Back from our amazing couple of days in Sandakan, it was time to explore Kota Kinabalu some more.

Kota Kinabalu, formerly known as Jesselton, is the capital of the state of Sabah, Malaysia. The city is located on the northwest coast of Borneo and Mount Kinabalu, which gave the city its name, is located to the east.

We decided to do a day trip to one of the five islands which make up the nearby Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park – Gaya, Manukan, Sapi, Sulug and Mamutik.

Our hotel had a tour desk however the only tours on offer didn’t appeal to us, so we made our way down to the jetty where there are plenty of stands selling tickets to the islands. Not having any preference or idea of which island we wanted to visit, we picked out a stand at random and the boat ticket was a reasonable price, so we booked it!

We had a little bit of time to wander along the jetty checking out some of the stalls, and to grab a fresh pineapple juice, before heading off to our boat.

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Day 2 of our trip to Borneo had us up at the crack of dawn, ready for the next adventure. This time it was back to Kota Kinabalu airport, ready for a 30-minute flight across the island to Sandakan, the former capital of British North Borneo.

Kirsty was lucky enough to be sitting on the left hand side of the aircraft, which is the best place to get a great view of Mount Kota Kinabalu.

Air Asia, who we flew with, doesn’t let you choose your seats and since the flight was full, we couldn’t sit together, so I’ve borrowed her pictures of the mountain!

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On a recent layover in Fort Lauderdale, having visited Miami the previous time, I decided to head out to the Everglades in the hope of spotting some alligators.

Once again we had a 50-something hour layover, which gave us plenty of time to do some exploring. After getting a few hours of sunshine in by the pool (which the hotel forgot to mention was empty and under construction …. at least I got a tan!) 6 of us met for dinner.

Our captain had hired a car big enough for everyone to fit in, so we drove down to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, which wasn’t too far.

We had a recommendation for a restaurant called Aruba Beach Cafe, and it was a great choice! We got a table out on the terrace, and ordered up a seafood feast.

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I was pretty happy to start the month off with a brand new destination – Fort Lauderdale, Florida! The flight over from Dubai is long, around 15 hours, but since it departs in the middle of the night most of our passengers in first class went straight to sleep. Leaving us to somehow power through and stay awake!

With plenty of tea and coffee and chats getting to know the rest of the crew, we finally made it. Approaching Florida we were greeted by these gorgeous views below, which made all of us excited to finally touch down!

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If you follow me on Instagram you may well have seen that somehow I was lucky enough to swap two of my not-so-lovely night turnarounds to Mashhad and Hyderabad (both leaving at atrocious times of the night and coming back around lunchtime-ish!) for a flight to Rio de Janeiro!

Now, for anyone that is crew, you’ll know that this is a practically impossible trip to swap on to! Rio is one of our most highly desired trips, and even after bidding for it for years I’ve only been lucky enough to get it once, way back when I was still working in economy. You can read all about it here. This time around, instead of heading onwards to Buenos Aires (and then back to Rio for another day) I would be spending 30 hours in Rio and then flying back to Dubai.

I can’t lie, working in first class does have it’s perks. Whilst economy and business class were completely chockablock, we were lucky enough to just have one passenger in first! So in-between looking after him and the flight deck and helping out in economy to keep ourselves busy, the 14-hour flight went by fairly smoothly.

We touched down in Rio in the afternoon, and were welcomed by beautiful sunshine and palm trees.

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