I've been in Kandahar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
over the last week or so doing site visits and meeting with our team members
there. If you're not familiar, Kandahar is located in the southern part of
Afghanistan, which is where the majority of the fighting is currently
happening. Despite the reality of being in the middle of where all the action is going on around you, the irony is that I can also now understand why they call
it "Club Kandahar". Despite lots of fighting in the area, Kandahar
has a bit of a "Club Med" type feel to it, at least compared to
Bagram, which is more slum like if you want my humble opinion. Kandahar has a boardwalk
that rivals some of what you see in the U.S. alongside various beaches (i.e.,
San Diego, Myrtle Beach, etc.)…minus the water of course. Even the PX/BX at Kandahar rivals a really bad PX/BX stateside. It's by no means a
resort compared to U.S. standards so perhaps "summer camp" would be
the appropriate analogy. I sat in a TGI Friday's one night for a couple of
hours getting some work done and almost lost sight of the fact I was even
The other fascinating part about Kandahar was the business and diversity of the flight line activity. I ran around the flight line one afternoon (in very comfortable 70 degree sunny weather compared to a 40 degree haze at Bagram I might add) and saw virtually every aircraft in the inventory (and many NATO aircraft as well) take off and land at some point during the 8-mile jaunt. I wish I had pictures to share but you can't take pictures of the flight line due to security concerns. Since Kandahar is led by NATO rather than the U.S., it also has more of a laid back European feel to it. For example, you can wear your running suit to the DFACs, whereas at Bagram you have to be in your duty uniform. Kandahar is also a "no salute" base which also adds to a sense of more levity there. Each country even has its own DFAC so you have a good selection of different types of food.
Because I didn't have a good office there to work from, my connectivity at Kandahar wasn't as good as it is at Bagram. However, Sprint still had good international data coverage in Kandahar, which was a great backup. Interestingly, I set up a mobile office each night in the community bathroom of the dorm where I was staying because I had a roommate on most nights and didn't want to disturb him late in the evening. I can now check off on my life list of "to dos" of having had a mobile office in a bathroom...hopefully something I never do again! However, the rooms were still much better than the B-Huts because they at least had indoor plumbing, good insulation and heating, and concrete floors.
Here are a few photos from the trip (bear in mind for security reasons I try to be careful not to show too many pictures of people who might not want their faces to be shown on a blog).
A local ice cream shop on the Boardwalk
Looking down the Boardwalk...it has 4 sides to it so basically a square
I stopped here to get a strawberry smoothie after going to the gym.
They have a Nathan's hotdog stand along with TGI Friday's and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
This was the soccer field in the center of the Boardwalk. It also had a running track and hockey rink in the center.
I am back safe and sound. I will have a few more follow-up posts from the Kandahar trip soon!