Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Indonesian Utilities

One of the downsides of living here is that electricity and water supplies are intermittent. To combat the lack of power we have a small generator that is connected to the electrical cabling inside the house. And we have a 2500 litre water tank on the flat roof for when we have no water.

Normally the power supply is fine - and maybe drops out for 10 minutes every couple of days, so no great hardship. And up until a few days ago we've had no water issues, but yesterday that changed when, at 5am, the water went off. It's been 28 hours and we are at 50% capacity in the reserve water tank.

As a result of this we are washing Indonesian-style: scooping up buckets of cold water and hurridly rinsing off the shampoo and soap. Even in this hot climate it's a shocking experience.

Good job we're off to a 5-star hotel in Lombok. Yeah baby!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Three Days In Civilisation

It wasn't so long ago that popping to Australia for three days on business was an alien concept to me. For starters the idea of a business trip was well outside my realm of experience, and then there was the distance from Britain to Australia to consider.

Living in Indonesia does have its pitfalls but its proximity to Australia certainly does make things easier. These little jaunts to Oz also serve to highlight how strange Indonesia is to the newly arrived expat.

The first thing I noticed when I woke up in Darwin was that it was quiet (no traffic noise or calls to prayer) and orderly (the cars on the roads were well behaved and there were no swarms of motorbikes to be seen). When I went to cross the road at a pedestrian crossing a car stopped next to me. I waited a few seconds and wondered why the car didn't carry on, and then I realised it had stopped so I could cross the road. That never happens in Balikpapan!

And while I was in Perth, which is as cosmopolitan a city as Singapore (just on a smaller scale), I was reminded that fast food is meant to be served fast, a process that is forgotten in Indonesia where a wait of 10 minutes for your order is all part and parcel of the experience.

Those three days in civilisation were enough to wipe out the stress and anxiety of living in Balikpapan for the previous month. And (hopefully) I'll get back to Perth on a monthly basis for the first quarter of 2011 to recharge my sense of normalcy.

Monday, 13 December 2010


Like what I did with the title? So, events have transpired (as they have a tendency to do) and I won't be joining the Sapeim 10,000 after all. Instead I will be jetting down to Perth for a day, possibly two, and then back to Indonesia.

Rig Up Report

I can't go into many details here, so I will give you an abridged version to bring you all up to date: the Geolog crew arrived in Jakarta on December 2nd, and then travelled to Balikpapan the day after. I met them at the airport, took them to lunch and packed them off to the staff house where they settled in by going on a drinking session at the Blue Sky Hotel. The day after (Saturday, December 4th) we took a 2-hour ferry boat out to the Saipem 10,000, which was anchored a kilometre off the coast (immediately opposite the Geolog office).

By the time we had boarded and undergone the safety induction the day was spent. I split the crew into two groups and took each out to recon the drillship so they could get the lay of the land (or would "lay of the deck" be more suitable? The next day, and all the days after that we worked +12 hour days to get as much done as possible because on Wednesday (December 8th) we were getting booted off the rig because of visa issues which prevented us from staying on baord during the sail to East Timor, so the job was cut short by 5 days.

It was back to Balikpapan where I had to contend with an unruly rig-up crew who were fed up with the staff house and Balikpapan in general, and do my day job as an operations manager. I'll be blunt - my spritis were low at the point and I came very close to throwing in the towel and giving up on Geolog all-together. My senior manager back in Amsterdam gave me a pep talk and I stepped away from the ledge. Luckily the hotel I moved them to and three crates of beer I provided them (coupled with a relaxing day at the pool/excursions to the local "zoo"/shopping trips to traditional markets) put the riot to rest.

The second phase of the rig-up is scheduled to resume in Darwin, where I am at this moment (see pics above) after a couple of hours looking around Kuta in Bali, while the drillship is in harbour loading up supplies and equipment for the East Timor well. We are due to go onboard tomorrow, by boat again, and continue where we left off. We have approximately 4 or 5 days to complete the job. My next blog post will likely announce the outcome.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Shipping Box Status: ARRIVED

I don't think that I have even mentioned the saga of our shipping boxes once on this thread. Mrs Mudblogger (aka Rachel) has been posting all about it on her own blog every so often. If you haven't been reading them (and why should you, after all this blog is enough to make everyone happy) The boxes were collected from our house in the UK in August and put on the boat at the start of September. They were only meant to take 8 to 10 weeks from departure to arrival, plus a couple of weeks for Customs clearance here in Indonesia. After 6 weeks we had an email telling us that in the next 2 weeks we would get notification when our boxes would arrive. Well, nothing came so after another fortnight Mrs Mudblogger started hassling them for info. They couldn't tell us anything, except that our boxes were in Hong Kong. Look at a map - HK is way out of the way. We started to get worried so I enlisted the help of a local international shipping agent and he started making calls. He didn't get much further either, so we all settled in for some bad news.

But low and behold after months and months of silence they turned up, a little battered, today at work. The office driver and strongman is taking them over to the house at this very minute. Christmas has come early for Mudblogger Jnr!