Arriving in Doha late at night we noticed that it was much cooler than Thailand had been when we left the morning before. Loaded up with our backpacks, we left the airport and tried to get a cab to where we were staying. Qatar is obviously not designed for backpackers, however we had done a little research before we left home and had discovered that there was one hostel in the whole country… thats where we were headed. In our best Arabic accents, we tried to ask a taxi driver to the hostel. Having been told that the hostel didn’t exist we persisted and kept asking. Still no luck though, it apparently didnt exist. We then decided we’d have a go at asking them to take us to the street where we’d found it was on. Al lakta Makka. My arabic is far worse than their English but after much confusion we were in the back of a taxi on the way to a dark street somewhere in the middle east. A good start!
Once we got to the hostel we soon noticed that it was very different to any hostel we’d stayed in previously, the walls were concrete and cold and most suprisingly… clean. We had forgotten the meaning of that word. That evening we just went straight to sleep.
The following morning we woke up and it was warm but not hot, it was quite pleasant really and so we decided to go out for a stroll to get our bearings. We ended up chatting and walking and walking further and further away from where we were staying with no real idea of how to get back.. we weren’t that bothered though, putting the world to rights we finally arrived in the city centre… if you can call it that. we walked down the sea front and then went in search of a shopping centre for somewhere we could buy some food. But everywhere seemed to be closed and there was no shops of any kind other than a rather expensive looking car dealership selling ferrari’s and lambo’s. Turns out that being in a middle eastern country on a friday isn’t such a good idea as everything is closed and everyone seems to spend the day in the mosques praying. Doha, was definitely a work in progress though and i think that in a few years time it will probably be quite a nice place to stop over in… but at the moment i’m not really feeling it!!
Eventually we gave in and hailed a cab, again in our best arabic accent, (by now we were getting quite good at this) asked for the driver to take us somewhere where we could shop and eat. Twenty mins later we were dropped off at a large shopping centre next to the countries sports stadiums. This seemed to be more like what i thought it would be like, big posh espensive shops everywhere but more importantly by this time… a food court!! We ended up with some kind of kebab which went down a treat before leaving and yet again spending a while trying to explain where our hostel was. The driver seemed genuinely suprised when he dropped us at the gates, i don’t think he really believed us.
That evening we stayed at the hostel and played lots of games of pool whilst clock watching waiting for the time to head back to the airport. The time had come it was time to go home We phoned for a taxi but yet again they wouldn’t come to get us as we were apparently staying somewhere that didn’t exist. In the end the guy who ran the hostel told us that we should just walk to the main road and hail a cab from there, this wasn’t ideal, but it’d have to do.
All loaded up and heading to the main road suddenly this man appears and asks us if we are going to the airport, so we said yeah. He then said “wait here i’ll just get my car keys and i will take you”. Yet again, we’d landed on our feet, it seemed to be the general way with this trip, The guy was called Mohammed and he was a real nice bloke, we threw all our gear in his fancy 4×4 and set off towards the airport, he explained that he wouldn’t drop us at the airport as it was out of his way, but he would drop us near to it so that we could get a cab and it would be cheaper. A short while later Mohammed pulled over and said that we could get a cab from where we were. We asked if it was possible to walk and he agreed and said that we should head “straight on to signal, stop, cross road, straight on to signal, stop, cross road” four times he said and then it was on the right. Sounded pretty straight forwards and we asked how far it was. “1km” was his response. 1km with our backpacks was no big deal and it would save us money in what we had discovered was a quite expensive country. After we started walking we realised that what he actually meant was that it was 1km to the first set of signals., and another 1km between each other set of signals. A 4km hike later in flip flops and with a 25kg backpack we finally saw a plane fly over our head. I’d never felt so happy to see an airport. We’d made it. We weren’t rushing but by taking the time to walk, we’d avoided the queue’s and only had about half an hour to waste before we boarded. We spent the last of our money on a rather dodgy looking portion of chicken and chips from the cafe that looked like a school dinner hall before boarding our flight home to chilly old manchester!! Brrr