All posts by domagoj

Gabon, West Africa

This post was written in April 2018, while I was in Gabon, but I couldn’t make myself post it, as a lot has happened in that time. So with these words in mind, here it is. Now is August 13th 2018. Greetings from Kuwait. Sandstorm raging outside.


April 2018…. Gabon adventure

C’est bon… my dear readers, or myself.

After some time, writing another post, got some sudden flash motivation for writing.
It seems to catch up to me on a yearly basis as the last post was about a year ago from Texas.

Since then till about a couple weeks ago, I haven’t been to any new places, just a couple trips to Dubai, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Been to Albania though… that was cool 100%.

Recently I also got a Russian visa, so I hope that happens this May.
Anyway, I’m writing this text on my bunk in the middle of the Gabonese jungle. Frogs, lizards snakes making extremely loud noises in the night so you better put some earplugs or earphones to be able to sleep.

Let me start from the beginning as this is like a chronological kind of a thing.
Ticket from Dubai to this place was issued for March 28th at 4:40 AM. Airline was Ethiopian. So I left my comfortable hotel in Dubai at 2 AM and took the hotel transport to the airport.

The E-gate system at the airport was down, so I had to wait for one hour at the immigration line, which is always an incredible experience. I almost forgot what it was like standing surrounded by people that take personal hygiene as an option . My oh my.


After that I supplied myself with a satisfying amount of three different types of mosquito and insect repellent, which later showed to be a complete overkill and a waste of money. Oh well, live and learn.
Flew to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia for about 4 hours, had a one hour layover there, but I didn’t get a chance to see the airport as we were moved immediately to the next flight with a bus, which was not that bad. It was quick.

Ethiopian language is really funky

Next flight was from Addis Ababa to Libreville in Gabon, where I arrived at some time… I had to sort out the eVisa thing which showed to be a suspenseful issue. The guy at the counter asked me for 120 dollars for the visa. With me, when an official asks you money for the visa, you give him money for the visa, without asking “Are you sure?” or “Really that much?”

Later on, the woman that was greeting me took me back to that counter to discuss something with that official. I don’t speak French, and they don’t speak English so I’m not sure what were they discussing but it had a lot of loud words, and it ended up with me getting some money back, in local currency.

I don’t care either way, as I have the receipt and will expense it to my company.

Ah… Welcome to Gabon.

Gabon doesn’t look that bad. During the landing I could see some resorts and nice landscaping around. From the airport I went to a villa to stay over the night.
So we drove through the city. Gabon is a pretty large country, but has only like 2 million inhabitants which was kind of surprising for me.
Driving through the city you can see standard Africa around you. People selling food and vegetables next to the road. Lots of young people walking around. They all seem happy.

A traffic roundabout with in the middle, a monument with a football on top. Africans love their football.

It is the rainy season so it starts to rain. You can see that it rains a lot by the state of the brick fences and concrete houses, where moss is covering a lot of it. It is the tropical belt and we’re at the equator.

After I came to the villa and investigated around I saw that the villa is a nice cozy place to be. Outdoor pool, nice lounge area and tiki bar with a good speaker system, a bar. Not bad. Too bad I only stay for one night.

Next day, at 8 AM I left back to the airport, got my internet data GSM card and checked in to my charter flight to the Onal oil field in the middle of the jungle

The airplane, the smallest I have been in so far looks cute when you look at it from the outside. Inside, I saw the pilots screens, looks like a video game. As the pilot is controlling the plane in the air, the screen is showing him hoops he must fly through to keep the plane on the set course. Seems easy, like anybody could do it (doubtful).
During the about 45 minute flight I recorded a part of it on my GPS app, but I was looking down at the jungle and imagining if I needed to walk my way back. Impossible, with all the rivers, dense jungle and wild life down there.

Flight went smooth and we landed at this red dirt field in the middle of nowhere.


After checking out with the local oil company in charge and their checking my luggage for contraband I sat in this poor old banged up Toyota the rig manager came to pick me up with.

We start our journey and after one meter, we end up in a ditch and the car dies. Of course the battery is empty and we can’t start the car. The guy doesn’t speak English, but I guess he starts cursing in French. And it sounds so cute…

After another Toyota pulled us out of the ditch I had to push the car to start it, which usually isn’t a good sign when you start a job on a new location. After about a 20 minute ride we reach the camp/base, and it looks pretty big, dirty from red dirt place in the middle of the jungle.

It is the equator, and a tropical forrest so it rains. A lot. And the red dirt is like glue when it’s wet. Sticks to everything.

 

The actual rig is an antique. The oldest rig and equipment I’ve ever been on. But work is work, and I write about work enough in my reports, so I won’t do it here.

All the people here speak French, besides the electrician who is a stand up, 27 year old French guy, that just bought a house in Nantes.

Two of us played basket ball with the Gabonese guys every other day after work. Also one day went driving around looking to take photos of some jungle animals. They have monkeys, gorillas, elephants and snakes to see around.

In these 10 days I’ve been here, I’ve seen mostly lizards and birds. I saw a couple of monkeys, and took some bad photos of them. Oh well.

African mosquito
Hello monkey!

So what to say about this place. I wasn’t to thrilled about it in the beginning. Damp, wet, humid, smelly, rainy, sweaty place to work in.

After a couple days you learn to ignore being wet from rain or sweat and just keep working. And at the end, none of it mattered because the work atmosphere is really good and all the people are cool people to work with.

Step into my office

Today (8-Apr-2018) the craziest thing happened. Imagine us 5 guys driving back from the rig to the camp, and at one point a big chimpanzee jumps out the jungle, in front of the car, runs across the road and jumps back into the jungle on the other side.

At the same moment as the chimp runs across, mechanic next to me on the back seat, through the open window, banged with his hand on the closed window of the boss, sitting at the shotgun seat. Hehehe, must I say the boss shit himself and got the whole car laughing for five minutes.

So I’ve told you that our shitty car doesn’t want to start and we’re pushing it every now and then. Well the next day, April 9th, we’re going in the morning to the rig site, and it is a 20 minute ride with hills, bends, going up and down.

And the shitty car can’t climb the hills so you have to downshift. And at one of those hills the boss got the car almost at a complete stop at the top of the hill and was getting ready to downshift, and the crazy mechanic just switches the car key off. We were almost standing still so the car stops almost at the top of this hill and the boss laughing tries to turn on the car and the thing won’t start…. hehehe

When the car doesn’t start, don’t do this!

So we all broke out laughing our asses off, and the boss puts the car in reverse, let’s it go back down the hill and lets go of the clutch so the car starts… 🙂 So now I know you can start a car going in reverse.. 🙂

Tomorrow (April 10th) I am starting my long travels back home. Plan is taking a 5 hour boat ride to Port Gentil, then a flight to Libreville, then to Dubai over Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and the same morning after I drop my stuff at the office, flight to Zagreb to see my family again…

Photos from the trip home….

Ride home! 5 hours in this boat, not too cool! 🙂

360 photo with my new shitty Samsung 360 camera
The Atlantic in Port Gentil

Local beerologist in action

Rub’ al Khali, Saudi Arabia

Back in the deserts of Saudi Arabia.
This time a new desert. Rub’ al Khali, the empty quarter. Did a short research before I started my travel here. The largest contiguous sand desert in the world, and I ended up in the middle of it. Shaybah oil field.

Started the trip June 9th 2017. 6:00 AM, on a Saudi Aramco 737 flight from Dammam to Shaybah Aramco airport.

First moment I stepped out of the plane and turned around to see what’s around me, my jaw dropped. The biggest red sand dunes I have ever seen. And I’ve seen quite a lot of them. Would take photos but the security guard was not so happy about that idea.

I was not so happy to see a crew minibus waiting for me as I knew it will be a long drive to location.

Let me try to set the mood for you. Driving four hours going over these huge sand dunes on a dusty desert road, up and down, the driver is an Arab Muslim, it’s the month of Ramadan so he is not eating or drinking water during daylight hours, and it’s 45 degrees Celsius outside. Must I say he was tired and I thought we were going to end up driving of a “cliff/sand dune” into a big problem.

I refuse to drink water also, not to offend his customs. The amazing view through the window keeps my mind amused.

When you zoom in to  exact location on Google maps, you get this:

With every picture I take I get the familiar feeling that you can’t capture the emotion and the actual scenery with a camera.

On June 11 worked for almost 24 hours without stopping to get the site up and running. It was a hellish day I will not forget so soon. Thank you Allen Bradley and your 1756-DNB device net module.

Following day after dinner, night before I get of the rig, I look at the 150 meter dune next to the rig and think: “It’s now or never Dom. If you don’t do it now, you don’t get a second chance any time soon.”

I start the climb with outside temperature at above 40 degrees Celsius, in my coveralls and steel toe boots. It took me about 30 minutes to climb to the top, and about half way up there I regretted not taking any water.

At one point I looked to the top and thought, “F… it, I’m not going to make it, must turn back.” Then I changed my mind and started climbing again to find out I’m two meters from the top. That would be funny and sad if I had given up so close.

Must I say that the view from the top of that dune was spectacular.

I’m putting up a few photos to mark the occasion.

This post was written in June 2017, but published in August 2018, when I felt it was time to start writing and posting my memoirs again. Alzheimer has nothing on me.

Lone star state, Texas

Hello again,

Writing this from my suite in Houston. Came back here for another training session on April 9th, on a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt. 10 hour flight was uneventful, other than a bunch of Germans that got drunk in seats in front of me, so they kind of stank of booze. Well, what can you do, at least after a few hours glass of clinking and cheering they gave up and went to sleep 🙂

Training was interesting as it is every time, but this time I have a good friend with me so we’re having a good time over here. One of the off days (Apr 15th 2017.) we decided to travel 300 something miles up north to Dallas to see the Gas Monkey garage and their bar n grill.

Well it was a pretty uneventful ride up there with lots of green pastures and landscapes. White picket fences, horse and cow farms. A big statue of Sam Houston. Sam Houston led Texas to victory and independence of Texas from Mexico and he also led Texas into the US as a constituent state.

Some funny cars you encounter on the road

Some funny stuff you see in the shops(check out the price).

Dallas looks a bit smaller than Houston (personal observation), but it had some interesting views. I’ll just throw in a few photos from the trip. Ignore the guy in the photos, as I love taking selfies. 😛


Photos below are from the bar n grill. Good burger, but the decoration of the place is brilliant.

We saw the owner of the garage Richard Rawlings, but for a few seconds before he buzzed off.

Went back to Houston the same day.

Today(April 17th 2017.) I had a day off again, so I planned to go visit the state capitol, Austin and also Jacobs well place that jumped out on my Facebook the other day and I got interested.

My buddy had training, so I buzzed toward Austin myself. Early morning 8 o’clock 😀 sat in my Chevy Impala and started my trip west on the 290.

I must say, the drive on the 290 from Houston to Austin was much more interesting than the one to Dallas.

A lot of interesting towns and landscapes to see. My favorite was town called Giddins where I felt the need to click of a couple of photos below.

I passed right through Austin and continued to Jacobs well, which is about an hour out of Austin.

(I took the gray route back (Not the airplane route)).

The well is an interesting place, so is its history. I didn’t go for a swim as I forgot to take my swimming shorts and there were people there 😀

After Jacobs well, went back to Austin to check out downtown as I heard it was something to be seen.

The rain storm was growing stronger but I was dedicated to see as much as I could. Parked the car somewhere on 4th street and Congress Ave.

Parked right here 🙂

And walked rest of the way. Stopped at the Starbucks cafe to get some coffee and internet and continued walking toward the State Capitol building.

Statue of Angelina Eberly.

And here starts the State Capitol building and surroundings. I put photos of statue description plates as they are an interesting read.

Inside of the State Capitol building is quite impressive. Paintings of all state governors are on the walls. And as I heard from one of the tour guides inside, George W Bush is the only Texas governor that became president of USA. How about that.

Anyway, as the weather started to get worse, I decided to head back towards Houston. My plan was to spend the night in some motel half way towards Houston.

As I was driving and got to like an hour and a half to Houston where I was planing to spend the night I figured I could make it back without problems so pushed forward and made it back to Houston same day. I was driving down the I10 east, and the rain storm was in full power, so I couldn’t see anything around me. All of the sudden I saw the Katy water tower and knew I was close. Katy Mills mall is my favorite shopping place in Houston :).

Anyway, good night, I deserve some rest from all this driving today.

Kuala Lumpur, Labuan, Malaysia

New place again. So soon. Man, am I tired. I’ve been more in the air last two days than on ground. Well not really, but I spent quite some time in airport business lounges.

Flew in the morning of 19 March 2017. from Dammam Saudi to Doha Qatar, spent some time in Doha airport, flew to Dubai, picked up my baggage and went straight to check back in for the flight to Kuala Lumpur.

Over Doha of course, I collect miles with Qatar Airways, so always fly over Doha.

So spent some time in Dubai business lounge, went back to Doha and then took a 7 and a half hour flight to Kuala Lumpur.

Now I’m here waiting for the final flight to Labuan, which is as I found out Googling, an island with an interesting history close to Brunei. Once I get to Labuan I’m getting a boat ride to somewhere, still don’t know where.

My initial plan was to visit the Petronas towers and some other stuff before the job as I have a 6 hour layover here, but I don’t want to risk any unexpected events that might interfere with the job. As this should be the last job this hitch, I think I’ll just stay in Kuala Lumpur a day or two longer when the job is done, just to check it out.

What’s the first thing I notice? They’re driving on the wrong side of the road…. Just kidding, they’re driving on the left side of the road. Right? No, left. 🙂

I’ll try to take photos and update this post. If I don’t fall asleep before.


Updating the post with the photos about a month later.

View of Labuan island, close to Brunei
Wrong side buddy 🙂
Travel to the platform.
View from ocean level
Basket ride on and of the platform(next time have to take a video, it’s fun)
Mosquitos in Malaysia 🙂
Working

Pure art photography 😀
Chilling on the helideck, next day going home
Ride home coming
Favorite view is a rig in a rear view mirror, but this is not bad too 🙂

Skydive Dubai

Arrived to Dubai from Cairo on March 4th 2017. As I had a couple of days of work in Dubai and was lucky that a spot opened up, decided to take the opportunity and book a tandem sky dive experience.

Long story short, they fly you up to 4 km altitude, strap a professional to your harness and you jump out of a plane carrying the guy with the parachute on your back.

I must say it is a lifetime experience, for me it was feeling tension up until the moment I let go of everything and jumped. Video provided.. 🙂

Falling down towards the ground at 200 kph one quickly figures out how all the civilian passenger jets create a false sense of security flying inside them while they keep you nice and leveled 30 000 ft in the air.

The city of course looks amazing from the sky. Much better than from the Burj Khalifa. Too bad it lasts only for a couple of minutes. Alas, the plan is to do it again once.

Date of the jump was March 9th, 2017.

After a couple of days in Dubai, on March 10th went cracking forward to my favorite place to save some money, lovely Saudi Arabia.