Monday, 29 May 2017

The Big Apple Day 1

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته and good day!

Where is the place so good, they have to name it twice. That's right. It's the high rise..it's New York, New York!

I had the pleasure of visiting Manhattan, New York earlier this month. I came here for a conference at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. While I'm there, of course I have to spare some time to visit the place I've been dreaming to go to.

My bestie sent me off at the airport that morning. She was quite worried since I was going by myself. Yes, to the big city all on my own. Another adventure to embark. 


     
I took the American Airline (it was quite a wonderful journey) to JFK. There was a little mishap since I bought a BA ticket. It turns out, a few of BA flights are provided by AA. 



Took a cab (the iconic yellow cab). The rate from JFK to Manhattan is a flat rate of $52, but if you add up the tax and the tip (it's a must to give out tip in the States), it'll be around $82.50 in total. I booked to stay for one night at the Grand Hyatt. 



It's an expensive hotel, but it is convenient since the Grand Central Station is next to it. There's a bit of story about this hotel. I'll show you a video about it later on.



On my first night here, I've already had a plan of going to a Yankees game. Yankees is one of New York's baseball team, one of the famous one, I guess. There's also the Mets, and Brooklyn's team.



The Grand Central Station during peak hour. It is situated beside the Grand Hyatt Hotel. See the walkthrough here.

I was lucky that the day I arrived, there was a game because after that, there were no more games held at the Yankees stadium after the 2nd of May.



To go to the Yankees Stadium, I only need to take one Subway from the Grand Central Station (the M train) that takes about 15 minutes to arrive.



The New York subway system is kind of like London Underground tube. They are messy and complicated.



As I was going that afternoon, I can see a lot of Yankees and Blue Jays fans going to the Stadium, so I can just follow those who are wearing caps or jerseys, 



Mind you, I was the only hijabis there. But thankfully, everybody welcomed me so warmly. They were very nice and friendly.



Everyone that I encountered will wish a great game or enjoy the game. 



The stadium was huge. There weren't a long queue, but there were already quite a number of people inside the stadium. There were many vendors selling food, drinks, snacks and merchandises. 



There are time limits to when you can go down near the front row seats; meaning that if 2 hours before the game, you can go until the front row, 1 hour before the game, only to where I was standing, 30 minutes before the game, only at the grand stand, which is where I was seating at.

This is the view from my seat.



It was a great game!



video

do the YMCA!! 

Although Yankees lost horribly to the Blue Jays (quite disappointed with Yankees suckiness) 1-7, I did enjoy my very first baseball game. 

On the way back, I followed the others, which made me feel a bit safe. 


This is the view of The Grand Central Station after midnight. Still quite a number of people around in the city that never sleeps.


Continue next time... 

Enjoy this 10-minute Video.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Cell and Gene Therapy Congress

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته and good day!

I'm kind of going through all the drafts in my blog and finishing them off one by one. So if you realised that I suddenly have a lot of postings lately, that is the reason why. Plus, I needed to make room for the most interesting post that is coming very soon!! So bear with me for a bit.

From the previous parts (1&2) of my solo trip to Amsterdam, this is the reason for the trip. My first conference, the cell and gene therapy convention, which was held at Amsterdam RAI convention centre. 


Very early in the morning, after having my snacks and my morning cartoon (even though it's in dutch), I went to the conference with excitement.


There weren't a lot of participants, only a couple of hundred. I only realised that this conference will mainly talk about manufacturing products and machines for cell and gene therapy during the morning briefing. haha...At first, I was a bit let down, thinking why was I there in the first place. But later on, I was glad that I came.


My favourite part, coffee and some nibbles. The best thing that this conference was held in Amsterdam is the stroopwafels. I can have as many as I want!! hahaha


The convention centre is huge. But our conference is just at one of the halls.


Most of the exhibitors are from companies related to cell culture and cell therapy, such as biolabs, gibco and many more. Most of them were very kind to entertain me and my silly questions. Some of them did snub when they found out I was a PhD student. I'm not the only one though, there are a few other PhD students. But most of them are reps from companies.


I love collecting goodies from companies. My bestie always nagged me not to take any more stuff. We get a lot of companies that opened their booth at Imperial too, where they will always have great freebies. That cute cow there is actually a screen wiper. =P


Most of the seminars are about manufacturing products, GMP etc, only very little was about research and study cases. This guy right here, he looks pretty young, right? He's the CEO!! Kind of reminds me of an episode in criminal minds where Dr Reid was approached by a young man after his talk and it turned out, the guy was the CEO of a pharmaceutical company. Kind of like this guy right here, only better dressed, and handsome too...hahaha

The conference did give me a clearer idea of what I want to do after I finished my PhD. It showed me the opportunities that I have out there. Probably it's time to explore another country? =D


On the last night, they held a Christmas party since this was held in early December. I've been to a few Christmas party, and the theme is always the nightmare before Christmas. I guess they thought it wouldn't be mainstream, but it is. 


Before the party, there was a special session by this guy, Toby Peach. He's a cancer survivor. This session is called his eulogy (eulogy is a speech given by the loved ones of a deceased at their funeral). It's comedic, yet informative way of spreading awareness about cancer. Toby is from the UK and has gone to many places, giving his 'eulogy' and raising funds for cancer research. Here's some preview of his eulogy.


He was an awfully nice chap. He's taken girls..sorry...that lady went through his struggle with him. Stayed by his side through his worst times. She didn't come along though. I would've loved to meet her.


At the party, of course, there'll be gingerbread cookies. The huge pretzel has salts (those little white things), which is quite a lot when you eat them. I don't like it.


More cookies and party favours. Those crackers aren't real. haha...


A party won't be complete without a live rock band. 


This is the part where they love to drink and get drunk. There's this Gluhwein stall, which is mulled wine. One of the things they will chug down during festive month. A girl was passing around some franks. As she gets to me, she immediately said sorry, I don't think you can eat these. That was very nice and considerate of her. I didn't expect her to know Muslim dietary requirements, but she did, and that made me feel so warm and welcomed.


Since I didn't stay at the party for very long, I went out and take a stroll instead. 


Enjoying the lights and the night scenes of Amsterdam.


Until next time...

Friday, 21 April 2017

My first solo trip part 2

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته and good day!

Back again...so let's continue on the second day of my solo trip. If you don't remember the first part being that it has been so long ago, here's the link

Since I have two days to walk around and see the sights, that's exactly what I'm going to do. The tram station going to the city is just in front of my hotel, which is super convenient. The last stop is at the central station (Tram no. 4). That morning while waiting for the tram, I saw some VIP heading towards the city. 

video

I didn't think anything of it, so I just hopped on the tram with no worries whatsoever. Then after a while, I realised that the tram didn't actually go through the same route I went the day before. Since the announcement was in Dutch, I couldn't understand. After I confirmed that the tram will not go to the central station, I hopped off. 

I referred to the map that I have, which showed I can take another tram from the stop, but when I asked the driver, he said I should take the metro without explaining why. As I walked towards the metro station, I saw this museum. Most of the museum in Europe have entrance fees, that's why I decided not to enter any, even though they seem so interesting. 


I walked around and couldn't find the metro, so I decided to just take that other tram to go to the city centre. Some of the sceneries I passed by.


This is a Thai massage parlour. Reminds me of Angkor Wat.


This is the Westermarkt again. Yesterday when I went here to go to Anne Frank's house, I didn't notice something in front of it. I had to stop at this station as the tram was making another diversion.


It is the symbolic triangle of the homomonument. Long story short, it's a symbol of gay rights.


Then, I took another tram that led me here, the floating flower market at the stop Koningsplein. You can take a direct tram from Amsterdam central via tram 1, 2 or 5.  


It sure looks nice, doesn't it?


As I was not that far from the central, I decided to walk before the tram takes me to another place.


Saw this cute little thing, a mini lorry.


As I arrive at the central, I saw this main road was closed to vehicles.


I walked along the road to investigate what is happening. The road closure is the main reason all the trams were diverted and that was the reason the tram driver told me to take a metro instead (because it is underground). Grabbed some of the famous chips and continued walking.


There you go, this was the reason I got hauled around the city, not that I'm complaining. I saw a glimpse of guards (lots of them) while I was walking behind this building (which is the royal palace of Amsterdam). As I arrived, that ceremony or something has already finished. I tried google-ing, but nothing came up. 


So I just take some pictures and move on. There's are a few free walking tours that meet here. This place is called the Dam, same as the name of the tram stop. You can check their schedule online. It says free, but it is better if you tip the guide after yo finish. They did take you around the city and used up their saliva to tell you stories and histories of the place. It's only a human thing to do.


Amsterdam is a place with many narrow buildings. I searched for the narrowest building in Amsterdam, and found this! If you would like to read more on the architectural treasure of Amsterdam, click here


Chinese Malaysian are everywhere...hahaha..it's a good thing too. Easy to find Asian food if you crave for it.


One of the things that are suggested for me to do and places to visit are the markets.


There are many markets here in Amsterdam, just like in London (probably not as much). This one (Nieuwmarkt) was closed when I arrived though. sigh~~


Another market is this one, Alber Cuyp market. 


It's kind of like a flea market. I was surprised to see this chicken stall. It's halal, and there's always a queue.


One of the things that I came to find is this, stroopwafels or also known as dutch waffles.


You can't go to the Netherlands and not try the stroopwafels. It's made up of two of these thin crusted batter with caramel in between. You can have it just like that, the original way, or top it off with some chocolate sauce on the side like this. 


You can't go wrong with either one.


Sorry Londoners, this costa doesn't sell coffee. It's a clothing outlet. =P


You just can't get enough of this canal view.


This is the bridge of 15 bridges. If you stand here, you can actually see 15 bridges in a row!!! [Google Map] Night view would be much better since there'll be lights at the bridge's arches. And if you can get a canal ride here, that'll be even better! My view isn't really that great, though. Sorry. 


Some more unique stuff you can find here in Amsterdam. The boat looked like an old shoe. 


If you can see the white fluorescent lights in the middle, that is actually one of the installations for the Amsterdam Light Festival. The festival starts on the day that I'll leave for London. haha..just my luck. Nevertheless, I still did get to find a lot of their installations, and some of them were turned on before the start date.


This is supposed to resemble the corals in the deep sea.


You can read the descriptions shown in the pictures.







These are the ones that I managed to find during the time I was there.


Another place to visit is the Magere Burg (skinny bridge) [Google map]. The bridge was skinny when it was first built in 1691, but it was demolished, replaced and renovated many times after that and made it like it is today. The use of the bridge is only for pedestrians and cyclist and is opened many times daily to make way for boats. 


You must've seen this in a video somewhere before right? If not, you can watch it here. It's one of the ways GVB tried to entertain the commuters. But this tram didn't have the monster on the window. I would've made the same video if it had. 


After all that fun for the day, I went back to my hotel. This is the rai convention centre where my conference will be held the next day.


That's my conference!


See the excitement. hahaha..


My hotel is just across the road. So convenient! 

Until next time...