Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The road home

Kabul -> Dubai -> Frankfurt -> Stockholm
1 night

Stockholm -> Oslo -> Tromsø
3 nights

Tromsø -> Olso -> Frankfurt
1 night

Frankfurt -> San Francisco

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Return to Bamiyan

Returned to Bamiyan for a day trip with a bunch of USAID guys to show them some of the 'bad' buildings we've reported a few weeks ago. Our reports are stirring things up, didn't mean to, just telling how it is.

Friday, November 21, 2008

New High School in Kabul

Some resent photos of one of our projects.

Block 1 (three blocks total with a 3 story linkway between them)

Steel in the shear wall

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Because of the US elections, this post regarding my resent trip to Bamiyan is late. What a place, I can’t imagine another field mission being as beautiful as this one! We spent eight days up in the mountainous province located right smack in the center of Afghanistan.

We flew up from Kabul in an old Soviet MI8 helicopter, weird it having the USAID logo all over it, and landed in the historic Bamiyan Valley, you can see the 1700 year old Buddha niches carved right into the cliffs from the landing strip.

While getting on the helicopter I bumped into my friend who was also going up there on a completely unrelated trip - small world.

After touching base with the New Zealand Army’s PRT base, we went to check out the Buddhas in the evening.

From Bamiyan valley we did a three-day trip to Yakewlang district, out in the far western parts of the province. And then later north to Kahmard District.

Some highlights of the field mission (Shirley, these pics are for you!):

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's Japan, what else can you say?

While visiting Marisa in Kagoshima, Japan

Friday, October 17, 2008

we go way back

Happened while shopping at The Village at Sanlitun, Chaoyang District, Beijing.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Burj Dubai

Check it out, if you look closely, you can see a tower crane on the top of the 2700ft tall building. it was finally clear enough to see the insane building from the Dubai's airport Terminal 1. All the other times of transiting through Dubai, the sky was too hazy and dusty.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Talk to the Taliban?

It's absurd people (like the UN and the British Ambassador to Afghanistan) are thinking of speaking to the Taliban for a compromise. I'm glad someone is saying something against it. It sounds like a lame, throw in the towel BS.

Monday, October 06, 2008

6.0 earthquake hit 45miles south of Kabul

Earthquake location overlaid with USAID's medical clinics and schools.

Sunday, October 05, 2008 at 22:56:29 UTC
Monday, October 06, 2008 at 03:26:29 AM at epicenter (local time)
Epicenter: 70 km (45 miles) SSE of KABUL, Afghanistan
report on CNN

Peak Ground Acceleration (PGA) in percentage(%) of g.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Badakhshan is Afghanistan's northern (and eastern) most province. It's the part with the thin panhandle stretching out to China. A few days ago I got back from a five day field mission to evaluate a four schools and a medical clinic. The area is truly amazing, a land of deep canyons, high passes and rushing rivers.

I have mixed feelings about this country, especially in light of recent events, but this area was amazing and gave me a renewed motivation here.

The province is the most remote and least populated area of the country, it was also never under the control of the Taliban as it was the under the Northern Alliance's (Massoud's government) hands. We chose this area to start our evaluations because of it's high seismicity, heavy snow fall and safe location. (Nuristan was our first choice, but due to the decaying security situation, where the military can't even get to most of the area, we put it on the back burner. They say Nuristan is at least, if not more dangerous than Kandahar or Helmand provinces in the south.)

Landing on the Soviet built steel runway

The USAID plane and our security team

We flew from Kabul to the provincial center, a town of 50,000 people, Faizabad. From there we did day trips to the school and medical clinic sites.

Richie and I overlooking the new part of Faizabad.

The first day took us up a steep canyon, crossing a crazy bridge on the way. The village at the end, Chakada sat on the steep hillside in a bone dry canyon.

The Kokcha River

crazy bridge

heading up the canyon

Richie thinking he's an engineer (he's the security team lead)

one of the schools

village of Chakada

The Bakharak Valley (which was done on the 3rd day, the route that stretches to the far right) is an Garden of Eden. Fresh mountain streams flowed everywhere creating a green valley growing apples and grapes.

again, passing the Kokcha River

Nomadic people moving to the lowlands for winter. I really wish this photo was clear, but the car was bouncing all around and I was holding on with one hand and the camera with the other.

the deep canyon with the Kokcha River

one of the schools, everybody is looking up into the sky as a fighter jet roars overhead.

This girl was watching me, so I took her picture.

Bakharak Valley, Me, Akmal (Afghan engineer) and Richie.

We only saw the one medical clinic on this day, it took 4 hours to drive to (one way). But it was an awesome ride, climbing over Shiwa Pass and then off-roading down the Shiwa river valley.

Climbing Shiwa Pass

Shiwa Pass (9600ft)

Stretch break at Shiwa Pass

Passing a Nomadic camel train heading for the lowlands for winter.

Fording the Shiwa River

Follow the leader

Four hours later, Shiwa Medical Clinic