Thanks to the good folk at Qatar Airlines, I managed to buy a not sooooo expensive flight to Seoul in South Korea. One catch was the 20 hour (or so) stop-over in Doha. I have done stop-overs and I can say, like most people, I am not a fan (had a few bad experiences). So, I took up the travel agent’s offer to pay a little bit extra (about R350 or so) to have Qatar Airlines book me into a transit hotel.
I was very disorientated when we landed in Doha. It must have been about 5am but the airport was already fairly busy. I was given a green ticket to indicate that they needed to transport me to the transit hotel. Everything went fairly smoothly and I was taken to a minibus – I was the only passenger.
I was taken to a hotel that seemed okay. I don’t even recall the name or where it was exactly. I just remembered thinking that the place looked like a bomb had hit it on the outside but it was fine on the inside (and my meals were free!). I can’t say the staff were very friendly – except for the bellboy who was way too friendly.
The bellboy was named Phillip and he was from the Philippines. He was curious about me and asked what I was doing in Doha. Being the friendly person I am, I explained I was just there for the day and I would be catching my flight to Seoul at 2am. He seemed very happy and told me that if I need ANYTHING, I should just give him a call.
I took a shower, washed some of my clothes (there was a washing machine in the room) and had a nap. I woke up to the horrendous room phone ringing. I was puzzled and I answered to find I was speaking to Phillip from the Philippines. He asked if I needed anything and I said ‘no thanks’. Five minutes later he called again (and there was no way in avoiding that call as the phone rang so loud) asking if I now needed anything and he wanted to know whether he can he add me on Facebook. I told him to leave me alone as I was not interested. The idiot, then phoned me back five minutes later asking if he can give me a massage. I told him in the nicest way possible “F*** OFF YOU IDIOT! I AM NOT INTERESTED AND IF YOU CALL ME AGAIN, I WILL REPORT YOU.’ That thankfully ended the bellboy saga.
Once I finally got my nap, I ventured outside. Not wanting to pay an arm and leg for a tour – I hussled with a taxi driver to give me an informal tour. I think the hotel staff knew what I was doing and I had to lie saying I just wanted a taxi to the mall. Anyway, the taxi driver took me all over the show and turned out to be an amateur photographer.
Doha has some beautiful beaches. The water is stunning! I would have loved to be able to get a jet – ski and venture around. However, as that rapper says, I do not have that “Arab money.”
I checked out the City Center Mall too which had lots of British brands (like Debenhams). I felt like a dirty tourist compared to the beautifully made up women (fancy black abahyas with killer heels and designer handbags). The men were also well groomed and looked handsome in their white ensembles.
Doha looks like a new city – so much construction is happening. I’m not sure what it has to offer a traveler like me (with my weak Rands) but then again, maybe a day is just not enough to figure out any city.
Note – I traveled alone to Doha and felt safe but it was clear that some people (i.e. Phillip from the Philippines) were not used to seeing a woman travel alone.
Another note – Don’t sleep on the airport if you can avoid it, especially when you’re traveling alone