Sunday, January 20, 2008

Classes in the snow....

I arrived the Akron/Canton Airport, in Ohio at about 10pm. luckily, there was also another International Student from Italy, Aurora also waiting for the shuttle that we were suppose to take to get to Kent. I stayed over night in the temporary housing until Kak Shima came and pick me up the next day. I just had to try out living in the dorms for one day. It's been a while since I was just a freshmen student living in the dorms. But I'm a graduate student now, so I had to move out and find an apartment somewhere.
When I arrived, it was all nice and sunny. The weather was not so cold and surprisingly for the beginning of January, it was not as cold as I expected. Thank god for that. I don't think I can stand the cold weather that well anymore. I think its age. As one grows older, the body just gets weaker. But spoken too soon. After the first day of class, I managed to get an apartment, but then it started snowing. Kak Shima's kids however got really excited about the snow, so we went out and took some pictures. Above is a picture of Kak Shima's kids (Syasya, Zahin) and myself.

So I slept in the house after the first day of class and woke up early to go to class the next day. My house is damn empty for now, and I had to do a lot of shopping just to get some necessities--will talk more about shopping later. As I walk out of the door, I was surprise to see how much snow have accumulated. And it was really windy. I stop to take the morning air and took a picture.

I finally had to rush out and walk towards Kak Shima's house. Since, I'm currently a bagger who gets free rides to class for now. Thanks to Kak Shima, my rides to class are now free and I get to escape from the torturing wait in the cold for a bas. As I was walking alone, in the cold, I took a picture of myself. Well, thats an awful closeup, but thats the best shot i can take. I tried to smile, but I was trying hard to control the shivers.

Here is the walkway towards the CS department. I still had a lot of things to settle at the Student Center. So after my first class, at 9.15-10.30, I ran to do some errants. My next class starts at 12.30, so I ran to make my student accounts, and settle some other stuff that I had to do.

This is a picture of the Math Science and Computer Science building. Its the building in red, with the curvy roof top. I guess this is the building I will be spending a lot of my time doing don't know what..... Hopefully it's something to do with my PhD. hehehe

Well, that's some pictures for your eye candy.

Well, I will talk more about shopping and the pursuit of happiness soon. I really feel like a bagger here in the States. But, one needs to survive, and we have to do things to survive right....
Keep you posted later.....

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Transit in China

On my flight to the US, I had to transit at Beijing, China. What I thought was unfortune, is that I had to transit at Beijing and wait there for 12 hours until my next flight to Chicago, USA. My flight from Malaysia, would reach Beijing at about 5.30 am, and the next flight out to Chicago, was at 5.30 pm. So I thought, maybe I can walk around the airport to kill time. So the moment, I reach Beijing, I got a transit pass, and the Chinese immigrations issued me a one day visa. I did try to walk around in Beijing Airport. I walk around and tried the Starbucks....
However, at 7.30 am, I was already an expert around the Beijing airport.
I figured, I will die being in Beijing for the next 10 hours. So finally, I approach the help counter and ask, how do I get into the city. And the helpful lengloi told me that I can take the bas, and visit the forbidden city. Say what.....forbidden city....get me on the bas.

So I went a head and changed some US dollars to Yuen. Paid 16 Yuen for the bas ticket towards the city. Apparently, a lot of people in Beijing knows only very little or absolutely no english words. So while buying my ticket, I had to speak a little mandarin, which was also as bad as their English. At the ticket counter, I told them I wanted to go to Beijing City, and stop at the Forbidden City. They look at me blur, and responded with an annoyed tone, ni yao shenme. So I responded Wo yao qu Beijing City, Wo yao kan Forbidden City, which in English means I want to get to Beijing City, I want to City Forbidden City. Amazingly, they understood what I'm asking for and gave me a ticket. Happy me, I got on the bas with a little fear that I might get lost in Beijing city.

At first it was scary, cause nobody in the bas spoke english, and I don't know where to stop. So I waited until I saw a red building with people around it, which make me suspect that this is the forbidden city. I came down and started walking towards the forbidden city. The forbidden city is located at the Tiananmen Square. Rectangular in shape, it is the world's largest palace complex and covers 74 hectares. Surrounded by a six meter deep moat and a ten meter high wall are 9,999 buildings. It's amazing place to visit, unfortunately, a lot of the things here are in Mandarin. So I had to get a guide to show me around. Plus its a huge place, and one can get lost in the forbidden city.

There is a river running through the forbidden city. It was so cold during this time, and I am shivering. Luckily there was no strong winds in the forbidden city, however, it was cold enough to make the river frozen. There were 5 bridges crossing over this river and if you have seen some Wong Fei Hong movies, you'll notice that people will have to walk across the river to meet the emperor. Its amazing what the emperor built a long time ago and yet it is still admired till today.

Thats the forbidden city and the large court where a bunch of soldiers used to stand infront of the emperor. The women in pink is my guide. Well, I didn't really find a guy, I was hunted as a naive tourist. She came to me, and told me that I needed a guide. She tagged along with me until i gave up and let her be my tour guide. I should have known better, but I am an inexperience traveller. So I was cheated to pay a guide who was not so good in english and can hardly understand what I wanted to know about the city. Anyways, she managed to entertain me for maybe like 2 hours until we finally came out on the other side of the forbidden city. Outside the forbidden city, was another guy who spotted a naive tourist.

And again I got suckered into going on this ride through the hunan village. The hunan village is where the mongolian settlement used to be. Here I am taking a picture infront of a hunan style house. I was told that the status of one resident is by the size of the door. A bigger door would mean you are richer, and the smaller the door is, the poorer you are. I guess it is still the same here, if you have a gate like the Sultan's house, you are royalty. But it doesn't holds true if you are living in a expensive condominium in KL.....well, times has changed.

So finally it was already close to 2pm. I needed to go back before I miss my flight. Although my flight was at 5.30 pm. I'm taking no chances, I was afraid that I might get lost.

Indeed I got lost on the way back. The rickshaw guy drop me off without giving me any sufficient clues as to where to get the next bus shuttle to the airport. I tried, but either he pretended not to understand me, or just wanted more money from me. I walked around trying to find the shuttle bus stop to the airport. But after half an hour talking to people who didn't understand me, I gave up and took the cab. It cost me 75 yuan. I didn't know the word for airport in mandarin. But luckily i got a picture of the airport. So I just showed the cab driver the picture, and told him, wo yao qu zheli (i want to go here).....showing the picture. Finally arrived at the airport and just in time to get on my flight with United Air, leaving Beijing, China to Chicago, US. What a fortunate turn of events. And an adventurous one.:)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Leaving on a jet plane...

I'm finally leaving on a jet plane and the thought of going off for the next 4 years can make one in a state of ambivalence, tearing the heart into two. So heavy hearted to leave the ones you love, but yet excited to embarked in a new adventure in life.

Since my flight was on the 8th at 12.30 am in the morning, we left the house at about 9pm. Mom, Dad, Kak Leila, Emil and Abg. Fariz came together with the same car. Kak Lanie came later, from her house with Abg. Rizman and Aryanna. While waiting for my boarding time about 11.15 pm, we took a family portrait picture. Kak Lanie and Abg. Rizman is not in the picture, cause Aryanna was already sleepy and moody, and she had to entertain her to sleep on the bench.

Although I didn't invite any friends to the airport, cause if I were to invite my friends, the airport would be packed, and I would like to concentrate most on my family during the last few hours before leaving on a jet place, Syirman and Afrezal came anyways. Syirman sneak out from work and Afrezal came right after work from cyber. Thanks guys to drop by and see me go off.

Also who came by was Uncle and Auntie who was very supportive to see me go off, also donated a book in doa-doa. Which will help me pray for guidance whenever I'm lost in a foreign land.

Finally a group picture, dad was not in the picture, cause he's the one taking the picture. Syirman and Afrezal had to leave cause Syirman got to go back to work before his office realizes that he is not around. And I had to get on board on the plane since it was already boarding time.

Just as I was going through immigrations, I look behind at my family as they wave me off. Already now, I'm feeling so lonesome I could cry. While on the plane, sitting in economy class, I looked through the window, staring at the airport, as images of my family, my friends, my belongings, my country flashes by in my mind. All that I love whom I will be leaving behind, all that I care that I will miss a lot, and all that I know will have to remain as memories. I know I will miss all of it a lot, I know that I won't be able to be part of it anymore for the next 4 years or more, and at that moment my heart feels broken, teared apart and shattered.

All I can say is, I'm leaving on a jet plane, and I don't know when I'll be back again. Ohhh, I really hate to go........

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Days before departure

Exactly 1 week before my departure to the united states, I had a lot of partying and karaoke-ing with friends. Well, I had to try to get it out of my system before I will embarked into a life of monotonous study. But the best is the doa selamat/dinner session with family and friends. What I would miss most is the company of family members, cute nieces, and naughty nephews. Even though I have always taken it for granted, I really miss my nephews and nieces now. Yea, being alone here gives me no outlet to bully my little nephews and nieces. Sometimes its just fun looking at how they think and how they react as i toy with their minds. It's like a psychological experiment that I get to play with. But the most joy is to see them getting smarter as they grow older, slowly being wiser and less gullible to my mind games. Anyway, the picture on the left is Arissa, and her mother(my eldest sister). This picture was taken before the doa selamat in the house. Thank you uncles and aunties who took their time to come for prayers at my house from Zohor onwards.

Right after Zohor and doa selamat we were tired. The Zohor session was specifically for relatives and family friends, and the dinner session was reserved for my friends only. So hence, during the interim, we tried to get some rest, while chit-chatting with cousins and all. To the right is a picture of Uncle Chik, and his family. My favorite cousins.

Just the two of us. Yes, it was not hard to get Aryanna to make a cute pose on camera. She just loves the camera. On the left is baby Aryanna and I trying to make a "Just the two of Us" video clip.

Emil is no longer a baby anymore, but I still remember him like one. But he is now much cooler, and plays the guitar. Just like his uncle, who is also a cool guitarist....heheheeh;)....(perasan sikit tak perlah)

Here Emil and I posing for a hard rock, heavy metal album cover.

Here is another picture of two of my nieces posing to be a pair of cute little japanese girls.
It was hard to get the both of them pose like this together. Syncronization is almost impossible, but I managed to snap a picture in between the few milliseconds they stayed syncronized.

After the Zohor and doa selamat, the dinner session eventually came, and I think there were about 70-80 people who came that night from my diverse set of friends. I thank you to all my friends to take the time coming to my dinner session, where I managed to say last goodbyes and resetting the counter of sins.

I didn't managed to take any pictures, mainly cause I was busy walking around and saying goodbyes to friends.
But I would like to say thank you to my IIUM friends; the tech guys, apek, makrie and jamiri, Syed and wife, Tinie and her friends, Najmi, Hamwira, Sadri and Aishah, and Dr. Murni and her family; my Mimos friends--Afrezal, Suzie, Apai, Shahril and family; my MBA friends--Helmi and family, Azhar, Zaini, Razali, and Hafiz and family; my Business friends--Sahar and Azlanar; my MRSM friends--Ainnie, Fairuz (specky), and Loqman; My Mypm friend--Mr cool Shuhardi; My DRB and OSS buddy--Jep; My Shah Alam friends--Syirman, Sham, Ayen, Marina, Leha, Fero, Juita and Julia; My TNB scholar friends--Babang and Anuar(ustad) and Lastly my lovely cousins, Gigie, Bubut and Jogie. Unfortunately, i have no pictures to put up during this session. I might have forgotten a lot of names, I'm sorry in advance, but do remind me about it.

Exactly 3 days before leaving, even in my busy schedule, I just had to go to Apek's wedding. Apek aka Firdaus is now happily married to Suhana. I just had to say last goodbye to Apek and wish him all the best in his years to come as a good husband. Also said my last goodbye to makrie, my young hiking partner.

So that was it, the rest 2 days was just more karaoke-ing......and quality time with family.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Last trip with friends, Bandung

Now that I'm waiting for the semester to start, looks like I have some time to do some writing in my blog.
So let me talk about what I did before leaving for the states. About 2 weeks before leaving for the United States,
my friends and I went to Bandung just to have some fun. We were a group of 7 people, Ayin, Syirman, Suzie, Apai, Rizduan, Afrezal and myself.

Our flight was about 9.30 am, so we were suppose to gather at the LCC Terminal at about 7.30 am in the morning. And so we did, except for the few of us. That cause some delay in our plan. Anyhow, we took our own sweet time and by the time we realise it, it was already 9.15am.

Anyway, they called our name for about 10 times and we had to hold everybody before we get on the plane. Everybody looked pissed as we were the last few to walk towards empty sits in the airplane.

So we finally arrive at the Bandara Husein Sastranegara Bandung. And so the first day in Bandung, I called my cousin Ismail, who is studying to be a doctor in Bandung. He arrange a van and a driver to bring us around the the interesting shopping places. Later on, we extended our drivers contract to drive us around for the next 3 days. I didn't shop much mainly because I had not a clue of what to buy. I'm not a shopping freak but i'm sure my childhood friend evelyne would enjoy it very much. But after going to the FOS spot of Bandung, we went to Paris.....Not Paris France, but Paris Van Java....a Paris like environment in Bandung. It was indeed a cool place to be, the cooling air, the sweet crowd....literally, they were sweet, the cool environment and of course accompanied with cool friends.

The second day we went to Jakarta.
A we managed to have some fun at Hard Rock Jakarta. Afrezal sneakingly told the band about me leaving for my Phd. and tomy surprise the band called me up stage and I had to go upstage to sing leaving on the jet plane with the band.

We like the band a lot, so finally, Afrezal and I, looked for our favorite singers and took a picture together with the band.

The third day we went to the summit of TangkubanParahu, a dead volcano crater. We didn't know it was going to be cold, so we left that morning wearing t-shirts. When we arrived the summit, we were pissed of at the driver for not telling us that it was going to be cold up the summit. We only realise that we were dope by the driver, as soon as we got down, where scores of men surrounded us to sell cold weather items. It was very windy and cold. Finally we gave up, and we had to buy cold weather clothing to stop the shivering.

After the interesting experience up the mountain, we continued to go shopping. After tired shopping for items at Pasar Besar for kain and baju melayu, we then stopped to have some dinner. It was all very interesting.

The 4th day came so soon, we had to pack our bags and went to the airport early. Its unfortunate that we had to leave so early, but all of us had to go back to work and back to our lives we call reality.

It was an interesting experience, and I shall always remember it....
It's not really the place, not really the people too, but i guess it was a synergy of these two elements, that makes it unforgetable.