We are only human. And with that, shit happens. As much as I like to post happy, positive pictures and stories, reality is, I am not living in a bubble. The month of October reminds me of my first car accident I was involved in. Ironically, it happened just two weeks prior to our move to Qatar back in 2014. I quickly became very grateful at how effective the Danes are when it comes to dealing with authorities, specifically when involved in a car accident.
I had entered a round about safely, but a tricky one where the cars from the left also had a signal to adhere to within the traffic circle itself. A lady drove through her red light and drove right into me. It shook me up and I immediately began questioning myself did I actually have the right of way? We slowly pulled forward and off to the side. As we both got out of our cars, we of course questioned one another if we were fine physically. Then, she said her English wasn’t that great, and I replied my Danish wasn’t the great either, so we will wait until the police got there. From my American upbringing, I imagined that I would give my report to the police officer and then follow it all up with the insurance company. To my surprise, that is not the case in Denmark.
The police officer checked if we were alright, then told us to call our insurance companies and carry on. No further information needed! I expected him wanting to hear both sides of our stories, or collect our names at the least. But nothing! So, I called the insurance company and it all worked perfectly. The car insurance company directed me to where I can get my car fixed and nothing else was needed. There was a witness who did approach me at the accident scene and told me that he was willing to give his viewpoint to the insurance company if needed. I took his information and provided it to the insurance company, not really knowing if they ever actually contacted him or not. All what I can say is that I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it all went and can be thankful that I had insurance.
In Qatar, it was a whole other story. I wasn’t in an accident, but happened to scratch the car on a post while backing up. What in my mind was just a paint job, turned out to be the biggest ordeal. I had to report to the police station! Then to the insurance, then back to the police, and only with their approval, could I take it to their suggested place. Needless to say, I am very happy that I never was in an accident in Qatar. I could only imagine what a nuisance that possibly could be! Counting my blessings daily!
I briefly had read about camel racing and didn’t know much besides that I wanted to see it while living in Qatar. When I asked friends about it, they would say it is worth it, but details were minimal. (Somewhat like my trip out to searching for shark teeth! See post here!)
I knew that I could find the location on google maps if I typed in “Camel Race track” and then follow the signs to Al Shahaniya. I also knew to go on a weekend. That was it. Schedules aren’t posted online, but with a colicky baby and preschooler, I decided to just go even though storm clouds were continuing to hover and had a downpour of rain earlier. Worse case scenario in my mind was that it would be a drive out to the desert and back.
I am happily writing to say that it was well worth it. My excitement grew when I first saw the signs for the camel race track on the Dukhan highway. Then I began hoping that there would be at least some camels lazying around, maybe training and at best, racing. Pulling into the parking lot of the 10km racetrack, the rush began, literally with white SUVs driving up to the race track and following the camels that were racing. We had lucked out and made it during a race! Feeling slightly like a black sheep, I parked our black SUV off to the side, away from all the white SUVs, carefully got out the kids and went up to the race track. It was no Kentucky derby for sure! (Not that I have ever been there, but I have gone to Santa Anita plenty of times, and let’s just say that camel racing is not to be compared.)
Here is a little video clip, note the jockeys!
You now saw it! A little remote controlled robot jockey!
Some other fun facts:
Known as the sport of the sheiks
Professional camel racing began in 1972
There is an actual tv station dedicated exclusively to the camel races
The camels can have a speed up to 40 mph
The camels can cost up to one million Qatari riyals
My bonus to my memories is this lovely booklet that they handed out for free upon entrance!
By no means am I an expert on horses, but when I had the opportunity to take a tour of the Al Shaqab Equestrian Center in Qatar, I signed up knowing that I would see something special.
The Al Shaqab Equestrian Center was founded in 1992 by His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Father Amir of Qatar. Before Qatar was known for oil and gas, the region was mainly known for its prized Arabian horses. The name itself, Al Shaqab, is known as the battle when the Qataris defeated the Ottomans, leading to the independence of Qatar.
The center covers 980,000 square meters in a clever horseshoe design. The architecture is as beautiful as the Arabian horses that are bred there. It is definitely a world class equestrian center, holding everything imaginable needed, from air conditioned stables, a breeding center, hydrotherapy, a veterinary center, a riding academy and more. I definitely left the tour amazed and am curious to know if there is another equestrian center in the world that matches the standards of Al Shaqab.
Since moving to Qatar, I have had more dates than ever. And I’m not talking about playdates, dates with friends or date nights with my husband. Dates as in the dried fruit. I probably never realized how delicious they are and how important they are to this region.
After any long vacation, it is always nice to return back to your own familiar surroundings and personal things. This summer, I spent one month traveling and came back to Doha not realizing certain things that I had missed, and probably will miss when we aren’t in Doha.
My own bedroom, bed, sheets, pillows, house…This may not come to a surprise to many, because who doesn’t like their own bed with their own sheets? And now that we are back home and not living in hotels or staying with relatives, I literally have my own bed since my son is back in HIS OWN room! Bliss!
The people in Qatar. I had barely been in Doha for an hour, when a local man handed me a plastic bag so that I can put my produce in. Then, the extra help at the cashier register that I had missed apparently. One man was placing my groceries onto the conveyor belt, while another man was bagging the groceries after being scanned. Perhaps not necessary, but it is nice to have the help, especially when jet lagged. I probably have written before, but have to write it again, the people here are genuinely kind and helpful.
Karak shake. I have not written about this, and didn’t think I would miss it. But if you haven’t had karak, you are missing out! Karak is a blend of black tea, milk, sugar and cardamom. I had my first karak at the souq here, and have my favorite go to place since every place makes it slightly different. Some may make it with sweet condensed milk instead of regular milk and sugar, making the drink even richer. It is a personal preference. There are many places here in Doha that you can even drive up to, honk your horn and order a cup of karak. Even at the very popular Chapati and Karak in an area of Doha known as Katara. There they also offer a karak shake, which is divine in the heat of Doha in my opinion. Apparently they are also located in London, so if you are there, have one! Absolutely delicious!
Going behind the scenes is always exciting in my opinion, and once again, with the fabulous American Women’s Association here in Qatar, we went behind the scenes of the gold souq. I have mentioned the souq before as the traditional market. There is the general area, and then there are particular areas devoted to items, such as the gold souq or the fabric souq. It is absolutely daunting walking into the gold souq and not knowing which store is best. One could just be blinded by all the gold! But, the ladies knew of a reputable place and in this case, it was Kingdom Gems & Jewellers, where Yaseer gave us a very informative lesson about gold in general.
“Never say never” is a common phrase I repeat to myself from time to time, whether it be about traveling somewhere or trying new food. As I now tell my son, you have to try everything at least once, if not twice. So, when the American Women’s Association organized a trip to go searching for shark teeth, I thought I should go to see what that is all about. It is something that has not been on my list of things to do, ever. But, when in Rome, or in Qatar, I decided to sign up and go. As usual, I have had no regrets. Continue reading Searching for shark teeth
As cliche as it is, life is a whole lot easier when you have to opportunity to buy anything you want. Here in Doha, I can practically find anything and everything under the sun, making this move possibly the easiest for me. Not only can I find everything, it is all in a language that I understand! My prior moves to Norway and Denmark were definitely not easy for me and I think the key factors were that I couldn’t find everything and anything under the sun when it came to food. Maybe it was because the sun actually did disappear for months there! Continue reading Anything and everything under the sun! I love Qatar! Part 2
Another great trip with the American Women’s Association here in Qatar was to the Singing Sand Dunes. We drove in a caravan style to these dunes, which are located about 40 km southwest of Doha. Only a few places in the world can you find these sand dunes that “sing”. When going down the dune, one can hear a hum from the friction that is made. We went on a day that was a bit windy, so not much singing was heard unfortunately. But I did manage to disturb a skink and capture it on video which you can view here!
Before actually climbing up the dune and coming down, we walked around it and admired the beauty. Enjoy my pictures by clicking through below!
Obviously we are living in a complete new culture that is a bit foreign to us, so when we get invitations to explore the local Qatari culture, we usually accept. Our most recent invitation was to see four teams return from the desert after hunting antelope, bustards and Karawan. These teams take part in a tournament called the Al Galayel. The teams of 6 to 8 members, complete with salukis, camels and falcons, compete in 4 heats over 900 square kilometers in the southern desert of Qatar. After 4 days in the desert, they returned back to be greeted by their friends and families, and us! The tournament is actually televised as well, showing the rich heritage of Qataris, and the skills that they have being out in the desert.
We were invited by the American Women’s Association here in Qatar, and drove out to the border of Saudi Arabia to meet these teams. It was definitely a sight not to be missed. Enjoy the pictures! (Where apparently we were also being photographed and posted about!)