SmithAir747 From Canada, joined Jan 2004, 1610 posts, RR: 31 Posted (1 year 9 months 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 6030 times:
In late March and early April 2010, I took my first transpacific trip, down under to New Zealand, to give an invited talk at a dental school research day event.
I am a graduate student, PhD candidate, at the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center (since July 2007, hope to finish in summer 2012). Due to my personal experience being born with and living with Treacher Collins syndrome (a rare genetic disorder of embryonic craniofacial development), my research naturally deals with abnormal craniofacial development. Specifically, my dissertation research project studies morphological changes and cellular effects of hypoxia on early embryonic craniofacial development in chick embryos. I previously studied in this field at King's College London (Guy's Hospital), from 2004-2007.
During the course of my PhD studies at UCSF, I have had numerous opportunities to travel to national and international scientific meetings in cities including Miami, New Orleans, San Francisco, Washington DC, etc. At these meetings I present my research (poster and oral presentations) to large audiences, as well as "network" or make connections by meeting others in my field (including very well known ones) from all over the world. Craniofacial embryology is a small, but emerging, field.
Well, at my first major scientific meeting in 2009, in Miami, with the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), my UCSF academic/personal advisor (he is a fellow King's College London alumnus) introduced me to his New Zealand colleagues during a mixer/social event. These people were professors at the University of Otago Faculty of Dentistry in Dunedin, New Zealand. We immediately hit it off and started discussing our work. When I told them about my life experience and connection to my craniofacial research, they were impressed and wanted me to consider coming to their institution's next Research Day event.
About a year went by (and I presented at two more conferences that year), and I received an official invitation from the University of Otago dental faculty to come speak at their April 2010 Research Day event in Dunedin, New Zealand. They paid my airfare and half of my hotel accommodation. They encouraged me to stay long enough to give me time to explore the central Otago region as well as the city of Dunedin.
My flights were booked for March 26/27 to April 2. My outbound flights were: SFO-LAX on AA, LAX-AKL on QF, and AKL-DUD on NZ. I was booked at the University Residence hotel (a hotel on the University campus for invited guests).
I bought myself a large green London Fog suitcase that could accommodate a suit, as well as a green Level rollaboard carryon bag that could accommodate both my 17" laptop and my CPAP machine.
OFF TO NEW ZEALAND Friday, March 26-Sunday, March 28 (accounting for crossing the International Date Line): 1) SFO-LAX AA flight 1943: McDonnell-Douglas MD-80
After spending half of my day at my UCSF laboratory getting last-minute preparations made, I went back to my UCSF Mission Bay student housing studio apartment and collected my luggage for my big adventure. I was taken to the SFO airport by my church's associate pastor. Upon checking in with AA in terminal 3 (this was a year before AA's move to the new terminal 2), my bag was checked through to AKL since I was flying AA and Oneworld partner QF. No baggage fee was charged, since I was going intercontinental. Upon arrival in AKL, I would need to check in with NZ (since they are not a OW partner). My security screening and wait at my gate for my AA MD-80 flight to LAX were uneventful. I saw my MD-80 taxiing into my gate, in front of the still-under-construction SFO Terminal 2, which would be VX and AA's new home the next year:
My AA MD-80 flight down to LAX that sunny late afternoon/early evening was unremarkable, just another domestic flight down state.
2) LAX-AKL QF flight 26: Boeing 747-400 VH-OJD
My AA flight arrived at LAX terminal 4 (for AA, as well as some QF flights) early that evening; my gate was at the far south end of the terminal (gate 44). My Qantas flight, which would leave at nearly midnight, would be at the far north end (gate 40, if I remember rightly; anyway, it was on the left side). I wandered around the crowded terminal for a few hours and browsed through the Borders outlet for books on New Zealand (specifically, I was looking for what Dunedin would be like).
I shot this photo of a QF A380 parked at TBIT late that night, with my Canon EOS 450D/XSi set for a night shot (exposure: 56/10 sec, aperture f/5.66, ISO 800):
Not too long after, I saw my Qantas Boeing 747-400, VH-OJD, parked at my gate. Unfortunately the design of the gate area blocked most of the 747 from sight. But I was able to get this photo of my jumbo's tail, with the same exposure settings on my Canon:
I was so excited to be flying on my all-time favourite aircraft, the 747! Boarding was soon announced, and I walked aboard. I looked longingly up the stairs to the upper deck, but there was no time for me to get up there and see the flight deck like I would have loved to. Someday I want to get on a 747 flight deck, sit in the left seat, and fly the thing! I found my starboard window seat (60K) in zone E and stowed my green carryon bag (with my laptop and CPAP in it) in the overhead bin. We departed LAX terminal 5 at one minute before midnight, taxied down to runway 25R, and began our noisy, powerful takeoff roll, all four Rolls-Royce RB211-524G-T engines at full thrust. The LAX terminals and airfield were lit up like a galaxy in the dark of night. Upon takeoff, we headed straight out over the LA coast and over the infinite black expanse of the Pacific Ocean, invisible in the night, like flying into deep, dark space.
A few hours later, we had dinner from the Qantas Economy menu (I still have mine). After a tomato and bocconcini salad with balsamic dressing, my entree was seared salmon with sweet barbecue sauce, garlic rice, and sugar snaps, along with cheese and biscuits and chocolate lava cake. Breakfast, at the crack of dawn, was a hot breakfast of bacon and potato frittata with mushrooms and slow cooked tomato, orange juice, fresh fruit, yoghurt, and a croissant with butter.
Crossing the date line, I "skipped" Saturday March 27 and ended up arriving over New Zealand on Sunday March 28. Very groggy, with dried-out eyes, I woke up after a fitful sleep and took these shots: a cabin shot and some wing shots of the early morning sky and landfall over New Zealand duing approach, descent, and landing at AKL:
Upon arrival at AKL's international terminal, I proceeded to NZ Customs and Immigration. I got the legendary Kiwi welcome from a warm, friendly female immigration officer, who asked me for my purpose for being in New Zealand. I told her of my invitation to speak at the University of Otago dental faculty research day event; she brightened up and stamped my passport and cheerily wished me well and encouraged me to enjoy my time here. I had nothing to declare at customs. After that, I got this photo of the international terminal with my QF 747 (at the far end), an AR 343, a NZ 767-300 with winglets, and a KE 777, at their gates, from the observation deck overlooking the international terminal:
Since I was flying onward to Dunedin via Air New Zealand (not a OW partner), I walked a sizeable distance from the international terminal to the domestic one and checked in myself (and my bag with me) at the NZ desk. My NZ flight would be stopping at WLG on the way down to DUD, direct with no plane change.
After a wait of a few hours at AKL domestic, I boarded my NZ 737 for the trip south.
3) AKL-WLG-DUD (direct, no plane change in WLG) NZ flight 439: Boeing 737
My NZ 737 departed AKL that early afternoon and headed south for WLG, then on to DUD. We landed in WLG, deplaned into the terminal, and went right back to the same gate through a gate-side security checkpoint, before reboarding the same 737 to continue on down to DUD. During approach, descent, and landing at DUD, I shot these photos of the central Otago mountainous countryside and the diminutive DUD airport:
The 737 landed on DUD runway 03, then turned around at the 21 end, before taxiing back along the runway to the single turnoff (near the 03 end) that led to the terminal building. Having only 2 jetbriges, the terminal building is not much larger than the one at my hometown airport, FWA (Fort Wayne, IN)! FWA has 4 jetbridges, in comparison, to the 2 at DUD.
We deplaned at one of the two jetbridges. I came down the escalator to the main level, collected my bag from domestic baggage reclaim, and saw my name flashing across a LED screen held by one of the chauffeurs and drivers waiting close by the escalator. My chauffeur, holding the LED sign with my name, was a cheery older woman. She led me out to a beautiful Jaguar sedan. She loaded my baggage and invited me to sit in the passenger (left) seat next to her. She struck up a lively, friendly conversation with me whilst she drove me through the lovely Otago countryside into Dunedin; we talked about my visit to Dunedin, my life experience, and my purpose for being here. She took me to the University of Otago private hotel (University Residence, for invited guests).
Since I arrived on Sunday evening, and had nearly a week before my big keynote talk on Thursday April 1, I had plenty of time to see the city, the university, and the Otago countryside.
PART TWO follows in the next reply
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made... (Psalm 139:14)
SmithAir747 From Canada, joined Jan 2004, 1610 posts, RR: 31 Reply 1, posted (1 year 9 months 3 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 5852 times:
PART TWO: My Visit to Dunedin, My Keynote Lecture at University of Otago, New Zealand
From Sunday March 28 to Wednesday the 31st, before my keynote talk at the University of Otago on April 1, 2010, I spent time exploring Dunedin, the university, and even the countryside of central Otago. I stayed at the deluxe University Residence hotel the whole week I was there.
The day after I arrived, I phoned my contact at the university, who invited me to come in and see him and his colleagues and students at the Faculty of Dentistry. I spent one whole morning on the orthodontics clinic with students, and met with the organiser of the upcoming Research Day (to be held that Thursday, April 1) and other faculty members. We all got to know each other well. Being Kiwis, they all looked after me VERY well. We also discussed my upcoming keynote talk at the Research Day conference; they encouraged me to discuss not only my research, but also my life experience and connection to my research, to give the audience a face to my research. From the time I landed in Dunedin, I felt right at home in New Zealand and felt an instant connection with the people. Perhaps that stems from my Irish ancestry and the fact that I made England my home for 3 years recently? I have felt that across the Commonwealth.
With my Canon, I shot these photos all over Dunedin and the University of Otago:
My new friends at the dental school also encouraged me to take the Taieri Gorge Railway, an excursion railway using vintage railway carriages behind a diesel engine, on a tour of the central Otago region, a mountainous area. I shot these photos of the train and the Otago countryside:
Thursday, April 1, 2010, was the Big Day: the University of Otago Faculty of Dentistry Research Day. I was one of the three keynote speakers at this event. I was the 2nd one on the schedule. I began my talk with a summary of my life experience with Treacher Collins syndrome, then my educational history (King's College London 2004-2007, then UCSF from 2007-now). Then I described in detail my work with hypoxia and craniofacial defects in chick embryos. My audience (a full house) loved it very much! Later, during the break, I got to meet more people from all over the world who enjoyed my talk. That evening, the Research Day organisers took me (and the other 2 keynote lecturers) out to a local restaurant for New Zealand lamb and red wine. I was given the gift of a bottle of 2006 Davishon New Zealand pinot noir (from the central Otago wine region); this bottle was labelled specially to commemorate the centenary of the Faculty of Dentistry. I still have this bottle, and plan to drink it soon with a friend for dinner at my place. It was a great day.
The next day (Friday, April 2) was Good Friday, a public holiday in New Zealand. It was also my last full day in NZ, and I was heartbroken about having to leave the next morning. I shot some last photos of Dunedin architecture. I also attended the Good Friday service at the Dunedin Anglican cathedral, on the Octagon. The Anglican Good Friday service centered on the 7 last words spoken by Christ on the Cross, a central part of my own faith. I shed some tears there too. Later that day I went farther outside of Dunedin, and found the world's steepest street (almost 45 degrees grade), steeper than even San Francisco's streets! Enjoy these photos of Dunedin, the cathedral, and the world's steepest street:
All too soon, the next morning (April 3), I headed home.
1) DUD-AKL NZ flight 672: Boeing 737
Early that morning, I got up and took a chauffeured car back to DUD airport. My bottle of wine was securely packed in my checked bag. I checked in and went upstairs to the gate for my NZ flight to AKL. On board, I met a family of several ladies, and we struck up conversation. We flew nonstop to AKL through overcast skies. Upon arrival at AKL domestic terminal, I collected my bag and walked over to the international terminal for my QF flight to LAX that afternoon.
2) AKL-LAX QF flight 25: Boeing 747-400 VH-OJE
Since I had time to kill, I browsed a bit and bought a necklace with a green Maori figurine on it. I got to my crowded gate, where my QF 747-400, VH-OJE, awaited. I got a port side aisle seat (54C). We departed AKL at 3:35pm. During taxi out to the runway, I saw an EK A380. We took off and headed out over the Pacific. I noticed that the sky got dark very fast.
For dinner, I had a seasonal salad and my entree was beef lasagne with steamed greens and rich tomato sauce. I also had cheese and crackers, ice cream, and chocolate. Hours later, my breakfast was a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs with bacon roesti and sauteed mushrooms, orange juice, fresh fruit, and an apple and blueberry muffin. I had a fitful sleep, as morning crept up on us. We left New Zealand on a Saturday afternoon, and ended up arriving in Los Angeles very early that same morning! Can you say time travel?
We arrived in LAX, at TBIT, around 6am. I breezed through immigration and declared my New Zealand red wine and a few souvenirs at customs. After collecting my bag and rechecking it through to SFO, I walked out of TBIT to terminal 4 for my AA flight home. After a lengthy wait in line at a crowded security checkpoint, I got to my gate in the rotunda portion of the terminal. I was so jet-lagged that I was falling asleep all the time. This jet lag, coming eastbound across the Pacific, was as bad (if not worse) than that going eastbound across the Atlantic to Europe. I took one last photo of a Qantas 747 (not the same one I came in on) going out from TBIT to the QF remote aircraft parking area.
[b]3) LAX-SFO AA flight 1936: McDonnell-Douglas MD-80
I soon boarded the AA MD-80 for SFO, and we departed LAX at 11:20am into a sunny California sky, and made an uneventful flight north to SFO. The flight arrived at SFO terminal 3, where I collected my bag and got a ride home to UCSF Mission Bay (where I live) from the same pastor who had brought me to SFO a week before.
All in all, this was a wonderful trip; I was well-looked after and made to feel right at home by the people of Dunedin, New Zealand, and I had an audience who was truly interested in my life story and reseach presentation. I hated to leave New Zealand; I hope to one day return--either short-term or long-term, as my career allows the opportunity.
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made... (Psalm 139:14)
gabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 2802 posts, RR: 13 Reply 2, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 4309 times:
Sounds like you had a great trip to NZ! QR seemd pretty good - I think they're dropping this route in the near future. It'd be great next time if you has the photos as part of the report rather than just links.
Quoting SmithAir747 (Thread starter): About a year went by (and I presented at two more conferences that year), and I received an official invitation from the University of Otago dental faculty to come speak at their April 2010 Research Day event in Dunedin, New Zealand. They paid my airfare and half of my hotel accommodation. They encouraged me to stay long enough to give me time to explore the central Otago region as well as the city of Dunedin.
New Zealand lamb taste incredible and their wines are fantastic!
Quoting SmithAir747 (Reply 1): I went farther outside of Dunedin, and found the world's steepest street (almost 45 degrees grade), steeper than even San Francisco's streets! Enjoy these photos of Dunedin, the cathedral, and the world's steepest street:
This is a wonderful trip Smith! That is great that you're traveling the world and giving lectures about your medical research. Best of luck to you and your graduation will be here before you know it!
signol From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2007, 2962 posts, RR: 8 Reply 4, posted (1 year 9 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 2493 times:
I know what you mean about the research proceedures, conferences, poster presentations etc - my wife just completed her PhD last year (in a different medical field, stammering) and I've been with her to conferences etc. An interesting way of researching and sharing amongst academics.