Monday, 26 March 2018

The Big Storm at the Big Apple

I know I've been so quiet lately, buy I just have to write about this. I had an opportunity to go to the Big Apple for the second time this month. It was actually the trip of the year for me and my bestie because we went to explore quite a lot of places here in the States. If I have the time, I'll share about the trip (I haven't even finish writing about the first one!!). In the mean time, I want to tell y'all what happened to us when we were there. 

New York was our last destination before we went back to London. Our flight was scheduled to be on the 21st of March, at noon. So there were already many places that we've visited and we were ready to go home. Before NYC, we went to Washington. We drove from Washington on the 19th,stayed at Brooklynn for one night, returned the car at JFK, then changed to Pennsylvania Hotel the next day. 

Everything was well planned out, but of course, Allah swt knows best. On the 20th, I received a text from Norwegian airline saying that Storm Toby was coming and it may effect our flight. I was hoping that it won't, but even if it did, at least being delayed will be better than canceled. We went on with our plan for the day. After a few hours, I received another text saying that our flight was cancelled. 

Not only that, the airline couldn't find us any available hotel rooms because all of them is fully booked. Luckily, before we came here, I accidentally booked an extra day at the hotel. At the time, I was thinking how wasteful it was. Now, I felt it was a blessing in disguise. How we needed the room so much! 

Early on the 21st, the storm came. It was bad. Can barely see more than a mile afar. My bestie had a fever, so we had to stay inside the hotel at all times. In my mind, I was worried what we would do if we couldn't get a flight the next day. Where would we stay? We can't afford to stay anywhere in New York. We've already ate our savings by going on this trip. 

On the day before, we tried calling Norwegian airline to book us another flight (they gave free rebooking to all passengers), but we were on hold for more than an hour. So on the 21st, we tried again. They told us to use the live chat instead. So we did. They only managed to book a flight on the 26th!!! Meaning that we have to stay in NYC for another 5 days!!! 

A day in NYC cost about $100 or more per person. This would include lodging and food. So I asked my family to help. My dad was in Hong Kong at the time, but he did try to call his contacts. We contacted my sponsor's staff whose in Washington if he knew anyone in New York that could help. My mum called her contacts as well. My sister made a posts on Facebook to ask her friends to pray for my wellbeing. Everyone did everything that they could. 

Luckily, a friend of my sister gave a comment saying that her brother works and lives here with his family. On the morning of the 22nd, I've got a few messages from my father's contacts and the brother of my sister's friend as well as Mara staff in Washington. 

The staff in Washington wanted us to go back to Washington to live with them. He gave  us contacts of students in New York, but most of them live in a shared building (which we fully understand). So there's no way we could stay with the students. We wanted to go back to Washington since we stayed there before and they were so kind to us. We know staying in NYC will mean having to spend more money. So that was one option. 

My dad's friend was actually on holiday in Switzerland, so he called his staff in NYC to help. I understand fully that most of the staff here live in a small apartment. It's the same in London. So we understood that they couldn't take us in too. Especially when there's two of us. But they did call to check up on us. 

The brother of my sister's friend, En. Azmir offered his home to us. He works in the permanent mission from Malaysia to the United Nations and he lives with his wife and three children in Queens. At first, we were reluctant, but then we thought, staying in New York does mean that we don't need to travel to go to the airport since our flight is from JFK. 

After we decided to stay with En. Azmir, we called everyone that contacted us before to inform them. We called En. Azmir and he asked us to meet him at his office, since currently there's no one at his house. So, we walked to the Malaysian embassy from the hotel. It took about 30-45 minutes walk. 

En. Azmir and his wife, K. Jaja invited us warmly to their home. They were very kind and generous. We were very comfy and well fed. Their children were adorable! We were extremely grateful to their generosity. Alhamdulillah, only Allah swt can repay their kindness towards us. 

We came home with almost 0 money in our accounts, but alhamdulillah, we are still healthy and safe. A lot of people said that we were lucky to be spending more time here. Maybe they don't understand the hardships that we had to go through. That's ok. All that matters is; we have people that love and care for us, and that we are happy. 

We are ever so grateful to the people that helped us when we needed it. En. Azmir and his family, En. Lassim and his family (MARA attaché in Washington), Dato' Shahrul, En. Tham and En. Khalid (Consulate General of Malaysia in New York City). May Allah swt reward your kindness in abundance in this life and hereafter. 

Until next time..

If you want some travel guide on New York City, click here

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