So here I am at the other side of a 6 week tour in Papua. It started slow, with me doing in the region of 10 hours in my first week.. The only random thing to happen during this time was that I ended up one night drinking Gin & Tonics with the boss of the company and her daughter! Best behaviour, but I'm not even keen on G&T's! I must like the job.
...and then everything changed! I was sent to another base within Papua called Nabire, flew those Biak-Serui runs (Remember the 3km runway?!) which were 5am-12pm hauls, until jetting over to another place called Manokwari.. Every day was no less than 6 hours of flying, counted from the wheels leaving the ground to touching down (Yeah, I know what flying is, but we can also log taxi time too - smart arses!). I was the only co-pilot there, much to the other lots disgust.. But dog-eat-dog world right? I wasn't giving those hours up! I worked 8 days straight, plus another 8 with a break in between. (We are supposed to do 6 and then have a day off)
Anyway, I got to go airfield hunting with the base manager for two days which was a really nice break from the monotony of the daily schedule (Which included Merdey, remember that one I spoke about?!). I got to hunt out such exotic locations as 'IwishICouldFindYou', 'CanYouSeeItBecauseICant' and 'DidWeJustFlyOverIt'... Ha ha. It wasn't that bad, but finding strips in the middle of the mountains, jungle and the seaside can be more tricky than you think! The one place I do remember the proper, designated, offical and recorded name for however was something quite remarkable. It will never get old when you say it over the slightly hissing, broken radio... Ladies and Gentlemen, we will shortly be landing at Fak-Fak... Ha. Ha. Ha. I don't think I will fly there once without a grin!
Papua was a great experience in all though and one that I am about to experience all over again. My next base is right back here. I actually requested it, as it's got everything I need at the moment. Some amazing flying, some nice people, some extra cash (Danger Money!) and nowhere to spend this cash! I have learnt a lot about the aircraft since doing this tour and hope the next one teaches me a lot more. I will be hopefully be doing a lot more mountain flying, which is completely different to the stuff in the lowlands.. I won't get technical, but landing at a 7,500 feet gravel strip has some definite differences that you need to be aware of.
So then, now to make you all jealous. I already have, what I consider to be, one of the best jobs going, at least one of the best flying jobs to start my career with, but in addition to all that I find myself writing this blog in a bar called 'Havana Club' which just happens to be in Bali... :)
Ha ha. I am in Bali; that place you always see in far off travel brochures down in your local Thomas Cook Shop (If they even exist anymore?!). It's great so far, but I'm only 4 hours in and it has rained once, but I have had two big Bintangs (Beers)! It's still Indonesia, in case some of you didn't realise, but it's the most tourist aware of any of the places I have come accross so far here. Almost akin to Thailand, but not quite! (Actually I'm just sat in a bar next to a lot of really arrogant, loud Indians.. The girls in the bar are having a hard time, but laughing at my Indonesian slurs towards them - Brengsek, for those in the know!)
I have 4 days here and don't intend to do an awful lot. I'm shattered from the last tour and now realise why they give you two weeks off after it. This is the highest concentration of white people I have seen in 7 months, and it is a bit bizarre.
So from here I will be heading back to Jakarta, then Singapore to renew my dodgy visa, then back to Jakarta, then back to Papua.. Clever Kris got himself a Garuda frequent flyers card :) I'm almost a gold member now and haven't paid for one flight... I guess I am a Pilot. Actually, saying that still sounds slightly surreal I must admit.
I'm into my last day here in Bali and it's been fun, although a lot quieter than I expected.. I decided to take it easy this time and so have been recharging the batteries by the pool and the sea than the bar and the club! Can't wait to come here with some friends in the future though, it will be a lot more hectic I'm sure!
So then, in the morning I will be jetting off back to Jakarta for another short spell in my favourite city... We shall see what fun and games comes into play there.