Ancient towns of Southern Italy
I have almost finished my 11 week trip to Ulsan Korea, to the biggest shipyard in the world, it builds on average 150 large ships a year and they are huge tankers and bulk carriers mostly, to build these monster ships you need monster cranes of all types, Hyundai managed to buy the worlds largest gantry crane froma bankrupt shipyard in Sweden, it is 138 meters tall, and can lift 1600 tons, it is so huge as to be beyond scale of description
1. You let your 14-year-old daughter smoke at the dinner table in front of her kids.
I have been here for 3 weeks now and this is a large industrial city with one thing in common, it is Hyundai town, it is the largest shipbuilder in the world and it builds an awful lot of cars here also, but it is clean and well planned sort of and the Korean people are the most respectful nice people you could ever want to work for and visit, whenever we go out there is not a feeling of threat ever, some school kids don't leave until 10pm, yes I have actually seen them going home at 10pm at night, this would be unheard of in every country i have ever seen. The food is interesting, I do love the spicy noodles, the indoor barbecues are amazing, beer is OK, but the weather is letting this trip down badly, it has rained for almost 2 weeks, it turned a little bit nice over the weekend though, unfortunately it is an ugly boring town, meaning virtually no entertainment, if we want to do something in the city it is a 20 minute cab ride and then once you have walked about the city center then that is it, I have seen far too many ugly towns in my time and this is just another, Okpo where i working before Christmas was better as it was more rural and just more interesting.
I have had my prayers answered, I am not going to North Africa of the middle east this year I am going back to South Korea, the land of the respectful hard working intellectual safe haven for engineering. It is such a relief to know that I am going on a long installation job in a nice city by the sea, Ulsan, it is a tad too close to Japan at the moment but to think i will have super high speed internet and be able to go out and get a beer with some interesting food is wonderful.
I have had a reasonable trip here, the food was interesting, not the local food but the available international food, they have a barbecue style of restaurant which is very enjoyable, you get raw meat that you cook on a grill on your table, almost a barbecue, you eat as much as you want, all with Chopsticks and it is great fun, we like this so much as a group we do it maybe 3 times a week, we have also found a great thai restaurant, also a great little bistro that does the biggest burger i have ever eaten, the final place we eat at is a Turkish place,
I have been working on this Blog for maybe 5 or 6 years now and to be honest I think Blogging is losing its relevance, It was developed for keeping in contact with friends and family but now with the advent of Facebook it has lost its need, Facebook is easy, you see the folks your trying to keep in touch with and you can chat like messenger, you see pictures, you share more with the folks there, but with blogging your hoping that your friends know your there and can they really be bothered with going to read the usual silly stuff i come out with.
I have one thing to say about this part of the world, i will never ever come and work here again, not for all the tea in China or the gold in Fort Knox, my life is not long enough to tolerate the squalid conditions that I am forced to live in, it couldn't be worse in any third world country and probably would be far better as they would be grateful for my working for them, here I am just tolerated. I even have to obtain permission to leave the project, not acceptable, I dont think i need to add anymore.
yesterday i saw a bird that I was amazed at, it was a hoopoe, such an amazing bird with its crazy crest, I am not sure how it got here, it must be a wild bird, there are many Doves here, mostly collared and maybe a bleeding heart dove, some Indian Mynahs and some red-vented Bulbuls, lovely to see but i am feeling sorry for these two escapee parrots, red and blue lorys, just amazingly coloured, scarlet red with blue wings, like a kids painting, but I hope they feed them as there is very little for them to eat here, just a few date palms and some bouganvillias, I think some of the birds have escaped from the mini zoo, they have african guinea fowl and some Arabian Gazelle, maybe 10 of them they look lovely but on a miserable island like this is not practical or necessary and should be removed, but the birds are a nice distraction from the horrible isolation we have here.
Well time is rushing by when your having fun, i have been here for 7 weeks now and it seems like 5 years, what a crappy existence, some of the old boys here have been working here for over 30 years and one has been here for 34, what crime did they do for that. My project is almost over and testing in 3-4 days will be over, but they cannot run my Gas Turbines as the pipeline isn't ready yet, it may take 2 more weeks before it is ready. So the plan on their part is to get rid of all expensive contractors, as you know they are such a poor Engineering conglomerate they will go bankrupt if they keep us here, what a bunch of cheapskates they are. I am now planning my return to normal life. I have promised to take my wife to a nice hotel just up the coast in Almeria, overlooking some large lakes at the coast. Not sure how i can compensate my little girl for being away all the summer holiday, I have bought her a fake IPod but it looks real, plus it does play video.
Last night at dinner i saw a new variant of eating crazy, how about this one to try, try sticking out your tongue all the way and then placing the spoon, fork or any other implement onto the tongue before bringing them in together, it looked insane, i just couldn't stop looking at him. I was so rude with the stare but it was by far the most bizarre eating habit i have witnessed here so far, maybe i will see someone even worse. I will let you know
I am here with 5000 of mostly Indians and i can say without hesitation they are all peasants, I eat with the supervisors and even the majority of those are peasants made good, the reason i say this is that their eating habits are just unbelievable. The mostly eat with their fingers and it is a horrible sight, they mix up their food round and round with their fingers making like a puree, and then make balls which they shove in, they also use flat breads to wrap large lumps of the food to shove in wrapped in the bread. I have seen some of them using spoons and forks at the same time as this is easy to shove lots of food in together. The use of a knife is not really adopted here but i did see one guy with a knife and fork but had the use the wrong way round, he was pushing food onto the knife and putting the knife in his mouth.
What do you think of the United Arab Emirates, the UAE, you think of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but it is really just an empty desert wasteland, with a city in each emirate, Abu Dhabi is all new, very little is old and if it is old it is a shitty mess, there are apartment blocks with the bricks falling off and trees growing out of walls, yes I saw a tree about 30 feet in the air growing out of the brickwork where the water from an A/C unit was feeding the tree. all the new building look the same and mostly are empty. the City has no soul at all, just ugly great buildings and millions of poor peasants from India and Pakistan and Bangladesh and from all over actually, all trying to make a living, but it has no soul, no life of its own, no community. Just folks trying to make some money. Now don't get me wrong that is a noble thing, keeping your family fed but if you don't have to live there, I would rather be somewhere with real people and real places, not a desert city, the locals all live out of the city anyway, in their huge palaces out by the airport, why would they want to mix with the plebs in town, I found it all totally boring and lifeless and not an ounce of redemption. The esplanade along the sea front is crap also, with some low lying island in front so no clear sea view. I was desperate to get away but now i am back. Nothing to shout about, some of the guys have been to Dubai, and say it is one giant building site and again everything is empty, just a speculators building site and hopefully they have all lost their shirts on it. I can say that when folks say they are going to Dubai for a holiday, they are insane, temperatures up to 50C and high humidity, no wildlife and no trees apart from the obligatory Date Palms, it is a fake place with lots of fake people. Don't be fooled by the shiny glass and expensive cars, it is a place to make some money and run away, I will run away and never return if i can avoid it, life is too short to suffer such a empty place.
Well life surely gives you a kick in the guts now and again to remind you not to think your so special and privileged. I had to fly to Florence to my head office to pick up a laptop, it needed setting up and lots of security passwords and it is far easier for them to do this than send me the laptop and then let me try and get it done over the phone. So i had a crazy early morning, up at 4.30am and flew out via madrid and then i had to catch a train from Pisa to Florence, all very primitive i thought but it was the only way I could get there on time to pick it up. The train even dropped me off at the gates of the factory at Florence Rifredi station, perfect I thought. I was met at the gates but my old manager and I didn't recognise him as he seemed to have lost about 40 Kg, but it was my eyes that deceived me as he said he had gained weight. Well i told him i want to live in Australia again for the 20th time as I keep sending him mails letting him know. That evening i went out for a meal before going to bed early, outside my hotel was a food van which i had seen the previous time i was there 3 years before and i thought it must be good or it would have gone bust by now, I went over and was met by an English speaker who asked me what i wanted and I was offered the local specialty Lampredotto (Google It for description), i didn't know what it was but it sounded exotic, he pulled out a large break roll and then opened a pan with some spicey smelling sauce in it, and pulled out a huge lump of meaty stuff and chopped it all to pieces on a board, it was clear enough to me that it was cows stomach as i used to have it as a kid, i was worried but it tasted really nice actually it was just the texture that was pretty unappealing, it was like chewing a jelly fish that was full of dental floss that all stuck in your teeth. it was huge also, with about 1 pound of this meat in it, the beer i had with it cost more than the sandwich, total price 4.50 Euros. I felt over stuffed afterwards and i struggled to sleep right with such a full stomach.
Hurrah, my sun terrace is almost finished after 7 months of work. I have been using my time usefully while my wife makes her recovery. The builders started last year in the worst winter rains in 70 years. it rained into my bedrooms and ruined the ceilings but now the building work has finished and I am ready to enjoy the sunshine, but it is really hot already, the decorator is leaving for the UK for his holidays and I am going to have to wait for the painting but I am going to be up in the sun pretty soon. we even bought a parasol and fancy chairs for the sun, we even considered a fridge for the beer and water but that was going over the top.
I was working in Colorado USA a long time ago, I spent almost a year working on 3 different projects, finally after a long and cold winter where the frost was an inch thick. I was sent onwards to another project in Arizona, about as different in climate as possible. As soon as i got out of the airport in Las Vegas, ( the closest to the site ) it was obvious I had all the wrong clothing for this place, the airport temperature was 97 F, which is very hot in centigrade. As soon as i got to my hotel, which was a nasty motel on route 66, yes that is route 66, some of it still exists. I went looking for some clothing shops, in this town there was nothing and all i really wanted was some working clothes, i decided to find the local charity shop to get some shirts of some sort, now i normally wore long sleeves being used to the UK weather, and wore nothing fashionable so when i started to go through the shirts on the racks it was obvious that i was going to have to wear what is normal in the USA, this means golfing shirts are pretty common. I went through maybe 2-300 golfing shirts and bought some of the darker checked colours and anything also that fit me, i also bought some Nike shorts and many other things, i bought myself a whole new wardrobe, it was insane, maybe 20 shirts in total, most of them had hardly been worn at all, looking new, probably they were, some of them were from special events so probably hadn´t been worn, I fell in love with the gold shirt, I still have about 6 left from that very buying spree and they are totally worn out and i feel so comfortable in them, I am thinking seriously about travelling back to the land of the golf shirt to do a replacement shopping spree at the good will shop, one shirt in particular was great, it was made from organic cotton and was a very nice gray and cream fleck colour and I wore the poor thing to death, i wore it to go out and it was on my back 50% of my waking time. it eventually fell out of shape being washed so many times and i had to let it go to the great gold shirt graveyard in the sky. My wife basicvally hates these 6 remaining shirts as i refuse to throw them away and get new ones, new ones are not the same, they dont make them the same over here, and wouldn't feel comfy in new shirts, old ones, pre worn ones make me feel relaxed so much more. Is it the cheap ass in me or do i get some Kama from them, please let me know.
about 12 weeks ago my wife was a passenger in a car crash that nearly took her life, I was working away in Abu Dhabi and my neighbour mailed me and my company to get me to come home ASAP, there was mention of pelvis damage and liver damage and a big bang on the head, it was far worse than I was told. She had sustained a near fatal side impact while being a rear seat passenger. The impact smashed her pelvis and broke it away from her spine, she broke a rib and her coccyx( Very Painful) and ruptured her liver plus she had two minor brain bleeds, I was in shock and denial but never once did i think she would die, but she was as close to death as any crash victim could be. She was in the intensive care unit for a week before she had surgery for her broken pelvis, they implanted a bar to hold the front to the back, they actually never told us most of the details, it was probably for the best.
I am constantly amazed by the crazy ideas old farts have about retiring abroad to a country where they cannot speak the language and think it is like living back home. It is a running joke here in Spain about all the silly old farts who sell their houses back in the UK and retire to a lovely little place in Spain or France or any other crazy place that they think will be great to retire. It is a recipe for disaster, I am here with my Spanish speaking wife and life here is hard work. The weather is shite most of the year and the houses are designed for Spanish peasants so they are primitive and cold in winter and hot in summer. So when some of these old farts come on holiday year after year to the same country and they fall in love with the lovely warm sunny summer weather they think that living here is the same as coming on holiday, it makes me wonder if they think it is warm and sunny all year round. It isn´t, this year was the wettest for 60 years and some houses have been lost to giant landslides, where there was once a little creek there have been raging river bursting through gardens, and when the town hall find out about the house, it appears that it never had planning permission and then they fine you 50,000 Euros for having an illegal build.
I have watched the movie in spanish and English and several times at home, it is the best movie I have seen in a long time, it fills my heart with nice awe inspiring thoughts, like what would it be like to live with such frightening creatures running about and having luminous and mobile plants all over, trees taller than apartment blocks. Just makes me shiver all over. There were some reports that some people were leaving cinemas all depressed as planet earth is so crap and Pandora was so nice. Yes i was almost in that category, the planet earth is crap and full of morons who need to die but not quite depressed about it all. But i thought i would give you an idea of what i may look like when on the planet Pandora. No wonder the guy wanted to stay there having sex with a big blue pussy cat. Anyway life back on earth is more mundane, I have been checking out where I am going to be working next, it seems all the work is in Australia, sounds good to me apart it is on a small island in the Timor Sea, but it could be worse, i could going to Saudi.