Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Camping in Dukhan

So my home Internet fried out for whatever reason. It took a good number of days to fix, mostly due to finding a time in my schedule when I could be at my apartment to meet the technician from the phone company, so wasn't able to update the blog while the wi-fi was out.

Thus I’ve got some blogging catching-up to do. I haven't even posted photos from my trip to Italy and that was almost a month ago! Anyway a couple of weekends ago friends of mine organized a big camping trip on Dukhan Beach. About 25 people went. You didn’t have to stay overnight but if you did there were buildings with majlis seating that you could crash on. This was not “roughing it” camping, it was actually a semi-private beach owned by a Qatari company, one of the organizers works for the company so booked it for us.

I arrived in the afternoon and while we waited for others to arrive many of us sat in the outdoor majlis, chatting or playing FIFA on a gaming console (yes, outdoors, I think the electricity was provided by an extension cord to the building). A Nespresso machine was next to the TV.

It was too cold for swimming, and there was a brisk wind which was kicking up waves.

After more guys arrived there was a break to play some soccer at a nearby field.

Dinner was goat, Yemeni-style. A Yemeni friend of ours likes to come to these trips and do the cooking. A pit is dug and wood is burnt in the pit until it forms a hot charcoal.

At which point the packages of marinated goat are placed on the coals in the pit is covered up with more wood burned on top of it. The meat stays in the ground for hours.

While that's cooking they cook up a huge pot of rice that contains various spices such as saffron and cardamom. My contribution was to bring some pots of my homemade chili, which a lot of the guys like to have with the rice.

We played a lot of Brazillia, FIFA and even chess while we waited for the meat to cook.

Dinner is served! (This was just one tray of six)

After dinner we spent a few more hours chatting and so forth, mostly around the fire as it starting getting quite cold, until it got really late. I decided to head home rather than sleep there as I had some stuff to do next morning.

Winter is the time for camping in Qatar. I went on a smaller camping/picnic trip the following weekend, I hope to go to a few more in the next few months.

Friday, January 06, 2017

ExxonMobil Tennis 2017

I was fortunate enough to get a ticket to the tennis from a friend of mine. We got to see World Number 1 Andy Murray playing against Jeremy Chardy.

The organizers have improved things a bit and got stricter about kids going to the tournament, so this time there were no disruptions due to noise. Everyone seemed to be mindful of not using flash photography as well.

The first set Murray won 6-0. Chardy just couldn't get his game, or his serve, together and so the set was pretty dull to watch. Thankfully he regrouped and gave Murray a run for his money in the second set, Murray won but on tiebreak, 7-6. Much more exciting to watch.

A friend is going to try to get tickets for the final. It's already sold out so I don't hold out much hope.

Monday, January 02, 2017

New Year Cleanup

January 1 was a bank holiday here in Qatar so I had the day off to sleep in and get some things organized.

1) Went through the medicine cabinet and threw out all expired medications

2) Went through the fridge and cupboards and threw out all expired food (I'm looking at you there, condiments)

3) Do a general decluttering, my New Year’s Resolution. I’m about a third of the way through that. When I moved to Qatar over 10 years ago I moved here with five suitcases full of clothes and things. That’s it. Now I probably have enough stuff to fill 25 suitcases. Drawers and cupboards full of things that I probably haven't looked at in years. So I’m slowly going through my apartment and getting rid of stuff. Some of it is throw-away (such as a half used bottle of car wax from six years ago), some of it I'm putting in a pile to see if my cleaning man wants any of it before I throw it out (or, if clothing, give it to charity).

4) Finally I turned in my liquor permit today to get the deposit back. What? Why would I do that? In the past a liquor permit required a QR 1000 deposit, there was no fee to use. Now they have implemented a fee, roughly QR 150-400 depending on how many years your residence permit lasts. I think for me it would be QR 250 every two years. I pretty much never use my permit, I think I only used it once in the last two years and that was only because I had to go to the liquor store to renew my permit, so while I was there I picked something up. I don’t really drink at home, and almost all my friends here are Muslims, so alcohol is just not a big factor for me here. I didn't see the need to pay money for the permit so I gave it up. I can still go to the bar if I ever want to drink something.

Maybe I’ll join a gym as well? How many people have done that and only gone a few times?

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Reflections of 2016

So another year has come and gone. While I know the Internet has been disappointed with this year due to all of the celebrity deaths my year was pretty good. Like every year I spent the last couple of days going through my photos.

On a fishing boat, Juan de Fuca Strait, Canada.

Of course I'm going to have wine and cheese. At a café near the Arc de Triomphe, Paris.

Kayaking in the mangroves, Thakira, Qatar.

A different angle of Michelangelo's David. Florence, Italy.

Lazing on the beach, Seychelles.

Dinner time at the majlis, Doha.

Enjoying a beautiful day in the sunshine. Vancouver, Canada.

Boating in the harbour. Bodrum, Turkey

On the steps of Sacre-Coeur Cathedral. Paris.

Chilling with a shisha at a well-known shisha cafe in Dubai, UAE.

Exploring the souq in Al Wakra, Qatar.

Of course you know where this is. I'm not sure how it hasn't fallen over. Pisa, Italy.

Showing off a new hairstyle. Victoria, Canada.

Watching the Euro Cup semifinals at a café in Montmartre, Paris.

Giant tortoises! They are only found in two places in the world, one of which is the Seychelles.

Enjoying a Florentine steak at the famous Trattoria Mario. Florence, Italy.

More and more often I seem to be wearing a thobe when I'm in Qatar.

Photobombing my niece's attempt to take a photo of the British Columbia Parliament Building. Victoria, Canada.

Enjoying a swim with my friends at a hotel in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

A lovely selection of baklava at a cafe in Bursa, Turkey.

Enjoying a concert of traditional Arabic music at Souq Waqif, Doha.

Having a drink at a bar in Florence, Italy.

Enjoying an ice cream. Everywhere, Earth.

Watching the sun go down at the beach. Dukhan, Qatar.

Hiking around a park in Vancouver Island, Canada.

I made a new friend. Doha.

I hope you all have a great 2017!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I'm back in Doha for Christmas, having just returned from a trip in Italy (more about that in another post). While Christmas is not a national holiday in Qatar my office does give us Christmas off, so I spent it meeting friends for Christmas brunch at the St. Regis Hotel.

I hope everyone had an excellent holiday.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Mall of Qatar is now open!

Today was the soft opening of the Mall of Qatar. A friend and I, as well as a few thousand others, went on opening day to take a look.

There's a five-star hotel attached to the mall, which is also open. It's operated by Hilton Hotels.

The mall is huge! It might be the largest mall in Qatar. Carrefour is the supermarket, like everywhere else. Not every shop in the mall is open of course but here's some stores that I don't think are elsewhere in Qatar (after this I'll show you the restaurants). All of these were open.

What about food?

Finally, coming soon . . . .

Geez, that's a lot of shops, and that's without the many shops that you also find in the malls (except for the Tim Hortons I tried to limit the pictures to new shops or places with maybe one other location in Doha).

If I take pictures of any changes I'll update this blog post so check back occasionally if you don't get a chance to get out there yourself.