Great news! I’ve been featured in an interview with the popular crew site, CabinCrewHQ.com. Their first interview with crew personality was with An International Fly Guy. Jay and I started our aviation careers on the ground in my hometown. I was very honored to be approached for an interview. You can find other flight crew interviews and their blogs there as well. It’s also a good site with information on cabin crew jobs and how to secure them. So please, visit the site and check out my interview!
Hi everyone! Wow, it’s been quite some time since my last post I see. I have started up some new projects during my absence, such as getting back into the cosplay circuit, starting up a new geek community in the Middle East, having various family visit, and most importantly, I just completed two weeks of training to move into the role of Senior Flight Stewardess, beginning as soon as June 3. I have one more flight working in business class to Colombo, Sri Lanka, and it will be my first layover in Colombo, since I have only been to Hikkaduwa on holiday and only spent time in Colombo to get to the airport. So to highlight some of the above mentioned stuff… In past entries and my bio, I have mentioned my geeky side, as well as attending the first ever Middle East Film and Comicon, as well as the second one last year. I also may have mentioned my past in cosplaying at various events in the US, most specifically, the San Diego Comic-con International for multiple years. Even though I was lucky enough to go back in 2012, I hadn’t really made any significant new cosplay, and I don’t really count the last minute female Louis from Left 4 Dead I made to join my family’s group cosplay!
Many factors had kept me from coming back to cosplay – the fact that I didn’t know WHERE to find supplies, what kind of events I could wear them to, the dress-code factor of the Middle East, and most of all, not having my mom around the guide me. She had been the mastermind of all my cosplays – she was a self-taught and talented seamstress who manage to create the perfect patterns and alterations that is the crazy world of cosplay. I could do a lot myself, but when I was stuck or needed help, she was the one I could go to. Because I no longer had her, I felt emotionally blocked from attempting to cosplay again.
I eventually met a friend who was currently cosplaying in Dubai, and she helped me find places to buy supplies, and I must say, AMAZING supplies that really inspired me to get back into cosplay. So with the comic-con coming up in April, I finally decided to start on a costume I had been wanting to complete for years, since I played the game in 2009.
Momohime from the Wii game, Muramasa: The Demon Blade
While I did encounter many obstacles, I did try to think back at how my mom might have done things or what kind of solution she would have came up with. Getting back into the creative world of cosplay was so therapeutic for me, and I felt like a small hole in my geek heart had been refilled! I even managed to get in touch with Yaya Han (yayahan.com), a well-known cosplayer in the US I had met a few times and did a cosplay group with once, who was coming the MEFCC as a guest and offered to take her on some sites around Dubai.
Any cosplay fans, please check out my Facebook page, Jinx Cosplay, and Like and share. :) In addition, I started up a website to try and link all geeks, whether local or expats, in the Middle East region to network and socialize. It’s still under construction but please take a look!
My sister, cousin (who lives in Bahrain) and his parents came to visit during MEFCC, and a month later, Alan’s brother and his girlfriend came to visit from the UK, so I will be highlighting those visits in my next few posts. Keep an eye out! I do also have a few new destinations I will be posting up soon. In the mean time, I’m still trying to analyze and understand all the knowledge I’ve gained throughout the last two weeks in my new role as a senior onboard. Being on ground for two weeks was a huge change to my body clock but I am back to flying in the early hours tomorrow morning! Thanks for those that stayed with my blog, even when it was dead for a while. :)
Even though Alan only turned 29 (not like me, who joined the Dirty Thirties Club in December) on March 13, I felt like being in a festive mood and made some special plans for his birthday. Instead of paying for a dinner somewhere fancy, I opted for the annual Taste of Dubai, a weekend long festival where restaurants all over the city, from casual to fine dining, sets up a booth and offers a “taste” of their menu. There’s also live musical performances, cooking classes, as well as live demonstrations from cooks from all over the world.
Also, I had made it a goal to photograph each plate I got, but I had starved myself beforehand and devoured each plate as soon as I got it! So here’s the only picture I have of food.. and it’s half eaten…
Every dish we tried was amazingly delicious! I even cheated on my low-carb diet and had a really yummy red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting.. ohhh maaaan I can still taste it!
Afterwards, we stopped by a friend’s place for a nightcap, and spotted an almost aerial view of the festival:
The next day, although weather reports were showing to be quite wet for normally dry Dubai, we hired a yacht and invited some friends out. We were fairly lucky as it was only semi-overcast and sprinkled lightly for a few short bursts, but we couldn’t sail anywhere and just stayed put in one spot. It’s ok, we all still had a great time:
I’m no stranger to San Francisco. Having lived all my life in Arizona, I spent a lot of time in neighboring California visiting family, friends and even going for work…
Working for GirlGamer at the Game Developer’s Conference..
And maybe a pageant or two…
So after moving to Dubai, a layover in San Francisco didn’t always spark the tourist in me, I usually went to meet up with friends a do a bit of shopping. But on occasion, when the crew was super friendly and keen to go out, I opted to join them and be a tourist myself. The first time I went out on a tour with the crew was in April 2011, we checked out good ol’ Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, and took a boat tour.
The weather was surprisingly (ok, maybe just to us) windy and chilly and pretty much all of us were not prepared, so a few were forced to buy their very own San Francisco souvenir sweatshirts to survive the boat ride… It was easy to find a tour boat. Many of them are privately owned and docked all along the wharf, with signs posting tours. Ours was just $15 for a nice tour of the bay.
We circled the infamous abandoned high security prison, Alcatraz. I have yet to do a tour on the island itself, but I will someday!
And here’s a funky piece of art from the airport…
My next stint as a tourist in San Fran was about a year later, when one of the crew was excited to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. I’m not exactly athletic unless I’m put up to it, but it did sound like a fun and interesting challenge. We picked up our bikes from Blazing Saddles on Pier 41 and started our journey.
While we did stop many times on the way and slowed our pace, the bike ride en route to the Golden Gate Bridge was actually quite beautiful and serene. Little pockets of peacefulness hid along the pathway that most tourists don’t see if they are driving and or using public transport to get to the bridge.
You can check out this video I took while biking on the bridge itself… just don’t mind the foul language! My friends said I shouldn’t have been filming while I was riding, but if you pay attention, I was in the bicycle lane (not marked but signs posted bikes to the left) and the potential accident was blindly walking into my lane…
Once we crossed the bridge, we continued onto a small town on the other side called Sausalito. There, I was meeting up with a friend who would join us for lunch, and then we’d take a ferry back to the wharf.
Then we found my friend Raychul and looked for a yummy spot for lunch. If any of you readers are hardcore gaming fans, you may know Raychul and her famous gaming videos on Youtube.
We decided on a charming spot for some fresh seafood!
Exhausted and with full bellies, we made it back to the ferry dock to go back to the wharf. While we waited, we encountered some of Sausalito’s finest locals…
If you’ve been following my blog long enough, you’ll already know how much I love food. Like, I REALLY love food. And I mentioned previously that I am just starting to learn how to cook. Well, not really, my mom taught me a few Filipino dishes before she passed away, and I do know bits here and there from helping her and watching her be an amazing cook. Unfortunately, I was so young and stubborn that I didn’t really care to learn from her. But nowadays, I try a little bit here and there. In Dubai, one of the biggest conveniences (but inconvenient to your health!) is that everywhere delivers. And Alan has tried to get me to be healthier, so I’ve dipped into what used to be No Man’s Land for me – the world of cooking.
Now, for the average person, cooking is probably something that is just second nature. Especially in the US, eating out is either too expensive or too bad for your health if you opt for the cheap fast food. So since Alan and I have moved in together last year, we’ve slowly been learning how to cook (he has a bit more knowledge than I do). To me, cooking, recipes and ingredients are quite like another language – I usually ask my sister or friends on the minor details usually left out of the generic recipe. I once asked a friend, “Do I need to put oil in the pan before I put the chicken in?” Yes, it’s true. Nowadays, I’m a bit better, thanks to Google, Pinterest, Youtube, and whatever I can stream from Netflix.
Christmas after my mother passed away, my sister sent me a really lovely gift – a recipe book with a few of my mom’s recipes. She usually hand wrote her recipes and kept it in a little box, and I had asked my sister to send me some recipes. I was quite surprised when she sent over this little gem:
I’m considering sharing some of my mom’s recipes, but not sure I want to yet, for now I’ll just share what I have done so far. I had already been very familiar with her signature chicken adobo, and had made it for her a few times, even when I went back home to visit while she was having chemotherapy.
So I had already been quite confident in making it for Alan and my friend, Natalie. Because my lovely Brit and Irish don’t fancy meat on the bone, I made this with all boneless chicken, although my mom ensures that the real flavor comes from the bone, which is why I feel the flavor was slightly lacking, but still good. The next Filipino dish I attempted was a fairly easy one, it just took some time – bistek (translated to beef steak), which are thin slices of beef marinated in soy sauce and calamansi juice – tiny lime like fruits. Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t have any calamansi so I had to substitute it with lemon. I remember watching my mom slave over the stove for what seemed like hours frying the individual pieces of slim beef, and I’d always come over and steal one or two before she covered it in gravy. I actually preferred the beef without the gravy so when I made mine, I went without:
The next recipe I tried from my mom’s cookbook is a typical Asian style dish, lemon chicken. She did is a bit different by breading the chicken first, and I added onto it with vegetables. Alan, being a personal trainer, is a bit finicky when it comes to food. A lot of popular Filipino dishes lack vegetables and boast rice – because that’s how it was. So in order for him to enjoy it, I added extra vegetables to my mom’s signature lemon chicken.
Now, being an Asian of course, I should know how to make fried rice. I wish I had the recipes I could link you, but it’s been a while since I cooked this up. I googled a few different recipes as well as asked my fellow Asians on Facebook and came up with this:
While it was tasty, it was a bit too salty (too much soy sauce) and I haven’t really had the chance to make it again, since like I said, Alan wouldn’t eat just this as a meal and would have to supplement a main dish.
I looked through the rest of my mom’s recipes and decided they were to try later when I had a special event/more practice/the right ingredients. Food in Dubai is actually not that great. Most of what you find in the grocery stores are imported and previously frozen, so the taste is not always there. There are a few farmer’s markets but honestly Alan and I are quite lazy to go farther than our local shop, and also because we don’t have a car it’s not always convenient to just hop in a cab to go to the co-op. I have been exploring the grocery stores on my layovers more and more, and learning from the local crew from each area what is best to buy. I was recently in Capetown, when beef is king, and meats are good and cheap in general:
And so, I’ve started developing a theme when cooking: Alan must always have a protein and lots of vegetables, and the starch is usually optional (mandatory for me!) so when I do cook I try and think of these three basic elements. What I have been cooking lately has been more “western” style and less Asian inspired, but don’t worry, I will get back to that someday soon.
Many people have been keeping a Pinterest of various boards, and I keep one for cooking, and actually have tried a few of the recipes I found there. Here’s one really yummy salmon one that turned out really well:
I used this recipe I found on Pinterest, which called for mixed spices for the salmon coating and salsa. The salsa I made fresh from a different recipe found here, which I make quite often now. I love having fresh salsa to use for snacks and for breakfast. The rice was a simple cilantro lime rice (which I need to improve on) I found somewhere on google that I used in my rice cooker.
This is the latest cooking adventure using preseasoned lamb chops I purchased in South Africa, and making carrot and potato mash, and vegetables cooked in butter and covered in thick layers of lemon pepper. Yum!
I have to say that cooking is actually quite easy.. to be fair, I haven’t been too adventurous and I’m still learning how all these flavors mix together, but it does feel good to eat something you made yourself and know what was put into it. I’ll be posting more about cooking as the journeys keep coming and hope to gain knowledge about different ingredients and recipes from all the places I visit in the world.
Have a signature recipe to share? Let’s have it! :)
I really didn’t know much about Switzerland expect that it can get cold and something about Swiss banks and cheese. And chocolate.
Anyhow, Zurich introduced itself as a beautiful city with both old European charm and modern flair. I paid a visit during the summer, so that whole cold thing wasn’t a bother.
The weather was so accommodating, so when we landed we immediately set out into the city via the train.
This quaint little city is made up of alleyways filled with boutiques, cafes and other interesting sights to see.
We decided one of the best ways to experience the city in a short amount of time was a ferry ride on the Limmat River, which runs right through Zurich.
As we waited to board our ferry, we occupied ourselves by watching the collection of foul at the docks, as well as the surrounding artwork.
While on the ferry, we decided it was probably best to enjoy the tour with a taste of the local brew…
After disembarking, we stopped off at a cafe for a meal and drinks while exploring what bit of the city we saw on our way back to the station.
The next morning, myself and a few others got up early, borrowed bicycles from the hotel and went for a fresh air bike ride in the small woods and farms just behind the hotel.
At the end of our bike ride, it was about time to fly back to Dubai. Zurich was a lovely little breath of fresh air from our usual daily Dubai lives.
Sorry for the absence, folks! Been a little bit obsessed about an old video game (well, not old, but from 2009) that I got hooked on.. anyone ever play Dragon Age? :) I need to catch up to the newest one!
Anyway, here’s the long-awaited post on our recent vacation to Sri Lanka! Colombo is a layover destination for my airline, but I’d never actually done it. Alan and I wanted to do an affordable beachy holiday, so we decided that Sri Lanka would be the best option. After a few recommendations from friends and colleagues, as well as searching up and down TripAdvisor for the perfect spot to stay, we settled on an area on the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka 4 hours from Colombo called Hikkaduwa. We stayed at a very popular place called Hotel Drifters. I was a bit overwhelmed with the choice of guesthouses and hotels, that I ended up choosing this one based on its popularity. It was a little pricier than many of the others, but it was still cheap in comparison to hotels anywhere else in the world. The hotel itself was a bit drab (but I think this is standard for this area) and at one point we had a mini bug infestation (thanks to Alan’s carelessness pouring us drinks one night) but the staff were very helpful and quite efficient. The manager is knowledgeable and booked a tour for us, and helped us out with any questions we needed. The biggest plus? We got a seaview room with a balcony that we made good use of every morning, afternoon and evening.
Our first full day we decided to knock out a day tour and get to seeing Hikkaduwa. We hired a driver for the day and set out in the morning. Our first stop was the blue lagoon just off the Indian Ocean which thrives with life. We took a boat into the lagoon and made a few stops along the way.I would recommend the hotel even though it might have lacked in many things it should have at its price, the location, convenience, helpful staff and manager all add to its stay-worthiness. We only booked 4 nights in the hotel, so it was quite a short trip. We had wanted to do a safari but it would have taken literally a whole day and we couldn’t fit it in our schedules. We did spend our first night exploring the beach a bit, and had dinner at one of the best restaurants on the beach, Mambo’s, where we discovered our new favorite food, sambol - a concoction of coconut, chilies, fish, onions, etc. that goes amazing with everything. In fact, I think I had it at every single meal, even breakfast… I think I need to figure out how to make this!
The drive starting our journey is like a mini-tour of the remains of the tsunami that devastated most of southern Asia in 2004. Many buildings still stand in ruins; only a very small number of them have been reclaimed and repaired. Our guide tells us he was inland on a tour when the tsunami hit, but we don’t ask any details beyond that.
The first island we stopped off at was inhabited by a single family who farmed cinnamon. Here, they would give live demonstrations on how they harvest cinnamon as well as make useful items from coconut (rope from the shell) and its leaves (wall and ceilings).
Our next stop was to Temple Island, where all that is on the island are Buddhist temples and monks. I was surprised to find that the main religion of Sri Lanka was actually Buddhism, since it seems more commonly associated with India, which is mostly Hindu.
After Alan and I explored the monks’ home (they were cooking when we visited and saw how they used minimal supplies and ingredients for their meals) we were blessed by one of the Buddhist monks and went on our way.
The lagoon itself is home to many creatures, especially crocodiles, which makes the lagoon largely unswimmable. We saw various other animals such as birds, land and water monitors, and bats.
Once back on dry land, we hopped back into our vehicle and headed over the one of the many turtle hatcheries in the area. For those of you who don’t know anything about turtles, they come ashore to lay their eggs in the sand, and then leave them to hatch on their own. If you saw some of the deadly looking creatures I posted earlier (I’m looking at YOU, water monitor!) then you can imagine that only a tiny percentage of those eggs actually hatched before they are preyed upon, and even less of those hatchlings actually make it back into the water for safety. Fisherman find these egg nests and bring them to the hatchery, where they are cared and looked after, and when old enough, send the males back into the water, and females are kept for more breeding.
Once hatched, they are all placed together in feeding ponds…
Many of the turtles that stay at the hatchery (other than the females they keep) are those that suffered injury, illness (to be recovered and sent back into the ocean) or abnormalities.
The most amazing inhabitant at the hatchery is an extremely rare albino green turtle, appropriately named.. Michael Jackson.
He was apparently in the spotlight recently when a wealthy man from Mauritius came trying to purchase him for any price, at which the hatchery adamantly refused. But at another hatchery, it caused a scandal when their albino turtle “disappeared”. It was later returned and the people responsible were charged. The Mauritian man has yet to own an albino turtle.
Our next stop was to one of the local moonstone mines. Moonstones are semi-precious gems that are mostly mined in Sri Lanka and exported worldwide for jewelry making.
A rare variety of the moonstone is what they call a “blue moonstone”, as you can see a bit in the photo above. Instead of the normal milky glow a moonstone has, these blue moonstones has a blue sheen to them that can be seen when tilted at the right angle under the light. Just a short walk from the mine is the jewelry factory, where the moonstones are cut and polished, and jewelry is hand-crafted in various metals.
I did my share of helping the local economy and made Alan buy me a nice moonstone ring. :)
We headed out to our last stop on the day tour, which was the spice garden. I actually don’t have many photos of it..
We learned about all the local spices and herbs grown in Sri Lanka, and discovered that the cancer rate in Sri Lanka was very low due to their use of a certain curry leaf in their foods. I bought some natural products (hair remover and coconut oil are just to name a few!) and we set out back to the hotel for the day.
On the way back, we made a stop at one of the largest (maybe the largest?) statue of Buddha that stood just off the coast.
That evening, we decided to get a taste of Hikkaduwa’s nightlife. Apparently one hotel/guesthouse along the beach is responsible for holding a party on a different night of the week, and our favorite new spot Mambo’s was it for the night! We met a British couple staying in our hotel (our driver had mistaken us for them, a British white guy with an Asian wife! Ha!) and shared a few drinks..
We might have also ended up in the ocean at one point and something happened to one of Alan’s flip flops…
But good thing there was a shop selling some right next to Starbeans Cafe!
We passed this little homemade outdoor art gallery, where I picked up a cute piece of a pink elephant painted by this awesome man, who was hard at work at making another masterpiece. We then ventured out to a beach nearby, where we saw a couple in the water giggling at a moving rock. Well, actually, it wasn’t a moving rock, it was a giant sea turtle!
These sea turtles frequent the area apparently looking for seaweed and lo and behold, I must have spotted about 4 of them hovering along the shoreline looking for snacks. We actually went back the next day with snorkel gear and swam around them, feeding them seaweed. Such an amazing sight! Sadly, I don’t have an underwater camera so no pictures came from snorkeling day (although this much change!).
The next morning I awoke to find some locals on the beach doing some very interesting things…
And then beach day ensued…
For our last day in Sri Lanka, we opted to visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage on our way to the airport. Elephants are one of my favorite animals, and this wasn’t the first time I’d get to interact with one, as I rode one in Thailand and visited an orphanage in Kenya, but it was a first for Alan. I was honestly a bit disappointed in the facility as it seemed to showcase the orphans more for entertainment than for education, like the on in Kenya did, but it was nice to share a first experience like this one for Alan.
We headed down to the river, where the elephants receive their baths.
And we went down and gave them a scrub ourselves!
I think if I can handle bathing an elephant, a human baby shouldn’t be so bad, right? Alan? Too soon? Okay…
On our way to Colombo, we stopped off at a tea factory to discover how tea is made.
Before the airport, we grabbed a bite ( I LOVE LOVE LOE Sri Lankan curry! But sadly they had no sambol!) and boarded our flight home. The people of Sri Lanka must be some of my favorite; they are kind, happy, easy-going and very welcoming. Our stay was made even more memorable by those locals we met and who shared their knowledge and friendship. Although it was a short stay, we had an unforgettable time and hope to make it back to Sri Lanka’s beautiful southern coast and explore even more of its gorgeous beaches!