[DIARY] GOODBYE SINGAPORE AIRLINES

Ending my career as a stewardess was perhaps the best decision I’ve made this year. Letting go of this comfort zone I had (unfortunately) sunk into for the past 2 years involved lots of anxiety, doubt, and inevitable thoughts of missing the globetrotting lifestyle. Nevertheless I made my decision quickly and set my heart for the big change when the opportunity to work as a media analyst came. There were spurts of excitement and also joy at finally stepping into an industry I might actually have a genuine interest in.

“You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It wont happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life.”
― Joel Osteen, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential

Mixed feelings aside, one must always look ahead and move on in life. Thinking back, it was a whirlwind of fun & adventure being a cabin crew at one of the world’s ‘best airlines”. Work was hard, schedules could be crazy, rosters were sometimes bad, and there were months I went without meeting friends outside of the airlines industry… BUT I don’t and will never regret these two+ years with SIA. This insightful journey was exhilarating, at times excruciating, and came with many lessons to be learnt.

Things I already miss:

1. Job title: FLIGHT STEWARDESS.
Onboard, I’ve been called by many other names: Miss, Li, Darling, Sweetheart, Eh, Excuse Me, Hello, Auntie, Jiejie, and nonverbal gestures such passengers pulling my kebaya or waving their hands wildly in the air to get my attention.

singapore girl crew

2. The Singapore Girl hairdo.
Despite the strict grooming guide, there are as many variations as there are flight stewardesses in SIA. Seniority (on first impression) is based on the height of your hump (that height-enhancing bump on your head, derived from resemblances to camel humps). I actually miss this fuss-free chignon – when I mean fuss-free I refer to not having hair all over my face, not time taken to prepare.

SIA girl

3. Quintessentially, HEAVY DUTY MAKEUP.
For long flights we can wear them up to 18 hrs (14hr flight time + 2hr reporting time + 1 hr preparation at home + 1hr travelling from airport to hotel after touchdown). The worst thing is: falling asleep without removing them! This is why I grew so unaccustomed to my own bare face.

4. PARIS. LONDON. ZURICH. GREECE.
Oh the places you’ll go, without ever having to take any work home. Once we touchdown at the destination, HOLA FREEDOM until the wake-up call for your next flight sector. I’m happy to say I’ve touched all corners of the earth that SIA goes to, and have them all Instagram-Mapped.

EIFFEL TOWER PARIS TRAVEL BLOG sia

5. Hotels
Every flight was somewhat a vacay. Stepping into a freshly-laundered room with a hot bath and clean sheet (though sometimes tiny/musky-smelling less-than-4-star closet of a hotel room) after a tiring flight is the best feeling ever. Hence the perpetual reluctance to check out.

hongkong hotel

6. Hotel room selfies. Ha.

hotel room selfie

7. Living out of a suitcase – bursting or not, that bitch needs to be closed. It’s a woe for many stewardesses especially on long-haul.

bursting luggage

 

8. Coffee in the morning, coffee in the noon and coffee any time of day, because jet lag demands to be fed with caffeine. Truth is, I can drink 2 shots and still sleep for forever.

I need coffee

 

9. “Bragging Rights”
Friend, at dinner: “So what did you have for breakfast this morning?”
Me, casually: “Injeolmi Bingsoo from this place in Hongdae, Korea.”
Trust me, I am not bragging. Just stating the facts, you asked for it.
Breakfast in another time zone, lunch 35000 feet in the skies, and dinner in Singapore.

korea bingsoo bingsu

 

10. The skies. And the familiar wings we see from our crew seats when we look out from the windows. The one below was taken out flying out from Singapore Changi Airport. The following three were taken enroute Houston from Moscow, so you can see Greenland.

planes skies blue greenland skies greenland from the sky

 

11. Behind-the-scenes Crazy
Well, stewardesses have all the fun…when you’re sleeping and we’re trying to stay awake on a red-eye flight. Oh…and these girls!! Cutest and sweetest little darlings ever.
sia stewardess

12. Coming home.
The word ‘home’ takes on a whole new meaning, when it’s all you’re thinking of the moment you set foot on an aircraft bound for foreign territories.

A little over a month, people still ask if I miss flying. Well if you’ve been at it for 2 years, day in day out, you’re bound to feel a sense of loss. As it is for any kind of job and lifestyle. The only thing I actually really started to miss were the chirpy greetings I received from passengers when I greet them upon coming aboard, the genuine thank yous upon rendering assistance wherever I could, the adrenaline rush when we had a ton of duties we needed to complete and the eventual sweat-wiping relief when it’s all over. And the camaraderie over the years with a few colleagues. When we donned our kebaya, we were told to ‘smile at anything that moves’ – we would hold doors and lifts for people, greet people we don’t know, and talk to people we’ve never met – all without garnering weird looks. Try holding a door for someone in Singapore – you might get ‘thank you’ with an awkward look at best, or even ignored for your effort. Smile at a stranger, and be labelled a psycho. Greet someone in the lift, and end up taking the lift up alone. A well-mannered bunch we as stewards and stewardesses are – after all we are in the service industry. But we don’t always get the same respect and treatment in or out of the uniform.

Also, I was exposed to many kinds of teamwork & leadership (through observations, not actual leading), plus gained a kind of worldly experience that isn’t of the bragging sort. There’s never an end to how much of the world we can see. From big metropolitan cities with world-class airports to less-developed rural areas where drinking tap water gave me gastroenteritis for weeks, and where small girls on the streets wanted to take photos with a group of us just because our skin colour was different from theirs – they’ve never seen fair-skinned people in their lives.

I became a stewardess for the freedom, experience and a change of lifestyle. I never regretted, even as I was dying to leave the job. The job gave me loads of reasons to look back and smile. You’re meant to live your life in your 20s before youth slips away!

Once a Singapore Girl, Always a Singapore Girl. I still feel nostalgic at an SIA ad, or when I see an SIA aircraft landing or see ex-colleagues at the airport heading for flight or just coming back home.

singapore girl SIA kebaya

 

Well, this is goodbye! I’ve clipped my wings and started a new chapter in life.

xoxo,

Viktoria Jean

10 SECRETS TO GOOD SKIN

Shh… I’m letting you guys in on what I do to keep my skin minimally flawed and young-looking.

I’m not without vices – my lifestyle certainly does a great deal of harm to my skin. Constant travelling, difficult climates, dry-air in airplane cabins, late nights, sleepless days, junk food and irregular meals, social drinking and partying – all these adds to the daunting task of damage-control, and to maintain my current skin conditions.As I get older I’ve come to realize the importance of a good skincare regime. Party season has come and gone. January and February is the time for healing and pampering the skin you’ve subjected to abuse. Over the years I’ve tried many products, methods, and these are the ones I’m gonna keep:

 

1. CLARISONIC for cleansing the skin.
If like me your work requires a high volume of makeup, the highly raved-about sonic skin-care cleansing brushes works wonders unplugging clogged pores. I got hooked onto using my Clarisonic MIA ever since I got mine from L.A. and now it’s a necessity in my day-to-day regime. I get my replacement brushes (you’ve got to change them once every 3-4 months) each time I hit the States, since it’s way cheaper in SEPHORA USA. I don’t use fancy cleansing foams: a respectable store-bought brand like Innisfree, The Face Shop or Laneige would suffice for me. The rotating motion of Clarisonic brushes gives me all the reassurance that my skin is being taken care of.

 

2. SHEET-TYPE FACE-MASKS
At least 3 times a week I engage the usual suspects who take really good care of my skin: 我的心機 (My Scheming Beauty), 我的美麗日記 (My Beauty Diary), Innisfree, Etude House, Laneige, ODBO, Acwell. In under 25 minutes I can get a variety of results depending on whether my skin feels especially dry and tight, or oily and clogged.

I get them from COSMED Taiwan, Watsons Hong Kong, and from the big brands themself in Seoul. Try not to purchase them from online stores as there’re tonnes of scams out there peddling the fakes. Yes! Even face-masks are fake these days.
On days when I do apply my face-masks, I see visible differences.

 

3. SERUM LAYERING
Like lots of people I face the dilemma of deciding which type of serum to use. Well, it never hurts to layer them. I use a good combination of 2 – 3 serums (without toners, because honestly I fail to see the use of toners) from a customised variety. I love Vichy’s Idéalia Life Serum, Laneige’s White Plus Renew Essence, Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum and Turnaround Concentrate, Innisfree’s Green Tea Seed Serum, DHC Japan’s PQQ Up-Gel and Vitamin-C Serum, Bio-Essence Radiant Youth Essence etc. Just remember to leave a good 10-second gap between each application.

 

4. OVERNIGHTERS
I never let my skin go dry in the night. After the serum shots I plump up my skin with heavy creams, especially at night. I trust Vichy’s Idéalia Night Cream, Kiehl’s 24-hour Moisturiser, Bio-Essence V Face-Lifting Cream, and Laneige’s White Plus Renew Night Cream. In the day, I rely on just a thin layer of sun-block after the serum.

Confession: I have lazy days whereby I skip all the serum and face masks steps and go straight to sleeping masks. In those instances, Laneige’s Sleeping Mask and Vichy’s Night Detox masks come in really handy.

 

5. COLLAGEN BOOSTS
I’m a big fan of Meiji’s Amino Collagen, but I find it troublesome having to dissolve it for ingestion, and for travellers who don’t always have the luxury of luggage space, powdered collagen is a hassle. Kinohimitsu’s pack-of-6 BB Beauty Drink (Blended Bird’s Nest with Acerola Cherry) is a shot of collagen I take every few months. In between these courses, I try to take SATO’s Hakubi White C pills which are way easier to take around the world with me. Honestly, this seller at Qoo10 sells Kinohimitsu at a way cheaper price than I’ve actually seen in Japanese pharmacies.
A colleague once told me that collagen takes effect from the day you start taking them, so your skin is preserved from the time you begin to ingest collagen. Do yourself a favour and start early! You don’t have to take them everyday but once in a while, the stuff does wonders.

Confession: I dissolve my Meiji Collagen in coffee to replace my milk and creamers.

 

6. TEAS TEAS AND MORE TEAS
My favourite BB Detox Tea from Kusmi Tea is my go-to morning drink (in place of my regular cappucino) after every late-night party accompanied by drinking. Also on my list are Pukka’s Detox Tea from the UK, and Arifoğlu 9-in-1 (Arifoğlu Dokuzu Bir Yerde 9 in 1 Karışık Bitkisel Çay) from Turkey. It’s no secret: green tea, yerba mate, rosemary and thyme are great for your skin in the long run. They also give you plenty of hydration, minerals and anti-oxidants.

 

7. OMEGA-3 FISH OIL SUPPLEMENTS
No way you can do without this. Unless you live in Norway and eat fish for breakfast lunch and dinner, all day everyday. I’ve only recently started to take them on a daily basis and discovered good small changes to how my T-Zones no longer secrete sebum so unwontedly and frequently.

Confession: I love smoked salmon, cooked salmon, fresh sashimi, raw salmon, steamed salmon and salmon with buttered, battered crusts. Basically anything salmon, but I suspect that has little to contribute to good skin in the long run if you’re always eating them pan-fried or oven-baked.
8. MULTIVITAMINS
This is another no-brainer. Without the essential vitamins your body simply cannot function. When the basic functions go into hibernation mode, your skin condition is compromised. So help yourself: take your daily multivitamins. I go for ALIVE! Women’s Multivitamins or Centrum.

 

I’m sure way more females have extensive skincare regimes and secrets. Do share and I hope these are little tips to pick up along the way. Your skin doesn’t get any younger. I don’t have the most perfect skin, but I try.

Viktoria Jean Li

 

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

♛ SCARLET CAROUSEL | OO3

{Installation} – [oo3]

Life would be an endgame if we knew it all.

February 2017
South Korea

Even Las Vegas was in boycott of his calls. Pierre consciously fights the urge to crush the identical twin of his own cellphone in his palm. Calls to his Nagasaki hometown, directed to the comrade who had handed him the transaction, went straight to voicemaill. Somebody’s obviously having the time of his life at 2am. He curses his comrade under his breath.

Pierre, having gone solo as an agent, had long since acquired the art of non-existence. He had plucked the traceability of his mobile phones off the locality map — contributing to the anguish of having lost the only point of contact with his Vegas merchant.

He spends a good 3 hours retracing the alleys in search of the girl who is in most unfortunate possession of his cellphone, sincerely hoping that she had not stupidly picked up any calls.

Yeah right.

“Meddler”, “nuisance” and “interferer” were written in bold all over that girl’s pretty face. Pretty face. Did I just think that aloud? He looks down at the cellphone indistinguishable to his own, save for the absence of a small spiderwebbed crack – a scar acquired in the backpocket of his owner who had fallen 10-feet onto a parapet – and he admonishes himself for the possible disastrous mistake.

In the span of 3 hours, a Reina Yamaguchi had tried to contact this girl, whose name he had no burning desire to learn of, a grand total of 153 times.

“Jae? I need to crack your brains. Take down this name and get her checked.”

True to his top-notch skills at disarming passcodes to government system files, Jae had replied within the hour.

“Reina Yamaguchi was a child actress in Japan, born in Nagasaki and raised by nannies. Attended a Western University in Korea. Seems to have blood relatives here too. You like this chick? She’s hot.”

“Nothing fishy about her?”

“No…wait you’re checking up on her? Man, I thought you were just interested. She’s clean.”

“Great. Get me photographs, address, next-of-kin, details.”

“Sent.”

With no time to lose, Pierre cracks the lock on a Vespa in an open-spaced lot and races it to the address tagged to Reina Yamaguchi. The helmet reeked of cheap cigarettes but Pierre keeps it locked around his throbbing head.

Whoever had hired the chick whom Pierre silently and swiftly disarmed earlier in the alley was bound to have already heard of her misstep.

Pierre was to be dead. Details of the transaction had to be hushed, forever.

Now he lives. And this Reina Yamaguchi was going to lose an important friend.

All Pierre needs at the moment is his cellphone back in order to inform the Vegas merchant of the glitch in operation. The money was already in somebody else’s hands, for god knows what reasons. He would need to get it back. But to do so, he would need to play hero for a certain intrusive damsel in distress. He abruptly guns the engine. Long legs already sweeping up the porch steps to Reina’s dormitory before the Vespa was even silenced.

Why the heck had she been trailing in his shadows all night? She looked way too uptown and naïve.

The gun loosely tucked into his waistband was a .45 caliber Beretta, and if required he was swooping in for a quick decisive kill. But the victim he was looking for had no place and name. Who the heck had pounced on the previous messenger, and how did they know of this clandestine deal?

First things first — find the girl, save her ass.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Eiji doubles back up the stairs, taking three at a time, and finds Reina collapsed in a quivering heap. He crouches by her side, takes her by the shoulders, as he takes in the scene before him. The house was in disarray – looking as though heavily ransacked. Eiji makes a mental note to ask Reina if they had lost any precious items when she sobers up.

“Stay here,” he orders, gets back up in a run towards Noemie. With fresh blood streaking down her face, and frail breathing, Eiji does not move her. Instead, he places emergency calls to the police and the hospital.

“Get her blankets, Reina.”

The girl staggers to her feet and moves as instructed. The thick blankets were soon stained with blood upon placing them over the motionless body. Her hands shiver as she struggles to wrap the blankets around Noemie, careful not to dislodge any vital crime-scene imprints.

Suddenly, Reina drops to her hands and knees in the puddle of blood and peels off the blankets. “Wait. It’s not Noemie. It’s not her, it’s not her!”

Hysteria rises in her voice, as new panic replaces the shock of discovering the body.

“She’s wearing her clothes! Why is she wearing Noemie’s outfit?”

Eiji pulls Reina up and hugs her briefly. “Go into the kitchen and call her cellphone. I can’t find it anywhere.”

He calmly dissects the scene and the injuries of the girl before him. Somebody had used physical force to knock her out. His or her main intention was not to kill. It was also a fresh wound, Eiji observes, probably minutes before he had brought Reina home. Blood trickled down her left temple. Seeing as bulk of the bloodshed came from the base of her skull that had met the edge of the dining table with force.

Noemie’s ringtone sounded just outside the door, seconds before it swung open.

Clutching the ringing cellphone, Pierre takes one look at the girl’s body and cursed under his breath. Eiji makes a grab for the nearest table lamp, steps between Pierre and Reina.

“Look,” Pierre surrenders his unarmed hands,  “I know what happened. If you want to save your friend, listen carefully.”

Wailing sounds of siren alerted them to approaching authorities. Pierre dropped to his knees.  Weakened pulse. Alive. But this unconscious body of his attacker in the alley was smeared with Pierre’s fingerprints.

“Grab fresh blankets. We’ve got to keep her warm. We’ve got to get out! I’m not here to hurt anyone. Staying will make things worst if you two are arrested for suspected murder.”

Urgency in his voice seems to engage his listeners into shocked action. In minutes, Noemie’s double was wrapped in bedsheets and huddled down the stairs in Pierre’s arms, closely followed by a stricken Reina and a suspicious Eiji. They make it past the dumpster, before hearing their unlocked front door slamming and male voices establishing contact. Cops.

“Got a car, boy?”  Pierre gently lowers the body onto his stolen bike.

“No. Dont call me boy.”

“I’ll upgrade your nickname when you prove it. Think you can handle a Vespa? I’mma jack another.”

“Who the heck are you?” Eiji rants, but already he is swinging a leg over and starting up the engine.

“Get into the back of his bike,” Pierre tilts a chin at Reina as he single-handedly disarms a sound lock security, “and follow my lead. Don’t even think of going anywhere.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Cutting edge technology my ass. He had, in his possession, government blueprints, corruption archives, treason records, and proof of rumoured political scandals. He could earn trillions from blackmail, but Jae was not one to hanker after big bucks. Countries, states, unions, societies, and organisations…everybody was entitled to secrets, right down to the individual. He stood resolute to an absolute faith in the moving power of unresolved riddles and enigmas. In a lifelong race, Jae had been searching for a sense of an ending to the life he knew before his father was dead.

Aren’t we all searching for answers? Life would be an endgame if we knew it all.

Secrets.

Off the screen, he deciphers a series of numbers and barcodes and scribbles them onto a sketchpad. On his unlisted cellphone he translates the encrypted message.

1975.RALPHSARK.VIETNAM.

1975 marked the cessation of the Vietnam War. It was also the year his father’s company filed for bankruptcy in the face of corruption lawsuits. The year Pierre’s parents sought refuge with his father after the war.

Ralphsark was too well formed to be incidental gibberish. Jae cracks his brains for the next hour but comes up with nought.

A bleep sounded. This indicates an interception of messages and Jae enters the transmission to locate the source of interference.

YAMAGUCHI.

Yamaguchi?

Meanwhile, someone from the other end detects a hike in interferring lines.

✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫

Scarlet Carousel ©
Searching for the centre of the universe, the centrifugal force that holds everything together.
Each spinning out of control, yet inevitably riveted.
Is this a journey with an end, or does the weight of the world settle in places where the spinning never stops.
Where then will the spiral lead them?

To be continued…

✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫

xoxo
Viktoria Jean

SCARLET CAROUSEL

Confessions of a Hostie: True Stories of an International Flight Attendant

I received this book from Monsoon Books in exchange for a review, and here it is!
cover38240-medium
Published July 1st 2012/October 28th 2013 by Monsoon Books

MY REVIEW:

“Caffeine is not a drug – it’s a vitamin. Comedian Steven Wright makes a joke about how he first makes an instant coffee just so he has the energy to go ahead and make a regular one.”

Confessions of a Hostie is truly laugh out loud funny! Life of a flight attendant is more than serving coffee/tea at 35,000 feet – Danielle Hugh exposes the behind-the-scenes scandals, real-life anecdotes, and unfortunate mishaps of a cabin crew.

The novel starts with Danielle Hugh waking up in a hotel room, not knowing where in the world she was, and what time of the day it is, and while she figures this out, the hostie reaches for a bar of chocolate – then falls asleep halfway while eating it. By this time, I was nodding my head in full agreement!

“Shopping can feel so damn good – a much-deserved relief from jetlag and sleep deprivation issues.”

Indeed there is only so much sightseeing you can do…

“…even if it’s Paris, if you’re visiting the city for the fifteenth time, even the Eiffel Tower starts looking like a rusty old piece of scrap metal. The shops, however, look shiny and new.”

The book offers eye-opening anecdotes of flight attendants’ revenge on incorrigible flyers, scary tales of unglamorous off-site happenings, coupled with jumbled sleep-cycles and moodswings … you’d feel like you’ve been there and done that by the time you’ve laughed through the entire 200+pages. Basically, this has the job stripped bare right down to its itty bitty details, if you manage to get past the airheaded-ness on the surface of it all.

“…makeup and five cups of coffee are no disguise for the weariness that seeps through every pore of my body””

The author makes her point across. The job is not for the weak! Maybe I’m just a little biased. Great romp of a read.
The sequel will be out this end, or is it the beginning of next? Definitely hanging on to the news for this!

SYNOPSIS:
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to be a jet-setting hostie, or international flight attendant, then spending a little time in Danielle’s life is a captivating journey. You might be surprised and shocked to discover many of the truths behind the lifestyle as well as the incidences and behavior of passengers at 30,000 feet.
Danielle writes candidly, humorously and from the heart about life, love and her exploits around the world. From the slums of Mumbai to the glitz of New York there are as many highs and lows as take-offs and landings. Prepare for a turbulent ride of emotions and adventure, so place your seat upright, fasten your seatbelt and prepare for take-off. Danielle Hugh’s passion for flying dazzles in this frank and amusing account of jet-setting around the globe. With almost 20 years in a unique working world, her juicy tales are often as shocking as they are colourful.