Saturday, July 19, 2008

Contact Info - Just in Case (revised Aug 8)

Mail address (for envelopes):

Murjan Village
Apt F19 - Woodbury
Post Box Number 11721
Jubail Industrial City, 31961
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Street address (for packages):

Murjan Village
Apt F19 - Woodbury
Fahad Road (Highway 2)
Al-Khafji Street, Fanateer, Jubail
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

It is recommended to use DHL, UPS, or FEDEX that have package tracking systems. One person here used USPS priority postal service and has received 1 out of 3 boxes. The 2 missing boxes had tracking numbers but their whereabouts is unknown.

Fahad Road (Highway 2) is the road that runs east-west and parallels the water. Al-Khafji is the nearest cross street to Murjan Village. Fanateer is the neighborhood we are located in, kind of like The Plaza or Highland in KC. Jubail is the city. Jubail is located in the Eastern Province (which is not part of the address). And Saudi is a monarchy family name in the area of Arabia and hence the Kingdom.

Murjan Village phone number (from USA):

011 966 3 347 7777 extension 235

The phone system is like a hotel system where you dial the main switchboard and then the extension.

During daylight savings time, Jubail is 7 hours ahead of the East Coast so noon in Greenville is 7:00 pm here.

On Skype, my search name is olander11.

Night at Murjan

The lighting here at night is quite dramatic. The photo to the left is the front of my building. I used the ISO setting so it is "grainy" and no flash.

There are a few fountain around along with lots of shade seating areas. You can see the red, green, blue, and yellow lights in this shot. Everything is well landscaped with lots of flowering bushes and perennials.

Some of what I thought were palm trees are actually date trees. i had my first "fresh" date today, straight off a tree. The appearance reminded me of an acorn except it was not anything like that. The bottom half was ripe and colored a dark honey brown. The top stem half was a white yellow custard color. To eat, I bit the ripe part off and it was very sweet and creamy. I then extracted the seed out with my teeth and spit it out. Then I extracted the rest of the sweet meat from the middle leaving the white hull that was very fibrous which I did not eat.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Travel Route

This is one route we take some mornings to work. We vary it per Fluor rules.
There are several layers of security. once off the main highway, we first proceed through a checkpoint manned by the Saudi Marines complete with rifles and side arms. Trunks are opened. We navigate through concrete barriers past a bunker with machine guns.
The next stop is at the jobsite gate. This is run by a different group. Supplementing them are more Marines in another camoflauge house.
After work, returning back to the village, the car bottom is inspected with mirrors and the trunk is opened. There are concrete barriers and steel gates to slow the traffic. The opposite lane has tire puncture spikes.
The bay side of the village has a barrier to slow/stop boats. Rumor has it that there is a laser detection system like in the movies. At each end of our beach is manned and gunned observation tower.
We feel very safe and have not had any problems. It is reassuring that the Saudis protect their visitors so well.

The Weekend

I have been wondering if it is the weekend if it is one day long. It is better than no days off.

Last night Alex D. had his birthday party. He is the Process Control System Lead for the client. He had his party catered outside of the Murjan Village restaurant. There were about 20 people including Alex' wife, her sister, and another wife. Alex provided all the food and adult beverges, grain and grape varieties. The breeze died and it was very hot. We ate after the sun set and had grilled steaks, bar b q chicken, bar b q lamb chops, potato salad, cole slaw, other salads, vegetables, and desserts. It was all very good. Most of the people there were from South Africa and most were instrument engineers like me. There were a few of the client higher ups there. Of course I forgot my camera. I left at 11 pm exhausted.

So I have this photo instead to show the next day.

I didn't have a cuerveza for this shot. Those are some ugly hairy legs!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today I celebrated July 4th in a foreign country. What a reminder of the freedoms we have in the USA. We have freedom of press, religion, and the pursuit of happiness. We also have the responsibilities to exercise these freedoms for good or bad. There was no law stopping me from coming here. There is no law forcing me to attend church or mosque. No law to stop me from criticizing or complementing the government. I have a voice no matter how small. There is no law to stop men and women from interacting.

Today, some of us gathered on the compound and remembered our heritage with a multi-cultural feast of buffalo wings, chili con queso, grilled rib eye steaks, mesquite smoked chicken, potato salad, bar-b-que beans, corn bread, apple strudel, and water melon. We listened to Johnny Cash, Randy Travis, Neil Young, and other distinctly American music.

A view of the Arabian Gulf. It was quite beautiful. The water was green though the picture show it as blue. It was only 111 degrees F when I took this picture.

I took my first swim today in the Gulf. The water is very salty and I could float effortlessly. When getting out, the water evaporates very quickly making you quite cool. About 10 minutes later you have to get back in because it so hot. I was reading a magazine in the shade and the paper was noticeably warm.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dust Storm

Today was my first experience with a dust storm (not the same as a sand stom). The sun came up as a white orb like the moon. It never became bright as the other mornings. Driving to the plan, the other chemical plants were not visible and the flares could not be seen. A dust storm is like fog limiting how for you can see.

In this photo, the water is not visible from my apartment as it has been in the earlier photos.

Here is a view of the beach at Murjan Village.

The water is also choppy because of the wind. Before it has been quite smooth.