Friday, 27 May 2011

Day Of Days

It was said that the day that the Allies landed on the Normandy coast was The Longest Day, but I beg to differ because today has been far, far longer. I woke up to find that the water for our neighbourhood had been turned down to a bare trickle so I could just about manage a cold shower. Then I popped to work - where atypically everything went smoothly - but when I went to leave I found my driver had gone to Friday prayer and wouldn't be back for an hour. When I did get home the electricity was out so I had to crank up the generator. And there was still no water so no pre-departure hot shower. After gobbling down half a dozen leftover bacon rashers, finishing off all my errands I did a whistle-stop tour to say good bye to everyone. If I missed you I am sorry. Then it was back to work to drop off the car, house keys and do the final sign out.

I am currently over at Brent and Arlene's house as they have graciously put me up for the afternoon/evening as I wait out my remaining hours in Balikpapan before my flight at 9pm.

Bye bye Balikpapan, hello rest of my life.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

One More Sleep

Tomorrow is my last day! Late evening I'll be catching the Garuda flight to Jakarta, and then after only a 1 hour and 15 minute layover I'll be on the Sydney leg with Garuda. I'll get to use my Silver frequent flyer card (which only arrived in the post last week) and take advantage of the extra 5kg baggage allowance.

I land in Sydney at 9am, and have a hire car waiting. From there I'll drive through the Blue Mountains and on to Dubbo to meet up with Jase. Two nights later I'll be on the road to Newcastle and my new job.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Good News? No, Great News

May 11th marks the day that Rae, Oscar and I gained our Australian residency. OK, it's a temporary visa but it will last until 2015, giving us plenty of time to get settled. Mrs and Little Mudblogger are very excited. I am too but I still don't know when I will be allowed to leave Indonesia. Hopefully in the next week I will have a clearer picture of what Geolog's plans are for me.

The Original Rumble In The Jungle

Today I ticked off another one of my bucket list items - I visited Krakatoa, the volcano that in 1883 famously blew its lid and gave Europe stunning sunsets for half a decade.

I don't know how long I've wanted to visit the island but with my time in Indonesia counting down to single digits I knew I had to take this opportunity, and with Rae and Oscar back in the UK I have a lot of free time.

It was easy to make the arrangements - I found a tour company that did a one day trip, I picked my dates and told a local travel agent what I wanted. A day later I had my flights, hotel and tour voucher in my shaking hands.

I flew Jakarta on Friday (the 13th - I'm not triskaidekaphobic but I am starting to get nervous about using Indonesian airlines), stayed at the airport hotel and at 6am the next morning my driver picked me up for the 3 hour drive. That's 2 hours on toll roads and highways to Cilegon, followed by an hour on a road that tarmac seems to have forgotten about (but potholes and dust remember it quite well) to Carita.

From the marina at Carita beach we took a twin-engined speedboat out to the archipelago, some 60km distant. After 10km the skies cleared enough for me to see the classic volcanic cone-shape of Krakatoa. My guide explained that what I was looking at was Mamma Krakatoa - the remains of the original island that was destroyed in 1883 when the three separate volcanoes that made up Pulau Krakatoa exploded. As we neared Mamma K I could see that she was indeed just a chunk and had a towering cliff-face on one side that made it look like somebody had taken a bite out of her.

The island we were heading for was Anak (Son of) Krakatoa, a small volcano that started emerged from the sea in 1927 and has grown to about 200m since. We landed on the beach, next to the only forested spot on the island and notified the government officials of our presence. A quick walk through some juvenile jungle growth saw us on the ash covered slope of the volcano. My guide explained that we could not climb to the summit as it was out of bounds due to the constant cloud of noxious sulphuric gas that constantly drifted up from the crater. Did Krakatoa's son have halitosis?

I felt a bit let down by this information but once we started up the side of the volcano I was relieved - walking on soft, loose ash isn't easy at the best of times but in +30C and the heat of the volcano itself the 600m hike to the view point was punishing enough.

It took us forty minutes to get to the edge of the safe zone and we passed pyroclastic bombs, lava fields and a small valley that was covered in a crust of sulphur. At the "top" the view was amazing and while the other tour groups were all taking the opportunity to snap the volcano's peak I turned around and enjoyed the view of his mother which was only a kilometre away.

Forty minutes up and ten minutes down - we were back on the beach and in the boat in no time, circumnavigated Anak Krakatoa, and a spot of snorkeling on a reef off Krakatoa itself so I took the chance to swim ashore and properly visit one of the most famous volcanoes in the world.

On the way back we were treated to a pod of dolphins doing some leaps in the air as they chased their lunch through the water. Above them were a pair of eagles who were following the dolphins in the hope of grabbing a snack of their own.

I'm now sat in a dust covered Toyota Kinjang, belting down the highway to Jakarta and looking forward to a shower. All in all it was a cracking tour.

Friday, 6 May 2011

This Old House

The packers were round today so the house feels even emptier. It's nice to know our stuff is heading towards Jakarta, and once we provide proof of my visa it'll be moved to Singapore and then on to Brisbania.

It struck me that we haven't shown anyone the furniture we picked up in Indonesia so I have taken a handful of shots of our possessions.

The crew from DB Schenker arrived right on time at 8:30am. I had taken the day off so I could attend the great pack up of 2011, and had planned to have a lie in to 8am but the phone rang at 6:30am so I was up with before the beepy man.

The big pack went swimmingly and in no time at all the guys had all of our stuff boxed, wrapped and bundled. Take special note of the team photo around Rae's cherished pod chair - it took the four of them nearly an hour to construct a cardboard shell for it.

In the late afternoon, just before the heavens opened, the container truck arrived and Yunni and I waved a tearful goodbye. The saddest thing of all is that now our furniture is gone I have to go back to using all the crap that came with the house.

If it wasn't for the giant cupcake we would have only needed half of the 15ft long shipping container. The total box count was 49, which sounds like a lot but there is a family in Balikpapan who needed 350 boxes to ship their household here!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

I Can See A Rainbow

The first time I saw a circular rainbow was flying into Heathrow airport on my way back from an oilrig. It was quite faint and dispersed, more of a yellow halo really. I've seen them on and off over the years but last week while flying to Perth I spotted another.

The plane was just flying over the southern tip of Java when I saw a partial rainbow. I took a few photos of it but as the aircraft moved over a thicker patch of clouds it became sharper and more defined. Eventually it became a full circle which I managed to film most of.

I looked up circular rainbows but there isn't much about them. But what I could glean was that generally the rainbows we see from the surface are round but because of the horizon we only see part of them. However if you are above the rainbow you can see the entire circle. Previously the ones I had seen had looked more like this but you'll have to take my word for it that mine was a full circle.

On the way back I took another photo of a circular rainbow - this one is clearly a 360 degree spectrum. The second photo shows a very strange shadow effect of the wing stretching far out and nearly touching the horizon as the sun was very, very low in the sky.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Moving To Fourecks

The news is out already but for any of my readers who don't yet know, Rae, Oscar and I will be moving to Australia in about 4 weeks or so. A month or so ago I was offered a job as a Coal Seam Gas Team Leader, based in Brisbane. The job comes with a 457 (long term temporary resident) visa and an excellent package.

I spoke with Geolog management about the opportunity and they agreed that it was something that I should not miss out on, and we came to amicable terms of separation. I will see out the Saipem 10K project until the end of the current well and when Geolog and I are in agreement that a proper handover to my replacement has been completed I will leave for Australia and a life down under.

I have a couple of weeks orientation and training to go through in Newcastle, NSW before I move up to Brisbane where the family will join me to house hunt and await the arrival of our shipment.