Friday, 25 April 2008

ANZAC 2008, Kuwait

Shamefully spying the last post on my blog. Especially one of any substance. Many months went by...

Well things have been shall we say "fluid".

So: in the spirit of stability and history and all good things, a new year and a new continuation.

ANZAC day. What a wonderful tradition and growing too! Every year more people seem to be part of the commemorations. Having done ANZAC last year in Douala some of my friends have mailed me that they are repeating the tradition. The comments from veterans here is that the turnout was much bigger than last year.

As for me I am in Kuwait. (yes possibly a surprise to some) Since February now. I have been fortunate to run into the ANZAC community such as it is, there is strong Australian representation here with Australian contingents supporting the Iraq Situation. Many are stationed here in Kuwait.

Dawn parade was the moving event it often is. The location was the Hilton Hotel beach. At this time of day totally deserted, but with the sun coming up over the Gulf of Arabia.

Having said that, deserted that is except for the fabulous turnout for the dawn service. Actually quite amazing considering the hour. Yes it kicked off at 0445H. that means up before 4am to get there. Well done youse all.

Wreaths were laid by representatives of many nations, and the Turkish ambassador quoted the wonderful tribute for the fallen by Kemal Ataturk, which has done so much to forge and annually reinforce the bonds we have between these nations. No more needs be said after that.

Some fabulous bugler blew the last post then after a silence, Reveille.

Advance Australia was sung, and then God Defend/Aotearoa. Voices cold from the early wake-up call and lack of tea.

A chance to pose in the dawn light before the heat strikes the desert today.

The morning was aptly rounded out with breakfast on the beach hosted by the Australian Ambassador. Many thanks and a real treat. As i left to continue my day (and write this), about 7am, the temperature was climbing into 30. Going to be a scorcher today.

For all ANZACS and other Friends around the world. I hope your day is a safe one as you spare a thought for those who gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy.
Lest We Forget,
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning.
We Will Remember Them.
We Will Remember Them.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Eco footprints

I found this interesting bit of awareness forming from OWailyWaily's blog.
Most of my points come from transport because there just isnt any public transport alternative here and I fly alot.
Anyone else want to have a go it is done by
Only I cant get the pretty table to reproduce so it is ascii I'm afraid.






Mars here we come!

I also filled it in for how I was living in NL, and I'm no better. It is flying that makes all the difference because of not having private motorised transport keeps my points on that real low. If I did no flying (unlikely if I want to keep travelling), and share my house with someone (hint, hope) I could live within the Earths sustainability limit.
Well food for some thinking maybe.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Public photos.

In lieu of getting a round toit in terms of writing some of the travelogues I have promised form previous hikes and trips (ie Mt Cameroon, Mt Oku, Zanzibar, Gabon Petit Luango etc...) I have stuck a few photos on Picasa to get a little flavour in any case.

Have fun.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Which Star Trek Character am I?

At least I am something definite I suppose. Always the bridesmaid...

My results:
You are Will Riker
Will Riker
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Jean-Luc Picard
Mr. Sulu
Deanna Troi
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Geordi LaForge
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Mr. Scott
Beverly Crusher
At times you are self-centered
but you have many friends.
You love many women, but the right
woman could get you to settle down.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Houston, We have Separation.

Again, some people are more in the know than others so this is a bit of a baring of the sole and update to get everyone on the same page more or less.

I understand that after the last post which was abit depressing I need to raise the tone abit so here goes...

As of mid May i have successfully achieved freedom. At least on an interim basis. That is to say Shell and I have gone our separate ways via an amicable agreement between the parties. It was a bit of a wrench but to my surprise and delight I feel as though a great weight has been lifted. Currently there is no 'next' so this allows me some time to do abit of reflection in my life before whatever the Universe has in store for me happens in its own time. Seems that there is sort of a trend in these things seeing Hannah and now also Jorg taking abit of a break from the nosestone. In fact I hope to catch up with these and many other people as opportunity presents itself. Due course, fullness of time etc.

Meantime though i am not completely sitting on my alltogether but doing some stuff in Douala. My current project is helping out my friends Manfred and Elvira in the German Seamans Mission Douala. I am taking over the running of the place to allow them some time to have a real holiday without having to stress about the place falling apart while they are gone. Anyone who has been in Africa will know what i mean on that score. It is quite fascinating to see the level of detail required to run a modestly successfull business here. It also allows me some practical experience of the ideas i have been reading in Michael Gerber and R Kyosaki amongst others.

So current activities include running a hotel and restaurant, trying to learn French, Reflecting, and reading (latest Peter F Hamilton: Judas Unchained-MUCH better ending than the Reality Dysfunction! also Small is Beautifull by E. F. Schumacher, dating from 1973 but still remarkably relevant, showing that really very little has been learned in the intervening 35 odd years). Amazingly I am busier than ever! Dont know how I ever found time for a job.

Speaking of which, duty calls.

This is Traveller, signing out. Goodnight Houston!

Wednesday, 9 May 2007


I am reminded of the quote: "Dont take life too seriously, after all none of us gets out of here alive" (Unattrib).

At the risk of oversharing, I need to get something off my mind before I can get onto more frivolous things. Be warned, and proceed at your own risk.

Many people around the world will have seen the reports of KQ507 DLA-NBO crash in the early hours of Saturday 5 May. I think it hit most major networks. As I was on duty that weekend I was alerted early on Saturday morning in order to establish if any of our staff were on board. This was verified not to be so by mid-day and we stood down any direct involvement. At this stage the plane was still "missing" and a search was underway.
So much for the clinical part. I must say my emotions were all over the place. I have been on that flight myself (twice), and would have had no hesitation in getting on that plane that night, despite the thunderstorm. Last time I was on it was on my way to Zanzibar for a holiday with friends. Imagine. What a way to start your leave. So: very close to home in so many ways. I managed to send texts and phone some of my friends and family around the world to stop some of the worry.
As Saturday evening rolls around i meet some friends in our regular watering hole. They tell me of some other people who were on board. Several staff from Schlumberger, who I have met but cant say I know. My friend Tony is also rumoured to have been on board but I am able to eliminate this as I see his wife in the pub. Relief.
Worse, and shockingly, I learn that my friends Adam and his wife Sarah were on board. Sarah worked here for MTN and they were on their way to Johannesburg for a meeting. I know them well. They just got back from leave in the UK. We had been enjoying the Cricket world cup together. We were looking forward to the England-South Africa rugby tests at the end of the month and the Rugby World Cup in September. They have a daughter at boarding school in England. I am devastated. Shocked. I cant think straight.
At this stage its Saturday night, the plane is still missing and there is still "hope", although it has been gone now for a full day. The search is called off for the night as nobody can see anything anyway. I am mentally blown away. Possible survivors (Adam? Sarah?) spending a (second) night in the wreck in the jungle is doing in my mind.
At a birthday party for a colleague that evening there is just no way I can get in the mood. I depart as not to spoil it for others. Its a tough night for me and I have trouble sleeping, which is a very rare phenomenon.
Sunday morning and still no new news. The search parties are out. Friends of mine from CHC (A private helicopter and plane charter company) are up at dawn flying in the search grid along the presumed flight path. Nothing. Hope is fading fast that any possible survivors can be rescued after 2 days in the deep jungle. It is frustrating for everyone and fuses shorten.
Finally at the end of Sunday a local village hunter in the mangrove swamps just south of Douala reports finding the wreckage. The search focusses to rescue/recovery. 2o km south of the airport in dense tidal mangrove swamp there is a crater with aircraft and body bits.
The bad news is that nobody seems to have survived the impact.
The good news is that even if they had been found earlier, it wouldnt have made any difference. There is a sense of certainty. Yes they have been found. No they are not alive. I am torn between wanting to see the site and emotional repulsion and horror at the thought. My friend Stan overflies the site and reports feeling sick and upset at seeing it from his chopper. He has seen a LOT in his life. It must be bad. The Grieving process continues. My emotions are volatile and my brain seems to be broken. I walk up and down the stairs to my apartment 3 times forgetting car keys, wallet, to lock the door. I find myself trying to open my downstairs neighbor's door as I havent walked up enough flights. Very very weird. Slowly as the days go by a sense of normality is returning (As Jane would say "for a given value of normal").

I have received some great support from many friends all over the world. I am reminded of and thankful for each and every one of the people whom I care about. And I am reminded and humbled that people care about me. I feel mortal. Yes, a surprise to some, certainly to me.
Clearly I have alot of thinking to do, and strangely the Universe seems to be conspiring to present me with an opportunity to do so. Funny old universe really isnt it. More on that later I think.

TO post or not to post? That is indeed the question. Having written this I wonder if it is ready for the harsh electron glare of the Interweb. It certainly needs a health warning. Now added (yes at the front). I think I will sit on it for a while and see if it improves with another reading.
2 days on: No it hasnt improved but I have tinkered. I wonder if one can put too much of ones life online? I suspect so. This may be over the limit. If one puts parts of ones life online, and the server crashes, is that lost? Or vice versa, if one crashes, does one continue to exist online? Strangely New Scientist has an article on the afterlife today...

Friday, 4 May 2007

Koninginnedag 2007


For those of you that have been in Amsterdam on Koninginnedag (Queens Day= The NL monarch's birthday observance on 30 April), you will know that the central city effectively turns into one big party zone for the day and the police spend most of the afternoon fishing plastered foreigners out of the canals.

For this year a small group of us here in Douala
decided to mark the occasion by having a bit of a barbie. Fortified by a number of our Southern Neighbours (ie Belgians), one of whom kindly made his residence available.

We were introduced to the art and craft of "spijkeren". Take a log of wood about a meter long and stand it on end. Take some big nails and hammer one per participant just in, starting it so it doesnt fall over. Then one at a time have a whack on your nail. The object of the game: first one to hammer in his/her nail nominates what gets drunk the next round. Last one to hammer it in PAYS for said round :)

Whaddayareckon? We will be transferring the log to our favourite pub this weekend to continue this tradition. Photos will come in due course.

Meantime this is me enjoying Queens Day 2007 in Douala Cameroon. Cheers!