Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Wow, it's been so long since I last wrote! Tonight, I decided to take a walk outside to a supermarket located about a mile away from my apartment; I thought I'd get some exercise and much-needed fresh air. There are smaller stores nearby, but that supermarket carries one of my favorite ice cream flavors from home, "coffee crumble." As I stepped outside my building, the air smelled of the sea which was quite unusual, as the coastline is quite far from my place. Then I saw lightning began to fill the sky like a large camera flash going off. I knew it was going to rain. Wanting to be prepared, I went back inside my building and took my umbrella. As I came back outside a few minutes later, it was already drizzling. Five minutes into my walk, the rain started pouring. I thought about going back, but then I decided against it as I was thinking about my ice cream tub, and that I might as well enjoy the rare occurrence of rain. It was windy as well, but then I thought my umbrella was quite sturdy and would withstand the strong wind. I then passed through the underground tunnel I hadn't gone to in years, and took tiny steps while walking so as not to slip and fall. After about 15 minutes, I reached the building where the supermarket was. The street I was about to cross was already semi-flooded. As I stepped inside the building, I folded my umbrella and it felt good to be in a warmer, dry place. I spent about 10 minutes looking around for other items i might need before I got to my tub of ice cream. There were several flavors in similar packaging and I reached down for the one that was closer to the freezer air, I wanted to get a frozen tub to last my walk going back. As I left the building and started walking away, the rain poured even harder. The wind was so strong as well that it flipped my umbrella so that it was positioned inside out, like you see in the movies sometimes! I tried my best to hold on to it and face it into the direction of the wind. By this time, my gym pants and shoes were soaking wet, apart from my fabric shopping bag. The streets were flooded and heavy traffic was beginning to develop. As the strong rain and wind persisted, I looked around for any empty taxis nearby. No such luck. I didn't need to be inside an airconditioned car anyway i thought, as I was soaking wet and might catch a cold. I continued walking until I reached the overpass of our metro system. Was I glad to be in a dry space again! My shoes were so wet and I walked carefully on the tiled floors. After I stepped out, I realized the rain had already stopped. Flash floods in Dubai are common if and when it rains (which is very, very rare). I was so glad to reach my apartment building again and unloaded my food items. As I took the ice cream out and opened the tub, I saw that it was cream and not coffee-colored. When I checked the label, I realized I had taken "double dutch," another flavor! :-( Sigh! Anyway...I took a nice, warm shower afterward. I had my chicken dinner while reading the paper and as I type this now, I'm sipping a hot cup of chamomile tea.
Location: Venice, Italy
I was happy to see Italy once again. The weather was nice and warm, and I think all my colleagues on the flight went out for some sightseeing. We did a lot of walking and our first major stop was the Ponte Di Rialto, or Rialto Bridge in English. It's the most famous in the city. I stood on top and took a few photos as the backdrop of several boats and gondolas with tourists made a pretty sight. We still had a long way to go, walking around and some of us got hungry and had some pizza. Apart from some female colleagues stopping to check out some souvenir shops, our journey toward the next tourist spot went smoothly. We finally reached Piazza San Marco, a sight I think I had seen at the movies before. It's called the central landmark and gathering place for Venice. Wow, it was full of tourists and pigeons. The ladies and I (actually, just one of them) bought some cornseed for a Euro and just as she was opening the paper bag, the birds were starting to congregate around her! I took the opportunity to take some candid shots, and they turned out pretty good. When it was my turn...I tried to hold still, though it felt like I was being attacked!
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Emirates held a series of Airbus 380 demo flights recently, to conduct hot weather tests, etcetera and I was chosen to be one of the passengers! I went to the Dubai airport as usual but since we weren't leaving the country, no bags were to be checked (it was to be a 1.5 hour flight anyway, circling around the UAE) and no purchasing duty free. In the airport I met a few crew and we boarded the plane together, taking many photos like some first-time flyers do. That particular aircraft had a total of 519 passenger seats.
Some info about the A380:
-has the lowest fuel burn per seat & produces the lowest CO2 emissions in its class. It's environmentally friendly!
-generates half the noise of the 747-400. Less noise in airport communities then.
-requires 17% less runway length to take-off & 11% less runway length to land
-has 4,000ft higher initial cruise altitude
Location: Beijing, China
It was my first trip here, so sightseeing was definitely tops on my list! We arrived just before midnight and around 7am the following day, we were off to see the Great Wall.
It was a good idea to do this first thing in the morning, as there weren't as much people (still in bed, perhaps!). When we got in the car we hired, i noticed how the two girls and i put our headphones on and tried to catch some shut eye, but I think we were all awake throughout the trip. It was a cloudy day but the view was superb...I couldn't imagine that it stretched out to over 6,400km! It's the world's longest human-made structure that was built sometime between the 5th-16th Century BC. They made it to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire during the rule of several dynasties. Some areas were quite steep and difficult to walk on even in my gym shoes. We stayed for about an hour and a half, then people started coming in as we left. We went to the Forbidden City next, then to the silk market where the ladies did their shopping. :-) I just tagged along.
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
We were lucky. It had been raining for days in the city, but this time it was nice and sunny! English is widely spoken here, so we didn't have difficulty getting around. We just hopped on the train and confirmed with a fellow passenger that we were heading to the main railway station. I was looking forward to trying out the restaurant Reto recommended. He was so kind as to draw a detailed map, with a few dishes in local terms and their English translation...as well as what wine to order! A kind Swiss man showed us a pastry shop where we had some sweets, then we went to the main street and took photos. I bought a medium sized box of blueberries (which turned out to contain large pieces, wow), Marcella bought some nectarines and we went on. We stopped by a burger jointand my colleagues got some food, then we continued to walk towards the lake. There were little ducks gliding through it and we were amused at how they dove into the water, coming up with some seaweed in their beaks! A couple swans came by, and we took more photos. I was getting hungry (hint, hint) and we then decided to go to the restaurant. The Rindfleischmockli (beef fillet with rice and curry sauce!) was delicious and Marcella shared some of her sausage. It was all good and I'm glad my colleagues enjoyed it too. We then went to the nearby church, Grossmunster and climbed the tower (one heck of a workout, I tell you)...I was in heels and my feet were begging me to stop walking, but I continued. The view was absolutely breathtaking! I took several photos, check them out.
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Some colleagues of mine had dinner at a little restaurant the night before; we ordered pork, chicken and beef to be cooked on the mini-grill in the middle of our table. As we looked around, we saw a couple wearing bibs as they had their meal, and we wondered why we weren't given any. When we unfolded our table napkins, we then realized they were our sought-after bibs! It was too late though, because we had already finished our dinner by the time we discovered that...so we just goofed around with them. I also learned that some girls were planning to go into Kyoto to get their photos taken in a studio; something I'd been wanting to do for a while now. We got lost every now and then and some of us took turns leading the way, only counting on the map the concierge at our hotel drew up for us. Taxi drivers, shop owners...we asked everyone we could to get to our destination, and after sometime we finally found it! It took about half an hour to get made up, white face and red lips...then we chose our outfits. The outcome? I think I looked a bit strange.
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
The Harbor Bridge: I had been contemplating the bungy jump for sometime now without giving the actual process much thought. I mentioned the idea to a fellow crewmember who said she would go if I did; I was just glad someone else was coming with me. We got to the bridge and started walking up, strapped to the metal railing of the narrow path, with only the turquoise-colored water underneath. The sky was gray, and the temperature felt like 12C. Not windy, which was good. I'd already thought of my motivation to do it...I would reward myself with a quarter pounder with cheese meal (I haven't had one in ages, ok!) so during the walk we were like, "think...burger." There were six of us to jump that morning, and the heaviest in weight had to be first. I was the last to go, haha! I knew my turn would come eventually, but the reality didn't sink in 'til the last minute, when I was on that ledge. The main connection between me and the cord was very heavy and I took baby steps toward the edge, but almost started to panic as I felt the weight pulling me down. "Give me a few minutes," I pleaded with the guy in charge and he responded with a look that said, "no." Then he started to count, and I knew I had no choice. "Don't look down, just look straight at the camera," he said, and I followed. I gave a scream and closed my eyes as I jumped off...and I actually felt the air pressure distort my mouth as I dove, haha! I was bouncing before I knew it, and I prematurely pulled the cord that would sit me upright; I was instructed to tug on it at the third bounce, but it was all I could think of doing at the moment. So I felt that funny feeling in my stomach as I bounced high a couple more times before they pulled me back up. I was slightly shaking as I got back up. Hehehe...that was awesome!!! I got that helpless feeling the first few seconds, but it was all good in the end. A really good feeling.
Oh, and I did get my tasty burger meal and caramel sundae afterward.