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Beer and Biryani :: The Travelling Adventures of Matt & Donna  
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February 03, 2007 - February 10, 2007

Qatar is a Dirty Word

At least that's what you would think after working at the DIFC for a few years.

Beer of choice: Corona
Music of choice: Bhangra (Indian Ocean)

And so my trip begins. Before joining Donna in Capetown on the 12th, I decided to fly over to Doha for a week to unwind, de-stress, and chill out in the sun. I kept the trip a bit hush hush because in the current climate at work, you never know if they will hold out my final payment or not, what with the QFC firing up a bit of solid competition for the DIFC and all.

My final days in dubai were well spent starting with a night out with the guys at Mehdi, a Bombay dance bar hidden away in Bur Dubai, complete with all singing, all dancing bar girls, and bead tossing fans happy to see a little skin wiggled around on stage. A great night out and something a little different from my previous 3 years in Dubai. I managed to clear out the apartment and get everything packed away for shipping back to Australia, before the UAE hooligans hit the streets in their 4x4's to celebrate the UAE's win in the Gulf Cup. I don't think i have ever seen a more reckless display of driving than on that friday afternoon. Every man and his dog hit Sheikh Zayed Road, kids hanging out car windows, teenagers sitting on roofs of cars, quad bikes doing donuts in the middle of the road. Total lunacy, its no wonder someone dies on the roads of dubai every day.

That night we polished off a couple of bottles of wine over a DVD or two, and the next day, quite possibly the perfect way to finish off my stay in dubai, sank some quiet pints down at the Irish Village before heading off to the airport.

If flights can possibly provide an omen of things to come, then my flight to Doha didn't bode well. After checking in early I was pushed onto an earlier flight, which was good, however after waiting around on the tarmac for an hour before taking off, and then the 4km transit from the planes parking point at Doha airport to the terminal, meant the actual arrival time was the same as my original scheduled flight.

And on to Qatar - what can you say about this wonderful little town. For those of you have read anything on the Beer and Biryani site, you would know that this trip is too me done on the cheap, the less we spend, the longer we travel, simple. Our accommodation will be in backpackers, our transport rough and ready. However coming from Dubai where life is served to you on a silver platter, one can't just rush into the whole backpacker experience, one needs to ease into the role.

Each day in Qatar basically followed the following routine, after sleeping a very peaceful night at the Four Seasons Hotel I would be awoken first thing in the morning by Shank's Man Servant Ganga, who was kind enough to provide a steaming hot cup of coffee before I had to actually leave the bed. After chowing down on an omellette or some eggs on toast, I would shower, have another coffee, before heading out and lunching in a 5 star restaurant somewhere in town.

Ganga Our Man Ganga, amazing what he could do with a simple cup of coffee

Afternoons were an important detoxification starting with a small nap, before waking to a cold beer and some masala snacks. Evenings were an officious affair where we donned dinner suits and dined out at the Diplomatic Club or venues of that nature (ok, so we hit the local bars for a few cold beers and some pub grub).

Yep, just easing my way into the backpacker lifestyle, but hey, thats life when you happen to be living with the last Maharajah of Uhtra Pradesh (Shhh, don't tell anyone)...

And now, onto some of the highlights of my short trip to Qatar.

Garvee's, written up in most of the What's On publications of Qatar as one of the leading pubs in Doha. After driving for about two hours to find this establishment, hidden in a compound in the industrial district, Shank and I were promptly turned away. As it turns out, the "European Family Club" is a whites only establishment and we clearly were not welcome. Nice to see some good ole' southern red neck racism in Qatar of all places.

After this debarkle we hit most of the other advertised pubs and bars throughout Doha over the week I was there. The simple truth of the matter is, Doha is seriously lacking any kind of quality nightlife, and in nearly every establishment we ventured into, the patronage was 99% male, with one lone female if you were lucky. Pity the single man in Qatar.

Aside from the night life there is very little to do during the day, there are no major tourist attractions to see, I've already done the whole souk and safari thing, and as far as the shopping malls go, stock up before you arrive. I managed a stroll along the corniche which is really nice, and as far as hosts go, Shank is one of the best.

In summary, although I'm not as extensively traveled as others yet, Doha could quite possibly be the most boring city in the world. And so for now, Qatar just may be a dirty word, on this I will keep you updated.

The Bet:
Shank, being an Indian of sorts (the curry kind), finds it unfortunate that we Aussies have a pretty good run of it with getting Visa's for most countries. He therefore felt it his obligation to challenge me to gain entry to that fine old country of North Korea. The rules being simple, I have until 2015 to complete this task, I must at least get a Visa for the country, entry itself is not required. Entering the country through one of the gimmicks in South Korea does not count.

The Stakes:
The stakes are simple, and in reality every one is a winner. The winner of the bet gets to select the venue of his choosing for a holiday anywhere in the world, at which we both must attend (at our own costs of course).

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That is of course only in your opinion. I lived there for ten years and frequent it often. You my friend were there for what, 5 days. Doha is a combination of things, the beautiful weather, the magnificent hotels and shops, the cleanliness, the cheap cost of living in comparison to many cities. The fact that you dont have to lock your cars and houses and dont have to worry about your children getting into drugs. You dont hear of murders and vandalism everyday on the news. All that aside it is the people, the ex-pats and qataris alike that make the experience worthwhile. To go out for a drink there is not to get trolleyed and have a fight in the street, it is to have a laugh and some proper banter with friends and colleagues. There is a community there that look after each other and do things together. Therefore I think your problem in Doha was your lack of company and friends to go out and enjoy the life with.

lyndsay - Aug 17, 2007


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