Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Brunei, Day 4

April 19, 2008

Up at 4:30, forced myself to lay back down. F*cking jet lag. Up at 7am.

Working at the Survey Department installing software and preparing data. They began to hover around me, the workers. It kind of creepy hearing something shuffle behind you in an enclosed area and then turn around to see them standing there.

Experienced some network configuration problems as computer was on a different network than the DNS server. This can be alright if the network is setup right, but I'm supposing its not, to make matters worse nothing has been connected before we arrived.

We may have to work tomorrow, when the Gov't offices that we are using to do our work are closed. Great. There goes my weekend. (Their weekends are Friday [Muslim holy day] and Sunday [Christian holy day].) Guess I'll have to find some other time to get my “shopping” done, though I don't know when or where. (apart from DVDs and a football jersey.)

We have been here for 2 hours and I have yet to touch the server, we are soooo behind schedule.

There was a break of one of the guys using the server and so I went to test a few things to make sure I had all the connection information when we came back here tomorrow to do work. When I went and tested the information nothing was working and things had been unplugged, that and they didn't give us access to the third server that we told them, which is the entire purpose we are here.

I'm still picking dry skin, rather large chunks from my hair from when I burnt my scalp in Mexico the week before. I hope its peeling skin and not actual skin shavings from the Gecko running around my room, that would be kind of creepy. But fun, that sounds very fun, I want a house with 15 or 20 gecko's running around pooping on the walls. Its official, I need a new pet, maybe a lizard or a giant iguana to have basking on the rocks in the yard, though he may freeze to death in the spring... fall... or winter. Definitely the winter.

Went out to lunch at a little Indian place for some spicy noodles... drove by a Shell gas station, which is the only oil/gas company in the country. The price $0.53 / L ... in BRUNEI dollars..... thats about $0.34 / L Canadian. I want to live here....

Jenny, one of the consultants for the company we are working with to setup this system is going to be sent to Caris to undergo some training and experience with our software, etc. They were thinking about sending her in June or July to take the training and gain better experience with the software. She's hoping to have the trip to Canada pushed back quite a bit. She would really like to have them send her over sometime in the fall/winter when there is lots of snow.

Spent 6 hours standing around waiting for them to finish with Oracle installation. Yeah, totally behind schedule. Not cool. I don't want that added pressure.

Spent the evening configuring web servers on my laptop to work so that I could spend only a few moments in the morning configuring the servers without having to do research. Woo!

Brunei, Day 2

April 18 ,2008

Up at 5am, I think the jet lag finally hit me, either that or its that f*cking cock (rooster) outside “roostering” in the moring. (What is it that you call the really annoying noise that they make when the sun comes up? I prefer to call it “roostering”.)

Worked until 8pm installing software on the training computers, how did that happen? We had a few small issues with the installation of the metadata software but both Jenny and Roy seemed very willing to help out, and very helpful.

Lunch at Chinese place. Very good. (That will be the description for all of the food that I will have eaten here.... except for the Top Yam soup, that wasn't good.)

Had a very typical Government meeting regarding the Data and some of the things that we require for the application launch. The first was data requirements, what they wanted in the launch for temporary access for the public, a naming convention (they couldn't make a decision and then asked us to.). We also requested some information from them (as of April 30, we still didn't get anything.)

RN asked me to speak about some of the setup that we had for the FME portion I began speaking and about ½ way through I froze and forgot everything that I was going to say and the other items that I needed to cover. I should have had notes. I felt like a giant ass.

Supper at a Chinese place there were a lot of stray dogs walking around near the restaurants, very sad. I wanted to take them home.

Offically: Chinese food in Canada sucks.

Brunei, Day 1, Part 2

Some time in some timezone....

So, I've been on the plane already for NINE hours and there are still another 6 to go before we get to our destination. It makes me wonder if I'm going to get there on time for my connecting flight, I really hope so, but then again my luggage is on this plane so its not like my stuff will get there before me.

I'm exhausted but its near impossible to sleep on the plane, my butt is numb from these chairs and the plane is warm so its making me even more uncomfortable which makes me restless and not tired. Its a vicious circle really, and I swear the people on the plane are out to get me. :) Plus, as nice as this plane is its lacking the "personal" air blower that all other flights have. I guess its a sacrifice: cool interactive tv gets traded for a reclining seat and air blower. Rip off.

Currently, we're flying over the northern part of Russia toward Mongolia then to Hong Kong. I'd open the window slider and look outside but the sun is still out and shining directly on my side of the plane, I guess that might be because we're now tomorrow morning instead of night time like my body thinks. Its that or my eyes have been adjusted to the darkness of the plane and this thing called "natural light" is f*cking up my body.

One of my co-workers told me to request on an aisle seat so that I could get up and walk around when I'm feeling numb, now I know why. My butt's numb and my row buddy is sleeping. Guess I'll have to request aisle for on the way home, wonder if they can accommodate me?

If only my seat would recline then I'm sure I'd be able to sleep, the only thing my seat does is slide down the chair to help me slouch. Too bad really.

I'm sleepy, I miss my wife, and I've got a headache.


1:35 am (Fredericton) on the 15th – 1:35 pm (Hong Kong) on the 16th.

We're getting close to landing the plane in Hong Kong, they're still landing at 2 in the after noon, and still planning on giving me only an hour to navigate my way through the airport to find my flight and boarding the next flight to Brunei.

Wish me luck, I'm going to need it.


Flying into Hong Kong was AMAZING. It has to be the coolest place on the planet. I unfortunately was too mesmerized by the scenery to remember to take any pictures. (I'll try and do that on the way back in on the 1st of May)

Upon arrival in Hong Kong, navigating my way through the endless passageway where all of the arrival terminals are to the mezzanine which contains about ½ million people, I'm not shitting you.

Confusingly make my way to the Royal Brunei area where they tell me that because our flight was late getting in they were calling a person from their terminal to come and get me through security. Take me to the side of the line to the “Staff” entrance and jump me to the front of the line and run me across the air port. They tell me “we can't guarentee that your luggage will be on this flight” I knew that because if I wasn't almost going to make my flight, then there was no way that my luggage was. :)

On the plane, the girls were dressed really cool with different head dresses. They played a Muslim prayer before take off and then did the security demonstration. Its weird not hearing English instructions and then another language. They do Malay first then English. There were a surprising number of white people on the flight.

Arrived early, was standing next to the conveyor for my luggage when I was approached by a man who told me that my luggage wasn't on that flight and that it would be arriving 6pm tomorrow evening on the same flight that I was on. Filled out forms and went to look for my co-worker.

Found him, took me to the house (very nice) and then showered. Mmmmmm... rinsing 24-hour sweat never felt so good, seriously the best shower I've ever taken. Talked to the guys with whom I'll be staying. They gave me a tour of the house and told me where the important things were, such as toilet paper. We then went to eat at a traditional Chinese restaurant in the back of someones house. Very tasty. Chicken, pork served with illegal beer. Did I mention that Brunei is a dry Muslim country, and selling alcohol is totally illegal? Did I also mention that its illegal for a Muslim in the country to drink the illegal alcohol? I'm safe though, I can drink as much as I want.

Met a few of the people with whom I'll be working, all very nice and good people. Will be an interesting few days thats for sure.

Bed time.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Brunei, Pt 1

My Journey of a Life Time, Brunei - Part 1.

April 16th, 2008

Today began just as any other day, the only difference being the day started at 3:30am as opposed to the standard 6:30am alarm buzzing. What is the purpose of the early wake up call? My semi-spontaneous work paid travel 12,000km across the globe.

Initially when work had told me that I would be leaving the country less than 48 hours after arriving back in the country from my sisters wedding, I was less than enthused. More specifically I almost told my boss to take the job, the trip and shove it right up his arse. Really, that would have been a stupid move to do as I do, momentarily, like my job and the people that I work with. I took the news of the trip in stride as I was still trying to deal with packing for my sisters wedding. Did I happen to mention that I was told about the trip 4 days before I was supposed to leave for my sisters wedding?

I arrive at the airport in Fredericton with instructions from my coworkers to check my luggage so that it will arrive in Brunei without me having to touch it anywhere along the way. The fellow at the check-in counter looked at me funny when I told him of this and then had to verify what I told him, he then proceeded to look up the airline that I was to be travelling on in the system to see if he could do this. He told me that he was not able to do that as it was not part of the “Star Alliance” family of planes. (I thought he was full of crap, and the young gentleman in Toronto at the Cathay Pacific counter confirmed this when he told me it was strange that they wouldn't forward the luggage along.)

The flight leaves Fredericton without a problem and before I could blink twice we arrived in Toronto. (And by “blinking twice” I mean before I registered that we were flying I was asleep.) Seeing as how I was just in Toronto the week before, navigating my way to the Monorail (What'd he say? Monorail! Everybody now. Monorail! Monorail! [Sorry, some necessary Simpsons humor that I couldn't avoid.]) for Terminal 3 was a piece of cake. I walked for what seemed to be miles looking for counters 501-510 which I got from the screen, for Cathay Pacific. I rounded the corner and found that ticket counters empty as it wasn't time to check-in. It was 7am in Toronto and I had 4 hours until my flight left.

I checked in and the young fellow at the counter asked me for my luggage claim tags so that he could ensure they were being routed by Air Canada (which by that time they weren't), he also told me that they would get my luggage retagged and sent to Brunei with me so I wouldn't have to worry about it when I got to the Hong Kong airport. Sweet.

10:00am arrives and I go upto the counter to find out the status of my luggage transfer and they still haven't received it from Air Canada. I begin to panic a little as the only thing I have in my carry on is a stick of deodorant and movies. Shortly before I'm to begin boarding I get a page from the people at the desk who have my new luggage claim tags so that I can pick up my luggage in Brunei without a problem. Phew.

I look outside at the plane, and its HUGE. By far the biggest plane I've ever been on. Its a Boeing 777-300ER (for those who want to Wikipedia it). As my row is called, I can't help but thinking that this is going to be one weirdass ride. I get on the plane and I'm floored by the sheer volume of seats. This is the first plane that I've seen that's had an actual “First Class” section and a real “Business Class” section that has little individual sleepers.

I navigate my way through people and luggage and behold in amazement at what I see. My seat has a headrest with sides the fold out and around your head to form a pillow. (which is good as I forgot to buy one.) Also, is an interactive media center with games, radio, tv, movies all at the click of a button. They have the first 7 episodes of Heroes Season 2 which I might consider watching (most likely I'll end up watching one of the movies that I brought with me, such as the Black & White version of the Mist). I'm sitting here looking at the screen which is flashing images of the time its going to take to fly, the length of the trip and the like when I make a startling discovery.... on the map on the screen shows us flying NORTH. ....


How awesome is that!?

Even better they have a live version of the flight which shows its progress as we make our way to Hong Kong, and they also have a live camera on the front of the plane somewhere where I can see what the Pilots are seeing.

I don't know about you, but I'm officially impressed with this plane and this journey up until this point.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What the hell happened....

Music: Bond - Remixed :: Get Set Go - I Hate Everyone.

Yesterday was such a horrid day. Lets see where it all started to go wrong.

About 2 am I woke up with a terrible stomach pain for an unknown reason. I lay awake listening to my wife sleep (read: snore and grind her teeth) [She'll kill me for that.] I took this opportunity to do something fun at 2am that I haven't done in a while. ...

Watch trashy tv.

I flicked through all of the channels we have. From 1 - some ungodly number. And couldn't find a single thing that qualified. I settled on something on the Discovery Channel about horses, or dogs, or maybe even Jojo the dog-faced boy. It was 2am and I was mostly asleep.

All of this constant flickering lasted until about 3:30am.

I was awake and bored. Severely bored.

I walked to the back room and sat down in front of the computer and listened to music and surfed the Internet for some interesting videos on youTube. Nothing.

4am approached and I figured that since I was supposed to be at work in a few hours, I should go to get some sleep if I were to have any chance at being productive at all.

Cut to Noon: I noticed that one of the processes we have running on the server has been malfunctioning for a few months without any one noticing. I spent the rest of the day trying to determine the cause of the problem.

Cut to 3pm: This is where I was "clusterfucked" (my boss' words, not mine).

Background information: This coming Saturday I'm going to my sisters wedding in Mexico. We're going for an entire week of Sand and Surf. And most importantly, relaxation.

Back to 3pm: Surprise meeting. The new Project Manager decides that he needs to get the project they've been sitting on for 11 months started before the deadline. He tries to book me a trip on the 10th of April to go. Thats in the middle of my vacation, screw that.

He then convinces my supervisor that its a great idea to send me on the 15th of April to the location. He already knew that I wouldn't be getting back into town (and the country) until the 13th.

Who the hell does that to someone? Making them fly literally half-way around the world less than 48-hours after getting back from another trip....

I wasn't impressed, and I'm still not impressed because the stupid script *still* isn't working.

Cut to 5:30pm: I get back to my desk after the meeting and notice my counterpart has gone home. I quickly wonder if he actually did the task I told him to do. I knew the answer before I even logged onto the server. He didn't.

*Throws head on desk and screams*