Thailand

Sorry that I haven’t posted anything for 2 weeks. Stefan and I decided to make the most of the Eid holiday by joining the masses at Doha airport to fly to Phuket, Thailand. I have never been to an airport that was so busy and so chaotic. We had to queue to enter the airport and once inside chaos reigned. I was able to get through passport control fairly easily but Stefan almost wasn’t able to fly as he didnt have his exit visa with him. If you are employed in Qatar you can not leave without permission from your employer.  A few phone calls were made by the lady at passport control before she was satisfied, and he was allowed to go through. I had been waiting anxiously for 40 minutes, if they hadn’t let him through I would have had to travel on my own, with no way of contacting him as my mobile phone does not allow me to make calls outside the UK. (That’s another long story…).

We arrived in Phuket after midnight, luckily I had arranged transport so we had someone waiting for us on arrival as our hotel in Patong was about 45 mins drive from the airport.We woke the next day to the most awful weather, heavy, heavy rain which I suppose is to be expected when you visit a country in monsoon season. After buying a very sexy pink rain coat for myself and an umbrella for Stefan, we decided to go exploring and spent an enjoyable day sightseeing and shopping in the rain. At 4pm I was enticed into a shop which was a tailorshop, and before we knew it Stefan was measured up for 5 shirts ,3 pairs of trousers and after some haggling 4 ties were added for the total sum of £120!!!. We were promised that everything would be ready at 9pm that night…and it was although the trousers were a bit short and had to be altered everything else fitted perfectly. Everything was dropped off at our hotel at midnight..- quite impressive. (A few days later we read in the Lonely Planet that they advised not to buy anything from shops that promised suits in 24 hours – as the shirt sleeves start falling off after the 3rd wash – so I reckon these shirts are going to possibly last 2 washes.. will keep you posted.

Being measured for trousers

After leaving the tailor shop we walked down a street that we hadnt been down earlier in the day. It was crazy, 100’s of nightclubs and bars playing loud music and loads of prostitutes walking down the street trying to entice Stefan into massage parlours and shows involving women and ping pong balls (will leave that to your imagination….)

The next day we left Patong and moved down the coast to a less busy place called Karon, we had found a lovely hotel away from the beach set up high on a hill with a view of the sea. It was a small hotel called CC Blooms (which I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to stay away from the crowds, friendly staff and the General Manager Ken is great -really helpful). We hired a motorbike and went exploring for the next two days, but had enough of people and just wanted to get away from the crowds. Ken recommended an island not far off Phuket which only has 5 hotels.

We found an amazing place through Tripadvisor which we booked for 2 nights and caught a long boat to Yao Yai island the next day. The hotel Koh Yao Yai resort was out of this world, it was made up of individual bungalows set under trees. Had an amazing swimming pool with its own private beach. This was just what we were looking for and extended our stay to 4 nights.

View of pool and beach
Having a cup of tea on our balcony

We arranged an island hopping trip the day after we arrived on a long boat with our own guide and captain. Although it initially poured with rain, it sooned cleared and we had a lovley day. This part of the world is amazing and so beautiful, we had been recommended by a friend to go to PhiPhi island – but we were so glad we didnt as it is very touristy with about 4ooo people visiting the island every day. We hardly saw anyone the whole day.

our long boat

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the long boat

After 4 days we were sad to leave Kao Yai Yoa as we felt we had found our own little piece of paradise. The staff had been so friendly and it felt like we were leaving friends behind.

Deck chairs on the beach

As we had to catch our flight back to Doha the next day, we decided to head to Phuket Town for our last day as we wanted to do a bit of shopping , and this wasnt to far from the airport. We caught a ferry back to the mainland which was uneventful and took about an hour. On arriving in Phuket we walked down the street with all our luggage looking for a taxi or tuk tuk that we could catch to the hotel. We were a bit disorientated and walked in the wrong direction. Not one taxi passed us and we were about to turn around and walk back to the Pier when a car stopped. It was the Captain of the ferry, he offered to take us to our hotel. He was a lovely man who didnt speak much english but we managed to explain where we were staying. On arriving at the hotel, he would not take any money from us, and just pointed to his heart, which I understood as he was doing this from the goodness of his heart.

We spent the rest of the day exploring, it was a big dissapointment as the city was very dirty and run down. We had dinner and a few drinks before heading back to the hotel .

Street in Phuket Town

The next day we caught a bus to the airport and flew back to Doha. We had a lovely holiday but I couldnt help feeling that I wanted to get back to Qatar so I could do some more exploring.

Thunder storm in Doha

 Today I experienced my first thunder storm in Doha. There are few things I love more than thunderstorms, I love the sounds, the smell and they way everything feels fresh once it has passed. I stood standing at the window with my camera ready waiting to capture this (living on the 22nd floor, I was scared that if I went downstairs by the time I got there I might miss it and also wouldnt have been able to capture the moment). I didnt need to worry as it took all day for the storm to finally break. I went outside and stood at the entrance to our building so that I could experience it and take some photographs. The wind was howling and  sand was blowing into my eyes. The heavens opened as the battery in my camera died….
As I write this it is pouring with rain – I can hardly see out of the window as the rain has covered it. I am hoping that the camera will charge quickly so I can get some shots of the lightening over the sea. The storm has not dissapointed me.
dark clouds over Doha this morning
view from the entrance to Ezdan
grey clouds
howling wind
view through rainy window

 

 

 

  

 

Ezdan Towers – our temporary residence

Today is Monday, I know this because the carpet in the elevator told me so… it gets changed every day which is great for me because at the moment every day feels the same. 

carpet in elevator where we are staying

We are staying on the 22nd floor of a hotel called Ezdan (someone called it the Ezdan Tower of hell on Trip Advisor and generally the ratings are rubbish), the views are great and apart from the awful smell which occassionally drifts through the pipes in the bathroom and poor customer service, it isn’t a bad place to stay. It has a great swimming pool which I can see from the window, a gym which has a few treadmills, cross trainers and weights, sauna and steam room and 2 studios one for men and one for women. They have an aerobics class once a week and a Salsa class on a Monday night, I have wondered how they teach Salsa with men only and women only studios ?

view of the pool

The hotel has a coffee shop, 2 restaurants,a hairdresser for women, another for men and a super market. It is located close to the main business area and in walking distance from the Corniche which is a boulevard stretching about 7km along the waterway. It is used for walking, cycling and running and has benches etc to hang out on. There are restaurants and museums along the way and is generally a good place to hang out.

view from Ezdan Tower

We signed for our own place on Saturday this involved sampling loads of chocolate and drinking cups of sweet tea, an interesting experience as our landlord owns a chocolate factory and a few chocolate shops in Doha called Larissa.  We move on 1st December, it looks like we might be camping though as our furniture hasnt left the UK yet. I will post details as soon as we have the keys and I can take some photos, you will love it.

The journey begins….

It took about 4 months from the time Stefan and I decided that we were moving to Doha for me to finally board the plane.

 The last few weeks in the UK passed in a blur, the flat was being painted and spruced up to be rented, I was trying to sell the car (which is still not sold!!!), sorting out bank accounts, tax, etc….the list continues. In between this I was trying to catch up with as many of my friends as I could, my head was spinning by the time I got on the plane (this could have had a bit to do with all the champagne consumed the night before with great friends Em, Aid, Steve, Wendy and Boo) and I was in a bit of a daze.

Em and Aidrian were amazing to drive me to Heathrow at 5am to catch my flight, and patiently waited while I was charged for excess luggage which cut in to our last minutes together.(Thank you so much E and A -you are stars!!) Although I was really excited to be seeing Stefan in a few hours, I was very sad to say goodbye to the UK and all the amazing friends I have had to leave behind, and I am not ashamed to say I shed a few tears as I boarded the plane.

The journey

They say that a journey of a 1000 miles starts with a single step….

Our journey started in March 2002 (2 weeks after we got married!), when Stefan was offered a job in Winchester and we made the big move from Cape Town, South Africa. Neither of us had ever been to Winchester before, Stefan hadn’t even been to the UK – I had visited twice for short holidays!!!  We arrived on a cold winter’s morning, it was a freezing, a bitterly cold day and every thing looked dull and grey. We both had thoughts of what on earth have we done, we have left a great life and our family and friends behind for this???!!!…but we were too scared to voice our thoughts to each other.

 Now 8 ½ years later we find ourselves in a similar position again. Stefan has been offered a job in Doha, Qatar and once again we are leaving a great life and all our amazing friends and family behind.  This time Stefan has been to Doha, I have never been to the Middle East before (does a one night stop over in Dubai count?)

Stefan has already started his job in Doha and I will be joining him in a few weeks time. I have stayed to sort out renting out our flat, the shipping of our belongings, selling the car and everything else required for a move to another country. To say that this has been a stressful experience is an understatement. Thoughts of warmer weather and seeing Stefan after 6 weeks is keeping me sane.

I have no idea what to expect when I arrive, what it is going to be like as a blonde blue-eyed women in an Arab country , are the shopping malls going to be as amazing as I have been led to believe ? , how can a person run in 40 degrees weather? , how easy is it to get a licence to buy wine?  How am I going to cope with having to get my husbands permission to do anything? … these are just a few of the thoughts going around in my head…..

The next step of our journey is about to begin …….