Atchafalaya Swamp

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Mid-Week Round Up, Tuesday, 7 March 2006

Borneo Blues Mid-Week Round Up

I am happy to report that Agence Salo-Presse (ASP) Internet portal has made history. In its maiden debut in the first of week of March, 2006 it has finally found a reader. Some people say it’s not a lot, but hey, it’s a start.

A big hand for Pak Rachmat for being the first to be the “pemecah DARA-TITSA Borneo Blues” of this fledging publication!

Lagi lagi Siti

Again and again our Kuala Lipis-born lass has hogged the front page of a major provincial Borneo daily. The Kaltim Post Sunday issue 5 March 2006 is the largest newspaper in terms of circulation in east Kalimantan (Kaltim).

Why, our besotted neighbors just couldn’t get enough of her, just like our local besotted inhabitants.

The story highlighted her soon-to-be released 11th album (her last CD was two years ago) will include two self-penned tunes with lyrics by Loloq. This is her songwriting debut—a first for our Lipih lass.

According to the report that was dilansir from Utusan, the inspiration came when opening the faucet in her kamar mandi. Apparently Intrig Cinta is the toilet-inspired song.

Let’s hope that with the stellar cast of producers like Aubrey Suwito, Jenny Chin and Mac Chew will not make that tune sound like s#@*.

So far, the Indonesian media had not referred Siti as possessing tubuh aduhai, a recent term coined by the sensationalistic Indonesian press, preferring instead penyanyi cantik or penyanyi nomer satu negeri jiran. This fascination with Siti in her kamar mandi conjures up a less than innocent image of our lass though.

If she comes out to tell-but-not- kiss, who her intended suitor is, perhaps the unhealthy speculation of all things Siti can be put to rest. According to Pak Sheikh Peah Al-Haj, a frequent visitor to Jakarta who claimed that on first instance of encountering a Malaysian wisata, the taxi driver will unfailingly ask, “ Siti Nurhaliza gimana Pak?”

I share Pak Sheikh Peah’s anguish too. The “CT disease” has spread far and wide in this sprawling thousand-island archipelago housing the 4th most populous nation on Planet Earth.

Flu Burung

Let’s pray also that the H5N1 bird-flu virus will not mutate and cause human-to -human transmission. So far it has only jumped from avian creatures to humans. Take away the avian, I suppose then one is safe. If human-to-human thingy happens it would be a disaster the world has not seen since the 1918 flu pandemic. That flu was brought across to Europe by American G.I.’s during WW1 and ultimately killed 50 million people.

Chopper Jatuh

On Thursday, 02 March 2006, a French-made helicopter operated by Indonesia Air Transport (IAT), developed problems after having discharged some passengers at rig Raisis. The chopper was one of many used exclusively for Total Indonesie’s offshore operations.

The chopper was airborne and en route to nearby rig Bekapai situated about 20 kilometers from Balikpapan when the pilot experienced tail rotor problems. The pilot immediately issued the SOS and made a controlled ditch in the water. Within 20 minutes a tug boat from nearby rig Parameswara arrived to evacuate the pilots and passengers.

These choppers, by the way, can float with their enabled pontoons in a controlled ditch. That’s is why as a pre-condition for offshore work, attending a Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET in offshore-speak) course every two is mandatory.

I hope I will NEVER have to put my training to use though.

Unfortunately I was on Maera when this happened so I cannot give a first-hand account. Raisis is also one of the rigs I’m assigned to but on this particular hitch I’ve been mainly on either the Parameswara or Maera. All I can say is Alhamdullillah that I wasn’t a passenger on that ill-fated flight. Although there were no injuries, it’s well known in the oilfield that even in a controlled ditch, macho rig roughnecks have been known to soil their pants.

Ke tempat koghojo

Looks like I’ll be requesting to take the Land and Sea routes from now.

A 30- minute chopper ride would now mean…mmm, lets see. To make the 11.30 am boat to the rig from Total Jetty in Handil means checking out of the hotel by 5.00 am. Then it’s a 1-1/2 hour car ride to the company base in Manggar to consolidate passengers from the various divisions. The bus then leaves at 07.00 for the 3- hour ride to ANOTHER company base in Handil. There’s about an hours’ waiting for boat assignments before being taken by van to a particular jetty. This is the best time to grab a quick lunch in the canteen before the 2-hour boat ride to the rig.

That’s 8-1/2 hours of time elapsed since leaving the hotel. It’s worth to note that the Air Asia direct flight from KL to Balikpapan takes a shade over 2-1/2 hours. And as lot less expensive too. That's my theory why we will forever be a Third World country.

Chopper? A mere 30-minutes from the hotel to the helipad located within the Sepinggan Balikpapan International Airport compound. Check-in is 30 minutes prior to flight. That is just an hour from leaving the hotel. And in another 30 minutes you’re on the rig!

I think it’s not worth flying unless one absolutely has to. Besides, isn’t it a better way to see a country?