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  • Well, almost fifteen hours later I have arrived at my layover point - Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar. The plane's display indicates we have travelled 7753 miles at roughly 575 miles per hour.

    The plane ride here was uneventful (which, when you are 38,000 feet in the air, is a good thing). Dinner was actually a decent beef stew with Israeli couscous and veggies.

    I tried to sleep after dinner but it was fitful at best. I used to think I could sleep just about anywhere, but this sardine can that they call economy class leaves much to be desired for comfort. Luckily there were no screaming babies and because there was no one in the middle seat, I wasn't disturbed by someone needing to get out every ten minutes.

    Brunch was an omelet which was not too bad, but I really had no appetite and so only ate about three bites and then gave up to just finish my hot tea.

    Really looking forward to getting out of this tin can with wings and stretching my legs even if it's just for a little while before my next flight.

    The airport is very modern, well laid out and strangely quiet for an international airport. Have to say that with all the Indians, Pakistani and Middle eastern women around, I feel slightly under dressed. Oh well, there are enough westerners that my knee length skirt doesn't seem to garner too much attention.

    There are some very beautiful art pieces and's a bear. Strange.

    Off again very shortly to Abu Dhabi.
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  • As part of our flights package, we scored business class seats on our long haul trips. I'm never going back to economy class again!! It was incredible! You can order food at any time during the flight. They even make your bed for you (put a sheet over your seat) but we didn't utilise that extravagant service.

    After 11 hours on the plane, we finally landed in Doha. Us lucky ducks get to relax for 9 hours in the Business Lounge. Few more kips in the lounge before we set off again on our last leg to Paris.Read more

  • Hamad International Airport is a relatively small airport, reasonably well-equipped with food, baggage trolleys, restrooms, praying facilities (for Muslims) and lounge facilities but doesn't really offer much in terms of entertainment and shopping. They make up for it with a free Doha City Tour.

    Eat Street is the name of the dining area which according to the airport's website, allows travellers to enjoy cuisines from around the world. Now I think that's a bit of a stretch because the selection is extremely limited, but we did get some nice Arabic food from a store called Azka, and the customer service was nice. The currency in Qatar is Qatar Riyals, but USD and credit cards are accepted.

    I had Lebanese Tabbouleh, traditionally made of tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, and onion, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt (Thanks Wikipedia!). The brown thing is Kibbeh, a Levantine dish made of burghul (cracked wheat), minced onions and finely ground lean beef, lamb, goat or camel meat. Mine was lamb. It's very nice and crispy, and a good supplement to my greens which despite being very crunchy and appetizing, made me feel less than full. Bad choice for breakfast!

    We rested in a lounge before our flight. This is my favourite part of the airport. The chairs are so comfortable! They're angled just like the lounging chairs at the beach, and it is so easy to doze off on them. Furthermore, they are very near the departure gates, so if you do ever doze off, you only have a short distance to run. There are women-only lounges and we practically had the whole place to ourselves.

    For more pictures and details, visit my Flickr album:
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  • Overview of the Doha City Tour:

    If you have a long transit at Hamad International Airport, you can go on the Doha City Tour for free, no Visa needed. Details can be found on the official website

    When we touched down at HIA, the first thing we did was head to the registration counter for the city tour as we were afraid there would be many people and insufficient vacancies. Turns out that our group only consisted of a very small handful of people - Ivy and I, a solo Korean tourist, and a couple from Nigeria with their 2 children. We registered our details with the counter staff and were told to come back in a couple of hours time.

    When we came back, we had to fill up a document for the tour, which we had to hand over when we leave the airport for the tour. The usual checking of bags and passports had to be done at the customs before leaving the airport.

    Our tour guide was a Nepalese, and he was nice and appeared knowledgeable, and was able to answer most of the questions asked by an (annoyingly) inquisitive couple. However, said couple had an early flight to catch and as a result the usually 3-hour tour was cut short and the Museum of Islamic Art was dropped from our itinerary.

    An air-conditioned shuttle bus brought us around, and we received a complimentary bottle of mineral water each. On the bus, the tour guide shared with us some trivia about Qatar. I forgot most of it (oops) but I remembered him saying that Qatar was a very young country that is trying to modernise as quickly as possible and turn itself into a city state. That would explain the skyscrapers and construction works that were everywhere.

    Ivy managed to get a couple of decent photos of some of their buildings from the moving bus.

    At the end of the tour, the bus brought us back to the airport. The tour guide didn't ask for tips, but I really wished we could tip him. Although the tour was very rushed, I think he did his best. However, we didn't have any sort of currency in small enough denominations, so we shuffled away guiltily. Thank goodness the inquisitive couple tipped him; he deserved it most from them as they had been obnoxious throughout the whole tour, even asking him about his base salary which wasn't much. (Ivy and I went uh-oh when he said tips were important to supplement his income) If you go on this tour, remember that tipping is not compulsory, but nice to do so, and carry some spare change on you.
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  • This was the view of the sea from The Pearl-Qatar. The place is extremely dusty and I had to do some serious tweaking to the contrast in the photo or the buildings wouldn't show up! The grey, smooth, phallic looking building is aptly nicknamed the condom building by the locals.

    Our tour guide offered to help us with this photo. The weather wasn't really hot, but the sun was so bright my eyes were tearing up.Read more

  • Our next stop on the Doha City Tour was the Katara Cultural Village. Schedule was tight, so I literally experienced nothing that I saw on the village's official website, but I did take a number of photos. More photos and details can be found here:

  • The only place our tour guide brought us to experience was at the Katara Cultural Village was the Qatar Photographic Society. Funny choice because something more traditional would have been more interesting for us. There was an exhibition of equestrian-themed photos, all of which were very high-quality. Some resembled paintings.

  • My first flight takes me to Doha, Qatar. After a smooth check in, I settle down for the first flight. About 6 hours, 3 movies and a chicken pomodore later, I arrive at Doha. Unfortunatly with half an hour of delay, which means I have to run to get my next flight.