Annyeong Haseyo: Seoul, South Korea

(Long Overdue post series)
(October 2013)
(Disclaimer: Photo heavy blog entry)

Korean culture was close to my roots since there were a lot of Koreans in the Philippines.  I've had
a Korean classmate in my Anthropology class and I was once supposed to teach Koreans as well.  KPOP seemed to be a trend as well in my home country.  Teenagers went gaga to Korean groups and Koreanovelas for a few years already. 

My ICN (Incheon Airport) flight was my chance to experience Korean Culture in its motherland.  It was such an exciting 2 legs trip for me because it would be my first time to eat "authentic" korean food and a side trip to a palace which I only see on telenovelas. 

We stayed in a hotel which was near the popular Gangnam District.  I, together with another Filipina crew went straight to Gangnam after we arrived at the hotel. We had dinner first before we proceed to our goal for the night: make-up/skin care stuff shopping.  We were delighted to see the word SALE flashing on almost every make up stores. Korean beauty products were really popular because of its quality.  I've read a lot of good reviews of Korean-made BB creams and even other products such as eyebrow make-up, mascara, facial masks etc. Seoul was indeed a shopping haven for all the "kikays" around the globe. I bought a few beauty products: Missha M Cover BB Cream, Etude Eyebrow Pencil, Etude Shockara, Missha Cologne, Holika Holika Green Tea Facial Cream Cleanser, Tony Moly Milk Lotion.  Wish I had the time to make a review of Etude's Eyebrow Drawing Pencil which was my favorite among my finds. 

Come the next day, I met my friend and we went to Gyeongbokgung Palace (one of the 5 palaces and was built during the beginning of Chosun Dynasty). It was (according to my friend) the location of Korean dramas Secret Garden and Moon Embracing the Sun and Dae Jang Geum.

 When my friend and I went inside, I felt like I was a character in a Korean drama, minus the hanbok of course. Let me share with you the photos I had on my palace visit:

Main Hall

Gyonghoeru Pavilion, venue for formal events and banquets
You could also change into hanbok and have your picture taken in Gyeongbokgung Palace but due to the Changing of Guards Ceremony, the former would not be possible for all visitors. The ceremony was like a scene in Korean Dramas, (never thought I could see it personally). I might not able to wear their traditional costume but it was fine since, at least, I was able to watch the ceremony. 

My friend and I also had a quick visit to the museum which was beside the palace.  It was good to look at everything inside but if you don't know how to speak Korean, you wouldn't understand every single description of the items inside as there was no English translation. 

Aside from knowing the country's heritage, the thing about paying a museum tour was experiencing the richness of every culture by just looking at objects displayed inside.  I might not able to understand every description but at least I knew that everything there played a significant role in Korea's history. 

My Korea flight was "BITIN" or short for me. I haven't explored a lot of shops along Gangnam District, a lot more food to try and I have yet to see Hello Kitty Cafe and etc. I just hope to be given another flight to Kimchi Land very soon! Needless to say, every trip is worthwhile when you go out and learn from the things you experience.  Kamsahamnida Korea!


Read Users' Comments (0)

Land Down Under: Sydney, Australia

(Long overdue post  part 1)
(September-October 2013)

Most of my colleagues say that newbies usually get flights to land down under because we still don't have US Visa (which was a requirement to operate US and Canada flights). True enough, I get Australia flights every month and I won't complain. It may be an ultra long range flight (it sometimes turns me OFF), but the destination was worth the flight duration.  

On the last part of my first month and on my second month of flying, the only Australian destination I got was SYDNEY (located in New South Wales). It was one of the most popular cities of Australia. Two of the famous landmarks you could find there were the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Good thing that our hotel was just in the heart of the central business district (CBD). Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge was just a few minutes walk from where we stayed.  Finding a place to eat and shop for food (in case you want to bring home some goodies), souvenirs and etc was never a problem - there were plenty of shops, restaurants, fast food chains/and or food courts, and convenience stores around the CBD.  

Let me share with you some of the things I did in Sydney (on those few times I've been there):

1.  Visited Bondi Beach

It was just a spontaneous trip to a beach..well at least for me. I was invited by another crew to join her and her friends on their Bondi Beach Visit. We paid 10 aud (that's a roundtrip fare) for our bus tickets.

According to Bondi Village website, "Bondi" or "Boondi" is an aboriginal word meaning "water breaking over rocks" or "noise of water breaking over rocks." The Australian Museum records that Bondi means "place where a flight of nullas took place." When we got there, I observed that the water was literally breaking over the rocks. It was an ideal place for surfers since giant waves were frequent from time to time.

In all honesty, I was never a beach lover, but I won't say NO for a walk in a picture-perfect beach like Bondi.

2. Of course, who wouldn't have his or her picture taken near Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House

3. More landmarks photo op:

a. Royal Botanic Gardens

b. St. Mary's Cathedral

c. Customs House

4. (Mini) Grocery Shopping at Woolworths and "Kikay" finds at Priceline

There's (only) a single thing that turns me off about traveling to Sydney - the long flight time. Like any other situation, there were times that it's really not the work that makes you tired, it's the travel time.
Nevertheless, I liked walking around Sydney CBD.The fact that our hotel was situated in the city made things easy for me. I did not notice the long walks, and sometimes the chilly air.

If you really have the budget to spend, Sydney would be a good idea for shopping (window or literally shopping). If in case you just want to explore or have fun, you could take the ferry (at the Circular Quay) going to Taronga Zoo or Darling Harbour. 

I am thankful for the perks of my job as it makes me discover a lot of things. It may be an understatement though but I couldn't think of any other thought to express my feelings about the things I am getting now. There's always a pursuit of learning when you travel. Walking around (by yourself) in a foreign place makes the traveling more exciting, plus, it makes you exercise independence.

As Mark Twain would say: 

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”


Read Users' Comments (0)

Selamat Datang ke Malaysia!

I became so excited upon knowing I will be flying to an Asian destination as it was my first time to fly to my home region ever since I came to the sandpit. As you all know, I haven't been out of my country until I was hired for my current position.

KUALA LUMPUR was my first Asian flight. I knew that Malaysian cuisine was really nice so it added to my excitement. I've read that their cuisine was a mixture of different cultures - Indian, Chinese and etc. I planned to eat at least one local dish on my layover.  Since our time there was just limited, I just wanted to see the Petronas Twin Towers (which was once the tallest building in the world) and the Batu Cave.

Approximately around 2 hours after our arrival on the hotel where we stayed, I met with some crews to have a look of the Peronas Towers and have our dinner.

Petronas Twin Towers was just a 5  minutes walk from our hotel. Adjacent to the famous landmark was Suria KLCC Shopping Mall. Finding a place to eat was not a problem if you're at the Petronas. I ate Penang Char Kway Teow (price below 7 RM at the Suria KLCC food court) - a stir fried noodle recipe made from rice cake strips (it has prawns, beans, chili and etc) .

Let me share with you some photos of the (still tallest) Twin Towers at night:

We booked a trip to Batu Cave for the next day (90 rm for 3 hours tour, all other stops include Chocolate Factory, Batik and etc.). If only I have more time, I could have just taken a train to Batu Cave because it was cheaper but it wasn't the case so I think the day trip would be a better option.

We started our day tour to Batu Cave at 9:30 AM. It wasn't really a long drive from where we stayed. I think we traveled for like 30 minutes going to Batu Cave.

Batu Cave - A limestone hill and Hindu Shrine (and temple).  The giant statue of Lord Murugan (around 42.7 meters) would be welcoming you on your visit. 

In order to see what's inside the cave, you have to climb 272 steps. Macaque Monkeys were numerous and were roaming around (freely) on your way up and even inside the cave.  I don't hate monkeys but I got scared while climbing the 200 plus plus (little) steps because some of them were aggressive and that made me paranoid (thinking they might do something to me).

Monkeys play a role in Hinduism.  One of the idols of the Hindus was Lord Hanuman, an ape who was also a devotee of Lord Rama.  His statue could also be seen within the vicinity of the cave. 

 Let me share some other photos I took inside the cave:

One thing I like about seeing new places was the new learning you always get.  You get more knowledge by immersing yourself to take even ba glimpse of other cultures.  Malaysia might be a South East Asian country like my home country, Philippines but there were (still) a lot of differences in terms of language, culture, religion and etc.  Based from my experience, Hinduism has a huge influence in Malaysia - the Batu Cave was one proof for that.  In the Philippines, there were Indians as well but I didn't know any Hindu Shrine like the Batu Cave. Any spot of difference could lead to a new knowledge - that fact keeps me enthusiastic all the time on my layovers.  I might not visited all the tourist spots and landmarks in Malaysia but at least I've seen two trademarks and learned something new.

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain


Read Users' Comments (1)comments

Weekend at Manchester

In the Middle East, our, or should I say, "their" weekends are Friday and Saturday but for the other parts of the world including my home country, weekends mean Saturdays and Sundays.

Whenever I think of weekends, I would see a picture of people crowding in the city center - doing grocery shopping, window shopping, literally shopping and etc. Those thoughts were true when I operated a flight to Manchester. It was my first time to be there and I was lucky to have flown with other 'first timer' crews who also wanted to go around and bring something home to Dubai. 

Through the help of the hotel's concierge, we booked a taxi going to the city center.  Sight seeing was in my mind but not as much as mini grocery shopping.  Doing food shopping in Dubai was quite costly compared to doing it on my layovers. In the United Kingdom, there were plenty of shops that sell reasonable prices of goods and I would not keep my eyes closed on that. 

Before I dwell much on what I found in Manchester, let me share with you some sights of the city center:

random building

the largest Primark

Hot Dog anyone? 

I, together with some crews did not go so much around the city. We just planned on going to a few shops, ate hot dog sandwich and shop for what we wanted. Not much time for window shopping :P With the help of a Korean crew, I've been introduced to Poundland - where everything cost a pound. I bought a few food items there and my purse was still happy haha. I paid 5 pounds for 5 items - not bad at all. I could have spend more (converted to dirhams) if I buy those items in Dubai.

I must say, my layover at Manchester was a weekend well spent. Aside from setting foot to a new place and seeing some English buildings; getting along with crews coming from different parts of the world and experiencing new cultures were the two things I like about my layovers. 

I felt blessed getting this kind of job. Not all would be pleased of what I am doing but for me, no matter how simple or complex your job was, it wouldn't matter at all as long as your job makes you happy. 


Read Users' Comments (0)

London Central

My second flight to London was set to leave at 2:30 AM of September 15.  Getting a sleep before an early morning flight was challenging for me. I forced myself to sleep in the middle of the day so I wouldn't be dozing off while on duty, but, I kept on waking up every after 1 hour :( Despite the not so good sleep, I managed to stay awake for the entire flight to London. I guess, the feeling of excitement played its role in waking me up.

I planned ahead before my flight. I asked for directions, search the internet for the landmarks and etc. I already expected that I would be doing sight seeing by myself since other crews would either stay in the hotel or go to Hounslow.  We arrived around past 8 AM (London time) of September 15. After checking-in and getting into my room, I immediately changed clothes, prepared my bag and went straight to the concierge to ask for a map.  My route for that day? LONDON CENTRAL.

I rode the bus to Hatton Cross station and bought and All day ticket. From there, I rode the Picadilly Line to Baron's Court where I transferred to District Line. Since I wanted to see the Big Ben and London Eye, I went down at Westminster Station. I was really awed that I instantly saw Big Ben while I was going out of the underground.  On that very moment, Big Ben was a reality and not something I am just seeing in pictures. Nothing could ever beat something you've seen through your very eyes.

London Eye was just on the other side of Big Ben. A lot of tourists (count me in there) was crowding the area - each trying to get a shot with those famous landmarks on their background.

House of  Parliament:

Across the Parliament Square was St. Margaret's Church - Westminster Abbey or known as "the Parish Church of the House of Commons".

Westminster Abbey (one of the most important Gothic (Architecture) landmark in the United Kingdom. It was the Benedictine monks who first came to the site of Westminster Abbey. According to the abbey's website:

Westminster Abbey or - to use its formal name - the Collegiate Church of St. Peter, Westminster, is a ‘Royal Peculiar’. This means it is a free chapel of the Sovereign, exempt from any ecclesiastical jurisdiction other than that of the Sovereign.
 One of the not-so-distant past events held at Westminster Abbey was the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. 

Buckingham Palace was also on my list on the day I visited London Central. From Westminster Station, I rode the Jubilee line tube and get off at Green Park Station. It was just a short walk from the station to the Buckingham Palace.

Rain was unstoppable in the middle of the day. I lost the chance to see the Tower Bridge. I just rode the train to Bond Street so I could visit Oxford Street, a shopping area in London Central. I just visited Primark, Boots and M&S foodies. I bought a few things which I thought as essentials for my other layovers at Primark. Queue was crazy at first glance but when you're in there, line was moving faster than you've thought. My tip if you're planning to visit Primark: Go there as early as you could.

Getting around London Central was easy contrary to what I thought on my first time there. Landmarks was within reach via London Underground, just read the signs and you wouldn't get lost. Sight seeing slash ME time was not a bad idea. Sometimes, it was a good way to make you feel confident about your sense of direction and even independence. If I would be having another flight to London for the next months, I wouldn't mind traveling alone again :)


Read Users' Comments (0)


I believe a lot of people wanted to see the Eiffel Tower (including me). For me, it became the trademark of Paris along with all other sites like the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame Cathedral. I would always include the picture of Eiffel Tower in my inspirational boards which I eventually used as an ipad wallpaper.

I never thought I would see the City of Love and Lights on my first month at work. I felt really excited from the very moment I saw my roster.  I guess you attract what you think most of the time so believe in the power of your thoughts combined with your feelings. Just like what it says in The Secret "Thoughts become things".

It was on the 9th of September that I flew to CDG (Charles De Gaulle Airport or AĆ©roport Paris–Charles de Gaull or just Roissy Airport). We had an evening arrival so it would be favorable to me that I have a large part of the day (the next day) to do sightseeing. I was lucky that there were other crews who planned to do the same so I would not be alone then. Instead of taking the hotel shuttle to the city (which would start later part of the day), we asked the concierge to book a taxi for us for the next day. 

If I would be alone, I am unsure whether I could manage to ride the train to the city but I guess if I could muster all the courage and ask for directions from the hotel's concierge, soul searching in the city would be possible *lol*

On the next day, I, together with five other crews started our trip to the city at 9:00 AM. Three (including me) planned to just do sightseeing while the other three would shop at Champs Elysees and Lafayette.

Let me share with you some photos of the landmarks I've seen and visited in Paris:

1. Eiffel Tower

2. Arc De Triomphe

3. Pont Alexandre III

4. The Louvre

5. Avenue des Champs Elysees

How we got around Paris? We walked! We didn't choose to get a day pass (for the train, which I think costs around 22 Euro) so we walked from one landmark to another. A day pass would be ideal if you don't have patience to walk around the city. For me, I didn't care if I get tired. It was my first time in Paris and I appreciated everything I saw along the way.

What to wear? Take some time to research about the weather. When we got there, it was sunny but in the middle of our sight seeing, rain started to fall and eventually, sun showed up again when we were about to end our activity. I believe it would be best if you bring a folded umbrella with you, in case there would be a little possibility of rain. You wouldn't want the weather to spoil your sight seeing right?

I have yet to see some more landmarks like Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur. Fingers crossed for another flight to CDG :)


Read Users' Comments (1)comments