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Not so scared white guy

Well here I am. It's really not that bad. People are nice food is excellent due to price. I've got a temp car till after the holidays. etc Funny times this morning I had to go and get 6 passport size photos. We rock up to this smelly old photo lab, the guy takes me into his studio. Now this photo lab could only supply passport photos in quantities of 4 or 8. So on upsizing to 8 photos. I was forced to have 1 free studio portrait. You can see a second rate picture of it in the photos section.

My 3 month plan is to get the internet connected at whatever compound they shove me into and complete some writing in the diary section. Till then most probably only dribs and drabs. Checkya

Diary Entries

Monday, 23 April 2007

Well that's it. I'm calling it a day with this site.

My lack of free and easy access to the net has caused this inevitable downfall. Thanks to all for the messages and the laughs.

Cheers..

bn

Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Location: Khobar, Saudi Arabia

Wow so much to write about and so little time to do so. First trip to Bahrain, party at the US consulate, compound life etc etc. But it's all going to have to wait. Currently I'm working 7 days a week.

I've got 50-60 new pictures to upload but work has now clamped down on foreign media (CD, USB drives) being used on the company network. So I enquired about internet at the compound. A$1800 odd for a year's net! They can have it. Guess the photos will have to wait along with the plans of writing more about these crazy adventures taking place over here.


Monday, 12 February 2007

Location: Saudi Arabia

Ok I know many of you received this one already but it was once again burning a hole in my inbox and therefore needs to be shown.

I was forwarded this email from a guy at work.... I now sit back resigned to the fact that Saudi is changing, but do scratch my chin as to whether that change is for the better or not!?!?

Majlis shoura has advised the Court of Majlis of Ministers regarding women driving in Saudi Arabia.

Rules and regulations regarding women driving vehicles.

1– atleast 30 years of age.

2- permission from her guardian (husband or father or brother………)

3- have driving license from women driving school.

4- should be modest in clothing and not have makeup on while driving.

5- should be driving inside the city if alone. For outside the city driving must have a guardian with her.

6- must be within the hours 7AM to 8PM from Saturday to Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday from 2PM till 8PM.

7- must have a cell phone with her in case of emergency.

8- In case of car break down or accident, she should call Women Police Service to take her call.

9- will pay a certain amount of money (credit on her driving license) which will be used by Women Police for her Tire Puncture Repair or other maintenance.

Responsible Areas.

1- creation of Women Police who will be specialized in multiple fields like driving, taking calls with companies to repair cars, rent cars, and also issue traffic violation tickets.

2- Creation of free women police center for emergency call.

3- Opening Islamic propagation center in the Women Police department inside the cities.

4- Renewal of driving license every year.

Violations

(in general)

1- for those drivers who chase women drivers, if caught or proved, will be jailed for minimum 8 months with fine.

2- For those drivers who try to stop women drivers by any ways like making their way narrow will be jailed for 1 day with fine.

3- If any driver hurt the women drivers will be jailed for 1 month with fine.

(for women)

1- Those women drivers who do not follow Islamic Behavior their license will be suspended for minimum 6 months with 500-1000 riyals fine.

2- Their guardian will be notified in written by the Heaia Amr Bil Maaroof…

Thursday, 01 February 2007

Location: Tulip Inn, Saudi Arabia

Happy freaking b'day

Really was a pretty shit day only briefly made better by receiving my first pay. I adjourned back to my hotel after work just to find some old fashion Arabian hoe down going on in the room next to mine. By 12.20am I’d had enough of the shit house karaoke and music from the great voice whirling artist DJ Al-Ghazi Al-Gosaibi and his funky bunch not to mention the dancing and hours of constant screaming. The air-conditioning vent in my bedroom near fell out due to vibration from the bass bin, which must have been mounted on the opposite side of my bedroom wall. Here’s me all the while laying in the lounge room sporadically banging my fist on the wall also trying to combat the noise with my TV turned up to max. It was all to no avail. I couldn’t hear my TV. This was seen to be the final straw. I’d put up with this shit for far too long. So I had to do the only thing left to do, phone reception.
I near caused the start of the next West vs East international ruckus. All viewed through the peephole in my door. The bellman knocked on the offending apartment’s door for 4 or so minutes before someone finally heard the banging and answered. After a little time there were three guys and the bellman all pointing at my door yelling and screaming it was obvious that the bellman had said I’d requested the action as I could hear him saying that I’d been living here for a month.
Two of the three guys stormed back into their party refusing to down the music while the third was still pleading with the bellman. I heard the bellman threaten this last guy with not sign something, I couldn’t understand what. So the bellman departs leaving the dude outside his room. Funny the dude must not have had his key on him as he also had to knock on the door for 4 or so minutes before giving up and finding it much more efficient to just ring one of the party goes inside.
The music was finally turned down to an extent where the AC vent in the ceiling stopped vibrating but it was still unbearable. I end up having to shift bedrooms to one at the opposite end of the hotel suite. So today I’ve locked myself inside the hotel room to avoid any confrontations in the foyer.
So that was my exciting b’day locked up inside Saudi Arabia.

Sunday, 21 January 2007

Well it was only a matter of time I guess. Driving in this city is a death wish at the best of times. I’m assuming it’s not a question of have you had an accident it’s one of how many seconds ago was your last. I got my first car crash out the way last night. Driving home from work I broke for a cat strolling across the road. Next thing I know I got a taxi ramming into my ass. If your in an accident over here and there’s damage to the car you have to call the police so they can issue you a certificate you'll need to get the car repairer. No certificate no repair. Here’s me asking the Taxi driver to call the police but he seems pretty adamant to do so. His got 4 passengers in his car. What a pain in the ass and to top it all off he could speak a whole of two words of English. Other taxi drivers start pulling up. Peak hour traffic. All for a freaking cat. I end up having to ring one of the Saudi H.R managers so he could speak with this taxi driver. All the while old mate (taxi drivers, taxi mate) is trying to get me to agreed to taking the car down to his workshop so he could sort it all out. I’ve got two poor photos of the scene in the photos section. This story goes on and on so I’ll point form the rest.
• Phone calls back and forth between my HR manager the taxi driver the police and the taxi driver’s taxi mate.
• HR manager sends out a possy of WorleyPetrocon Government Affairs guys to meet me.
• They role up, police also role up, all this shit goes down. I got no idea what’s doing
• I’ve only got an Australian Licence, which seems to be an issue.
• We all have to go down to the station (local circus / mad house).
• 7 people not including myself get into this crazy shit fight over what happened. There’s hands and pieces of paper flying round everwhere.
• The police guy starts yelling just after he was in fits of laugher. All the while I’m standing round looking like a right tit.
• Approximatly 15 phone calls between the Government Affairs possy and god only knows who.
• Three or four office storm-outs by each party involved (police, Worley possy, the Taxi driver and his mate)

Holy Shit.

After we were let go with the repair authority in hand I asked one of the possy what the hell was going down back there. All he said was the police were inquiring to how the accident happened. In which the taxi driver spoke of the cat. That’s what all the bastards were laughing at to start with i think. It may have just been quicker and easier to rid the streets of a shabby ass cat. I'll know next time.

All the nights crazy affairs were all sorted out by what must be one of the greatest eating experiences I’ve had over here more photos attached all of $10.

Saturday, 20 January 2007

Location: Tulip Inn Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia

Monsoon Hotel.

I’m still living at the hotel, which after 4 weeks is starting to drive me insane. Only the day before all hell broke lose I’d emailed the guy at work to request he expedite my relocation into a compound, only to receive an out of office reply as his gone on a convenient 2 week holiday.
Don’t get me wrong it’s quite a fine hotel just my room has no cooking facilities not even a god dam kettle. So it’s slowly doing me in, both in the health and financial departments.
So I downed my head for the night, just to be woken round 3am to the sound of extremely heavy rain. I guess I found this very relaxing till I come to my senses a little more. ‘Monsoon style rains in Saudi, ha, I don’t believe it’,’ hold up it doesn’t rain like this over here’ within seconds I’d turned on the light and jumped out of bed to find my bathroom and ¼ of my bedroom flooded with water (hot water) gushing from the ceiling. HOLYSHIT. Action stations, let me just thank that bird shit I wasn’t electrocuted in my attempts to turn the water off.
Next come the long dealings with the hotel staff in the early hours of the morning in which I was trying to make them understand I needed a functional bathroom so I could get ready for work, I finally got another room key. After more back and forth about why I was going back to the flood zone to sleep and that I would not be moving rooms at that hour of the morning I was left in peace to go and gather any remainding sleep I could.
So I said goodbye to my old room in the morning and shuffled off to my new one. They’d upgrade my ass into one of the ‘Tulip Suites’ this thing is bigger then most houses in Australia. 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, large lounge, kitchen, balcony etc. I mean it’s that large there’s more rooms than I got shit to spread round.
So I really think this bird shit thing is working out for me. What next?

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Location: Down town Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia

Part II. A Poo in the hair is worth two in the bush. My NCL Worley mate Steve and his wife Jo took me down to the local souk (shopping markets) to have a look round the other night. Little did I know that I’d end up on the wrong side of what I believe to be an ill temped mutated pelican shit. You can view the pic of this one in the photos section. While walking along I thought some bastard had thrown some sort of nut at my head. Only due to a small piece of shat that ricochet down onto my hand did I become suspicious that I had remnants left on my upper body, hence the reason for the photo. The best part of this after the initial cleanup we carried on walking down the street when I had this bad feeling that I may still have been covered in poo I asked Jo to check the top of my ear, her reaction said it all. I had a nice little buildup still sitting on top of my ear. I’m led to believe that getting shat on (by a bird) is lucky. Well from the size and texture of this one I got nothing to worry about in my life ever again.

Sunday, 07 January 2007

Location: Khobar, Saudi Arabia

Well it come down to this for my first entry sorry for those of you eating right now but the story must go on. The food over here seemed to be going ok up untill yesertday when at work I suffered from a bone wrenching stomach ache, Ohh good lord. Thank god himself I was able to hold it till I got back to the hotel to unleash the beast within. This must have been the most powerfully explosive session of diarrhoea ( Noun: Diarrhoea, 1. Frequent and watery bowel movements; can be a symptom of infection or food poisoning or colitis or a gastrointestinal tumour) I've ever had. Holyshit! It's nearly 24hours after the fact now and shit my stomach is still feeling it. More poo stories to come.....


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Recent Messages

From Margaret Knight
Dear Ben
Love the diary entries and the photos - our whole office cracked up!! They all agreed you've missed your calling, you should have been a comedian!
Response: Maybe you should come look at some of my engineering work. Then you can make further comment on whether I missed my calling or not. No really I appreciate your comments. Cheers
From Siân
I have been rolling around on the floor laughing. I can't believe you got shat on. And that room is massive, you don't wanna be pushing for a compound after that upgrade. Did you really have a car crash? I sent you a message.
Response: No comment needed really
From Charleston
Ben, Good to hear that you have arrived safely and are settling in. Things here at Tomago WorleyParsons are changing with the move from the old office to the new. We have all now returned from holidays and those stragglers are completing their move to their new location. Some, Bob mainly, are not that happy because they cannot fit all his "collection" into the new space. Ty and Dave finished on Friday. Ty has gone to Newcastle and Dave has departed to North Sydney. Take care and keep in touch.
Response: Charleston my man. I've written you quite the lenghty old email. Anyways nice to hear that Bob's still being a right pain in the ass. Pass on my best wishes to all. I'll be back to visit soon.
From Ken
Love the Portrait, somthin to send to the LADIES...
Response: Got that right! Now as for those ladies you speak of. There's a guy down on the second floor that comes pretty close, but apart from that you may need to include further directions.
From Bones
Hey matey to bad about the stomach pain, but that chair photo, gee, that photographic technique, do they have small feet over there or something, they have managed to make your feet look enormous compared to the rest of you.
Catch Ya
Response: No no you got it all wrong my son. You know what they say about big feet.....

small brain? Well I think that's the way it goes.
From gaz
hey ben
how you doing?
just checking the site out & saying hi. hopes all is recovered in your bowels. good descriptions of your predicament.
check in with you soon,
later


Response: I appreciate your concerns regarding my bowels. They go through patches of good and bad. I'm still searching round trying new foods so I guess a few lose stools here and there are to be expected.
From Heather
Hi Ben,

Glad to hear things are going well for you over there in Saudi. Nice portrait by the way very stylish....lol.
Anyway stay in touch chat to you soon...

Cheers,
Heather
Response: Sorry for the delays in reply. I promise I'll write you soon.
From Steve C.
Looks great,
It looks like Dubai back in the 80's, only with more stupid rules. The photo thing rings a bell though, nice!
When are you getting your visa for Bahrain? I am assuming your getting one!
You want to gewt that internet thing fixed up. With no Google or Wikipedia, your going to have to use some sort of learnt knowledge, or heaven forbid, a book.
Any way have fun and enjoy your 1st 10 days out of Saudi, where are you going with your free plane trip?
Response: Steve Steve my dear friend so many question. Ok here goes, yes I now have internet access at work it was starting to look pretty grim there for a second. Regarding Bahrain well shit, it's the 3/2/07 and they tell me I'll get my papers/visas/car transit authority/ drivers licence tomorrow, ha i'm not holding my freaking breath thats 4 sure. As for the trip home well that comes in 6-7 weeks from now. Let me out!! and hurry the f**k up about it! What the hells your new email address sir?
From brother newlands
hi mate. hope yr on top of everything and keeping yr head down. email me yr skype username so I can add ya. speak soon. / M.
Response: Ah Brother Newlands, nice to hear from you. I'd be keen to have a yak sometime my Skye username is dreglands but i think you may also be able to search for Ben Newlands. I'll be speaking with ya.
From cheong
hey man, hope all is well. looks mad over there in the kingdom of saudi. dig your portrait al-sheif, hope the year turns out well, all the best

cheers, craig
Response: Holyshit Cheong good hearing from ya. What the hells your email address?
From Siân
I've never seen such a beautiful chair as that big white one you're sat in, in all my life. And it goes perfectly with the enormous staircase I can see behind you as well. I think that's a keeper for the mantlepiece. Did they ask you to open your legs like that for the shot?
Response: The two things I seem to recall that got on my goat that day were number 1, being asked to comb my hair for the photo. Number 2, the dude trying his hardest to close my legs. He must know that us westerners need to give the boys a little room down there, especially when posing for photos.
From Louis Swart
hi Mate
How is it going there?
i am glad you cleared customs.
You need to send more photos and some explanations..........

Regards
Louis
Response: Hey Mr Swart. I was speaking with a South African on New Year's eve. I took a long shot and asked him if he knew a dude named Louis Swart. His reply Louis Swart! that's like asking if I knew John Smith in Australia. It was worth a try. Apologies for not titling the photos on this page, it seems every time I get net access down at Starbucks i'm kicked out due to prayer time. This happens 6 inconvenient times a day. It's kind of funny at work as the internet is only available during our 1 hour lunch break. This has shown itself to be a major pain in the ass. What about google, yes indeed what about google? The most powerful research tool for our job. I think i'm going to have words to my manager at the end of the month about this. As with the phone, in the office we share one phone between six of us. Although they did hand me a mobile phone, shit, it's like i'm back at school. Anyways I hope you had a nice crissy break. How are those scissor lifts going? Have ya finished them yet? Be speaking with you soon good sir, for now farewell.
From Kel
hey matey..happy chrissy and new years and all! Glad to see theres a maccas over there..now you can make your temporary car feel like home ;) kel
Response: I think your having a stab, Miss Bower. Although good call. I have not yet had time to title the photos. What I was hoping to show was the ‘Singles’ entrance that every restaurant has. What did you get up to New Years? Have your finished work yet?
From tone loc
hi benno,
hows it all going?
sorry didnt get a chance to sync watches better last wk- a goodbye drink wld have been nice:)
so wats been happnin?
wat date do u start work?
my xmas time was nice, but alas i only took the thurs n fri off, so early flight back to melb on wed n straight to work that morning has left me feeling fatigued and depressed...
oh well, enough of my self pity...
drop us a line wen u getta chance;)
Response: Hey Tone. Nice to hear from ya . Yes a little disappointing no shenanigans & drinking games took place before my big move. I started work the first day I arrived (23rd Dec). How's your Melb experience going? I’m guessing you’ve well and truely surrounded yourself with the African community down there? There's a little piece of me that was hoping to get down south this year to work but I guess that didn’t happen. Anyways I have your email address now so I’ll be speaking with you soon. Cheers love.
From Saif
Hey bennei,
The man, nice to hear that you are safely reached up thre. Yep, I wish the food put some weight on you. Its been a very busy and colourful year for me but your company was great. take care and enjoy. Merry X-mass and happy new year.
Response: Safron my man! Nice to hear from ya. I've been putting in the good words over here for ya. They need lots of people and now you've got the Australian passport you'll be the king. King Saif they call him. Good to hear you enjoyed xmas. How'd the camping go with Corke? Did you join in the Australian xmas culture of sing christmas carols and eating witchetty grubs round the camp fire? You should download and install Skype so we can chat about you coming over to Saudi. Nice one Saif, i'll be speaking with ya soon. check
From Ralf

Hey Ben,

Whats doing over there so far? Hope you're havin a great time!

NJOY THE RIDE ! ! ! !

Ralfie.
Response: Ralfy! Oh Ralfy. Nice hearing from ya. I hope Team FM kept the plant going after I left. ha. Just joking. Living over here is not that bad, westerners seem to be treated very well. Hey just reading in the paper that a thirsty German man sells his pet beagle to buy beer. Have you and Mel still got your dog? Hey Ralf it would seem there is much work here with Worley, interested? For my sake I would hope so. Anyways dude i'll be speaking with you soon. Happy New Year sir. Pass on many good hustles to Team FM. Cheers Brother.
From Karen
hey ben.. just letting you know I've made my first visit to your site and expect some updates whenever you get a chance! remember.. the good bits will be going in the newsletters over here! will keep in touch via email too so it kinda looks like work stuff and you can hear about Aus while you discover your own oil well and make millions over there!!! anyways.. catch ya in a couple of years.. Karen
Response: Excellent Karen, I'll try and keep it all clean then. It's funny how it was a world ending rush to get over here yet it turns out I worked the first 4 days just to have the last 6 off. It's Eid holidays over here. Anyways guess that’s how it is. Luckily they sorted me out a car so I have a little freedom. I hope all went well for New Years, with no suffering New Year’s day (headaches etc). Mr. Snitch and his wife Jo invited me over to their compound to celebrate the New Years with a bunch of their friends. It was a lot more subdued then what I’m use to, which was nice for a change. I’d like it if you could keep me in the loop on what’s doing back in NCL via newsletters that go out. I can see myself back there in a couple of years requesting I be placed back on the Grad program, more on this one later. For now past on well wishes to all at Worley. I’ll write soon. Happy New Year!!!
From Joel Hex
Have you got myspace?
Should I set one of these pages up or use some other service?
I hope you settle in OK. I will b thinking of you New Years Eve
Response: Brother Hex. Nice to hear from ya. No I have not sorted out a Myspace site. I'm having enough trouble keeping this one up to date. I guess this plantranger site is not that bad, it was very easy to create and pretty simple to upload pics etc. Have you finished work yet. When do you fly out. Is Japan your first stop. I’m so jealous of your travel plans. Hopefully I can use one of my trips to bump into you. Anyways most definitely keep in touch hey. Have you got a Skype username? Enough questions for now. Happy New Years yo. Speak soon.
From Bones
hey hey , whats crappening scared little white guy? JEEP, LANDROVER or MERC
Response: Sorry for the delays dude. I'm still with my temp car (Nissan Sunny) until after the holidays. Check it out in the photos section. I'm pretty sure that my permanent car will be a Camry of sorts. I'll keep ya updated on that one. How was the first day back on the tools? Has the weather been of any help to your days at work?
From Mum & Dad
Liked your travel blog site - hope you enjoyed your trip - will be in touch
Cheers
Mun & Dad
Response: exellent i now have your email address. It seems that I'm only allowed to access the web for an hour during lunch. anyways i thank you for your support. I'll be in touch soon. till then xox bn.