Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lhokseumawe to Langsa

Day 2 of this trip started out with an Indonesian breakfast that had been left outside of our rooms. It was comprised of rice, a piece of chicken, and some veggies. All in all a very tasty meal. It was washed down with a cup of Aceh coffee. Think of a quadruple espresso with two tablespoons of sugar: hot, black, thick, very strong and very sweet. Actually very good.

As we walked out of the hotel the school directly across the street was welcoming the children. There were two school teachers in lavender uniforms greeting each child as they arrived. Can you image the teachers dressing like this and greeting the children at the curb back home. Other teachers in the back were lining up the children and were keeping them entertained with songs and exercises.

We then visited the Kota Lhokseumawe branch to check their radio installation. It wasn’t too bad. Glen got an opportunity to download the radio programming onto the PC, make changes, and upload the changes to the radio. Here Glen does the work ably supported by Alex, the IFRC technician, the local radio operator, and Jumari, our interpreter.

After we had done some preliminary work at the branch we all went into the city center to do some “hunting” – i.e. shopping with a list and a time limit: grounding stakes, grounding clamps, solid copper cable, electrical wire, screws, butane for the soldering iron, etc! It was good fun shopping at a local store. Originally they only had three grounding clamps. When I asked them where I could buy more, one of the attendants disappeared out the back door and came back five minutes later with another four. They didn’t want to lose that sale.

Back to the branch office and we accomplished our first “real” work by pounding in a
grounding stake and creating a solid ground for the radio mast and the radio chassis. 
Outside the office was this truck emblematic of the many Red Cross national societies around the world that have donated money, time, and materials to Aceh Province. This van was donated by the people of Taiwan.

After completing our work in Kota Lhokseumawe branch we headed down the road further east to the Aceh Timur Branch outside the city of Langsa, about 4 hours away. It’s another new building replacing an older one in the city center. The radio installation had just been moved here 2 weeks previous and they were having difficulties communicating with anyone. We checked out the installation and all of us got shocks off the
equipment - no grounding. That will have to be fixed.

We weren’t immediately sure what other problems were going on but when we left Glen looked up at the antennas and exclaimed “I see a major problem right here!” I know this photo won’t make sense to most of you, but trust me, this is NOT the way to install an HF antenna. One of the wires of the antenna is touching the mast and another antenna wire is touching the guy wires. We have work to do here tomorrow! This was a bit of a surprise as, by and large, the installations have all been very well done. We'll be sure to follow up the PMI techs who did the job and give them some training on these antennas.

We drove into Langsa and got hotel rooms for the night. I won the toss for a second night in a row for the slightly better room. Tonight I have hot water and being the true gentleman that I am I invited Glen over for a hot shower.

1 comment:

  1. This is interesting seeing the antena!

    Hmmm... better room? What's going on out there... bidding =)