Monday, April 28, 2008

There's No 'I' In Team And There's No 'U' in Qatar

One day visa for $28. Rental car for $30 & airport tax of $11. $5 to go from Empty to Full on the gas tank. I had eight hours to prove the hypothesis that Qatar is the most boring country in the world.

It started out nicely enough. Alone among the Gulf States, Qatar had left 40 yards in between the 'corniche' road along the coast and the actual water, so that there was room for palm trees, grass, and a promenade. And there was less than a square mile of a mini Dubai, with impressive shiny buildings all being built.

The mall didn't open until 10, and that was going to be my only chance for real food. So I cruised around the older part of Doha, the capital city. It was solid middle class Arabian business district, neither fancy nor depressed. When I got to the mall at 10:07 almost every parking place was already taken.

Tha mall itself, which is supposed to be the high point of a trip to Doha, was not nearly as impresive as the other Gulf ones I had seen. So after finding a Subway and a Starbucks, I headed out to cruise the countryside.

Qatar is flat and stony desert, kind of like the pictures of the surface of Mars, but not remotely as glamorous. I was kind of going towards a 'quaint fishing village' at the north end of the peninsula. For the first time there were lots and lots of trucks. Slow ones. Plus for the first time the traffic was sort of dangerous and the roads were of very uneven quality.

I pulled off at a 'public gardens', which had parking for 1000 cars. I was the third one there. It consisted of some wilted grass and some wilted hedges, all in the hot sun. I then went to a small nearby town.

I then got totally lost trying to find my way back. Qatar is totally lacking in directional signs, except for the ones that lead you in the wrong direction. It took me over an hour and a half to become unlost.

I now had a steely resolve to get to that fishing village, and finally reached it at 3:15. It wasn't quaint and it wasn't a fishing village. I now had to get back to Doha and find the airport again all by 5:00.

The road back, like the road there, was surrounded by dirty, ugly industrial construction projects.

I did manage to get to the airport without any problems. Most importantly, the hypothesis had been proved.


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