If you’ve got to have a 15-hour layover, Qatar Airways does it right. They’ve put me up in a sweet hotel in downtown Doha for the night, as well as giving me all my meals free and a shuttle to/from the airport, plus they led me through the whole process so it was completely painless. SCORE! They are so helpful in the airport here.
I’d post a picture right now except I realized that the cord needed to take pictures off my camera is in my checked baggage, which may not have made the connecting flight in DC with me. The ATL > DC leg was over an hour late and I had to run in order to make it – so who knows about my bag. But, the plane was really nice and had lots of room, the food was good, I slept (some), and then like I said, free hotel. Almost makes up for the screaming banshee that sat in front of me from ATL > DC. Mothers, do not hop your three-year-old butterball of a kid up on sugar and soda, as I saw this woman do, right before cramming them into an overbooked teeny commuter jet for two hours when it’s also past their bedtime. People will not be amused.
Driving through Doha was neat on the way to the hotel though – in many ways, looks like other Asian cities I’ve been in. It was interesting to note, though, that while there were lots of people hanging out on the streets enjoying this summer night, all were men. There were no women to be seen. So, I gathered that wandering Doha at night alone as a woman would not be a good idea, and ate the free dinner in the hotel restaurant which turned out to defy expectations by being FABULOUS. The restaurant doesn’t look like much and the soundtrack alternates between Bollywood and Green Day, but they had a buffet full of Middle Eastern and Indian delights that was incredibly good. I didn’t want to eat too much because my stomach’s still off from the pressure differences of a long-haul flight, but I had about a bite each of several salads and a small portion of some fantastic paneer butter masala with a little rice and a bit of naan, followed by a single gulab jamun for dessert. Man, it was perfect. SOOO good. They also insisted on serving me a can of 7-up despite my insistence that water was fine, so I brought it to my room. When I’m reunited with my luggage I’ll show y’all what 7-up cans look like in Qatar.
I feel like I should go to bed, but I think I ate the above meal and my breakfast within only 4 hours of each other – I’m so disoriented though, I can’t be sure. From traveling through time zone after time zone, it’s been night for over 24 hours now. I’m going to chill out a bit, regardless of the actual time and the time my body’s on, and look forward to landing in Kathmandu tomorrow.
I mentioned this when I first started this blog, which was also when I went to Nepal for the first time, but there’s a reason I end all my blogs with om mani padme hum. It’s a beautiful Hindu/Buddhist expression which, loosely translated, can be understood by people of other faiths (including my own) as a prayer for the fruits of the Spirit as expressed by St. Paul. As I venture back to Nepal, I pray again for such a synthesis. I’m really looking forward to getting to work.
Om Mani Padme Hum.
ETA: Blergh. Total sleep: 3.5 hours, non-consecutive. Finally out cold and now it’s time to shower and head back to the airport already. Still, grateful for the comfy bed! Guh…