It was a love for travel that initially made Muhammad Zaki Hyder take part in the walk-in interview to join Singapore Airlines as a cabin crew member.
“Many of my friends were shocked to find out I had become a flight attendant, they thought I would miss being outdoors,” he said. “But this job has brought me to places I never thought possible, which is another reason why I am still here, after 10 years. Being cabin crew has turned out to be very rewarding.”
Flying with Singapore Airlines enables the adventure-loving cabin crew member to experience the joys of rock climbing all around the world. “I get to explore climbing gyms during my layovers, and usually climb for four to five hours [a day],” he says.
“Spidey Zaki” as he is fondly known, has seen his climbing pursuits lead to new friendships, both on the ground and on board. He often makes friends at the gyms he visits in various cities, and sometimes even brings his fellow cabin crew members along on these excursions. His passion for rock climbing has inspired his wife, Aini, who is a fellow cabin crew, to pick up the sport as well.
“This job has brought me to places I never thought possible, which is another reason why I am still here, after 10 years. Being cabin crew has turned out to be very rewarding.”
But being so outgoing was not always in his nature. “I used to be very shy and introverted. I was not the outgoing type and rather kept to myself quite a bit,” Zaki explains. “[But with rock climbing] I have found it easier to speak to strangers and connect with our passengers.” Talking about rock climbing can be an instant icebreaker. “It really gets the conversation going,” says Zaki.
Interacting with so many different people has helped Zaki to really appreciate how unique everyone is, and to respect their differences. “Our cabin crew is so multi-talented and diverse and yet we are able to work seamlessly together, it really keeps me going,” he says, when asked what drives him at work.
Rock climbing has also helped Zaki cope with the physical demands of the job. “Many people don’t realise that this job is physically demanding, and that if you do not keep a certain level of fitness, fatigue can overwhelm you,” he advises. “Keeping fit helps me be fresh on flights, and by taking care of my fitness, I fall sick less often and I can make the most of my time off.”
The thrill-seeker doesn’t just limit himself to rock climbing. He has also tried his hand at various extreme sports around the world. “I [have gone] motocross riding through the jungle in Christchurch [in New Zealand] and scuba diving in Malé [in the Maldives],” he recalls. Paragliding down a mountain, and rock climbing in California’s Yosemite National Park are next on his list.
“What I enjoy most is the lifestyle and freedom to do anything and everything, and travelling to places I could only dream of when I was younger,” he says.
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