Bangkok, Singapore, and Science as it is.

October has arrived, and while in the Netherlands fall is already showing it’s face, in Singapore everything stays steady: hot and sweaty as always because Singapore doesn’t do seasons.

So, I’m still arriving sweaty at work every morning, get sweaty out of the shower, and sweat besides the pool on the weekends. Such a tough live.
Another perk of the tropical sun are its beautiful sunsets. I found out that if I go running at  the right time, an awesome sunset awaits me at the end of my run in the park behind my apartment building – a pretty good motivation I have to admit:

And while time is flying, and I think I can say I’m working pretty hard on my research project (9-10 hour workdays are more of  a rule than an exception – with the exceptional 14 hour day kicking in every now and then), of course I’m also making sure to enjoy my surroundings while I can.

So, one of the ways to do that is to go on spontaneous weekend trips to, for example, Thailand – and that’s what Manon and I did. We caught the plane Friday evening, and before we knew it, we were on top of the awesome city of Bangkok.

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I was pleasantly surprised by how clean and ‘organized’ the city was compared to other Asian places I’ve been. Especially after all the stories I heard from other people. Within no time we moved around the city like locals, getting the cheapest fairs and arranging our private tuktuk drivers, taking water buses, and finding amazing street food stalls. It turned out that 1.5 days was the perfect timing to explore te city, of course get a Thai massage, and even kick in some shopping. A little impression:

The best thing about these weekends? You hardly take any time off, but it feels like you’re gone for at least a week! I definitely recommend it!

Although I’m surrounded by little pearls here, and I’m definitely going to continue to enjoy and explore those, Singapore keeps proving I don’t have to go far to be amazed.
Only in Singapore you will find an open air Hawker Centre in the middle of the business district (picture will follow!). And did you know that the MRT (metro) is ALWAYS on time, with trains every 3-4 minutes, no opportunity to jump in front of one, and NO DRIVERS?!

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Also, because I’m living with a Philippino family now, I’m not only living the local live here, I’m also getting a little taste of Philppino culture every now and then. Like last week, when they invited me for a barbecue, and Auntie (everyone is called Uncle or Auntie in Singapore) taught me how to properly eat a barbecued fish with your hands:


But above all, I finally got to go to the rooftop bar with one of the best (if not THE best) view of Singapore. If it was worth the freakingly expensive cocktails? Hell yeah:

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On the research side, we’re slowly but surely making progress, which is great! However, the last few weeks it seemed liked everything was working against us. It’s something that will sound very familiar to the scientists among you – unfortunately, that’s what research is. A lot (and then I mean A LOT) of adjusting, troubleshooting, and technical limitations. And yet I’m currently doing it full-time (ahm, read more than full-time), voluntarily. Why? Because of that one data point, that one graph, that one piece of information that tells you that what you’re doing is leading somewhere and could some day make a difference. And because we love a little challenge of course. If everything would be predictable and easy, life would be one hell of a boring ride, right?

I thought, for those interested, maybe it would be fun to gain a little more insight in what I’m trying to achieve with my research. As I mentioned before, I’m basically trying to create packages – remember the FedEx trucks? – that can take specific cargo (read awesome drugs that can treat brain diseases like, for example, Parkinson’s disease) to the brain.
You may think, well, there’s a lot of medicine and carriers (that’s how they call the different types of packages) out there already. What’s the problem? Well, the problem is the Blood Brain Barrier, also referred to as the BBB. It’s basically a protection unit for your brain, keeping out all the bad guys and harmful substances from reaching your brain. However, the BBB is so strong that it also keeps out most of the drugs. Or, if it doesn’t keep them out, it actively pumps them out once they’re in, making it extremely hard to get specific drugs at the right place in the brain (or reach the brain at all).
Here a short video explaining how the BBB works:

So, that’s what my current challenge is. Beating the BBB with carg0-filled packages.




2 thoughts on “Bangkok, Singapore, and Science as it is.

  1. Hai Nienke, wat een prachtige foto’s van Bangkok heb je weer gemaakt.
    En eindelijk weet ik nu wat je precies doet daar in Singapore.
    Dus weer mijn dank .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. De volgende Nobelprijs voor een Nederlandse wetenschapper is voor jou Nienke!
    Heel leuk om je verhalen te lezen en die prachtige foto’s te zien – fijn dat je zo geniet.

    Liked by 1 person

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