Sunday, April 12, 2015

Shooting In Tripoli

I was awaken by the sound of an Helicopter and I gazed out the window seeing that metal bird flying all near and close to the ground by the coast, well thinking it was just probably military exercise or some routine work the army was doing, as the days has turn bright and is almost time for work, I got up shower and change for work as usual. 

That morning everything seem to be normal, Zak greeted me like any usual day. On the journey passing through the city of Tripoli, the city market is unusually quiet today, military tanks were occupying spaces that was usually operated by locals for daily business of local produce. Passing through the checkpoint, personnel on duty seems especially strict today asking where we are heading, and why we are here compare to the usual 'Hi, Good morning, have a nice day.' In fact the man power has double. 

Zak seems unease as well for me I felt something did went wrong, but is business as usual in the power plant, and when Zak drop me off, he told me specifically to let him know in advance when I wanted to leave.. I got into the central control room and I saw everyone was staring at the TV so this was what happen yesterday night in Tripoli city...

and I can't believe I just pass by that area few hours after that happened. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Can't Believe I'm Here

Source From Internet: Rafic Hariri Airport was Bombed by Israelis in 2006
during the July War between them and Hezbollah 
I wasn't sure what I'm getting into as this was my first time here in Beirut, many times I had been scheduled here but in some ways I escaped due to reason of security or changed of plans, however this time there's no chance of escape I guess, even right till the last day before I fly, I was still hoping for a sudden change in plan, in order not to come as I have heard enough frightening things, Nevertheless, job is still job unless I called it quit. 

I flew 4801 miles from KL to Beirut stopping over in Abu Dhabi, and it took me almost two full days to arrived at my hotel and by that time my mind, body and soul was completely worn out and whatever worries and insecurity didn't matter any longer, as my mind only focus on getting into bed and have a thorough rest.

The moment I got out from the airport, I was picked up by my local point of contact, Zak whom is also my risk/security advisor that I have only been in contact through emails and text messaging prior to my departure, and whom will be with me throughout the period of my project, and his main responsibility was to ensure my safety throughout my stay here in Lebanon. 

Zak is a Lebanese but was raise in Canada which explains his good English minus the Arabic accent, he is 6 ft tall and not well tone but proper built kind of an army guy. A quick introductory and a brief but firm handshake reassuring me I'm in good hands, he quickly guided me to the car park where a Range Rover is waiting, as we journey along from Beirut International Airport towards the Hotel in Tripoli, he then briefed me through security procedures or more like establishing ground rules such as to have my passport with me at all times, fully charged phone and a spare battery and not to leave the hotel premises or plant without him. But he was a nice guy and I wasn't intimidated, I felt it was necessary as it was for my own safety, so I obliged. 

While driving through Beirut and passing through the coastal and city areas, he then brief me through the composition of religions and races here in Beirut and how people are segregated based on religion, what should I do when I meet an army officer, how to differentiate between different arm forces etc. That was a bit overwhelming for me as it was definitely not my standard kind of travel. And every now and then we would pass by some areas and he would say ' I don't mean to scare you, but there was a car bomb went off at this area a few days ago.' or ' This was the place where the militants got shot dead by the army.'  Gosh... was the only word that came out from my mouth. 

In fact Beirut seems like any other major cities to me, but when you pass by some buildings and see clusters of bullet holes on it varies in sizes, burned vehicles by the road shoulder, passing through army check points, having to overtake not one but a few military tanks on the highway, you get this uneasiness and sense that definitely there're something wrong going on here. 

That moment when I check into the Hotel and into my room, I was only glad I finally made it here! and the next few days was to ensure I'm safe until I get home!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Yas Island Abu Dhabi

I was scheduled for work in Lebanon and have to take flight from Kuala Lumpur with Etihad airways, transiting via Abu Dhabi.

Almost 4 years into my line of work, I have grew from love to hating long haul flights, it is indeed nightmare for me, living those gruesome moments in-flight with limited space of mobility, resulting a sore back and bottom. The piercing noise of a crying baby, the dryness within thin air that makes you want to get hydrated almost the whole time, sometimes bumpy rides that makes you jump ride up from your seat, and the almost coffin like in flight WC that feels somewhat awkward every time I uses it, having to see the line waiting in front of that limited no. of econ seats toilet, it felt like one have to pass through hurdles to get to do your business.

7 hours of journey has taken its toll on me, by the time the plane landed I was thoroughly worn out, a quick check on my watch and I know is all too late for my connecting flight, the plane has already departed, 'Great now is all shit now' I yelled.

However that delayed turns out to be quite a pleasant experience for me.

As this was the view I wake up at the next morning.... where alarm clocks are just too mainstream and you are waken up by the roaring sound of a 5 litre V8 engine, and enjoying breakfast by the pool side. Thanks to Etihad I was immediately check into Rotana Hotel in Yas Island, a luxury hotel where comfort is top priority.

The only setback was that I'm only with my carry on and I was in my pajamas since it was suppose to be a night flight. Hence some shopping was needed in Yas Island. which was quite an experience.

One could tell that the Emirates are not shy off showing displaying their wealth.