28 December 2014

FLYING EMIRATES TO DUBAI: THE GOOD LIFE


Dubai Airport-Duty Free.
On Emirates airlines, each seat in economy is equipped with its own monitor and touchscreen remote attached to the back of the seat. Additionally, each seat features USB ports which are handy for charging iPods, phones and other gadgets. If you're a techie and gadget junkie, you'll fall absolutely in love with Emirates ICE entertainment system, like I did. ICE (Information, Communication and Entertainment) was unlike anything I had ever experienced aboard any flight. Admittedly impressive, it's a bit intimidating and somewhat overwhelming at first. First off, there are three options on how to control the system: touching the screen, using the removable touch screen remote or using the smaller wired remote. I really didn't know how to operate anything at first, so secretly glancing at other passengers to see what they were doing was one of the ways I got around to figuring things out.
The Information feature of the system allows you to access the flight's status and information about the particular flight such as how many feet we were at, hours until landing etc. It also features live updates from CNN  on whats happening around the world. There was even a map that showed the flight's progress across the world map, so for instance I knew when we were flying over Iraq and Turkey.
The Communication feature allows passengers  to make phone calls and send text messages on board to anywhere on the ground (CREDIT CARD fee applies). What impressed the heck out of me was the fact that Emirates airlines has Wi-Fi up and running on all their flights. Wi-Fi at 30,000 feet? Hell yeah, I can handle that! Being able to update my blog in the sky and post instant photos of myself savoring Emirates' delicacies or sandwiched between two strangers- a shy, Qur'an-reading Afghan and a seemingly restless, can't-stop-peeping-at-my-screen Indian, is definitely something to talk about. The Entertainment feature of the system - and this one is my favourite, because Im a movie and music junkie- features a wide range of new movies and TV shows to watch, something I really appreciate on long flights. It also has over 1000 songs in various genres and languages. Emirates, by far, has the largest selection of movies and entertainment I have ever experienced, with over 2000 channels to choose from. On my bid to explore as much as I possibly could I ended up on shows I didn't even know existed, for example Arab Idol. Habibeeeeezzz. After flying a total of 20 something hours on Emirates from London - Dubai - Jakarta and back I still had not explored everything it had to offer, though I did manage to watch a handful of movies I had not seen before. For any frequent flier on the airline, this would be a huge perk. One of my favorite things on the ICE system, is that it offers passengers the ability to see whats happening on the outside, via outside cameras that are accessible on the screen. It was handy watching the aircraft take off and land via the cameras.  I was just about settling in after a full course meal when I  randomly looked up and to my utter amazement, saw stars twinkling on the cabin ceiling. I was like "NO WAYYY! This is so unbelievable! "
This incredible feature is called StarLight and is unique to Emirates airlines. It was so extraordinary to be at 30,000 feet, and seeing stars....that looked REAL. First, they have the ambient lighting; going from a soft white/yellow to pinks to purple for the different light cycles. Then when all main activities are done, the cabin lights come off completely and the stars come out. STUNNING. I really loved the stars and the graduated lighting because of there uniqueness and the ambiance they created. Kudos to the engineer(s) behind that scheme. It totally made my entire trip worthwhile.
Flying with Emirates was more than awesome, and there’s no airline I’m more obsessed with traveling on in the future than Emirates. The first class suites were uncomfortably amazing. Extremely classy to say the least. The food was fantastic and the amenities themselves were great. The cabin crew were professional and genuinely friendly and supportive. Economy class in Emirates is perhaps better than many airlines' first class and that's on a real note. Emirates has most definitely lived up to its reputation for providing a fabulous flying experience. 






I was also offered noise canceling headphones.


One of the first things passengers aboard Emirates receive is a "Hot Towel". Its a hand towel the size of a handkerchief that's damp and soothingly warm. You can use it to freshen up your face, neck and hands etc.


The lighting though..pure luxury!







Half of the stuff I ate, up until this moment I have no clue what I ate. Thank God Emirates' food are Halal and I have no allergies.



Assortment of drinks.

Totally loved my snack basket with my favourite...PRINGLES and oh! Isnt the purple orchid just oh so amazing?! I love orchids. How could they have known?



When the lights go down, the stars come up. Emirates offers a special StarLight feature providing a great sleeping atmoshphere.

This is what it looks like when all the cabin lights are turned off.

Touchscreen monitors from the Economy section of Emirates










The size of those tennis balls though...


Shopping at the duty free grocery.


I like my coffee sweeeeet.

Only in Dubai....tsk tsk.


Flight to London...

Look who else from the Caribbean is in Dubai.

What a name! But his beard though...


26 December 2014

DEAR JAKARTA, I LOVE YOU!


I’ve been wanting to post this article for a couple weeks now and wrote most of it when I first got home from my solo trip to Indonesia last month.  But the more I thought about it, I really wanted to let my feelings on the topic of solo travel marinate for a while and see how I felt a few weeks after the experience before posting my thoughts here. This recent trip to Indonesia is my first time traveling  alone abroad.  All of my other travels to Panama, Guatemala Mexico etc were done in the company of my husband. But this was the first trip that I did on my own to South-east Asia. Before I go on, I want to state that I do truly believe that traveling alone is something I think everyone should experience at one point or another.  It’s something like nothing else, it makes you think differently, it makes you take in more around you and it really is inspiring in many ways that traveling with other people often isn’t. It’s a way to build your independence, a way to break free of social regulation and a way to explore parts of the world and parts of yourself more deeply. But it can also be lonely and isolating in ways that we may never even realize until we experience it. And truthfully, it can be draining as well, both emotionally and physically when you don’t have another person to rely on or be up with in the middle of the night when you’re jet lagged, or having to trust complete strangers to assist you with certain things. I also really think it’s important to relay the truth about some of the darker parts of traveling here on my blog.  And while I whole-heartedly believe travel is overall a fantastic experience, there are some things, like traveling alone, that can really test you.
My most recent trip was one that I wouldn’t take back and I know I am so blessed to have had this opportunity but it was also one that was hard for me. Exploring Indonesia especially, I’d see something and want so badly to turn to my husband and show him, or I’d see something I knew he'd love and it made it even more apparent that he wasn’t there with me, and that I was creating memories alone, without him. I missed sharing the moments abroad with him and it  felt sort of wrong to be experiencing them without him.  On the other hand, this trip did open up many lessons to be learned.  It challenged me in ways that my travels with my husband do not.  I didn’t have someone to rely on for help finding places, to take my photos or the security of having a man by my side.  It made me more aware of my surroundings, which helped me see beautiful little details around me that I perhaps would not have, had I been with someone else. I think that traveling alone is definitely something everyone should experience at some point. It really is a way to connect with yourself and even when lonely, it gives you a tremendous opportunity to find yourself, to explore new places and build up courage on your own. All of my experiences abroad alone have taught me different things and I credit some of my deepest soul searching moments to those trips. But as I get older and the more I travel, at the end of the day, I just miss my husband and wanted to share our travels together, creating memories together.

Home in my apartment. 

Halal Coke I bought at the supermarket. Superrrr.



So fascinated with this new pair of shades I bought. Kinda like square pegs in round holes.





Out in the mall. Food is priority.




Magnificent sunrise in Jakarta city (view from my apartment's gallery)

Backyard view of my apartment, from up above.


I spot a mosque in the distance :) Never miss the adhaan. Never miss prayer.

Jakarta's busy and noisy highway.


Breakfast in bed. The housekeeper ensured I never miss breakfast. Lovely lady.


I have no clue what this place is but I love the roof. Artistic much!

Masjid Al Ikhlas.

The best peanuts I've ever had.

So amped up about the Safari!!!

You can never have enough chocolate. Too bad I was on my way to the Safari though. Should have made a detour.




Boys will be boys...

Local punk?!

Exciting billboard, wouldn't you say?




Last day in Jakarta :'( Waiting for my driver to take me to the airport.