Thursday, September 14, 2006

 

Week Eighteen

Al-salaam alaykum,

Sunday it was back to work with a fantastic hangover. I was lucky though, we were at the beginning of two days of bus testing. I spent the day either sleeping, playing cards, or sleeping. It was great. The perfect way to pick up after a big night (sorry Nana & Pop). The bus testing was interesting. We took all of the venue transport managers (around 40), games motor pool and a few from bus systems. The two days did come in handy, especially when we went to test the Athletes Village. The other positive is we got to see all of the other venues and how they will work. The Monday was especially handy, as we were given a full description of what was happening transport wise at each of the venues, really good stuff, some very handy knowledge that is for sure!!!

Tuesday I cooked dinner for a few friends from the Village, including a few who I worked with in Melbourne. Wednesday night was my turn for the rotational dinner. I decided it was time to make chicken parma’s. Unfortunately there was no ham available, actually ham is never available, but it was still great. The parma’s were huge, it took me around an 1 ½ hours to cook it all, including the 1 ½ kilos of chips, salads and the cheese and garlic bread I made. It was all topped of with chocolate ice cream with Hersheys syrup. Lots of food was made and not a single bit was left.

The work week was back to normal. Meetings until late, then getting called a couple of hours later to be told the person didn’t actually understand what was needed then go back again to re-explain it. We were also told that we would be getting a long weekend, and boy did we make the most of it.

Nana and Pop I recommend you look away now!!!!!

Our bosses have a bar on their roof, and it has named ‘The Camel’s Toe’. On Thursday night we went to Camel’s Toe. The party was a benefit for the dog shelter here in Doha. At the moment, the shelter is not classed as a charity. The owners are applying at the moment, however just like every other process here, it takes a long time. It was decided there would be a cover charge of 50 riyals, and a 10 riyal shot bar. The night itself was fantastic. It was boiling hot, and everyone was sweating like crazy, mind you that is normal for this country. The party was very successful for raising money. We ended up raising 15000 riyals, which in Australian terms is around $6,500. Not bad for one night.

Friday was a day of relaxation, well that was the original plan. A group of us went for a champagne brunch at the Sheraton Hotel. It was great. Only negative was that the champagne ran out for around 45 minutes, very inconvenient. The food was great, a large range, unfortunately no Pork. The chef did make fantastic omelette. This fantastic 3 hours of eating and drinking champagne was followed by drinks at Rydges. We went there with the intention of only drinking one or two. As I am sure you can imagine, this didn’t happen. We finally left around 8 pm. The rest of the night was spent watching DVD’s and relaxing. It ended up being a rather quiet night, which was exactly what was needed.

Saturday was the day I had been looking forward to most of all. I was up at 6 am ready for the big game. We went to Kath Rowarth’s place to watch the Adelaide v Melbourne game. Liam, one of the former road events guys from Melbourne who is now here in Doha, brought over his projector so we could watch it on the big screen. Kristjan leant us his satellite tv card so we could watch the Sportsnet Channel which was showing the game live. It was supposed to start 8.10 am our time. However, due to some technical difficulties, the ended up being postponed until 10.30 am. We didn’t find this out until 8 am, which was really annoying. We managed to fill in the hours before the game, but it only increased our excitement as time got closer. It was great to watch the gam. We had hot chips, hot dogs, you name. For a few minutes, it almost felt like we were watching it on the couch back home. Unfortunately the end result of the game was very disappointing, but it was still great to just see a game.

Saturday night it was off to Plattsy’s for a BBQ and some swimming in the pool. The night was great. It was actually the first BBQ I have had since I got here, and it was great. It certainly in no way matches a BBQ in Australia, but it was great none the less. A good night had by all.

Sunday was a very quiet day, especially after the weekend we had just had. I went over to Mary and Jess’ to watch some episode of series 2 of Lost. It is great. When I left Australia, the second group who were on the plane had just arrived at the beach (for those of you who watch lost that will make sense). I’m looking forward to watching more of the episodes. That night I went over the Kate and Shays for a lamb roast. It’s the first roast I have had since I arrived in Doha. You can’t go wrong with a Sunday roast, including roast vegetables.

The interesting happenings at the new accommodation building never seem to stop. Murray closed the door to his bedroom and his door handle fell off. He was able to open the door which was handy. He ended up using the lock on the door to keep it closed. In another apartment, one of the guys was having a shower when the shower head exploded off the wall, sending water straight out of the pipe and all over the place. A coupe of days later, Murray went to bed, only to go to get up and find that the lock that had been working fine for the days prior, broke. This meant that Murray was locked in his room, unable to get out. Half an hour later, Willo gave the door a few hard kicks, breaking the door and the lock. This apartment building is amazing.

So there it is, another week in the land of sand.

I hope you are all well, wherever you are in the world reading this.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

 

Week Seventeen

Al-salaam alaykum,

This is my first week back where I had to work a full week. It was good working my way back ink, but it was time to keep working. We had a few good results, but generally not much changed. The Director General sent an email out to all of the staff telling us that we had to start working Saturday’s, meaning we were only getting one day off a week. I’m sure you can imagine that the staff are not happy. Most of us are already working in excess of our normal hours and are now being made to also come in on Saturday s. This will all be starting on the 9th September and will last through until the games. I am happy to work any days I need to to get the job done, and this will include weekends, however we don’t need to be made to work extra days. Any way that’s my gripe for the week.

Tuesday night I cooked dinner for Carissa Harris (Hammer) for her birthday. Lozza, Ross and Vic also came along. I cooked spaghetti and meatballs. I made the meatballs myself, and I was really surprised, they actually tasted really nice. After several hours of preparation and cooking the meal ended up tasting really nice. It turns out everyone else enjoyed it as well which was good. It was a big feed.

This week the rotational dinner was off this week as we had a dinner to welcome Danielle Brown to Doha. I also finished my confined water dives which was great, it's taken me long enough. Next I have to do my open water dives.

Thursday night a bunch of us went out for dinner for Thai. This time the food was rather average, which doesn’t normally happen. It was then off to Platts’s place for a pool party. The night was huge, boy was I feeling it the next day. Friday was spent taking it easy. It was the first weekend in over 5 weeks that I had been in Doha and it was nice to just take it easy. Friday night was just a quiet one, a few DVD's and some relaxation.

Saturday it was off to our last Saturday breakfast at ‘The One’. I was told that during the weeks I was away the quality of the slipped which was very disappointing to hear. Thankfully this week the food was great. We spent the afternoon watching the baseball. For those of you who don’t like baseball that may sound pretty boring, but for me it was great. Once the game was over we went over to Kim’s for Singstar and margaritas. I think the rest of the night speaks for itself. Note to self, don’t drink on a school night.

A big positive for the week was for the people who have been living in hotels for the last 6 weeks. Finally the people were moved in to their own apartment building. Normally you would think that would be the end of, not quite. Just like everything else in Doha, things didn’t exactly go to plan. When the elevators were installed, they failed to put the correct ones in. The building has 7 stories plus the ground level. The elevators that were put in, don’t stop at level 6. They only have numbers up to 6. When you press 6, they both go to level 7. The only way to access level 6 is to either go up to 7 and walk down, or stop at 5 and walk up. Unbelievable!!! In an apartment, a girl was filling her bathroom sink with water when it fell of, smashing on the floor.

Hope everyone is well!!!!

 

Week Sixteen

Al-salaam alaykum,

It’s back to work again, but this week it’s just 4 days. Work hasn’t changed much, soon we will be moving out to the village which will be good. The rotational dinner was at Woody’s this week. A really good meal I must say.

I took Thursday off to go to Bahrain with Vic, Disco, Murray and others. What an experience. We flew into the airport around 1.30pm. Our flight was delayed by around 40 minutes after a couple of local women didn’t want to move out of the emergency exit seat. Eventually they moved and we took off. Within 5 minutes of being in the air Murray had already got up to organise some beers for us. We don’t think the seat belt sign was even off. Very nice work. One group of lads missed their flight, but they eventually arrived later that afternoon.

That night, for the 12 of us it was off to Bam-Bu, an all you can eat and drink Chinese restaurant. The good thing is it’s not a buffet. You order from a menu just like a normal restaurant. They keep bringing you courses until you can’t eat anymore. It’s great. We decided that after every round of food was delivered to the table, someone had to make a speech. There were some absolute hilarious ones. After each speech we had to sing a song. The definite winner was Sweet Caroline, one of loudest sung songs for sure. It was almost like we landed in the middle of a musical, ‘Bahrain Bedlam – The Musical’. After that it was off to JJ’s, an Irish Bar. The night was huge. Murray led the way for sure. The bar was great fun, a great first of two nights.

Friday we went out for a champagne buffet brunch. Bacon, eggs, sausages, hash browns, roast pork, ice cream, you name it. It was really nice, not quite ‘The Burj’, but still nice. We spent around 3 hours eating. They had a guy who made balloon animals. He made a monkey with oversized tackle. I’m sure you can imagine the photos that were taken later aren’t really for public viewing.

Friday night we decided to stay in and have a few beverages. We played a few card games and the rest is history. Big night, that's all I can say.

Saturday it was off to tour the countryside. It was great fun. We decided that we had to go and see the Tree of Life. We headed off to the south of Bahrain where we found the Formula 1 Race Track. The security took us up to the VIP Tower where we could see the entire track. There are two different tracks, both with their own pit lane, along with a drag racing track. The track is amazing, and the view is even better.

We then continued along our way to the Tree of Life. Once again we stopped off along the way. This time we saw the first oil well in Bahrain. It wasn’t very exciting. We continued on, except this time we found the Bahrain Royal Air Force base, and this is where the fun stopped. We had trouble finding the Tree of Life and ended up at the entrance to the base. There wasn’t a problem until one of the people in the car leant out the window and took a photo of an oryx (a local animal, also the mascot of our games). Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact we were sitting at a military checkpoint. Two hours later and including an hour of me negotiating with the air force, we were allowed to leave. Unfortunately we left without our video camera and two other cameras which were confiscated by the air force. We are hoping to get them back soon.

Once the fun that was the air force was over we finally found the Tree of Life. It is really big, and the only tree around. It probably would have been better and more exciting had the two hours prior not happened.

Next it was off to the Saudi border. Although Bahrain is an island, they have built a bridge that connects the two countries. It takes around 10 mins to cross the bridge from one side to the other. We stopped on the Bahrain side of the border. There is a tower you can go up which gives you a great view of Saudi. With the cameras that were left we took some photos of Saudi, including a Mc Donalds.

That night we flew out of Bahrain back to Doha, once again on a flight that was delayed. I arrived at the airport and was actually was glad to be back. After 5 ½ weeks travelling, 14 different flights and 7 different countries I was glad for life to return to normal. Now it’s back to work.

Until next time…..

Thursday, September 07, 2006

 

Week Fifteen

Al-salaam alaykum,

Now the trip is over its back to my normal life. Well actually, I thought it was back to normal. I took the Sunday off work to get all of my washing done, which there was a lot, and have a bit of a rest prior to heading back to work. I also had the great opportunity to check my credit card balance. Looking back on the check I almost prefer that I hadn’t.

I went back to work on the Monday and man was it hadn’t really changed that much. There were a few new faces which was great. The Princess (Vic Collins) had arrived, along with a bunch of other M2006’s. It was great to see some more of the old faces.

I am amazed at how much Doha had changed. Many of the roads that were being worked on are now finished, and the apartment building next door was just one level away from being equal to my window. Looks like sleep isn’t something I will be getting much of. Traffic congestion has eased a lot which is even better.

Getting back to work wasn’t easy. Having been away for 3 ½ weeks, I wasn’t exactly in the groove for work. I was lucky to only have 147 emails to sort through. There would have been a lot more had my inbox not been shut down by the IT team on July 23rd after it got too full. On Tuesday, a few of the transport lads managed to twist my arm, actually my must be rubber because it didn’t take much twisting. I decided to go with the lads back to Dubai for a boys trip, except this time it was Rich, Platts, Valcs, and Lakester, along with some IT boys. I ended up taking the Thursday off, making it a 3 day week.

Thursday it was off to Dubai, again. I arrived mid afternoon to find the rooms empty. We were staying at the Four Points Sheraton. Unfortunately the hotel reception forgot to give me the note telling me where everyone was. I ended up spending the day lazing by the pool, listening to music and working on my sun tan. It was actually very relaxing. That evening we out for Indian. Not a bad meal. After that we went out for the night to a couple of different night clubs. It was great fun. We ended up getting back around 3am. It was a massive night. The next day we went to Double Decker for all you can eat and drink at 11am. The food and drinks were freely flowing. It was great. We left there just after 3pm and headed back to the hotel.

The rest of the afternoon and evening, actually 5pm onwards, was spent at an Irish bar. It was the first time since I left Ireland that I was able to include the words gas, grand and craic in sentences and not get looked at like I was weird (thanks for the new words Tracy). We had a cracking night. Some of the lads threw the towel in early which was disappointing. However, just like Thursday night and all day Friday, team 614 (myself and Martin) lasted until the end. It was a massive night but great fun.

Saturday it was off to Wild Wadi. For me this was my second time, but it was still great fun. This time I went on the massive water slide. It was unbelievable. I love it. At one stage I was going down and I wasn’t touching the slide, it was crazy. Once we finished having all the fun there that we could it was off to get some retail therapy, and some dinner. For me the flight was at 2215, but just like every other flight I had over the previous weeks it was delayed. It was great weekend, lots of memories and far too many photos.

Hope you are all well!!

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