A Perambulation around Paramaribo: Part 2

There are two reasons why I decided to split up my trip into a multipart extravaganza.  The main reason is because one long post would have been exceptionally photo heavy, and secondly, because the internet is very slow here, and it would have taken an age to upload all the other photos.  Oh, and because everyone loves a multipart special!

Anyway, picking up from where we left off from yesterday, on my journey around the central area of Paramaribo, I’d reached the wooden cathedral of St Peter and St Paul.  It was rather striking, and is built entirely out of wood (as far as I know).  Crossing the road, I went inside.

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Unlike the mediæval stone cathedrals of Europe, this one was very light and airy inside.  This was definitely a good move, given how hot it was outside.  Being in the shade was a refreshing change at this point, as I’d been out in the sun for the best part of an hour and a half (and being of Northern European descent, my skin was getting a rather sound beating from the sun)!

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With the cathedral having been seen, it was time to make my way slowly back to the hotel where I was staying (and where the office is situated).  En route, I stopped by Independence Square (which I’d passed on my way into town, but hadn’t stopped at).  Various important government buildings surround the square, including the Presidential Palace, the Finance Ministry, and the National Assembly.

The Presidential Palace

The Presidential Palace

The Finance Ministry

The Finance Ministry

Moving round to the riverside edge of the square one finds Fort Zeelandia.  Originally built by the Dutch, it was extended and reinforced by the Brits (Fun Fact: it turns out Suriname was one of Britain’s colonies for a bit, but it was swapped for what is now New York as part of the peace settlement reached at the end of the Second Anglo-Dutch War).

Fort Zeelandia

Fort Zeelandia

The final stop on my two hour expedition was to the Palmentuin, the oldest park in Paramaribo, and a national monument.  It was a delightful place (aside from the warnings not to visit it at night from the FCO).  However at midday it was very peaceful.  It contains around 1,000 palm trees, giving it an exceptionally tropical vibe.

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After this, I strolled back to the office before grabbing lunch.  All in all, a very enjoyable and interesting morning!

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A Perambulation around Paramaribo: Part 1

Due to various reasons, too numerous and tedious to list here, there has been no work to do since I arrived in Suriname on Tuesday evening.  I have however been required to man the office with my colleague during office hours.  Sadly this has led to exceptionally itchy feet being developed (figuratively speaking of course), as it seemed a bit of a wasted opportunity to sit in an office with nothing to do, whilst in a country one is highly unlikely to ever return to again.  Fortunately, my colleague this morning (for we work 7 days a week the entire time we are out here) said I could have a couple of hours off to have a look around.  Said colleague instantly became a hero in my book, and I seized the opportunity with a slightly manic level of enthusiasm.  Having a quick look at Lonely Planet webpage for Paramaribo, it lists the sum total of nine things to see (at the time of writing).  Of these, there are more or less two duplicates, leading to a realistic count of around seven things to see (although the Cathedral isn’t listed on that site).  Anyway, without further ado, let’s get down to business.

A tradition that I started during my Chilean exploits, I have bought the national flag of each country I have been to, and so top of the to do list was the need to acquire a Surinamese flag.  Fortunately I’d done my homework, and I knew exactly where to buy one.  There’s an arts and crafts shop called Readytex that caters to tourists, and so this was the first target of the day.  To get there I walked along the riverside, and enjoyed the colonial architecture and saw the Suriname River, along with the bridge and the wreck of De Goslar (link in Dutch), which was sunk in 1940 and has been there ever since.

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After buying my flag, I took a quick detour to look at a church, and went in search of the Central Market.  This was enormous, with all sorts of fruits, vegetables, and fish on sale from a plethora of vendors.

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Inside the covered area of the market was an enormous array of stalls, selling more fruit and vegetables.  There was also an upstairs section where clothes and other assortments were available for purchase.

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Looking at the ground floor of the market from the staircase up to the first floor

Next door to the main building of the market was another, smaller one that sold a variety of herbs and other odds and ends.

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After exploring these various stalls, I headed back out into the baking equatorial midday sunshine, and ambled to my next destination, the wooden cathedral of St Peter and St Paul.  That is where the next instalment will continue from.

Gooooood Morning Suriname!

So I have arrived.  The flights were long and uneventful, especially the transfer at Amsterdam Schiphol, but I am at least here.  It’s a stark contrast to the UK here, with temperatures of 30C all year round (much nicer than the 6C I left behind)!  Upon stepping off the plane, I was greeted with a smell I’d only encountered once before, in London.  It was the smell of the rainforest (hardly a big surprise given that the airport was in the Amazon!).  (In London the same smell may be found inside the Palm House at Kew Gardens in case you’re wondering why there’s a rainforest smell in London).

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Paramaribo is a rather quaint capital city.  There are no high rise buildings to be seen anywhere, and many of the houses are built in the style of Dutch houses.  Palm trees are found everywhere, and there are (what I assume to be) tropical birds singing.  Unfortunately, given that I’m working here rather than holidaying, I won’t get to see much of the city, but such is life.  Something is better than nothing though of course!

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Today is fairly quiet aside from a couple of meetings (in reality this equates a casual chat with various people), but tomorrow the work is likely to ramp up some more.

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The New Computer

I remember a while ago I said I’d write about my new computer, so without further ado, here is said post!

Obviously, the first thing to talk about are the specifications, so they’re listed below:

  • CPU | Intel Core i5-4690K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor
  • CPU Cooler | Noctua NH-U14S 55.0 CFM CPU Cooler
  • Motherboard | Asus Z97-PRO (Wi-Fi ac) ATX LGA1150 Motherboard
  • RAM | Corsair Vengeance LP 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 CAS 9 Memory
  • Graphics Card | Sapphire AMD R9 280X VAPOR-X TRI-X
  • Solid State Drive | Samsung 840 EVO 500GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive
  • Hard Disk Drive | Western Digital Red 2TB 3.5″ 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive
  • Case | Corsair 760T White ATX Full Tower Case
  • Power Supply | Corsair 860W 80+ Platinum Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply
  • Optical Drive | Pioneer BDR-209DBK Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer
  • Monitor | Asus VE247H 23.6″ Monitor
  • Primary Operating System | Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard Edition
  • Secondary Operating System | Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
  • Other | Motherboard 4 pin Buzzer

I spent several weeks reading oh so many reviews about every single part, and eventually decided on the selection you see above.  One advantage of building your own computer is that you can choose the specifications exactly, but it can take quite a lot of time if you get keen.  Depending on your level of geekery, you can end up reading (and being interested in) exceptionally detailed reviews (like this one for the power supply I bought).

One of the first steps in the build was to install the CPU.  This is a simple thing to do, but can be expensive if you make a small mistake.  The CPU goes in a special socket on the motherboard that has 1150 tiny pins (which correspond to 1150 tiny contacts on the bottom of the CPU) – it looks like this.  If you bend even just one of these, then you’ve got either a very difficult DIY repair job (as the motherboard makers don’t repair this part), or you buy a new motherboard.  Fortunately I was very careful, and managed to put the CPU in without any trouble.

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The CPU placed in the socket

Once this was done, the next stage was to install the CPU cooler. Most CPUs come with one, including mine, but I elected to get a better one (as I intend to overclock it in a couple of years, and adding this now would save me the hassle of changing it later).

Cpu cooler added

CPU cooler added

Next was to connect this partial assembly up to the power supply and do a trial boot outside the case (in case something doesn’t work, you don’t want to have to remove it all from the case).

Fortunately it all worked fine, and I heard the reassuring “beep” noise that you don’t really hear in computers any more (hence the purchase of a motherboard buzzer).  After this was just the installation inside the case which was fairly painless, and plugging all the remaining fans and cables in (along with connecting the SSD and Hard Drive up).

A few days later, my graphics card arrived, and after that, the Blu Ray drive.  Once they had been added in, it was all finished!  All that remains now is for a few more pictures!

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The final result (click to enlarge)

A Fun Weekend

Last weekend was excellent if I can be completely honest.  For starters there was no 10 mile walk (see previous post for details). Friday evening consisted of me meeting up with several of my second cousins (and one first cousin once removed if you’re keen on genealogical pedantry) who all live near/in SW London, along with their various partners.  It was a hugely enjoyable evening, and great to catch up with them all again.

Saturday I had a work social with some of my colleagues.  This involved going on a steam train that had two real ale breweries on board, selling various beers that they’d made.  Let’s be honest, it’s a pretty golden combination.  Steam trains and beer?  Hard to go wrong.

Sunday concluded the weekend with a visit to my parents and grandparents back on the other side of Surrey (where I originate from).  A delicious Sunday roast lamb kicked off proceedings, followed by various other goodies.

All in all, pretty successful!

Another Surreal Evening

I’ve started to have a realisation that going out with friends in what at first appear to be normal nights out in London usually end up having rather bizarre and surreal conclusions.  Don’t get me wrong, they certainly make life more interesting, and allows one to increase one’s repertoire of dinner party anecdotes.  The catch is of course that it makes the evening slightly more tiring than is often initially planned!

Take a few weeks ago for example, when JW visited London, and JG and I went out to a bar we know (colloquially christened “Creepy Joe’s” by JW).  As with any other night, we started off with a few beers (and enjoyed the excellent music “Creepy Joe’s” had to offer – 70s and 80s rock for the most part).  Anyway, as the night drew on, and the last trains departed, the bar got more and more busy.  The good thing about busy bars is that you meet some rather interesting characters.  In this instance, the character in question was slightly intimidating at a first glance, with long dark hair and a leather jacket.  He was a Portuguese chap who formerly worked for the MoD. He was enjoying his last few weeks of freedom – quite literally as it happened – he got sacked from the MoD and was due a stretch in chokey for having a rather vicious fight with some Polish gent apparently.  I thought it prudent not to ask for details, but he seemed quite charming.

Anyway, as is often the inevitable conclusion, owing to all the public transport being shut at night, I had no way of getting back to Woking, so I opted to walk to London Bridge (from “Creepy Joe’s” – nearest tube: Angel) to get a train back to my parents’ home (I was visiting them anyway the next day).  Unfortunately for muggins here (who’d forgotten), London Bridge was closed, and so it was a rather lengthy walk from there to Victoria for the train.  It did mean I got to walk past Parliament at half three, which was beautiful as ever.


Moving on to a few weeks later (i.e. last night), I was out with some ancient friends (known for ~18/19 years ish), which was a lovely catch up as I’d not seen them for a while.  After they all dispersed, I went to see some university friends at another pub nearby.  We headed back to one of their flats and watched some TV (because why not?).  At this stage someone suggested going out to a club which was “really good”.  A few minutes later, we got there, and discovered it wasn’t “really good” (think Fifth Form “prom” meets college bop).  It was after this that things came to their inevitable surreal conclusion.

Walking back from around Tottenham Court Road to Waterloo (where said friend’s flat is), we encountered a young American student who had lost her friends (and was not really in a fit state to walk, let alone be left by herself, certainly not at half two in the morning in Central London).  She asked us where Piccadilly Circus was as her friends were waiting there for her.  As it wasn’t too far, I offered to take her and waved goodbye to my friends, saying I’d catch up with them later (as the last trains had left, I’d been offered the floor of the flat to sleep on that night).  Anyway, my new charge soon realised her friends were not in fact waiting at Piccadilly Circus and asked if I’d mind helping her home.  Naturally I agreed (I thought it better than for her to be on the streets alone before being picked up and put in a cell overnight to sober up or worse) and asked where she lived. The reply “Baron’s Court” was not quite the response I was hoping for, given that Hammersmith is a bit of a walk from the West End (~4 miles away), but she was insistent that that was where she lived and she knew her way back from the tube station.  Clearly, I was in for a long night!  Anyway, 90 minutes later, just past Gloucester Road tube station, there was an epiphany (she had sobered up a bit at this point – nothing a good spot of fresh air can’t fix eh?).  Baron’s Court was in fact not where she lived, instead she lived in an exceptionally similarly named Hall of Residence, by Russell Square tube station. Again as before, this was not the response I was hoping for.  Cue another 4 mile walk back towards Central London.

For those of you who aren’t particularly familiar with London geography, here’s a handy map showing the magnitude of the error in all its cartographical glory!:

The green circle shows where I found her, while the red ones show the dichotomy in where we heading.  The blue star shows how far we got before she realised the mistake.  (Image: Google Maps with own annotations).  Click to enlarge

The green circle shows where I found her, while the red ones show the dichotomy in where we originally heading, compared to where she actually lived. The blue star shows how far we got before she realised the mistake. (Image: Google Maps with own annotations). Click to enlarge

Eventually (at half past five in the morning) we arrived and I deposited her with the porters who were (rather understandably) slightly concerned by her disappearance (to the extent that they’d declared her missing to the Met).  Luckily though, all’s well that ends well, and they were grateful for my assistance.  I bade them all farewell and was on my way (to Waterloo to collect my stuff from that flat).

Unfortunately (or rather, obviously) when I arrived at a quarter past six in the morning, I couldn’t get in, so I had to call one of my friends sleeping there (who wasn’t especially thrilled of course – HL I really really owe you one for letting me in)!  I collected my stuff and decided that it was time to head home.  A few minutes later, I was on the 6:30 train to Southampton (Woking was the second stop thank goodness), and I was back in my own bed just as the sun was rising. Thank goodness it’s the weekend and I can have a quiet day!

So what have we learned from these two incidents?  Well first of all it is that strange and peculiar things seem to happen to me on a night out with friends.  Life does have a tendency to be more bizarre these days (certainly when one combines beer, late nights, and Central London).  The second lesson to be taken from this is that London is a BIG city.  Walking it, while exceptionally scenic, does have an element of making you somewhat knackered.  I’ll be honest, 24 hour tubes from next year will make a great difference!  Seeing the City, Parliament, and all that business in the middle of the night is absolutely stunning though.

Oh, and before you ask, I never did catch her name.