Don’t Be Afraid

Don’t Be Afraid

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I remember being on a red eye flight to Perth once, when I was 7, back in 2004…

Long story short, I was so busy sobbing away. I didn’t want to leave Singapore, because back then all I thought about was being with my friends, not wanting to leave them. Perhaps I was too young to understand what a vacation was. I thought going to Perth was forever. The 1 week vacation felt like eternity. Nevertheless I was crying all the way from the check-in counter to in-flight.

My family didn’t know how else to pacify me, since they’ve probably have tried all kinds of methods. But, it was not until this flight attendant called ‘Vivian’, came around and spoke to me. She had on a cheerful countenance, as every other flight attendant. I remember her donning the SQ’s blue Kebaya (denoting the fact that she was a junior flight stewardess) and that her hair was bun up into a really pretty french twist. Her skin was fair, and now that I think about it, she probably was in her early twenties then.

“Hi! What’s your name?”

And that was all it took to stop my crying.

‘I’m… Vanessa”

“Hi Vanessa, I’m Vivian. I’ll be taking care of you during your flight okay? Would you like a colouring book?”

And.. as you probably would guess, the rest was history. In case you were wondering, yes the rest of flight was as peaceful and quiet as any other red-eye flight. I bet my parents thanked the Heavens for Vivian. Vivian came around very often to check up on me, gave me all kinds of food, whatever I wanted. And she would always joke and ask me what I was busy drawing. We laughed. She was like an elder sister figure. The end of the flight came soon, and a picture of Vivian and I was what I presented to her. A token of a 7 year old’s love and appreciation for a flight crew. That picture changed my life, or rather Vivian changed my life. I wanted to be just like her.

I think when you’re 7 and you say you want to be something, or someone, no one would take you seriously. But over the years things change, you get more level-headed and well, to put it bluntly, you grow up. And when you’re 20 and you say you want to do something, or be someone, people actually do start to take you seriously.

I’ve always wanted to fly, I’ve always wanted to be part of the team up in the skies. It’s amazing how 13 years later, my dream has never changed. And now that there are actually opportunities for me to pursue my dream, well, it’s exciting but scary all in one.

But let’s be honest, no parent would beam with pride and joy if their child tells them they want to fly the skies. And over the years, I have successfully kept mum about my flying dream, having gotten rather terrible comments and disapproval from many family members. I remembered the mocks and ridicule I got, the horrible things people can say towards something they know nothing much about. It haunted me over the years, my secret desire that I’ve been harbouring in my heart. Those nights I wondered if maybe this desire was going to disappear over the years, and sure enough I tried to out grow it but to no avail. Every time I get on a plane, the rush of excitement, the warm fuzzy feeling, it was always the same. Being in the airport, seeing familiar uniforms walking past, even that was enough to churn a longing in my heart.

And, it was not until recently that I truly asked myself: “Will I actually really go for it?”

These few months saw the serious deliberation and contemplation about my flying career. Can I do it? Should I do it? Is this the right thing to do? What will my relatives think of me? Is this what God wants me to do? All these questions consumed me, day in day out. I was so afraid of what people wanted of me, what people thought of me and what people expected of me. Ironically I was so busy caring about what others wanted for me, that I forgot what I wanted for myself. What truly makes me happy.

It was not until I chanced upon this article online which was something I truly needed to hear. Just to be clear, it wasn’t the answers to all my questions but instead, it felt as if God was guiding me into making the decision that’s going to change my life forever.

“Do you remember your childhood dreams? All 5-year-olds know how to dream. You know the typical fantasies. We dreamed of becoming a firefighter, astronaut, ship captain, artist or rock star. But then life happens. Some of us were told our dreams were unrealistic. You may have been one of those kids. Somewhere along the way, you were taught to be realistic, to stay inside the lines and recognise that growing up means you need to show up at eight o’clock, do your boring job and go home to a dreary existence at five o’clock.” ~ DAN MILLER, 2012

That’s when I felt God nudging me to think about what I truly wanted to be when I was a kid. And that was how I knew…

I think as teens, or rather 20-going-on-to-21, it’s so easy to get caught up with what people think of you. We are so susceptible to the chains of people’s expectations and ideas of you, to the point where sometimes I do see people living out careers and lives stemming from not what God wants, not what they want but what people wanted them to do. And that is such a perfect example of who I don’t want to become.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

~ 1 Colossians 10:31.

 

Another thing I struggled with when deciding if I should pursue flying, was whether or not my desire to fly was a self-centred and superficial desire. I didn’t know how God was going to use me if I were to fly and I struggled so hard, trying to grasp how He would do it. It was as if I was trying to take his job. But sometimes, sometimes you got to take a step back and see it from a bigger picture. God is always in control, and if He planted that desire in my heart since I was 7, when I was nowhere near a teen let alone someone who had the mental capacity to understand anything… it has got to signify something even greater. For a 7 year old to know in that instant that that was what she wanted to do when she grew up, that flying was going to be her part of her life… now that means something.

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know if I will be able to make it in. But what I do know is that God will start what he has finished in me. And after all these years battling the fear and doubt, what I can say now is that I finally have the courage to pursue a dream that lights my heart on fire. So don’t be afraid, I know it can be scary. But a life worth living is one where passion meets purpose.

I hope you’ll find the courage, no matter how long it takes, to pursue the hidden and long-lost dreams of your heart.

Always ask yourself, what did 7 year old you wanted to become?

QUOTE
Picture by: Henning Witzel, city of Los Angeles

Always so much Love to everyone,

Vanessa

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My 2017 Hong Kong Trip Trilogy: Cathay Pacific Flight Experience

My 2017 Hong Kong Trip Trilogy: Cathay Pacific Flight Experience

As promised, I’m finally getting down to documenting and blogging my entire Hong Kong trip. I cannot wait for this post to get out, because I love Hong Kong and would really want to share my travel with you!

This is the first part of my Hong Kong trilogy series. There are 3 parts (duh trilogy): Flight, Hotel and Hong Kong in general.

Flight Details

Ok, so this trip was very impromptu. We literally booked our flight and hotel 1 week 3 days before departure… *faints* (I KNOW RIGHT) My dad is very indecisive, so to him booking even 3 days before departure is the norm. But anyway, our family has always flown with SQ (Singapore Airlines) because it’s an amazing airline and seriously, it’s so safe and the cabin crew are amazing. However, SQ was almost fully booked. On top of that the air tickets were twice the usual range. And yes, I am speaking for all classes – economy, premium economy business, first and I’m pretty sure suites as well. A normal economy ticket to Hong Kong (that is if you book months in advance which is the norm anyway) is around $303-$350SGD. Premium Economy is around $700-$800SGD. Business class tickets range from $1500-$2000SGD tops. First Class and Suites are classes that I have 0 knowledge about, but you can always check the prices out here on SQ’s website. So this time for every class, the prices were x2 of the amount. Insane right? And excuse me, but $700SGD for an economy class ticket to HONG KONG? No way.

So, (very) bumped us (especially me since I’m such an airline snob which is so terrible) went to check our second airline option: Cathay Pacific. I have never flown Cathay Pacific before so I was a little skeptical. I actually sound like an airplane snob, but I think it’s just because my family always flew SQ so to me it was like, SQ set the standards for me. And… I kind of have like airplane anxiety (but it got better for me over the years) so for me the airline really does matter. Plus I watch way too much Air Crash Investigation documentaries when I was younger, as young as 13. So… *sighs at myself* But if I wasn’t this anxious every time before I fly, I would have just picked a budget airline. But then again, it depends. I’ll do another post comparing flying budget and international airlines in the months to come. But anyway, their prices were way cheaper, and for some reason more stable. It didn’t fluctuate as much even if you booked 1 month before, 1 week before or heck, even 1 day before! I guess this is really a great thing about Cathay. I’m not so sure if it differs for countries, but it just so happens that for Hong Kong, there wasn’t much difference. Anyway, it was about $400SGD for economy, so we decided what the heck let’s just go for economy!

My parents didn’t want any other airline so we just went for Cathay Pacific. My parents flew with them before when they went to Vancouver, Canada in June 2015 and they said it was not bad. I mean, last time I checked Cathay was one of the top 10 best airlines in the world, so why not? Our flight was scheduled on the 24th of March, Friday, 6.50am, Flight CX 650. Our departure date was the 28th of March, Tuesday, 1.50pm, CX 735.

Flight Experience

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On board an A350 plane, flight CX 650

Anyway, the flights were…decent. I have mixed reviews to be super honest with you.

Ok the crew were generally friendly and food was GREAT TO BE VERY HONEST. But, during my going-there flight (pardon my english) the crew were quite rude. They had really “upset-looking” faces. I mean, I don’t expect them to smile 24/7 but they really looked angry, pissed, as if they didn’t want to be on this flight. That didn’t bug me as much as the fact that we had to ASK for our travel declaration forms. I am going to compare this with SQ. SQ crew automatically issue out the forms during the beginning of the flight – around 1 to 2 hours into the flight. We thought this service would be the same for Cathay but nope… We waited till about 1 hour before landing (arrival) and decided something was up, and asked the crew for 3 forms. And guess what… the lady was so pissed off… or rather irritated. Ok I don’t want to seem like I am bashing the crew or airline but…that is questionable and I open up this post for judgement.

Next is the hot towel service. On SQ flights, hot towels are served to ALL classes before the plane takes off. But for Cathay, they only serve hot towels to premium economy, business and first class. Ok this sounds so petty but for someone who has flown SQ all her life, this is a rather ‘culture shock’ in that sense. I am too used to hot towels because it really moisturises and cleans my face. I love that warm feeling on my hands and face before take-off. Makes me feel cosy, and just warmed up. They didn’t have pillows too, you had to request for a pillow from the crew. And once again, SQ already has the pillow placed on your seat. And also, the crew didnt even serve us any drinks. Again, SQ crew would always walk around serving us either apple juice or orange juice. But on the flight… nope. Ok but those aren’t big issues so it’s fine.

Oh but there is an issue that really bugs me but it isn’t Cathay’s fault. Their entertainment service wasn’t as good as SQ’s in my opinion because Cathay had a lot Chinese/Cantonese shows and music which is normal because this is the Hong Kong national carrier. But because I don’t really speak Chinese neither do I have any knowledge of the cantonese language, I really was struggling to past my time on board. And this is Economy we are talking about not business, to sleep on board can be a hassle to many including myself. BUT luckily, I found this super amazing singer called “Roosevelt music”, he is like a german singer and makes like synth-pop/indie/electronic chill-wave music which I LOVE. Some of the other western artists I found were Bruno Mars, Fetty Wap and Jason Derulo. They didn’t even have Adele or Beyonce! But that’s okay, because Roosevelt saved my life. You can check out his music here! So for my western travellers out there, there might not be a whole bunch of entertainment choices for you to choose from.

On a more positive note, I have to compliment the crew who were on my return flight. They were SO MUCH BETTER. The steward was handsome (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA just had to point that out) and the crew for my cabin were generally really attentive to our needs. The stewardess serving our cabin, she had like short hair and was really pretty. I wished I got her name because she was really so kind, polite, and just great. Maybe I should email Cathay and compliment her. She was a junior crew, actually all of them were. It’s quite common for junior crew to be serving in economy anyway. The steward served us haagen dazs ice cream too (the mini ones) too, after our meals. And the crew ACTUALLY walked around and served us drinks, which was a stark difference from my previous Cathay flight. And they didn’t just do it once, but three times! I was really so full on board and would say that I am well taken care off by the cabin crew so two thumbs up for the crew onboard that flight. Yay, if ever this posts gets out internationally, thank you to the cabin crew of that flight! I felt as if the steward and stewardess serving my cabin were Singaporeans. They didn’t look like they were from Hong Kong and the english they spoke were super Singaporean. Ok maybe the steward is from Hong Kong but I am 100% sure the stewardess is a Singaporean. But doesn’t matter, they were great!

Overall thoughts?

Coming from an airline snob like me, because I really am one… I think personally I wouldn’t mind flying Cathay again. Truth be told, after the first flight to Hong Kong, I was like telling my parents I would never fly Cathay ever in my life because it was really such a ‘culture shock’ from SQ. But after the second flight back to Singapore, I really didn’t mind. The hot towels, travel declaration forms were small issues and petty ones. And I think my opinion of Cathay initially was very biased too, because this comes from a frequent SQ-flyer and SQ is really the top airline (other than Emirates). But of course the flight experience during my return flight really helped change my impression of Cathay, I love the crew on that flight (I said that 10 times already)!

Whether it is the “best airline of the world”, that is really subjective to the needs and wants of every individual passenger.

For things like entertainment, if you are someone who has difficulty sleeping on board (like me) or someone who needs to do something to not feel bored, and particularly if you are not Chinese/Cantonese then I think Cathay wouldn’t be the airline for you because their entertainment services aren’t the best out there. My parents were Cantonese, so they were able to appreciate and enjoy the Cantonese movies on board but for people like me, I am way too ‘westernised’ for those movies and I didn’t feel like I would like it. Music too, because I only listen to Hollywood songs. BUT, if you’re someone who can sleep anywhere and everywhere, and entertainment isn’t a priority for you on board then Cathay can be a possible airline for you.

Cathay ultimately provided the basics of what a passanger would NEED in a flight: a reasonable seat, food, drinks, some form of in-flight entertainment, toilets etc. But does it go the extra mile for passengers? To me, not at all.

Regarding the cabin crew service… ok how do I put this? Ok, It depends on your luck I guess. If you get a good crew, your flight is pretty much set. But if you get a bad crew, as bad as mine during the going-there flight then of course it wouldn’t be a pleasant flight experience. But I would really like to think that I’m just unlucky that I had a ‘bad crew’ on board serving me for that flight, because my parents took Cathay last time to Vancouver and mentioned the crew were actually great. A crew can really make or break your flight experience, so pray hard you get a decent crew!

Other than that, I think Cathay isn’t that bad, but neither is it that good. It can improve its services, especially its in-flight entertainment. Its a decent airline. For someone who has never flown before, or has never taken an international full fledged airline, you would probably find Cathay a great airline. But if you’ve already flown with big and famous airlines like SQ, Emirates, Ethiad then Cathay would probably miss the mark for you.

I would give Cathay a 7/10 for my reasons above. I do not mind flying with Cathay again for sure, if SQ is fully booked.

Hope this review was insightful and interesting, and thank you Cathay for quite a pleasant flight experience!

With love,

Vanessa