Friday, June 16, 2017

Solo Trip to Parc Disneyland, Paris

Hi guys! How have you been? :)

So last week I flew to Paris for work and had two days of layover. It was my third time in Paris and I've finally decided to venture out further than Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower etc to go to the Disneyland! I wanted to pen this down because I was so amused by the extra attention and questions I got from friends and acquaintances.

I'll start with my experience first. So the night before I went, I did some research on how to get there so I could properly gauge my time (I planned to reach when the park opens which was 10am) and realised it is cheaper if I book my ticket online instead of purchasing on the spot at the gates. The only condition is that I have to book at least a day in advance. It was already 10 p.m. at that point of time and I scrambled to get my credit card. Managed to decipher the different types of tickets after maybe five to ten minutes; they have one-day pass, multiple day pass, annual pass, and in those main categories they have dual park access, single park access, and also promo price passes for all those categories but only available this season until September, which is further discount on top of the discounted price for booking online, all of these in partial French by the way, because the official website did not offer full translation. After keying in everything, to my dismay, the transaction failed. I thought the problem was that I used a debit card and not a credit card, so I tried again with my credit card and it failed, again. I was hesitant to try another time because I was afraid I was already charged twice and I did not have my ibanking device with me to check my account balance. Tried to call concierge to ask but they did not answer. Thinking it might be my mobile device problem I changed out of my sleeping attire to go to the public desktop available at the lift lobby. But since I already got out of my room I went down to the concierge to seek help. I am pretty sure other hotel guests would have thought of going to Disneyland and might have been facing the same problems and was not able to read the French on the website. The concierge was not helpful at all. He said he is not allowed to input hotel guests' credit card details into the hotel computer and the staff who is in charge of selling ready tickets at the counter has already got off work and will only be back the next morning. Out of curiosity and an alternative plan I asked for the price of the tickets off counter and it was the same price as going to the gate to purchase. I guess the convenience of avoiding the queues is there but NOPE. Not good enough for me. Went back to my room and asked Google. ALAS! It is actually a very common problem as many card companies automatically rejects all transactions coming from France as it is listed as a high fraud area. But the only way to get thru would be to call the card company directly to authorise the transaction and I was not prepared to do a long distance call since I do not really know the telco charges. I was this close to pulling my hair out at 11.30 p.m. when I found a UK website that sells entertainment tickets. It was 10 euros more than if I bought from Disney official website but still half of what I need to pay at the concierge tomorrow morning so I tried my luck and VOILA I received the email confirmation of my ticket! FINALLY I COULD SLEEP.

Got up the next day and took my time... Almost took the right train BUT in the opposite direction, and then missed my stop for transfer and had to alight at another specific stop that has the line I needed to transfer to but without paying for another train ticket... after all that detour I managed to get there at 10.30 a.m. ^_^" It was an amazing day with air-con temperature and sunny weather; perfect lighting for photo taking. There were actually six of my colleagues who were in Paris for the first time and they seemed quite keen on going to Disneyland. I did not work with them so it was a little awkward but I extended my invitation and assured them it is not very complicated to go on our own without buying a tour or package of ticket including transportation from Paris (since it is actually in a city an hour from Paris). But other colleagues who have already been  there kept harping on how expensive the tickets were, how crowded it can be (I was going on a Monday but they still continue nodding their head and said Yeah it will still be very crowded ._.), how far it was, that it isn't worth our time. It was like as if they get to earn some sort of an incentive if they manage to discourage us and it was really annoying to me. I thought to myself "if you do not want to go you don't have to say such things. And you have already went there, let others judge for themselves" Anyway because of those remarks, the six of them suddenly had second thoughts about it. I was going on the second day of my layover so I told them to think about it and get back to me, no pressure.

One of the girls was really really excited and keen to go, but after hearing what others said she started to say things which REALLY annoyed me. Pardon my Singlish but this is the rough conversation we had:

Girl: Yeah I want to go but what time is the fireworks ah? Should be very late right? The next day we check out so early...
Me: We can go today!
Girl: Huh but today we going to see Eiffel Tower...
Me: Ok ok we can leave earlier tomorrow so we can come back and rest :)
Girl: Huh then if we don't watch fireworks like no point going liao leh... I only want to see fireworks.

-_______________-

Me: Ok you think about it and let me know. Even if none of you are going I will still go. So if you change your mind I can take you there. :)

A few hours later...

Girl: I think I not going la... The rest not going also. No fireworks no point. Go Disneyland must see fireworks one. You still want to go ah? I think waste time leh...

-______________-

HELLO GIRL IF YOU DON'T WANT TO GO KTHXBYE PLEASE DON'T COME TO ME AND TRY TO DISSUADE ME TO MAKE YOURSELF FEEL BETTER. I was perfectly fine to go on my own even before I flew to Paris but these people had to get on my nerves. All that anger and annoyance were totally unnecessary but it happened because of these people. At the park I had so many moments thinking wow thank god I did not come here with any of them. My company alone was so much better and I am honestly not being spiteful about it. I maximised my time by studying where the characters are and what time they are out for the meet and greet sessions and went accordingly, slotting in enough time in between to catch the daily parade (once a day only) and special shows (specific timings during the day), and still had time to take ALL the thrilling rides I wanted without queueing for more than half an hour because I knew when and which rides to get fast passes. I was done with the entire park by 2.30 p.m. with lots of time to spare waiting for the shows so I had lunch and a snack at a restaurant of my choice and kept myself hydrated and hid in the shade when it got too hot later in the afternoon. I took care of myself, did what I liked and had so much fun meeting my favourite characters and riding roller coasters. Yet occasionally I received texts and igstory messages asking me if I'm okay, why am I alone, why didn't I wait till I can go with my loved ones or friends? etc. It is already my third time in Paris and I had been wanting to go since the first time but I was always either discouraged by others or did not have the guts to travel out of the city area by myself in a foreign land that speak minimal English. I finally have the confidence and I am met by these responses.

I need to emphasise: Being alone does not mean I am lonely. I learned to be independent; taking care of my well being and safety, to be comfortable without fearing any sort of judgment from bystanders and peers. I am 10x more travel savvy and street smart than I was before I could only depend on myself. 

This is the best example of why I rather go alone than with people like that. Imagine if I really went with the girl. Just me and her.

I think I would really be wasting my time. Listening to her bicker and complain all day and telling me "oh my they are right this is really not worth it."

My trip was amazing thanks to myself. Of course it would be even better if I had went with my loved ones but with strangers just so I won't be "lonely"? No thanks. :)
Last and final Disneyland to explore would be Disneyland Anaheim. I can't wait already.


TGIF. Thanks for reading too! Your thoughts?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What I have been doing for the past 3 years

So! Most of my friends are aware but strangers and acquaintances out there are still not in the loop that I've been flying as a flight attendant for coming 3 years now (just short of a few more months)! I neither planned to keep it a secret nor tried to be mysterious but it is along with the company rules and regulations and the judgment I used to feel, I had preferred not to reveal my profession whenever I meet someone new e.g. taxi drivers, friends of friends etc.

I would get into trouble if I posted photos of myself in uniform on social media, or if I get caught doing something against the rules by eyes of the public. It was quite irritating not to be able to share what I am doing daily (yes I am a social media freak of this generation) and to be honest I wish I didn't care like most of my colleagues, but I do. And I also wanted to avoid controversial and stereotypical questions that I didn't think I could answer well. Now I am fairly ready to handle them so here I am :)

It has been... a crazy journey thus far (don't worry I'm not quitting, yet!), with all the ups and downs from people and situations both. I would say mostly ups, as I am enjoying my work so far. It was the best decision I've made, and even though I actually didn't get in on the first attempt at the interviews, the decision to try again was one of the pivotal points of my life. I look forward to work almost 95% of the time and that says a lot doesn't it? "Monday blues" come and go sometimes but I am mostly excited to prepare to go to work even if I slept late after a night out with my friends at midnight and have to get up at 3am in the morning to go to the airport.

I was already travel-savvy, I can say that without feeling shameless because ever since my family and I moved to Singapore when I was maybe, 2 or 3 years old, I was already traveling to and fro Hong Kong frequently. I live in Hong Kong for a few months then back to Singapore, that kind of thing before I started studying in school. I think I had started flying alone without my parents as young as 7 years old. My relatives (usually my grandpa yeye or my grandma mama) would pick me up at the arrival hall and send me off to the airport staff at the departure gates. The staff would escort me through immigrations and boarding the plane etc. And after that, I take yearly if not semi-annual overseas trips with my family and then I did a wonderful 7 months trip to USA. It was the most amazing experience, learning how to live without parents; the cooking, laundry, utilities, chores, etc. Meeting people from all walks of life at work, and fellow internship colleagues around my age but from all over the world, and working in the happiest place on Earth, Disney World. :)

After that trip I became even more eager to travel, taking monthly trips to countries in South East Asia, wherever my then-limited savings could take me. I was a girl who'd rather spend all her money on experiences (travel, food, lifestyle) than clothes, shoes, bags etc. I did not care much about how others were comparing their new watches and latest bag collections, I was busy looking for a new beach to explore in Malaysia and Thailand.

I guess that was also why I picked Tourism as a course to study in Singapore Polytechnic. And learned even more about what I can do and where I can explore within my means. I fell in love with learning about different cities' cultures, food, history, people and their languages.

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Of course, now that travelling is mostly look upon as a task, duty and job than a typical holiday that I used to be able to enjoy with friends and family, it is quite a difference and honestly not what I had expected in the beginning.

The biggest challenge I learned to overcome is to explore cities alone; to stay safe whilst taking in the beautiful sights and to find my way around and make sure I don't get lost even without roaming data or wifi on the streets. I realised I have no one to depend on most of the time, and I have accepted and embraced the fact that being alone doesn't mean I am lonely. :)

I do hang out with colleagues too, and it is always so fun to hang with like-minded people, taking photos, rides, buying quirky souvenirs, trying new food etc. There are just people you simply cannot click with, and I think I have mastered the skill of avoiding them or simply working cohesively without starting a fight or an argument. I always thought, why are they so weird? And some others will agree with me, but in fact we are just different and I know people think I am weird too. This is what happens when you meet a few hundred people on a daily basis. You just have so many personal interactions with so many different type of human beings and it widens your perception of humanity. I keep in mind that I am someone with professionalism and I take pride in whatever I do, expecially at work, and that has helped tremendously in so many occasions that I almost lost my cool at some insensitive passengers and/or colleagues.

The other challenge is to manage my fatigue as I grow older over the years yet continue to work full time in this physical job. My metabolism is still not too shabby but I am definitely not as nimble on my feet as compared to my sporty days a few years ago. And this is accompanied with the jet lag I deal with every day, from the time differences because I fly everywhere. I could be in London GMT+1 on Monday, and then back to Singapore GMT+8 on Friday and then Delhi GMT+5.5 on Sunday. Or Amsterdam GMT+2 on Monday, Singapore GMT+8 on Thursday then Auckland GMT+13 on Saturday. Or Manchester GMT+1 on Sunday, Houston GMT-5 on Tuesday, Manchester GMT+1 on Friday then Singapore GMT+8 on Monday. There is practically no time to get used to a time and I just have to eat, shit and sleep whenever I want to, pardon my language. There is also no time to fall sick, have facial breakouts, repay sleep debts etc. So taking great care of my health has become a very vital and crucial part of my life ever since I started flying. I can't just go "chiong" and then die with hangover the next day or fall ill as and when my body needs to break down and release the toxins I chose to take in because it is fun to stay out, fun to eat junk food, fun to quarrel with someone and lose sleep. I had to "adult" before I was one.

I think I managed. So far so good.
Let me know if you have any questions :)