Countries Visited (not including Turnarounds): Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Greece, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, North Korea, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United States, Vatican City
London | Perth | Sydney | Melbourne
Seatguru - Most Comfy Seats On Any Airline
pprune.org - Pilot's rumour network
Kangaroo with a Sweet Tooth
Kronicles of Kris
The Adventures of Alle Malice
Joel's trek across Asia/Europe in a Hilux
Phil's Wine Site
I Can Has Cheezburger
The Flying Pinto
Girl on Raw
Things Bogans Like
Bobby at Up, Up and a Gay
Straight Guy in the Queer Skies
Skin by Falter
Thursday, November 20, 2008So we come to the land of the vending machine...
Believe me, there are a lot of them.
My jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw my bottom-bid roster for this month. 7 days of reserve (should have had 12 due to my October leave, but I guess someone in scheduling really likes me!), Munich, Singapore Melbourne and Nagoya. Many swaps later it is unrecognisable, but the Nagoya was the one flight that shocked me. For the first time, and without telling any of the crew, it had been made a 2 day layover. And my first thought was TOKYO!
As much as I love Nagoya, I'd been there twice already, and it had gotten to a point where I had a routine sorted - Get to the hotel, go out for dinner with crew, go to sleep before the crew get legless drunk, wake up, go to Starbucks for coffee, head to Mitsukoshi to stare for hours at the kimono and yukata they have, go to food court for bento box, go to Uniqlo and Muji to stock up on basics and travel knick-knacks, back to the hotel at 3pm, sleep until wake-up. I planned extensively in Dubai what I wanted to do - even printing off a travel guide and city map, and train timetable for the Shinkansen.
The Shinkansen, or Bullet Train, is the fastest and most preferred way to travel between any major city on Honshu Island and Tokyo. It is also incredibly expensive - a one way trip was 10,070 Yen, equivalent to 400DH or $104 USD, however from Nagoya to Tokyo it was 2 hrs, back to Nagoya it was only 70 minutes depending on which Skinkansen you boarded.
Now I should probably mention at this point is that I didn't make it to Tokyo in the best condition. Aside from the jet lag, an hour or so after landing into Nagoya I felt a bit crook, bit of mild abdominal pain but nothing major. Went to the hotel, got myself some Teriyaki pork cutlet burger from Mos and had a quiet dinner, but shortly after that the mild pain ended up really sharp and I was in sweats. 'Slept' in the foetal position with a bin beside my bed just in case. But I knew no matter what, unless I was unconscious, I still wanted to go on that train. I know it was stupid, but looking back I don't regret it, I'm glad I made the trip.
So reached Tokyo Station, and realised the map I had printed was still in Nagoya, so spent 1.5 hrs walking around the place trying to buy a map and finding out where on earth I was. The map I did end up buying was awful, didn't show the city in detail, just the different wards and train lines which didn't help on ground that much at all. Eventually, putting my 2 years of Japanese lessons to good use, I managed to make my way to the imperial palace, which was well worth the stress.
You can even see the koi!
The Tōkagakudō (Peach Blossom Music Hall), which was incredibly striking with all it's coloured tiles on the outside.
A relaxing haven for locals amongst one of the most populated cities in the world
Suwa no chaya tea house. The weren't serving any when I was there :-(
After wandering around the Imperial Palace for a few hours, I decided to visit the largest fish market in the world - Tsuji Fish Market. I wanted to go and have some sushi (even though admittedly I didn't really like sushi) just for the experience. But alas not having a decent map on me took it's toll and I was wondering around Ginza for a few hours without any understanding whatsoever of where I was. Ginza is quite nice, plenty of high-end stores like Chanel, LV, Dior and whatnot, but you can find these in any other big cities, and they're not that much fun to visit anyway if you don't have the $$$. After the rain started trickling I got fed up with the walking and headed underground for the nearest Metro station to Harajuku.
Harajuku area is well known for it's young teeny-bopper J-pop crowd, dressed in cosplay, french maid and school girl outfits. I hardly saw any of this (prolly cause it was raining). What I did see was a lively shopping district. Great restaurants. Great design houses. And when I finally had a look at my watch and realised how little time I had left until the last Shinkansen, I saw this.
Would love to know what it means.
Labels: Layovers9 comments
Sunday, November 02, 2008So I'm writing this whilst on Airport Standby, which is most likely my last duty on reserve before I revert back to my lovely normal roster. It's only 3 hours long, from 6-9am, and I have to admit that with my recent sleeping pattern of up at 11am, asleep by 2am, I started the duty quite fatigued, and VERY cranky. We're lucky these days, when I first started in this job, there was just these gross couches cleaned semi-regularly, one small TV with constant soccer, coffee that could barely be called that. Nowdays there are lounging chairs, WI-FI, a Costa cafe downstairs, and a big widescreen TV, which at the moment is currently showing Mulholland Drive.
One thing significantly different about this standby compared to the others is that it is shared with the Airbus 380 crew. And whilst a lot of this post may come across as being a case of Tall Poppy Syndrome, I really do get the feeling they're prancing around the Standby Lounge as if they own the place. I do have a few friends on the fleet (the lovely Toby being one of them) but the ones on standby today really did seem to make themselves noticed. I mean, having a completely different uniform doesn't particularly help, but there's no need to leap up from the couches, go to the kitchenette, pace around the computers for someone to get off. Constantly go in and out of the 'quiet room' making just enough noise to wake people up, but not so loud as to look inconsiderate. Wait by the reception desk and have a giggle when the rest of us non-380 crew get lumped with a shocker flight, or a 9 day Brisbane-Singapore which most standby crew rarely pack well for. They really don't integrate well, only talking amongst themselves, don't really socialise with the rest of us old fleet scum.
So on that note, I guess I'm going to write here why I didn't go for the new fleet. Some readers and friends of mine, I guess awed by what Singapore have brought out, could not fathom that I would not want to be on this flying double decker bus.