After that warm ad lib eye ball (EB) with The Pope (Palipasan) and Mrs. Pope in Doha, Qatar last Friday, this is what welcomed me when I dropped by direct at my office from the Jeddah International Airport.
I had to pinch myself and shake my head... Reality bites! I'm finally back at the desert and I'm no longer in HK's Disney Dreamland with my wife and kids... Waaaah!
I had a warm and affectionate welcome from my staff when I arrived... For all of you who know the Arabic culture of hugging and kissing someone who's not seen for sometime understand why I described the welcome as affectionate. It touches one's heart to be welcomed warmly. But hey! I suddenly realized that probably the reason that I had all these warm welcome was because of something else... (malesh for the bad thoughts...LoL) I only thought of that when I saw my table groaning with the weight of so many pending reports that have been long overdue! Hmmmn... it was their way of saying that I need to immediately switch back to work mode... T'was the price I had to pay for one of the most wonderful vacations I had with my family. "Never the mine" as they say, but my 2-week vacation, that has bonded and has drawn our family closer together, was more than worth the "mine" and the sleepless nights that I would have to catch up with the review and finalisation of all these piled up documents and reports
Four days after landing, I completed 2 major documents, finished all those documents requiring my signature, settled issues requiring my approval, and did all my routinary day to day affairs and responsibilities including the giving out of the all-time favourite pasalubong from Pinas - the exotic dried mangoes. I still have one major document to go and I will be back to my normal busy schedule... Posting in my blog at the moment is still awkward to do because of the demands of my work and the only thing that I could insert during these momentary fleeting coffee breaks is to post some comments and status updates in my Facebook account.
As promised, I'm going to post soon the chronicle of my 2-week vacation but here's first the appetizer - the Qatar eB.
The Qatar eB
My hotel room at the Best Western Doha Seef Hotel
Located close to the Corniche, some 5 minutes drive from Doha International Airport, the Doha Seef Hotel is a magnificent hotel characterized by a unique blend of traditional Arabian hospitality with modern luxury. The hotel is set amidst the city’s finest landmarks and central business district, with easy access to shopping centers and leisure attractions.
When I got there that night, I was informed that The Pope left his contact numbers and while I was still at the front desk, returned the call of The Pope. Had a warm welcome from The Pope and we set the eB at 8am the next day.
I was billeted at Room 415 which is, the Pinoy bellboy kept on telling me while we were on the lift, one of their best rooms... (tell it to the marines kabayan! I didn't believe it at first). So when I finally saw the room I took a crisp SAR20 as I had no Qatari riyal to give to him as a tip and as a simple gratitude for bringing me to one of their finest rooms.
Friday, 14th May 2009
I woke up at the sound of my cellphone alarm set at 7:30am and had a quick shower. The aroma of coffee which was made from just a 3-in-1 sachet and not from the coffee brewer was very well like an "upper" which filled the room while I watched the morning news and intermittently ran to my laptop to chat with my wife.
The Pope came at 8am but took sometime at the front desk looking for my room number as my name wasn't found in the registry of guests. He found out later that it was just the inefficiency of the guy in this shift that caused the delay... isn't it obvious na di Pinoy ang reliever in the next shift?
I thought the eB will just take place at the Hotel Lobby but The Pope had better plans.
Breakfast at the SouK
The Pope was right in deciding that we move around the state. There was no traffic in the roads. Being a Friday (just like a Sunday to many of those who have even spent a decade or two in the Middle East), the roads were deserted. Everyone's still in their bed to recover from their sleepless Thursday night. But not at the Souk that we went to... The place was filled with Pinoys who just came from their "Sunday" mass and services, or from their morning jogs and other activities... buying their favorite pan de sal/tasty bread or taking Pinoy breakfast at the resto there. I don't usually eat heavy breakfast except for a cup of coffee and a few slices of bread but after seeing a lot of kababayans enjoying the gastronomic meals with delight, I started to queue with The Pope for some few minutes to place our order of one siopao each to go with our goto. After we had our fill, we went to The Pope's house to fetch Mrs Pope to be with us in our next destinations... By the way, our blogger-friend is the only Pope that has a Mrs. Pope.
The Pearl - Qatar's Masterpiece
The Pearl is a riviera styled man-made island built off the coast of Doha, Qatar. It is said to be one of the largest real estate developments in the state of Qatar and is set to be the most technologically advanced real estate project in the world. The island offers an ultra modern living environment in one of the world's most relaxed and serene locations.
The Pope, Mrs Pope, Boboy and myself imagined that we were in the Riviera. I kidded The Pope that with the signature shops around, our wives would probably consume the credit limits of their cards. That was the joke until we saw the Ferrari and Maserati display room right there in one of the stalls at The Pearl. That silenced us because we knew that even if both husband and wife credit cards were combined together, it wouldn't be enough to pay off for just even the wheels of these cars.
The Crooked Buildings of Doha
If San Francisco, California has its crooked streets, Doha does not want to lag behind by having its crooked buildings. It really puzzles me as to what was on the mind of the architect when he designed these buildings but then we thought of getting some few shots for you to also wander what these twin buildings are up to.
The 15th Asian Games Arena - The Magnificent Khalifa Stadium
By hosting the 15th 2006 Asian Games, Qatar has placed itself on the international sports map. The Al Khalifa Stadium was the centerpiece of the 2006 15th Asian Games. It was built in 1976 and was expanded in 2006 for the 15th Asian Games.
The Villagio Mall
The Villagio Mall is located in the Aspire Zone in Doha, just a stone's throw away from the Khalifa Stadium. It is designed with a European touch and it resembles very closely the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Villagio is where you can do anything... even ride in little boats (ala mini gandolas)... It has a skating rink which is converted to a hockey court at times. It has lots of signature shops... a 3-D cinema and hyper supermarts.
The Mall is designed such that different areas and wings of the mall represent different times of the day – so you bet, you can see sunrise, sunset, night time(complete with street lamps)and day time!
I'm not a Hockey fan but it was a great way to get some breather after a quick tour of the city... The fresh fruit juices that we had were truly thirst-quenchers and refreshers that led us scamperring around to look for rooms of relief.
Toy for the Big Boys - Spyker - C8 Laviolette
It was supposed to be the time for me to be back at the Hotel for the shuttle to the Airport but The Pope wanted me to see the car on display at the Mall. It was an 8 cylinder, 300-km per hour speed sports car that costs a whooping 1.2M Qataris (PhP15.6M).
Not really surprising, but it was not only us Pinoys who took pictures and posed near the car for memento but a lot of white-skinned Westerners were as curious and had more camera clicks than we did.
I was finally dropped by at the Hotel by 12:00noon and the shuttle service was no longer available. The Pope had no other choice but to wait for me while I packed my bag. Because I missed the shuttle to the airport, the hotel staff thought that I intentionally did not show up and was no longer interested to proceed to my next destination . Whhhooah, they suspected that I have escaped to become an illegal alien in Qatar. Sounds funny but this happens a lot to many hotel transient guests!
Approximately 4 hours of bonding with a blogger-friend... the first time that we met each other after becoming blog friends for about 3 and a half months... the camaraderie seemed like being friends for many years.
As we cruised from the hotel to the airport, I pondered on this thoroughly modern phenomenon on the friendship and camaraderie of bloggers not only in cyberspace but in the real world itself. I realized the truth that of finding a blog is like finding a friend. That is the a mystery that is brought about by bloggywood.
Thank you Pope, Mrs. Pope and Boboy, for taking me out to this stop-over treat.