Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Middle-east impressions

We stopped in Qatar/Doha (2 days) and Bahrain/Manama (3 days) on the way to and back from Asia.
1. Things are really brown.
2. Humidity much much higher than expected - even more so than in Penang and Bangkok
3. Hot
4. More flashy cars in Doha than Manama Porsches, Audis, MBs.
5. No solar panels.
6. Security tighter in Manama. Security guards at the hotel waves a metal detector wand over us every time we enter. Parking in front of the hotel was restricted.

7. More visible American presence in the hotel in Manama - military and construction/oil? worker types.

Stayed at the Hyatt in Doha. In a word - opulent. To the point that I felt guilty. It made me think of Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone for some reason. Most expensive breakfast ever - $100 for some doughnuts, pastry and coffee. The exchange rate was just incredible.

In Manama, we stayed at the Residence Inn - most comfortable bed and pillows ever. (Update: Best scrambled eggs ever as well for breakfast.) It was a large place - more space than we needed although the interior walls and shelves were somewhat spare. Well stocked with dishes and cooking utensils though.

It was Ramadan so things were very quiet. Hard to find food at the Hyatt - only one restaurant was open so it was a good thing we were only there for two days. The plan was to use the stops to gradually adjust to the time difference but it really made no difference. I was just as jet lagged without the stops, if not worse. It was good to recharge though - we would probably not stop for so long next time though I doubt we’d be back in the region.

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