January 2021, Covid pandemic has been prevalent globally, which affected my job tremendously. I only got to fly one, at most twice a month. Melbourne was my only flight in that month. I was thankful as Melbourne is one my favourite ports. The flight was very light loaded with less than thirty passengers if I am not wrong. Those who still chose to fly mostly were really in urgent need to fly, to see a sick family member or to sign an important contract for instance. They came on board, some casual as if nothing was happening, but some dressed like an astronaut with full protection gears head to toes. Cabin service was simplified to minimize contact.
Security was very stringent with security and police everywhere at the terminal. We were being escorted from the moment we stepped out of the aircraft, onto a designated bus directly to a hotel at the airport. Once we got to our room, we were tested again immediately, after which being locked up, not allowed to leave our room at all until pick-up. They delivered three meals a day, nothing fancy, but not bad have to say. Starbucks style which I felt totally fine with it. Some crew brought a lot of their own food which I never do in the past thirty years. I prefer to eat like a local, or else, room service (lol).
Well, I brought a couple of books with me which I ended up not opening a page, and I didn’t watch telly either. Don’t have this habit, not even at home. Television is sitting there just as decoration. I listen to radio mostly or Spotify, and perhaps write a little. During that forty-eight hours, I spent a lot of time exercising in my room, although I didn’t have any equipment with me, except a couple of thera-bands given by my physiotherapist. I didn’t realise that you could do a lot with those bands. My neck and back pain was already getting pretty serious, so I was very desperate, hoping to stop it from deteriorating, which obviously didn’t work.
Speaking of Melbourne, I spent so many Christmas or New Year’s eve there. Not that I had a significant other there waiting for me, but I just love the place, for it be the food, people, environment or simply the vibe which is very different to Sydney or other Australian cities. One of my most memorable experience was a night at the Art Centre there to watch Mama Mia with a couple of mates. I took with me a tuxedo to get on board operating a flight down to Melbourne. Took a nap then dressed up to join my friends. When I got there, then I realised that I overdressed (lol). My mates giggled and said, “It’s not a wedding dear, and you are in Australia”.
I had my tuxedo custom-made, ,got my bowtie from Joyce Boutique, and a little pocket handkerchief from Yue Wah Department Store. What a combo eh (lol)?
During my layover in Melbourne, if not catching up with my friends who live there, I would be spending time in University campus, libraries, museums, art galleries, parks or even zoos. Well, almost the same agenda wherever I am actually. Melbourne has a very user friendly commute system, so one could easily get around by tram and on foot. University of Melbourne is massive with lots of open space and impressive architectures.
There have been far too many memories in Melbourne, and the first time that I visited was in 1990 when I was still a student in Sydney. I was doing a tour all around Australia from east coast down south, flied to the west by Ansett Airline and back, perhaps I’d write another post on that another time.
After forty-eight hours of imprisonment, a hotel staff knocked on the door, poked my nostrils and again, and soon after that I was released to hop onto the bus to be escorted to the aircraft to operate the flight back to Hong Kong. Another flight with only cargo and a few passengers scattered here and there. Easy flight as there wasn’t much to do but depressing to see a scene like that. After disembarkation, I looked back and took a picture of the airbridge, bidding farewell to the aircraft and the ramp staff. Company arranged taxis for us so we could all go straight home avoiding public transport, and we were required to stay at home for a couple of days under surveillance.
I haven’t flown again ever since that Melbourne flight. Most of my flights have been cancelled, if not, I would be on standby, followed by mandatory no pay leave and at the end change of Conditions of Service with fifty percent salary reduction. Sad with tremendous impact on the livelihood of everyone. Anyway, I wouldn’t be able to operate even if I got rostered a flight as my health has gone downhill rapidly ever since.