I have listed below the top 10 places I tend to visit at Bagram. Before reviewing them, the most important are what we refer to as the “triangle of life”. This is 1) where you sleep, 2) where you work, and 3) where you eat. We call it the triangle of life because these are places you have to go to on a daily basis at a minimum. Everything else is mostly optional. If you get outside of the “triangle of life” and go to other places, which you’re certainly free to do, you’re unnecessarily increasing the risk of getting hit by indirect fire. Generally speaking, you are fine if you’re in a hardened building as most of the rockets are not sophisticated enough to penetrate concrete. The bottom line is that you have to think seriously about whether it’s worth it to go outside the “triangle of life”. In some instances, it certainly is, some examples of which are listed below.
1. Chapel – I have been going to a contemporary service that starts at 10:30. Fellowship with other believers each week is a major highlight. The chapel is actually very close to our main offices and on the way to the DFAC so not too far outside the “triangle of life”.
2. Aviation DFAC – A group of us go to brunch on Sunday morning after chapel.
3. USO near the PAX terminal (AKA passenger terminal or airport) – They make coffee the same way every time…nice and strong. It has a western, rustic feel to it so I feel like I am in a rustic cabin in the middle of nowhere Texas….relaxing place. I tend to only go here when I have to go to the Passenger Termnial (PAX) to pick someone up or when I am headed out on a theater trip.
4. PX/BX – Calling it shopping would be an overstatement because they are frequently out of things, but it’s a worthwhile diversion a couple of times a week to grab a cup of coffee at the Green Bean or eat at Pizza Hut or Popeye’s to break up the DFAC routine. This is also where I get my haircut.
5. Gym – I spend at least an hour a day here. This is outside the triangle of life, but it’s a core essential for my mental health. It’s also very close to our main office (less than a 30 second walk) so not far outside the “triangle of life”.
6. Pink Palace – If I’ve blogged about it once, I’ve blogged about it a hundred times, but this is one of my favorites because it’s where my favorite restroom is located. Hey, when the basics of life are well attended to, life works better. This is definitely a necessary deviation from the “triangle of life”.
7. Shower at the hospital – Once I took my first shower here, I have not taken a shower in the “Cadillac” since. I almost feel like at home. We also have an office at the hospital so this is within my “triangle of life”.
8. Nutritional medicine department at the hospital – This is where the best wifi signal is located on the entire base I think. This particular wifi is exclusive to the Air Force because of a past squabble with the Army where they wouldn’t agree to foot their portion of the tab. So, the Air Force paid for all of it and then subsequently cut off the Army’s access. Your access is actually linked to your computer id so even sharing passwords doesn’t work. They seriously don’t want Army folks on it! A friend of mine who is a dietician has an office in this hotspot area. She is extremely kind to loan it to me late in the evening after she’s gone. I typically work from this office until the wee hours of the morning for what I call my “U.S. day” because it’s daytime in the U.S. and when I am able to engage the ongoing research agenda back in the States, do conference calls, etc. Everyone who graciously tells me I should be more separated doesn’t know me well enough…staying engaged at home is rest and relaxation for me. In fact, I feel most at home here more than anywhere else on Bagram I think…a nice office, good wifi, coffee around the corner, and a quality conference phone that I can use to reach out to anyone in the world. This is probably my favorite spot here.
9. “Motel 8” – This is where our main offices are located. We are fortunate to have a nice “conference room” that is actually a couple of sofas and a big screen TV (shhh, it’s a conference room to everyone else). We even have our own washer and dryer, which is a perk. I tend to work at our Motel 8 offices in the morning and hospital office in the afternoon. Those who know me know I can’t sit in the same spot for too long. I like to move around and change up the scenery.
10. Dragon sandwich shop – On my way back to my B-Hut from the hospital in the early am just prior to going to bed, I stop here around 2:00 am and grab a cup of soup. I usually then head back to the “Motel 8” and wind down with a cup of soup and some U.S. news on television before going to bed.
After unwinding, I then head back to my B-hut to around 3:00 am and go to bed. I wake up around 9:00 am and then the routine starts all over again. For me, the routine keeps the time moving along.