be that bad. I walked in and asked if I could sit on the rooftop thinking it would be filled with people drinking Thai beer, enjoying the breeze, listening to a DJ or something, I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was dead, not a sole to be seen. Not to mention I had a sweat on from quickly walking up the four flights of stairs eager to see what was going on. I got to the top and thought to myself, I’ve make a huge mistake. But you know when it feels too late? Like there’s not much you can do because it’s shameful to walk out now. Anyway I ordered myself a curry and a beer (even though antibiotics and alcohol don’t mix well, I felt like I deserved it) and headed back downstairs to the main restaurant passing some weird looking rooms in-between. I waited for about 15 minutes then I’m not even joking I had the most incredible curry, literally faultless. It was so good, I couldn’t believe my luck. For the life of me I can’t remember the name but I know exactly where it is and next time I go to Bangkok I’m going to head straight back there. It was so cheap as well, I treat myself to a foot massage afterwards and for the beer, curry and foot massage I paid less than £20 I almost felt like a criminal. I thought surely that can’t be right, I can’t leave without paying the full amount.

That night I went back to my hotel and I was up all night, I was hot then I was cold. My throat felt like it was closing up and swallowing was such a challenge. It sounds very dramatic but I was in a lot of pain. I had a turn around flight to Hong Kong the following day and then another 24 hours in Bangkok before returning back to Dubai. It was still my first month of flying and I didn’t want to start calling in sick. I rarely did it at home when I worked part time or miss a day of uni, it just wasn’t really like me. After maybe two or three hours at most of sleep I got up and started getting ready for work. I felt so weak and frail but I didn’t even know how to call in sick so I just went anyway. It was a long and tough day but I managed to get through it seeing only the airport at Hong Kong which really disappointed me as I have a friend who is studying there for a year and it would’ve been so nice to see him.

I plunged myself back into my freshly cleaned hotel room bed and slept like a baby, after taking another dosage of pain relief. When I woke up the following day it was such a relief to finally start to feel myself again.

This flight was unusual for me because I didn’t really feel as though I connected with any of the crew members, partially because I wasn’t feeling great so probably wasn’t acting myself but also because I kind of just wanted to be left alone. Don’t get me wrong if I wanted to hang out with anyone I most certainly could of, but I just wanted to be within my own company.

I left the hotel that afternoon in search of a taxi, I wanted to go to The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. So I got talking to a guy who owned a tuk-tuk and he offered to take me. Although I was a bit wary because I’d been warned not to use tuk-tuks as they can over charge you, I negotiated a price and hopped in. The guy was so friendly and even came back for me an hour later to take me home. I asked him if he could take me to a restaurant where I could eat some local food. His English wasn’t great so he rang his friend and asked me to explain what I wanted to him, as his English was much more developed. Through the awkward communication I arrived at a little outdoor restaurant where the staff were very friendly and the food was very nice. A group of British boys sat at a table near me and I could tell by the way they kept staring at me they were wondering what I was doing there by myself. I don’t think I particularity looked like a back packer so I suppose it could be quite confusing.

As we pulled up at the hotel the driver quickly scribbled down on a piece of scrap paper his telephone number. He told me, in the best English he could, that if I was to ever come back to Bangkok please will I call him and he’ll take me where I need to go. I took the piece of paper, and I was so happy, I almost felt like I’d made a new friend and it would be so nice to go back and see him again. It’s nice when you meet someone in a strange city who you feel like you could trust to drive you around, because as tourists it’s so easy to get over charged or conned into paying too much. 

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After spending a few days in Bangkok I returned to Dubai early hours in the morning. I was so excited to be back as my Mum and Dad had landed earlier that day and I was meeting them for dinner. First I needed sleep so I would be on top form to see them for the first time in three months. After I regained some much needed energy I jumped on the metro and headed to the other side of Dubai. The journey felt like a lifetime, I was so eager to get there and see them. Finally when I saw my mum it was exactly like when I left her the day I moved. She hugged me so hard and didn’t let me go for ages, we both cried and kind of laughed at the fact we were crying. The three of us just talked for hours, we had so much to tell each other. They were only staying for one night before heading onto a cricket tour around India, so I knew it was going to be short and sweet.

That night we took a taxi to Zuma which is a Japanese restaurant in Dubai. Everything about it is incredible. The food, drinks, atmosphere, the staff, all of it was so good. Not to mention the company I was in. We had the best time catching up and I would highly recommend the black cod, it was heavenly. Leaving was so tough, almost as difficult as when I first left but this time I was leaving them for a place I can kind of call home now. We each got in separate taxis to part ways and I cried most of the way home until, and this is no word of a lie, the taxi driver smacked me over the head, asked why I was crying, told me he hadn’t seen his mother in almost three years and that I shouldn’t show my feeling so much. I honestly couldn’t believe it and I couldn’t wait to get out of the taxi. I went straight to bed when I got back, feeling worse than ever. Although I felt much better when I woke up, as if it was all a dream.

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The next and final stop of my first month of flying was Beijing. Similar to Bangkok I’d never been before so I was excited to see what it would be like. I had already done my research and knew I wanted to go and see the great wall of China. Luckily as soon as I entered the briefing room before the flight a girl who was also from the UK was trying to recruit crew to go with her. In the end only three of us took the 1 and a half hour trip from our hotel and enjoyed a fun day out. We took a cable cart up to the wall where the views were incredible. Luckily we had a dry, wind-free, clear day to enjoy walking parts of the wall (not all of it, time as cabin crew is limited) and taking some pictures. We also got to take a slide down back to the bottom which was fun.

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I like stepping out of Dubai into cold countries, especially at this time of year when Christmas is approaching. It’s nice just to feel something different and even being able to dress slightly differently.

Since going to Beijing I spoke to a friend of mine who wrote an assignment on the city. She told me some interesting things about Beijing which has made me want to continue researching it’s past. I felt like the city gave off a very sad and distant vibe. Although the weather was cold, which may have contributed to the fact people seemed unfriendly that’s the sort of vibe I gathered.

Some of the crew went to the Forbidden City, so if I ever got the chance to go back to Beijing I would definitely go there, they seemed to enjoy themselves too. 

I must admit, I think Beijing was the most challenging flight I’ve experienced so far, solely due to the language barrier. Very few people could speak English and as it’s my only language, it’s difficult for me to communicate with non-english speakers. I think it was just as frustrating for the customers as they tried to explain things to me which I didn’t understand. Luckily on every flight we have at least one member of cabin crew who can speak the local language, not to mention all the other languages that are combined amongst crew. This enables a strong line of communication between both crew and customers.

..And that brings my first month of flying to a close. It’s been a crazy first month but I’ve loved it.

Nicola x

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