Thursday, June 30, 2005

Canada Day

Just wanted to wish everyone a happy Canada Day from Camp Julien. I am just getting ready to go over to the parade square to hear the opening address and then the festivities officially begin. I'm participating in human foosball which seems interesting - they blindfold you and tie everyone together while your teammates on the sidelines tell you where to kick. There are two BBQs today and more exciting stuff happening tonight.

Have a fabulous day!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

I'm here

It is officially day two at Camp Julien and so far I am doing pretty well. After Amsterdam I flew to Dubai where even at midnight when I arrived it was 32 degrees with 90% humidity! Never in my life have I experienced something like that. I found a cheap hotel so I could shower and when I stepped out of the air conditioned airport I had trouble breathing and my glasses even fogged up! The hotel was really nice (and on $66/night) and although I was tempted by the bed all I was there to do was shower - it really helped to wake me up to. At the Dubai airport I met a few people who were going to Afghanistan to do their own work. Three from Canada going to teach English in the North, one from the States going to be an intern for Save the Children, and a guy from London who was going to help with the elections in September. It was really nice to have people to talk to and go through the craziness with so I wasn't totally alone. The Ariana flight into Kabul wasn't even that bad and at passport control there were even lines. The camp security guy was there when I got out with my luggage and then me along with a guy who was coming back from Egypt piled into the armoured Bison and headed to camp. So far the camp is exactly what I was expecting. I got most of my paperwork done yesterday and today I have my in-theatre training. Tomorrow will be my first day of work. It's also been really nice having my PDT group already here because then I at least know some people. The only bad thing so far is that I have a heat rash on my legs. It's not too bad but I should probably get something to put on it.

Well, that was my first day. It will probably be more of the same from now on so I might not have anything really exciting to report on but I will definitely keep you updated.

Thanks for all the encouragement!

Friday, June 24, 2005


After a long nine hour flight I am here in Amsterdam. The flight itself actually wasn't that bad and KLM has lived up to its reputation for being a great airline. They kept us fed and hydrated (non-stop beverage service), the wine was free, there was lots of leg room, they brought around hot towels periodically and the food was actually pretty good. I even managed to get a few hours of sleep which will help immensely. At the moment I don't feel overly tired (although I'm really hot!) but I do have a leg-ache so I know my body is protesting a bit.

Once I arrived in Amsterdam I went searching through the shops at Schipol to find a small purse because I didn't want to lug my insanely heavy carry-on around the city. Then I bought a roundtrip train ticket and came into the city. I got into Amsterdam proper at around 9am and the first thing I did was take a canal cruise. Definitely worth the 8 euros! I saw a lot of amazing architecture and actually managed to relax in the breeze coming off the water. Surprisingly the harbour and canals in Amsterdam are fresh water because of the locks that block off the sea. Now I'm trying to decide what to do for the next hour. I wanted to go to the Rijksmuseum but it's pretty far away so I nixed that plan. I was also thinking about going to the Anne Frank House but we passed it on the cruise and there was a huge line-up. I think I'll just find a nice cafe and sit outside in this amazing city.

My flight leaves for Dubai at 2:35pm so I should be at the airport around 12:30 or 1:00. Hopefully that flight goes as well as the one over here. I'm kind of nervous about traveling all the way on my own (the guy I was supposed to meet up with was delayed) but I'm sure it will be okay. As long as I can find a place in Dubai to shower and change clothes I'll be happy.

My love to you all.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


The time has come to unplug all electronics and get ready for the nine hour flight to Amsterdam. I hope everyone has a fabulous summer!

The next time you'll hear from me, I'll be in Afghanistan!

Sunday, June 19, 2005


I haven't even arrived in Aghanistan and already I am thinking about what I want to do for my holiday. I think I've decided to not come home (I was going to fly home for Matt's wedding at the beginning of September but since the elections in Afghanistan are Sept. 9th they don't let you travel for a week or two on either side) and instead use my alloted airfare and time to do a tour of Europe. Besides, when else will I get this opportunity? I'd probably start out in Malaga, Spain at the beginning of October so I can go to the Belle & Sebastian show on the 9th (as long as it's not sold out, if so, all of my plans will change.) Then I will purchase a Eurail Selectpass for travel in 5 countries and go through France, Italy, Austria and end up in Hungary where I will hopefully meet up with Marianne and the Raj. I'm already getting excited! (All of this is, of course, dependent on how much money I have saved - if I'm poor I'll probably just come home where life is considerably cheaper.)

Thursday, June 16, 2005


I got my itinerary today and it turns out that I'm not actually leaving until next Thursday the 23rd. This is good because it gives me more time to get things sorted at home, pack and see friends but I was basically ready to go and now I have to wait 4 extra days. Plus, this means that I will have to buy more groceries and pay for bus fare - and I can't even work because HR has informed payroll to stop salary payments as of Monday. Grr...

I'm meeting another new employee (who I've never met) in Amsterdam and together we are flying on to Dubai. I'm really looking forward to going into Amsterdam for a few hours and seeing some sites. I'd love to be able to take a canal cruise, go to the Rijksmuseum and see Anne Frank House but I don't think that will all be possible. At the most I will probably have four hours in the city and that's being generous. When I found out which day I would be in Amsterdam I emailed Brooke and tried to convince her to fly out from London for a few days and hang out with me in the morning but unfortunately her Scotland tour coincides with me arriving. And she said it's my fault because the only reason she is going to Scotland is because I've always wanted to go there. heh. So that's too bad but I couldn't have expected her to actually be able to make it.

Hopefully the rest of the people in my PDT class that went home will be ready to fly out on Thursday because it would be nice to see Amsterdam with people I actually know. I'm sure it will all turn out well, I just have to wait another week without going crazy.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Home from Kingston

After a long week spent cramming information into my head I am now home for another week or so. It is nice to be home so I have a chance to finish everything up but a part of me wishes I was leaving with the rest of the group tomorrow. However, there were 5 of us that had to go home for various reasons so I imagine they will try and get us all out together.

The week of training was a lot of fun. The NBC training was fun if tiring and greasy, hostage taking and mine awareness were really interesting, the fire training was cool and I am now a certified level 1 first aider and I hold a level A CPR. We spent a fun-filled Thursday evening at the Toucan pub in downtown Kingston and went on to another "interesting" establishment and last night we hung out around the pool and ordered pizza. The entire week was hot and humid with the exception of a few hours when it drizzled.

I met some really great people and I am looking forward to spending more time with them at the camp. In fact, I really can't wait to leave!

When I got home today I discovered that Aaron, Shaun, Emma, Laurel, Marianne, Celeste and Brad had decorated my condo and put flowers all over the place. How could I ask for better friends? I want to leave it all up because it looks so nice, especially the streamers and shooting stars that hang over my bed.

I've uploaded pictures from training to Flickr so please check them out.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Hola from Kingston

I'm at the downtown public library, day two here in Kingston is finished and so far everything has been going swimmingly. Yesterday was a pretty long travel day - at the airport for 6am, didn't get to Kingston until 6pm after a 2.5 hour drive from Toronto - but it was exciting all the same. Once we all got settled into the hotel (I get my own room!) we were taken over to the Vimy Mess at CFB Kingston for dinner. This is where we will be eating breakfast and dinner everyday and does it ever remind me of being at cadet camp, except the food here is better than we ever had at Penhold or Cold Lake. It's been really warm the last two days (32 yesterday, 29 today) and very humid. Last night after everyone arrived we hung around outside of our rooms and chatted. People came from all over the place and it's interesting hearing everyone's motivation for coming. It seems that on the whole everyone was looking for some adventure. Even though I was pretty tired yesterday it took me a while to fall asleep. I watched some TV (finally caught an episode of the final season of QAF) and went to bed at about midnight. Call time for breakfast was 7am but it seems that when I was trying to hit snooze on the alarm at 5:45 this morning I turned it off instead. Finally woke up at 6:55 and managed to brush my teeth and throw on some clothes. At least I didn't get left behind like two other guys did! Today was spend completing paperwork, getting vaccinations, having a general orientation to Camp Julien and SNC and getting fingerprinted. Tomorrow should be an exciting day - we are doing the nuclear, biological and chemical warfare defense training with gas masks. We've been told to wear long sleeves because we have to put this decontamination goop on all exposed skin while our eyes are closed and we are holding our breath, as well as get the mask on and apparently we only have 9 seconds to do everything! And, it's one of those drills that if you don't get it right the first time they make you do it again and again.

I haven't seen much of Kingston yet but what I have seen looks really nice. After we are finished here Meredith (one of my fellow PDTers) and I are going to take a walk around and check out the architecture. There are some amazing gothic limestone buildings in the downtown area. I guess you can't expect any less from one of the oldest towns in Canada. At some point, I also want to walk down to RMC and check it out. Our nights are free so I'll have plenty of time to do some exploring.

Anyway, it seems like it will be a good week and so far I've met some really cool people. I'm going to take some pictures and hopefully post them when I get home on the weekend. Looks like I will probably be leaving on the weekend of the 18th depending on when the flights go out, and, I've heard that there is usually a stop-over in Amsterdam so I might get a chance to take a ride into the city and check it out!

Wish me luck with the gas masks! :)

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Let the fun begin

So things around here have been pretty crazy the last few days. Ever since I accepted the offer I have been running around trying to finish everything in two days instead of the weeks that people normally have. I've sorted everything with the college, gone for my immunizations (my arm still hurts!), had extra passport photos taken, and been certified criminal record free. I've purchased a few things that I will need to take with me but I still need to buy sheets and other essentials as well as figure out how I am going to stuff a pillow into my duffle bag without sacrificing any clothing. Gah!

Tomorrow I will have to pack for my week in Kingston and then when I return to Vancouver I will still have another week to finish work and get everything ready to leave for Afghanistan. Plus, there are friends to see and drinks to be had. A lot to fit into a week.

On top of everything else, I have had the same headache since last weekend. It comes and goes but it's getting pretty annoying. I'm fairly certain it's stress but I guess I'll have to wait and see.

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes - it really means a lot.


Oh, and does anyone know if I can upload my photos without using the Canon software? When I am in Afghanistan I want to be able to share pictures I take but I won't be able to install software on the computer. Can I just upload straight to Flickr?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I got it!

This is all taken from livejournal and reposted here.


Now, back to the phone call and my cryptic LJ entry from Friday. One of our SAIT classmates is working in Afghanistan at Camp Julien and she sends us periodic emails with updates on her life and travels. I've always thought it sounded really exciting so I told her if she heard of anything to let me know. Well, she did. I emailed her my resume and Friday morning I received a phone call from a recruiter in Kingston, ON. He basically told me about the job and told me that the people from Afghanistan would want to do a phone interview early in the week. If everything went well I could be in Kingston on Monday June 6th for training. I had my phone interview at 6:30 this morning (there's an 11 1/2 hour time difference) and hopefully I should hear something by tomorrow. I think the interview went well and they were only interviewing two other people so we'll see. It's for a six month contract and I'd be leaving within the month. I'm very excited about this amazing opportunity and I REALLY hope I get the job. Sarah said that her time spent in Kabul has been the most incredible of her life and I'd love to get the chance to experience it. So, I could really use any good thoughts you have to spare. And, if I do get it I'll probably be looking for someone to sublet my fully furnished condo for six months. So if you know of someone...


I got the job!!! They called me 10 minutes ago and offered the position of LPO clerk at Camp Julien in Kabul, Afghanistan. I leave on Monday for Kingston, ON for training for a week and then it's back here to finish work and tie up loose ends.

Holy crap, I can't believe I am actually moving to Asia for 6 months.