Friday, December 4, 2009

It was good to be out of the rain

As salam alaykum, alaykum as salam (peace be upon you and upon you peace). Alrighty then - catch up time. First - we've safely arrived in Doha, had some exploratory visits around our apartment and made ourselves pretty much at home. All in two days! The picture left is our new front door!

We arrived at 8,30am yesterday (Thursday Dec 3) after a fairly marathon trip. First the 3 hour trip to Sydney, an hour plus wait, then about a 13 hour flight to Dubai, another hour wait and finally an hour flight to Doha. As we travelled through the night and subsequently fell behind NZ time by 10 hours we dozed fitfully. Poor Jade was heavy with a cold and arrived pretty cream crackered yesterday.

We had thousands of films and things to choose from on board. I went for a walkabout and looked back at the passengers in our section (the airbus is huge and feels like separate cities rather than sections) and all video monitors were watching somthing different. I watched the scifi film District 9 (pretty good actually), Angels and Demons (pretty good actually 2 - way better than The Da Vinci Code but then so is the book), and Ice Age 3 - hilarious!!

We didn't see much of Dubai as we landed in the early morning and then saw only the airport - lovely though it was. So our first real look at the middle east was the flight to Qatar and specifically, flying into Doha. I must admit it looked spectacular in the early morning sunshine. The desert gives way to beautiful sand coloured buildings on the outskirts and then amazing modern architecture towards the coast. It was a lovely day yesterday - 20ish degrees and some clear blue skies through the desert shimmer. And a bit of a breeze. It felt like a perfect NZ summer day without the scorching sun with its radiation effects. All a bit of a shock after 9 months of cold and rain in Taranaki. We certainly don't need to consult weather forecasts now. No rain on the immediate plan here. Today it's forecast for a 25 high. Same day after that..

We were met at the airport by Cognition people and my immediate boss - Colin Donald, He's been here for a few years and is a lovely guy - very helpful and very knowledgeable. He took us back to our apartment which turns out to be in a hotel. Its actually called the Legends Hotel Resort and Spa. Our address if anyone is asking (or you need to send a Happy Crimble card) is Apartment 704, Legends Hotel Resort and Spa, Corner of B Ring Road and Najma St., Najma District, Doha, Qatar. If dad was around he would immediately have found us on google earth. Hayden - you'll have to do the honours!

I've taken some photos of our not so humble home for the next 8 months. We have two bedrooms each with ensuite bathrooms, a separate bathroom, lounge, dining area, kitchen and it's lovely. Air conditioned and very comfortable. We have a great view, a gymnasium and pool on the first floor (we're on the 7th) and various other things I haven't discovered yet.

First the views from our bedroom window looking east, then west over Doha:

And here we are settling in:

And the pool/gym areas:

Last night Jacky and I went with Colin to one of the local malls - called Villagio. We were there for about three hours and saw maybe 1/10th of it. It's huge beyond all description. about 10 Westfields. It incorporates an ice-skating rink, a 13 cinema multiplex, a river with gondolas (yes I did the Monty Python routine) and various sections based on country themes (overall the mall has an Italian theme). I'll take my camera next time and try to capture some of it. We waited for our driver (Zabeer) outside and marvelled at the cars and traffic. Qatar has a total population of 1.5 million and half of them live in Doha. It seemed to me that 750,000 people had taken to the roads and motorways. The driving is not for the faint hearted either. Ross would marvel at the Lambourginis and Ferraris (couldn't see a Holden Ross).

Today we ventured out to the city centre and visited another giant mall. Although it's Friday - for Muslims the sacred day of the week, there were plenty of people about. Tomorrow is a day off as well and then I'm into my first work day on Sunday. More on that another post.

That should give you a flavour of our introduction (it's now the next day - Saturday to confuse you slightly). More to come...inshallah (Godwilling).

Love and peace - Wozza

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