Once again it's time to catch up with a member of our brilliant Cabin Crew to hear more about their favourite Virgin Atlantic destinations and some of the extra-curricular activities they've been involved with. This month we're delighted to introduce Geoff Hutchinson, who shares some fantastic tips on Tokyo and who some of you might recognise as one of the faces of our onboard charity appeal...
Geoff, what made you decide that being a member of our Cabin Crew was the right career for you?
It was my degree in Airline Management that first inspired me to become a Cabin Crew member. I felt like the male version of Gwyneth Paltrow's character in View From The Top when she said, "My dreams are not down here, but up there!" I've been with Virgin Atlantic for three years now, and would love to work my way up the ladder.
Tell us a little bit about life before Virgin?
I'm Filipino and grew up in the Phillipines. My mum is Filipina, but my dad is British, so I've had a very 'East-West' upbringing. The small island where I grew up, Cebu, is a booming and touristy place, but still beautiful. Growing up there was simple, and because education is seen as very important for those who are privileged enough to enjoy it, I spent most of my time in school. It wasn't just relentless hard work though. Cebuanos love to dine out and shop, so I always found time to do that, as well as hang out with friends on one of the countless white sandy beaches.
What have been your most memorable moments so far?
There have been many, but there are a a couple that particularly stand out. I once had the honour of operating on a special Ministry of Defence charter flight which flew the Ghurkas to Brunei. It was an amazing experience to have them and their families on board, and also to spend 24 hours in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital city. I'd always been curious about Brunei, as my dad had once been stationed there with the British Army. It was such an interesting city to explore, especially the amazing Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque with its golden dome.
Another memorable experience was being featured in the 2010 onboard charity appeal video "Change for Children". The appeal asks passengers to consider donating their leftover currency, and through their generosity we've been able to work with our partner organisation Free The Children to help village communities in Kenya, India and China, as well as young people in the UK. The video was played on every flight, and it was great fun being recognised by passengers and other crew.
Which Virgin Atlantic destinations do you most enjoy and how do you spend your time there?
My favourite destination is Tokyo, and I also love New York and Dubai. I will always make the most of being in these cities and spend my time sightseeing, enjoying the views, taking photos and making short videos to show my friends and family.
What are some of your best Tokyo tips?
I would recommend getting your bearings and taking in the view from the top of the Tokyo Tower, then hanging out and shopping in the Shinjuku and Shibuya districts. For electronics, gadgets and all things techy, the Akihabara area is a must-go, especially for anything camera-related for which I'd recommend a store called Yodobashi; you can usually get a 5% discount if you bring your passport and Departure Card.
To relax and unwind in Tokyo, head to one of the city parks. Yoyogi Park is located next to the Meiji Shrine in Shibuya, and just outside in Harajuku district, you can admire the unique street fashions of the 'Harajuku Girls' who socialise there. For more great people-watching and relaxed strolling I'd suggest both Ueno Park and the Imperial Palace gardens, but if you have a family - or if you're just young at heart! - you might want to visit one of the two Disney theme parks - Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.
If you have a sweet tooth like me, then you will love Japanese sweets. My personal favourite are the Meiji brand, which can be found in all supermarkets and convenience stores, but also try the traditional ones too - Mochi's are made of sweet, glutinous sticky rice, and mostly filled with red beans. I also love the popular biscuits from Okinawa called Chinsuko - ideal with a cup of tea!
For the very best fares on flights to Tokyo or to any of our other exciting destinations, log on to www.virginatlantic.com. Interested in becoming a member of Virgin Atlantic Cabin Crew? Here's all you need to know.
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.