Thursday, January 31, 2008

Driving to Door Shop

Things have been very busy at work. I have been trying to find a single point of contact in Australia or UK for sinks and toilets. Sounds easy but it really isn’t. There are so many logistical problems.

Anyway, the other day I had to go look at some metal doors. The drive was cool. Did I mention that I really like it here? Well yesterday I went out to buy some more charcoal for my hookah. It was great to walk the streets and check out the stores. Hopefully I wont get shot, but in the meantime it is fun. We use low profile convoys and blend in pretty well with the locals. I have to buy some more clothes though as my bright orange North Face jacket is not exactly what people wear around here.

Today is a half day for me so I plan to do some good shopping. I need to buy a 10 inch portable DVD player. My laptop will only play Region 1 DVDs that were purchased in the US. It is a big pain.

Anyway, my net is slow but I will try to get a few pics on.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Would compulsory service in Afghanistan be a bad thing?

Would compulsory service in Afghanistan be a bad thing? I don’t think so. I have met some very cool people so far. I feel sorry for the guys that are stuck on military bases who have no interaction with the locals.

Stand by, am smoking some Mint hookah.

OK, back. Actually that reminds me, I am fixing to get a new AK. I wanted to get a shotgun to keep by my bed but AKs are way cheaper and the ammo that is available for shotties is substandard. If anyone can figure out how to mail me some decent US 12 gauge ammo, let me know.

I know the picture sucks but it is just tobacco, nothing else.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Driving around Kabul in an un-armored car

Today was awesome. After the daily meeting, at 0730, me and another guy decided to look at some sites. So we grabbed a driver and went out. I have a ton of pictures, hopefully they will load.

Driving in Kabul is like driving in Jordan. Somehow they manage to fit 4 lanes of traffic onto a 2 lane road. Not so bad in Jordan but when you are worried about IEDs and whatnot, it can be a bit unnerving.

Anyway, so we drove all over and saw the sights. Did I mention I absolutely LOVE Kabul? You should visit. And no I am not being sarcastic.


Check out the hot chick in blue:

Fruit shop:

Meat shop:

Chicken shop:

Here I am up on a roof:

Here is what I had to climb to get there:

Here is my driver:

Here is some typical traffic: (Not a good place to be boxed in, I know, but what the heck?)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Kabul, Afghanistan. The beginning of a beautiful relationship.

You know that feeling you get when you know that you made a good decision? When you are faced with tough choices and many different possibilities and you narrow it down and make the call? Well I made a tough decision and it turned out to be one of the best I have made in a while. I quit a pretty good job in Bagram for a generally unknown commodity in Kabul. I made a pretty dangerous choice to leave the airfield by basically sneaking out and hopping into a car with 2 Afghanis previously unknown to me, 1 of whom was armed, and making the drive thru the mountains South to Kabul.

When I got to Kabul it reminded me so much of Baghdad. The streets are crowded, there are shops literally everywhere and cars and bikes and every other conveyance known to man lining the streets. The biggest difference was that I was in an unarmored car, with 2 strangers and no guns. It was not fun.

But, I made it. We got to the villa compound where I live now and I got settled in. Basically it is a 3 villa complex located near the US and Saudi embassies. It is in a high profile area and we have 3 different villas. I live in 1 of them with another expat, and the other 2 expats live in another. The 3rd villa is the HQ. I will post some pictures showing how nice all of this is.

There are 4 Americans working for this company now with 2 more on the way. The staff consists of about 100 Afghanis. We have 2, for the lack of a better description, cabin boys, who take care of everything from getting me a hookah to filling the fridge and washing the bathroom. For those of you who have not had the privilege, yes privilege, of living in a third world country, you may not understand all the benefits. I can ask my driver to take me anywhere I want, he will notify my guard and they will pull the car around. Then they will drive you anywhere you want to go and help you get whatever it is you need to get. For example, and these 2 things may be related, I finished the last of a bottle of Jim Beam as well as a very nice cherry hookah. Well I decided to leave the hookah outside. Bad move cause I didn’t dump the water and so the vase froze and burst. Well today we went to the Italian shop to resupply on the Beam and then we stopped at a local store and got me another hookah.

On that note, anyone reading this that happens to be in Afghanistan be warned. Those local bazaars that they have set up near military bases each week are a total rip off. Probably the only reasonably priced items are the DVDs and even those you can get cheaper on the economy. I know the military don’t have the option of grabbing a car and tooling around looking for deals, but seriously, whatever they are asking, offer them 25% of that, if they won’t take it, keep walking away until they do. That or slip a local some dough, ask them to buy the stuff, and escort them onto the base personally the next time they come.

Well I knew I made the right decision the moment I walked into the villa. The guys were having lunch and the centerpiece of the table was a half empty bottle of Bacardi 151. Those who know me well enough know how happy I was to see that. So we ate spicy Afghani burgers with rice and some pea soup and uhhh sipped on the Bacardi. Later that evening they broke out the good stuff, Heineken.

I also learned exactly what they wanted me for. You see when I applied, there were no posted jobs, and I just mailed a resume blind. When they sent me an email saying they were interested, they had already contacted my references (Special thanks go out to that guy. He knows who he is and knows that if I could ever return the favor I would go out of my way to do so. Nuff said.) When I looked at their website all I saw were jobs for electricians, architects, engineers, drafters, and a bunch of other crap I have no idea how to do. Well they hired me as a Project Manager. I told them I had no experience with that and they hired me anyway, which is why I was so suspicious when they made me the offer they made me. Well it turns out that they want me for “Procurement”. Those who know me best are probably grinning right now. If there is anything on this Earth that I can do well and under any circumstances, it is procuring shit. Also, they laughed and said I better not get too comfortable because I would have to travel to, get this, DUBAI and Istanbul “All the time”. “Oh heavens no! Anything but that!”. LMFAO. I love that shit.

Anyway, I hooked up a wireless repeater today so now I have pretty decent internet. Please do check back often as I plan to start at least a weekly review of local restaurants and shops. I haven’t decided if I will put street maps or not cause I may want the good stuff kept secret. Also in the works is a live Kabul web cam. I just have to look into the security aspect of that. I am thinking of climbing the building across the street next to where the Taliban, yes actual Taliban members of congress, live and putting it remotely looking down a main street. Right now it is just in the planning phases. If anyone knows of a good, remote operated, day/night, cheap web cam that can transmit up to 100 meters, email me. I also need instructions on how to integrate said web cam into

Well, let me sign on and post this stuff, hopefully I will have enough bandwidth to actually upload what I had hoped would be the centerpiece of my blog, some photos. Oh yeah, I will not try to go back and post photos. That is impossible and pointless at this point. What I will do is when I start rambling like this again is try to add them at that time.

I am definitely in my element right now. I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Check out some photos below>>>


This is where I used to live in Bagram:

This is where I live now: Much better.

Hopefully this video will load. It is huge for me, 41M, maybe you will have a quicker download than I had upload:( This is from my trip from Bagram to Kabul:

Nope, better luck next time. Later.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Leaving Bagram

Well I made the decision to not stay in Bagram after all. It turns out that the job was not nearly what I was expecting and a company that I had previously applied to offered me a very good opportunity.

Oh yeah, I am trying to type this on one of those keyboards that is split in the middle and it is really hard to type on it so forgive me if I spell things wrong.

Anyway, I got a job as PM, Project Manager with an Afghani-American company in Kabul. SO I am going to be heading there very soon. I am excited because it is not on a military compound, rather it is a villa complex in downtown Kabul. The good news is that it is where the excitement is and where there is more uhhh stuff to do.

Also, I am hoping to drop by Dubai on my way out of AStan to see an old buddy from Iraq. He owned the liquor store in the Green Zone, not that I would ever visit one of those. Anyway he is in Dubai now and I will get to see him again for the first time in a few years. He wants me to go back to Iraqw with him and open a restaurant. I am considering it. Once all that crap dies down, Baghdad would be a cool place to live.

AStan would be cool if you are into skiing or snowboarding. Bagram is surronded by awesome mountains that would make any diehard skiier uhh like it a lot. I could see starting a company here to cater to extreme ski ers. I could get a small chopper and lift people up to the top. I doubt they put many landmines on the slopes, but that is what a waiver is for right.

Anyway, I have to run. Pictures will be posted in about 2 weeks when I get settled in Kabul and have access to unrestricted high speed internet.