Friday, April 12, 2013

Busy Busy Busy [English version]

It has been a while but here I am again with some jibber jabber from the other side of the world. It is already April right now and a lot has been happening in the mean while. So it can be a piece of reading,  you are warned ;)

Since my last blog from end of January I have been home in Belgium for a short while. I won't say much about that part since most people have seen me or talked to me in that time. Two busy weeks with some chilly temperatures but I enjoyed every second of it. I was happy to go back though, a busy schedule starts to wear you down after a while.

After my return from Belgium I finally received some news about my new base. That meant I could start packing already after a bit more than a week, but this time it was to leave our apartment and to move out!
My new base has been Surabaya now since start of March. That is the second bigest city in Indonesia and also one of the hubs from Air Asia in this country. With four planes and normally 3 more to come by the end of the year this isn't a bad place to be.

Surabaya is a reasonably modern city with all the things we need but with majorly less traffic compared to Jakarta. Traffic jams are also common here but on a much smaller scale than Jakarta. Everything is done by scooters so that means that you see them scattered all around the place. From every corner you see a crazy loempia once in a while.
I haven't seen much of the city yet. Reason for this is that the first month I was based here I was still staying in a hotel in downtown Surabaya and combined I was flying a lot. On our free time we had to look for a place to stay on the long run  because at the end of the month we would be kicked out of the hotel. It wasn't really simple to start because people hardly know any English and they always try to ripp of a bule (white guy).
Eventually we found a house via a housing agency similar to Century21. They spoke English and they even listened to our requirements for the house. Even other things like paperwork, looking for laundry services, shops etc was something they assisted us with.

We have been moved in for about two weeks and we haven't turned out bad with this place. It is a house part of a big compound with smaller clusters. The house itself is still brand new, mostly furnished and has about three bedrooms, two bathrooms, garden, garage, airco etc... It is kind of a more luxury version of the Springs. Because we also have security, common pool etc.
Inevitably we had to buy some extra stuff at own expense like a third bed, closet. extra couch, kitchen stuff and all kind of things.

One of the remaining stuff to do is looking for a driver for transport to the airport to avoid taking taxi's all the time. Almost everybody of the pilots and cabin crew has their own driver because driving on your own is too expensive and to annoying here especially if you are only here for a relatively short amount of time. Scooters on the other hand is something Ivo and Yannick already took care of. Now we have something to cruise around the neighbourhood with.

The flying part is also still good, a lot more hours compared to Jakarta in the time we were based there. And here you got this kind of family feeling we missed there. You leave and come back together after the flight, you do stuff together outside the flying, they try to help you with stuff and also it is much easier to swap flights among others. It really gives a more social feeling here.

A lot of variation in destinations isn't something you have till now but I hope that will change when the new aircrafts will come in. A lot of Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur but also Bangkok, Medan, Johor Baru, Singapore, Semarang, Bali, Penang and Bandung.
Especially the Bankok flight isn't really my favorite flight with his 4 hours flighttime per sector, waaay to long for me but it gives a lot of hours at the end of the day.

We are also less than an hour flying to Bali wich is a nice holiday destination. I didn't really use it so far but that will change some day, especially when people will visit next summer.

Last week I had to fly an aircraft from Jakarta to Surabaya rather unexpectedly. I was in Jakarta for the day and when I arrived at the office to fly back as a passenger to Surabaya they told me they needed to fly a standby aircraft there to replace a grounded one. They were lucky I was there but they still needed a captain to join me so eventually I flew an empty aircraft back home. Yannick who was supposed to fly to Surabaya the next day joined us as our private flight attendant. ;) He needs training though :D
It is something new for a change and I must say that such an empty bird climbs a bit better than I am used to. It is like driving a mini with a Ferrari engine in it.

Since last weekend I am also back from my half anual simulator session in Kuala Lumpur. These are two days of training and a check to train and check the normal and abnormal situations we can experience in real life. Normally this is only one time a year for the law but Air Asia tries to do it two times a year to maintain their high standards and to keep the high level of safety. Not a bad thing imo since you forget some thing quite fast if you can't practice them regularly.

That is about the most important news I think. I will try to post more regularly but I can't promise anything.

PS: Ivo is still alive ;)

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