Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Meet some of our staff...

I thought this picture was pretty cool. These are four of our Construction Supervisors, Andi, Ifan, Isa and Mizi, sitting in front of one of the newly built houses. We hired all young local Acehnese, all in their twenties, because we felt they had less influence of corruption in construction, which is a huge problem in Indonesia. Also, since we are kicking it up a notch or two on design and construction. We felt it would be easier to mold a younger staff than people who have been working for 20 years.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bad Connections

It's always great to see one of your details being implemented. Back in late august I designed a retrofit detail for some poorly constructed houses built by another NGO. It was really built by an Indonesian contractor paid by this NGO and the NGO is doing the right thing by fixing it. Today I was able to see my design in effect. These houses had very poor connections, rebars didn't lap, and sometimes the bars of the beams didn't even meet the columns. So I had them chip away the concrete at the corners and place bent bars so it'd bridge the gap, in fact I've already written about this detail in this post (click here).

Where the joint is located, one of many houses.

It doesn't get any better than that!

The prep. work for retrofiting the poorly built masonry. Will use a fiber reinforced shotcrete. That's big time stuff for Banda Aceh!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Snorkeling around Weh Island

On the boat heading for Weh Island, seen in the distance.

Michelle at Mercy Corps arranged a day trip for snorkeling and diving around nearby Weh Island (Pulau Weh), so we had a boat load of expats from all different organizations. The locals who were running the boat sometimes didn't have it all together. When we were pulling away from the pier on some small island, they forgot to unhook the rope from the pier!! so we were backing up pretty fast and the rope was unraveling just as fast! good thing some saw it before either, the front part of the boat ripped off, or the dilapidated pier torn apart!

Leaving Banda Aceh

Approaching Weh Island

Lunch, grilled fish!

Fiona (Hong Kong Red Cross) enjoys the best seats on the boat, the roof!

Leaving Weh behind

Dolphin sighting

Our 1st snorkeling/diving spot!

Chilling on the ride back to Banda Aceh

Me and Alastair (UNDP)

Sunset over the Indian Ocean as we head for Sumatra and Banda Aceh

Monday, January 15, 2007


pretending we made food

Even here in the far corner of the world, there are sushi parties. We need to make this a weekly thing!

Darini (left, my housemate) makes gyoza (japanese potsticker)

cooking tofu

Feast! Paul (my other housemate) is the guy in the gray shrit.

Cutting up the fresh tuna!

Yoko, who hosted the dinner, shows off her beer

That's what I'm talking about! it was the end of the night, and after drinking beer and sake.

Friday, January 05, 2007

New Years at Lake Toba

Lake Toba sits inside a caldera 100 km long and 30 km wide, formed by an enormous volcanic eruption 100,000 years ago. It's located in the Batak highlands, about a five hour drive from Medan. Lake Toba is also the largest lake in Southeast Asia and also one of the most spectacular, surrounded by tall mountains and with the large island of Samosir in the middle.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


You people in California might freak out from seeing this, but this is how we build the footings here. On top of it, there will be a reinforced plinth beam running along the perimeter of the of the house and under all walls. See detail above and photos below.

Back breaking work, I was down there helping for a bit.