Challenge called Turkmenistan

Yeah, I’ll write every week. No problem! And then three weeks Turkmenistan came along. Bye bye every week hello huge challenge.

And what a challenge it was, never ever have I been in such an isolated country as this. With so much dust, and so little to do. The limitations you have as a foreigner are huge. Be back inside before 10 pm, No cellphone internet, no international news websites and dangerous traffic.

Five compressor trains are to be commissioned in Mary, Turkmenistan. They’ll be used at the fertilizer plant they are building there, state of the art, government funded project. Driven by steam turbines this was my first job with this type of machinery, the turbines and compressors are controlled by the ITCC concept of Woodward. A high tech control philosophy that proves modern anti surge control and steam turbine control. Having never worked with this, it was a real challenge to learn the system and get used to it.

A greater challenge were the living conditions which we were faced with, you can see in the pictures what they were. I notice now that adjusting back to the life in Amsterdam is just as hard as the other way around. During the countless idle hours I have been trying to keep myself busy with studying the lyrics of several Macklemore songs, since they are very difficult of course I didn’t manage! Also I started reading the famous book from Stephen Covey: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, this book helped my through some dark hours and made me realize that you only need your mind to feel happy and satisfied. Being pro-active regarding your environment and surrounding really changes the way you look at it, you become able to put it into perspective of what it really is.

Other things I have noticed of the country are the following:

– People actually stop for the STOP sign

– The country is very very clean (at least the streets, not talking about my room)

– They don’t have roads

– They warn you not to talk in hotels due to listening devices

– Sandstorms are itchy

and last but not least: The women can be very beautiful

Now I am back in Amsterdam, Enjoying the sun in my apartment. Till next week (if I am not going to another country without internet)

Thijs_001221 Thijs_001333 Thijs_001330 Thijs_001323 Thijs_001322 Thijs_001316 Thijs_001307 Thijs_001303 Thijs_001301 Thijs_001295 Thijs_001292 Thijs_001286 Thijs_001274 Thijs_001273 Thijs_001265 Thijs_001264 Thijs_001256 Thijs_001255 Thijs_001252 Thijs_001250 Thijs_001247 Thijs_001243 Thijs_001242 Thijs_001238 Thijs_001234 Thijs_001233 Thijs_001230 Thijs_001227 Thijs_001225

Back in office

Monday the helicopter was finally waiting for me. It took me home to Amsterdam, traveling by helicopter is weird, I have done it multiple times, but yet they succeed in making me a bit nervous. The constant reminder they give you before getting into the helicopter makes you aware of the risks. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vmEW04gcjQ Bumped and rattled I made it safe to shore where a perfect Guinness was waiting for me.

The weekend was waiting again, except for one intermezzo which was an apparent turbine stall, this means that there is nog enough air going inside the compressor. This will cause a rapid decrease in pressure and eventually a vacuum. Since this could cause serious harm to the machine, we decided to take a closer look using the borescope. Since the shutdown logic kicked in quick enough, no damage was found.

Being back in the office shows some interruption to the waiting, and also challenges to complete given by the 4 hour work week. Not checking the news is still going strong, I calculated it saves more or less 2 to 3 hours a day. The problem lays in the filling up that time useful: Started to learn French, although the app I am using needs WiFi, spending time on uncrate.com and ehh, thats about it. So save time to be idle I guess.

The email reading twice per day (business) and once per day for private email is a success, though very very hard. Being at the office gives you the rhythm of checking it over and over again, but one week of fighting against it, colleagues already just walk to you to ask something instead of mailing.

My schedule for coming week is a little bit unsure, I am scheduled to travel to lovely Turkmenistan to commission 5 steam turbine compressor trains, but since they are issues with domestic flight safety and VISA, this could be delayed until further notice. Turkmenistan is a rather anonymous country about which little can be found. About the job there is little know too, the turbines and compressors are build by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry Compressor Company and are located near Mary, Turkmenistan. A very remote area in the neighborhood of Iran and Afghanistan.

Till next week!

Professor Academic in Waiting

Since last Friday, I have worked exactly 6 hours. And what I worked on, wasn’t even my real job.  I have assisted the MTU engineer in borescoping the LM5000 they have here on the Britannia Platform. You go with a tiny camera inside the turbine to check on the blades, vanes and combustor. Some of the images we retrieved you can see down below.

It was freezing cold outside, wind 60 kts and waves of 20 meter it was a battle of the giants! But we managed.

The other 6 days of the week I have waited, waited, waited, waited and not to forget: Waited. That sounds like heaven, being paid for nothing. But it gets very annoying. On the positive side: I have time to write this blog, to watch 3 seasons of boardwalk empire, to watch the following movies: Run fatboy, Run (Simon Pegg), Paul (Simon Pegg), The Wolf of Wallstreet (Leonardo) and Zorro (blehh). Also first season of Spartacus is on again, and I have finished a book of Timothy Ferris (The 4 Hour Work Week).

For those who are interested here is my daily schedule:

6.15 AM: Wake up

6.30 AM: Shower

6.45 AM: Breakfast

07.00 AM: Team meeting

7.15 – 11.30 AM: Idle

11.30 AM: Lunch

11.45 AM – 13.30 PM: Rest (resting from resting haha)

13.30 – 17.30: Idle

17.30: Dinner

Till 6.15 the next day Idle again.

The planning now is to get the turbine running by tomorrow, and the helicopter back to the beach on Monday morning, let’s keep the fingers crossed!

Enjoy your valentine!

\MK Out

IV7I0027 IV7I0033 IV7I0034 IV7I0044 IV7I0042

Welcome Back :)

One month… or actually 27 days to be very precise. On January 1st, 2014, 7 hours earlier than expected we left for Mauritius again. Due to the cyclone approaching Mauritius our flight from Paris to Mauritius was rescheduled to depart 7 hours earlier. Sounds perfect hein? The moment we arrived on Charles de Gaulles airport we were notified that the original flight time was to be maintained. Bye bye 7 hours extra MRU, hello 7 hours of boredom in the CDG lounge..

Arriving at the new airport (wonderful new!) felt like coming home again. A quick drive to our brand new apartment in Blue Bay made us feel more at home! We were the first one be making use of the apartment, and we quickly renamed it ‘The BAT Cave” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caving.

The rest of the holidays are not describable, every word spent to it, is an insult to our feeling, hour happiness and to our friends. I’ll never ever be able to find sufficient words to describe it, so I won’t try it.

Arriving back, Bas went straight to work, which saved him from the post Mauritius depression (this disease is officially applied at the union of doctors). I however had a few more days off, and it ruined me. So much time on your hands makes you idle, and gives you time to miss. All I had was a phone call from my boss, telling me that the day I start again, I would be coordinating, and the next day I;d have to go offshore to the Britannia.

And that is where I am now, I am practicing my waiting.. First I waited an entire day for a cancelled flight, and now I am waiting to start work, although no one has an idea of what I have to do here. They found a leakage in the Gas system so they were inhibited to start the Turbine, this made them loose an entire week of production. Last night they found and fixed the leak, but they prefer to catch up with production first!

For the future I will try to post once every week, a small update of what I am doing and where I am. Funny situation, FUBAR situations and a small update of what kind of work I did.

Cheerio!

3…2…1… Relaunch of this blog!

Goodday our dear friends, followers, interested people, mice on mauritius and rest of the world.

After our return from Mauritius we stopped writing the blog, but the mails and questions did not stop coming. Hopefully we answered each one of them, if not our apology.

Let me tell you where we are at now (hang in tough, boring boring boring):

In the Netherlands we both graduated on the University of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam, Bas in Aviation Management, me in Aviation Engineering. After graduation Bas decided he wanted to be a pilot (nice uniform, white shirt and a nice flat hat (of course other reasons, but his parents are reading this)).

I started to work at  Woodward Netherlands, an American company which produces Energy Controls systems as a Field Service Engineer. If you want to learn more, here is their website.

Short way around the obvious we both start to travel a lot, and since the translation to english op this blog title is, bas and thijs are travelling, it seems appropriate to us that we relaunch this blog and actively write about the things we see and experience.

Fun fun fun.

Anyway, we’ll come back! And we are back!

Happy new year!

How to say goodbye.

Yes, I am sorry, the topic is really sad. Extra motivation to find a bridge. We are leaving in 4 days. But first things first. Lets make this blog an effort to make the world a better place. Here are some issues listed which are solved.

Number 1. Why does the bathroom smell so bad when Bas went in? And how to solve it?
What Bas does in the bathroom is his own business, so the answer for the first question is hidden in the deep caves of blue bay.
However the solution is quite simple. The tool we acquired to fight the smell is bought at any convenient store is called Incense Sticks. To keep the means stealthy, try to stick them into the soap next to the sink, and put the bin underneath it.

Issue 1 solved!

Number 2. Why are the annoying fruit flies only attracted to the clean dishes? And how to solve it

Yes, a plague has risen. Fruit flies. When the kitchen is dirty as hell (or as my room), no fruit fly to see. Probably hiding from the disgusting smell. BUT! As soon as you even think of doing the dishes, whop there they are. Perhaps attracted to the appealing apple washing liquid smell? Je ne sais pas. However, there they are. Flying happy circles above the clean dishes, and above the clean floor. Probably smiling from ear to ear and singing a happy song.

One solution possible: Mass murder, kill them all, genocide. Too bad our previous mass-murderer already left the country, because we could use some help.

Issue 2 solved!

Number 3. How do the wild cats come into our house? And how to solve it?
At night you hear all kinds of noises inside the house. Burglars, Criminals, Housemates and Wild cats! They make the most noise. Searching for food in the house, or dancing with the previously described fruit flies. As soon as you wake you, get your flash light and go down to see what the noise is, they are gone. And here starts the issue. Where do they go? If you see them, they flee into a room with closed windows or really high windows. No chance for escape! Zero nil nada. But yet it is impossible to locate them again. So going out is difficult, how about going in then?

We’ve tried now for 6 months. No solution possible other than that to hide all the food.

Issue 3. Not solved :(

Number 4. How come our laundry machine keeps breaking down. And how to solve it?
Since our parents arrived in Mauritius, the machine keeps breaking down. It looks like it thinks, ha the parents are here, I’m having a break. This was okay for the time that our parents were here in Mauritius. It still doesn’t work.

It won’t be fixed, because it will break down again. The reason why it’s broken down is unknown, the houselord says it is because it is Chinese.

So fixing it isn’t the solution, and still we are there with dirty laundry. Here is the solution.

Get some WARM water, and put it into a bucket. Add soap to it, and move outside in the sun. Get Bas too.
Put Bas next to the COLD water tap to clear the laundry from the soap and then let him hang it to dry. The action in the WARM water bucket is simple. Clothes in to soak, rub to them and squeeze them.

Last issue. Solved!
— Some issues might not reflect the reality —

Now lets continue with the blog
Arriving home is wonderful, all your beloved ones waiting at the airport, eager to hug you and to kiss you. Have a face to face conversation again and to see the glitter in their eyes. Yes, coming home is absolutely wonderful. But to saying goodbye to all the friends who made this experience a big success is difficult. So we had to think of a way to make it an unforgettable goodbye, without tears and only smiles.

And hell we found a way!

Well in advanced planned: A goodbye party, with food, alcohol and the main ingredient: Music! We invited all our good friends to join us in this event. And 80% of the invited showed up. Everyone smiled, drunk a bit and danced a lot. We enjoyed it so so much. Even saying goodbye is easy and fun now. Lets say goodbye again!

Saturday we are leaving, packing already started. Thursday our last visit to the airport will be a fact. We got cake and a smile. We are proud to be friends with them.

A really small tear dropped down on my Mac, this blog is written with love, fun and tears.

See you soon.

Matthijs and Bas

P.S. First we wanted to write a thank you personally for all our friends here on the island. The reason why we didn’t do that is that this post would be endless. By this way we would like to state our deepest deepest deepest thanks to all our friends and people here who were so sweet, nice and thoughtful for us. Giving us your trust and enthusiasm like this is irreplaceable and will never ever be forgotten.

Anael, Samy Joe, Mary Joyce, Michaella, Ashreena, Joana, Kurstyna, Cyntina, Youvana, Ken, Rishi, Nitin, Nekitsing, Lovina, Joëlle, Kevina, Charlene, Monohur, Jennifer, Vinod, Brinda, Thierry, Sylvia, Wendy, Babynah, Sophie, Pawan, Astride, Daniel, Valery, Karen, Jeff (and Aaron), Pascaline, Wilkims, Kelly, Gwenael, Manu, Jessica.

We love you

This is the last post from Mauritius.

Mauritius OUT

All is gone

Dear all,

All is gone, everything, tout, todos, alles, and I don’t know what more. Now we can see as far the eye reaches. It’s beautiful!

I am talking of course about the cutting/harvesting of the sugarcane fields, it’s the season for it. Previous roads and views were defined by two meter high sugar canes, now you can see more of the beautiful country, I found out, you can actually see the airport from here, that the hotel is just around the corner and that the mountains are further away then I thought!

Today is besides the death of million of sugar canes, also a time to mourn about the lost final (ahum). We watched the final in the capital, in a café completely filled with spain supporters. It would’ve been so good to win, but it wasn’t to be there. Though we had a really good time, and we walked out with pride. The Netherlands are the only country except for Spain to reach the final this year!

It is starting to look like a death message or so, because here is the third sad message. This one is not completely sad.

We are leaving in 19 days. For me personal I have strong mixed feelings, I’ve met great people and friends here, but I also long to my girlfriend very much. For Bas is different, the most he longs for at the Netherlands is his own toilet seat. He still is not used to the one we have here.

This was it, more I cannot squeeze from my mind.

Long live orange
Long live the queen
Long live you.

Signed,

The Mauritian ones

Family Koreman to the tropics

What could I add more to the essay of Bob. I completely agree with his talented version telling you about this wonderful island and our holidays over there.

Coming home I’m rather sceptical being excited about Mauritius. As said, Mauritius is not very touristic and still for an important part in it own heritage. Telling people at home about this special place would make this bounty island less exclusive. So we keep it as our treasure.

Obviously it was great to see our Matthijs in his own and new environment at the other side of the world, together with Bas. A strong friendship for life will be the result spending almost 6 months on Mauritius together.

First week we had a pleasant rendez vous with an important part of the Maas family. They arrived a week earlier, therefore had an overlap with Hanneke & me for their second week. We have spent some great time together, mainly focussed on some delicious dinners, lots of fish, lobster, Scampi’s (“crevettes”) and crab, splashed with great rum, cocktails and our new favourite Phoenix beer.

Great to see Bas & Matthijs enjoying their life and work there. “A special way of easy going. “
It did not take a lot of time and energy to copy this from them within 24 hours we were in the modus of the local lifestyle (10 minutes sir). Resetting this coming home in the Netherlands was harder I can tell you.

Impressive are the people at Mauritius. Different cultures, religion, colour and background do live together in harmony. Something which is rare in our world, we can learn a lot from them.

Well I can use a thousand words to give you impressions about our holidays. But I’m sorry as said before I won’t do it. I want to keep it exclusive. I want to come back next year!!

I invite you to have a quick look at our pictures and dream away like we did in a new imagination.

Like Einstein said:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge”

Marcel

Maas family Lost in Paradise

So, I do have to write a blog? Yes, you do have to write a blog. In English? Yes, in English. Oh f… I can’t. Yes, you can. Well okay. Must it be funny? It will be funny by itself. Okay okay, I’ll do it, but only once. Here it comes.

When we got out of the plane I was quite broken. My butt was very hurtful and my blood contained too much oxygen. Sixteen hours without nicotine, no sleep, too much food in the belly and rising temperatures in my surroundings did make me feel a little uncomfortable. But man was I glad to see my little big boy Bas who was waiting for us on the closest place to the plane he could get. A hug, a smell and a smile. We were together again. And only now I get tears in my eyes. Without wanting to realize it, I missed him very much. But him and me, being real men, we keep our deeper emotions to ourselves. So it was “Hi guy, you’re alright?” “Ya dad, glad to see you”. Solar bronzed brown he looked like a movie star or a student who worked as an intern for a few months at the airport of a tropical island.

After we’d gone through the motions at customs and immigration, shaking hands with Matthijs, I sneaked out for a cigarette. You old junk, you are. Well, I didn’t give a shrimp all that time in the airplane, so I was really proud at myself, but now, nearly reaching the finish, I had to go out to enjoy the delightful taste of a Marlboro, like the advertisements in the old days used to say. So I rushed out, leaving the lot to take care of our luggage and had my instant climatical and cultural shock at the taxi stand of the airport. Very nice place to be, cooled by a sea wind and filled with beautiful and very friendly people who evidently live life at a much slower pace then we’re used to. So I had to gear down and take time to listen to a slow motion story of a Mauritian taxi driver who was married, had two kids and was complaining about the less income he had during the offseason. The lucky bastard didn’t realize he had the most beautiful job in the world. I had to tell him.

Oh sh.., if I go on this way, it won’t be a blog, but a book. And it’s keeping me from getting enough sleep. So I have to cut it short. You’ll get two summarized parts. About the island and his inhabitants, the boys and their families and what we did on that island.

Apart of being a very beautiful, very green and very fertile island, Mauritius strongest point is that it hasn’t been spoiled yet by mass-tourism. Not like the islands of the Baleares for instance (for the ones who haven’t been there to spoil it: these are islands in the Mediterranean near the coast of Spain). There’s a clear development of modernisation and westernisation going on, but isn’t very disturbing and confronting yet, and you feel to a certain level that you are welcome and still ‘special’ to the inhabitants. You’re not number one million and one and they look and respond to you with respect. Not as you were another source of money, you might say, but truly as a visitor. And the happy people of Mauritius do welcome you with much hospitality and mostly with a smile on their face. Not very difficult though, because who won’t be laughing all day when one is living all of his life on such a beautiful island. Paradise! One thing I would do when I would be president over there and that is to put a ban on the settlements of MacDonald’s, Pizza hut and KFC. When you’ve seen and tasted Mauritius, you’ll understand. They’re as misplaced as polar bears in the rainforest.

Well the boys, they have truly nothing to complain about (and they don’t). Nice housing, nice jobs, nice food, nice drinks, nice beach, very very nice colleagues and that all on a tropical island. Do I have to say more? And on top of all they had a – not too long – visit of their loving parents! I think Mattijs’ his parents, especially his dad, have become soul mates in loving Mauritius. We’ve done a lot, seen a lot, ate en drank a lot (that delicious rum, those delightful cocktails and that very tasteful Phoenix beer). In two weeks time we’ve lost our harts in Mauritius. I’m sure we’ll return some day. Next year? Yeaaah!

Education by stunning

The oldies came, the oldies left. I’m sure they had a great time, at least we did! They promised us they would make each a guest blog for this blog. Let’s hope it will get there. They took a lot of pictures, together more then 1200! The links to the albums you can find below!

Since they will write about their time here, and us being with them most of the time, it is not necessary for me to write about it!

Before they left, we planned a lot of activities after the take-off of the ‘oldies’. This way our post-parent depression would be contained in a good way! The events we did vaporized in the sight of our main goal on sunday. Charity for the Social Welfare Centre of Cite la Chaux.

The idea of the centre was so good, that so many kids applied that they needed extra help. So Bas and Thijs came to help. Our help was limited since our creole skill doesn’t yet comprise kids creole.

The plan was to load kids in a glass bottom boat to show how beautiful their own country/sea is. In the past there was a lot of destruction of the beautiful coral in Blue Bay marine park by fishing (with dynamite) and by tourism. Now this has been solved by creating the marine park, but it is best to educate the future about it too. Education by stunning it’s called. Because stunning it is.

Entire cities made out of coral skyscrapers are underneath the water, habit-et by colorful fish, sea urchins and turtles. It is really like the movie ‘Finding Nemo’, unbelievable. For what we understand the kids loved it and it made the impression on them which was needed to secure this amazing beautiful world.

The idea about this trip is like the title of this blog. Education by stunning the kids. The kids were stunned by the beauty of the underwater world but they were also stunned by the effect of the destruction you could see from the past. That was also really present, the destroyed parts were like the movie I Legend. Destroyed Skyscrapers, not capable of hosting any life.

The sunday ended in relaxing on the beach with a few beers. Mauritian life :)

Pictures will be uploaded soon of this day.

Here you can find the two photo albums of our parents:

Maas’ Album
Koreman’s Album