Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day

Christmas day in Banda Aceh.

Go to the beach and swim.

The famous mosque which was in all the press photos right after the tsunami (see small photo below).

Photo by the Associated Press

It was the only standing building in the whole area. Everything was wiped out, only foundations were left. Today, you can see all the new trees that were planted after the tsunami.

Here Brad takes pictures of the palm trees that oddly were able to live when everything else was ripped out of the ground when the 15 foot wave slammed into the coast here. In the distance, you can see the red roofs of the Turkish Red Crescent’s houses. The Turkish Red Crescent spent a lot more money on each house than other NGO’s, but they were able to get them built faster. I haven’t been able to see their designs to know how it was built. Would be interesting.

Brad's "two hour wait" wood fired pizza.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Taking too long to rebuild?

The BBC did a report on how it's taking too long to rebuild all the houses for the victims of the Dec. 2004 Tsunami.

The UN tsunami envoy, who happens to be former President Bill Clinton, was here in Banda Aceh a little over a week ago, says:

"Only 30 to 35% of the people have been put back into permanent housing,"
"We have to do better than that."

Johan Schaar of the Int'l Red Cross puts it well saying:
"We said a few weeks after the tsunami that for us this was at least a five year effort. Anyone who talked about this being completed in two or three years was totally unrealistic"

Miloon Kothari of the United Nations says:
"It should really not take this long to build permanent housing. I do not accept the explanation that it is going to take four to five years, in some cases, seven. I'm an architect I know how long it takes to build a house."

Over 140,000 houses in Aceh alone? It takes more than two years. We're trying to build safer homes, we are going up against corruption, contractors taking the money and leaving, property rights, lack of skilled builders. The list goes on. Has he tried to build mass housing in a developing country before?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Seven dead in Sumatra earthquake (BBC)

An earthquake has struck Indonesia's Sumatra island, killing at least seven people and wounding around 100 others.

Hundreds of homes were also reported to have been destroyed when the 5.7 magnitude quake hit just before dawn.

Frightened people fled their homes as a series of aftershocks followed the quake, which was felt in northern and western parts of the island.

Half an hour earlier, a 5.8 magnitude quake struck north of Sumatra, in the Indian Ocean south-west of Banda Aceh.

No tsunami warning was issued on this occasion, officials said.

However, villages were reported to have been cut off as the earthquake triggered landslides, hampering rescue operations.

The region was worst hit when a 9.1 magnitude earthquake off the Sumatran coast in December 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people around the Indian Ocean.

Monday, December 18, 2006

5.8 and 5.5 Earthquakes in Banda Aceh

a simacast of my email:

I'll go ahead and write about this since people in the States are already hearing about it, and before I even got to the office! There were two "moderately" sized earthquakes late last night / early this morning here in Banda Aceh, I was dazed and confused, but I was sleeping then wakened by the jolting. I sat up on my bed and my heart paused. I was trying to decide if I should run out of the house, since it's made out of masonry, but it didn't. I sat there like I was stoned (I really wasn't). At work, Elizabeth has drilled it into my head that all the masonry in the gable was going to come crashing down on me. So during the quake, I was looking at the ceiling waiting to see bricks come crashing through, but they didn't. The oscillations slowed
down then sped back up. it was quit long, reminded me of the Loma Prieta quake. it must have lasted between 15 to 20 seconds. my housemate opened his door and yelled out "What the f--k?!" The good'o Sunda Fault. The epicentre was about 45 miles away, off the west coast.

Details of the EQ from the USGS

location of epicentre

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Back in Singapore

I just arrived in Singapore for three days. I'm doing a Visa run. Interesting, as I was waiting in the taxi queue in the arrivals hall at the airport, I was staring mindlessly (it's midnight) at the backpack of the guy standing in front of me and noticed his id tag had a San Jose address on it. So I said, "sorry, I couldn't help to notice that you’re from San Jose -- I grew up there" he replied "yeah, I just moved there from Houston, you still live there?" "no, I just moved to Banda Aceh, Indonesia" "woeh!" must be a programmer, anyways, it was kind of cool meeting someone from my hometown.

God I forgot how clean this town is, even the Pan-Island Expressway from the airport to the city centre was a park like setting. Spotless, perfectly manicured hedges, big leafy shady trees.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Paul holds up the disgusting fruit.

As requested, I'm posting this email:

So Paul and I walked all over town on Sunday, he just flew in from London and wanted to see the town. At one point we stopped at a fruit stand and he bought a fruit called a durian he wanted me to try. he's lived in Jakarta before and had it. (you can also find this fruit in thailand, malayisa and singapore) So of course being me, I said yes. After buying it he opened it and there were these big seeds with what looked like snot hanging off of it, and that's the part you eat. It smelled horrible!! Like rotting flesh! It had the most rancid smell ever! Then I tried it and almost gagged!! soooo sick!! I like most foods, but this is just wrong! But Paul loved it, and ate the rest of it with a big smile. Just watching him almost made me throw up all over the sidewalk and pass out in the gutter. And on top of it, it's a pretty costly fruit. Can cost up to $6 for each in some places, even thought we got it for a dollar.

one of the sellers shows me the fruit again!

Bottom line, THE most disgusting fruit EVER!!!

Wilkipedia says...

"The English novelist Anthony Burgess famously said that dining on durian is like eating vanilla custard in a latrine. Travel and food writer Richard Sterling says: '... its odor is best described as pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock.'"