A wise man once said....

"When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen you may learn something new." Dalai Lama

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Christmas Kazakhstan

Hi,  Had been hoping to at least be back in Atyrau  for the day. As it was the return plane from our construction site was delayed due to back weather. So one more over night stop on site. Not so bad. Relaxed and had a canteen dinner etc. All good. (Hope same delay does not happen on Friday when I go on leave!!!) Not so likely as it will be a lot bigger than the Dash 8 I was on. Up in the air the sun was giving us a beautiful set of colours over the clouds. Difficult to imagine how cold it is below on the ground. (BTW its the propeller looking like bird wings. Slow moving prop!!!!!
I also took a few ariel photos of Atyrau and you can see the rivers starting to freeze up. Looks good from the sky!
When I get back form leave next month I'm sure the town river will be a sheet of ice.

Happy Christmas to you all.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Atyrau, Kazakhstan And Snow

That's right I'm still here. Been a while since I posted and for that apologies. I had so many plans for 2013 including keeping my Blog updated. We've been to UK, Seychelles and Thailand over the last few months. None recorded. SO silly really as I now can't find any of the photos etc.
So back into it. Its -1Degrees C here. No wind so today was OK for a quick trip to the shops. No Christmas here but its hard not to see the festive trees and light severywhere. Also today was the first snow. Shops were full of stuff so stocked up on wine and other essentials !!!! So a trip in the cold, few photos and getting ready to more onto 2014.  Promise more and more interesting Blogs to follow. Has to be as it is one of my new 2014 resolutions, and you can see it's place already!

Merry Christmas to you all.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Tengiz Kazakhstan

Tengiz is approximately 250 kilometers east from Atyrau town, where my office is located.  We had to go down for work. It’s a remote place with little to recommend it except for the vast reservoirs of oil located under the surface. While there I took a few photos.  Getting there was fun. Taking a train for 4 hours then a transfer to a coach for a45 minute ride to the accommodation units. 
The journey crossed a vast flat land. Nothing of interest to see. Few trees and little vegetation. Arriving the only indication of anything is building, again just ‘plonked’ in the fastness.
Project site is about 40 kilometers by 40 kilometers. All flat and no trees or any other land marks. Absolutely flat.
Only things of note were the accommodation units set  up to cater for 5,000 workers, offices and of course the oil fields. On our travels to the southern part of the area we came across a small grave yard which had been constructed around 1936, so about 80 years old. One section had been badly eroded by the wind. On close inspection I noted the blocks had been made out of local mud and a sort of wattle or grass used as reinforcement.  Hence the wind erosion taking this away first and leaving the mortar joints intact.
We did see a heard of horses in the distance but to far away to get a decent photo. Also some swifts and swallows. Again no photos but one lizards decided to show himself and his I did photo.
The panoramic photo was taken by Sergey. Beautiful  colouring.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Thailand Farming

Dragon Fruit. We're been away in Seychelles asyou know.  Wanna back to Thailand me to
 Kazakhstan. Garden in Ban Muang doing well. Dragon Fruit excelling themselves…..

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Sunday 21st July Atyrau

Day I'll remember for a while to come. Peter, Stephen and I went walking to find the famous windmill. We found one, pretty crappy old steel frame. Decided this was not the one we wanted so we carried out. 4 hours walking in 34deg C sun. Hot or waht. Anyway we found it. Took our photo and then a taxi for a well deserved lunch and possible cold beer.
We got the taxi and even got to a lovely little restaurant. Peter first and I followed at the counter. Off we went to sit down and we heard a loud noise, turning round we watched Stephen behind us collapsed to the floor.  Heat stroke/exhaustion. Mad rush to get him some water, check his head as he took quite a bump when landing. Someone ordered the local medics and next we knew, drips appeared and jabs etc etc.
We took him first to local hospital then onwards to the Company one. All in all a busy day. Suffice to say I could write a lot more but me too I'm tired....

Local Ambulance. Note spare wheel in top right hand corner

La Digue Moon and Venus

I took this shot the other night and lower part is the house opposite our. Top shows the moon and Venus... Bottom my neighbour in lower left hand side.

Found Them .......................... Photos Seychelles


After a frantic search I found my photos.

Some here of Victoria Market, Beaches and a few odd shots.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Its been a while and believe me I'm not happy All My Photos are in the office..... Shit..............

My first 6 weeks  working Atyrau were soon over. Finished on 30th June. Wonderful. Two weeks leave.
Then I got on a plane and headed for the Seychelles. Met Wanna in Dubai transit hall she coming from Thailand and me from Kazakhstan, then jumped on a plane to Mahe.  Plan was to have 2 weeks on La Digue, relax and just enjoy and catch up with Sarah and Vivi.
It had been nearly 3 years since we had been back.  The place has moved on and developed in good ways. Most noticeable was the change in people’s attitudes. Generally much more welcoming and we found this made for a great time. Nothing seemed like a hard time and even in Government offices the people we dealt with all had time to be pleasant and helpful.
This started with my going to the bank to get a statement and renew my Pin number. “But Sir your bank account is closed. You have not used it for 2 years. Please when you get to La Digue visit the branch there and reopen an account.” (Which we did. Easy and simple)
Renewing my driving license. “Sir your old one out of date since 2007. There are high fees for long overdue renewals. But if you ask the Ministry if Immigration to give me a letter confirming I have been working outside the country during this time then they can waive the fees.” All so helpful.
Went to the pension office. Same again. “Sir love to help but you need to be 63 to get a pension!!! Please come back in 2 years time”   … No problem there.
Great start with so much support. Next stop was the ferry office to book a trip to La Digue. Once booked we proceeded to the local Victoria market. Again great place loads of fish, veggies and stuff. We stocked up on bits to keep us going on La Digue.  Then off we went to La Digue. Met on arrival by Babi who is looking after the place. As we walked to our house “Hello Wanna” was shouted across at us. Old friends made it all seem like really had come home. House looked OK, but the garden a mess with most of the bushes, banana plants and small trees gone. Blame of course on the local dogs making themselves at home and digging holes everywhere. Add in the kids using the area as a football pitch.  Could not expect much more.
What did we do?  As little as possible. Drank litres of tea, ate lots of good food and relaxed.  
Well, we did do a few small activities. Found time for a little fishing and swimming. A few walks round the roads followed by a cold beer and again relax…. Lovely.
The timing of our trip placed us in the middle of the SE monsoon so some rain and heavy winds. Not that this made much difference as when you’re doing nothing you can stay in or sit on the beach.  I’ll leave you with some pictures of the place. Nothing special, but actually it was all very special. Enjoy.  Pictures to follow.

Stuck In The Airport

Just came across this in the BBC online newspaper.  After reading about Snowden in Russia now I see a similar but different sort of thing here in Kazakhsnak.
18 July 2013 Last updated at 23:04 GMT
Life in transit: What is it like to live in an airport?
By Rayhan Demytrie BBC News, Almaty, Kazakhstan

This weekend, the US whistleblower Edward Snowden, will have spent four weeks in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport. Two thousand miles away, in neighbouring Kazakhstan, a young man has already spent four months in the transit area of an airport - and admits it is driving him round the bend.
As airports go, Kazakhstan's Almaty International has not much going for it. It's small, and there's not much to keep travellers entertained.
For Mohammed Al Bahish being stuck there for 120 days has been an excruciating ordeal.
He does not even have access to the duty free or the overpriced cafes.
The 26-year-old Palestinian refugee, born in Iraq, is confined to what officials call "the sterile zone" for travellers and airport staff - he's the only one who belongs in neither category.
He cannot enter Kazakhstan because he has no visa, but nor does he have a visa to enter any other country. Israel won't allow him to travel to the Palestinian territories, and the UN accepts that with no living relatives in Iraq, it would be unsafe for him to return to the country of his birth.

Every day he wakes up to the same monotonous female voice announcing flight details, gate closures and a lengthy monologue - regularly repeated - on Kazakh customs regulations.
"I feel like I am going slightly crazy," he says.
Already pale and puffy-faced, he is confined to a windowless 2m by 3m room inside the arrivals hall.
It reeks of cigarette smoke. There is a bunk bed, a shabby sofa, and a Koran on a table by the wall.

Through the door, which is slightly ajar, new arrivals stream past on their way from the landing gates to passport control.
Intensifying Mohammed's sensation of limbo, he is fed on meals prepared for passengers on Kazakhstan's national air carrier, Air Astana.
"They bring aeroplane food three times a day - tiny boxes of salad and cakes," he says. "For the entire month of June I ate beef and mushroom stroganoff. I don't think I will ever eat beef again."
Airport security controls his every movement outside the room. Occasional coffee runs to a drinks dispenser are permitted, as are visits to the showers used by staff in the luggage department.
Wherever he goes, police or security guards accompany him.
His only opportunities for fresh air are walks to a porch area overlooking the runway.
His only contact with the outside world comes when the airport's irregular free wi-fi signal flickers into life. Then he uses Skype.
"I talk to my cousin Yaser, he lives in Norway. I don't have any other close family, my parents died in Iraq when I was 16, and I don't have any brothers or sisters," he says.

It was the desire to make his own family that brought him to Kazakhstan to live with his girlfriend, Olesya Grishenko, now pregnant with their first child.
 "Start Quote
I see all these people leaving the building, and I am just stuck here, I can't go anywhere"
End Quote Mohammed Al Bahish
The Kazakh national met Mohammed on holiday in Dubai when he was working there as an interior designer.
In Kazakhstan, while registering their intention to marry, Mohammed's refugee travel documents went missing, and his Kazakh and UAE visas expired.
He later flew to Turkey in the hope of renewing his Kazakh visa, but was turned back at the border.
"I was deported from Istanbul for lack of a valid visa, and they sent me back to Almaty. But here I also did not have a valid visa so they sent me straight back to Istanbul. Four times I flew back and forth between the two cities," Mohammed says.
Kazakh immigration is keeping Mohammed in the airport's transit area, which legally is not considered Kazakh territory.
Last month, the Kazakh authorities turned down his application for asylum.
Mohammed says he has been preoccupied with a single thought since becoming trapped - how to escape.
"I miss the sunshine, I miss being outside," he says.
"I see all these people leaving the building, and I am just stuck here, I can't go anywhere," he says.
We walk through the sliding door on to the steps where passengers board and disembark from shuttle buses. But Mohammed can go no further.
The sound of plane engines fills the air. Behind Almaty, mountains glisten.
"I get too angry when I come out here," he says. "Because I truly feel that I am in jail."

Alan Lloyd l KPJV Limited (Atyrau Branch) l Senior Port Engineer l alan.lloyd@fluor.com l Tel +7 (7122) 992500 l Fax +7 (7122) 992520
17, Abylkhair Khan Avenue, Atyrau, 060011, Kazakhstan
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