22 February, 2009

Souk's & delays, but I'm home!

Apologies for the long post...

After a day of meetings, and inspections of sites across Doha, I returned to my hotel (Royal Qatar Hotel) for a 'freshen up' before leaving later that evening (early following morning actually...)! Here is a couple more 'sights' of Doha:

Coliseum Construction Rear

Doha's Funny Buildings

So, after a shower and ensuring that the bag is packed for the return flights, I decided to head down to both the Gold Souk & General Souk which were nearby. The Gold souk, market, had a lot of stuff, cheap, but too much to look at. I had mentally picked a few items to bring home, but wanted to visit the General Souk first. I am glad I did:

Souk Storefronts

Souk Cafe

Souk Donkey Rides

I then gathered my purchases, repacked, went to the restaurant for a bite to eat, another shower and watched a bit of local TV. What was funny was, there was either a Pakistani or Indian version of Judge Judy! It was so funny, couldn't understand a word of it, but just the mannerisms and the vocal tones just did my head in!

I then had a call from reception to say that my car was ready to take me to the airport...

Royal Qatar Hotel

When I arrived, the check-in for Emirates was still to open, so I perched on a 'seat' and waited... Check-in finally opened and my bag was on its way home. With nothing else to do, I went through Immigration and entered the Doha Duty Free area:

Doha Int Duty Free

After a small walk around looking for any bargains, I found my way to my departure gate (12.45am) and waited, tried to get a nap to no avail...). It was soon time for boarding and the departure area was filling up. All of a sudden, an announcement was made that there was going to be a delay. New departure time was now 6.45am! Now, a quick estimate of times showed me that we would make Dubai at a local time of 8.45am, leaving one hour to transit, short but do-able. 6.45am came and went and many people (including myself) were at the gate agent wanting updates and information about departure times and connections. Depending on WHO you talked to, you got a different answer. And even the same guy was giving different answers to the same people (he could not even remember the same lie he had already told!). Eventually, at 8.45am, we were called for boarding and to board the bus to the remote stand that our plane was at. From memory, I was now some 32 hours without sleep, and the bus took 30 minutes to get to the stand! We boarded, and departed quickly indeed. A very quick meal service was had and we were soon on approach into Dubai.

Upon arrival, guess what, another remote stand followed by another 20 minute bus ride to the transfer station. We were all taken into a transit hall and told to take a seat and all information would be relayed as to what process would follow. Refreshments (bottled water, Chocolate Muffins and Orange Juice were on the table. I finally got processed, and instead of returning via Bangkok, it would now be the direct flight, again on the new A380. A hotel (including ALL meals) had been arranged, and we were transferred. Shower, lunch and a much needed rest was in order. I slept through an alarm I had set for the Dubai evening bus tour!

After a GREAT nights sleep, it was time to meet my friends (from Doha delays) in the hotels lobby for the bus to the airport.

Dubai Int Arrivals

This is SUCH a grand entrance (typical Emirates style...). Check-in was effortless even though I had been told I already had a bag checked. I reminded him of my days events prior, and he said it was all good and I could go. My new found friends though were not having quite as much luck, as Emirates had not processed the booking rebook as thought. After a couple of eye-rolls from the check-in agent, a request for the Supervisor (and me mentioning that they look at the PNR they might just see a case history of the problems) all was now sorted and it was time to venture through to Immigration.

Dubai Check-in Hall

I did my Duty Free shopping, and went to my departure gate 230, (YES, that's two hundred and thirty!). This is SUCH an amazing new terminal:

Gate 230 Glass Roof

The new A380 has some really special features, like the tail camera and the flight information system:

A6-EDB Screen (DXB)

DXB-SYD In-flight

And is there anything better than arriving back home, to your own city, especially when this is your arrival view:

Sydney Arrival


17 February, 2009

Doha: - A picture essay...

More from Doha, pics only and I will update with some dialogue soon, ok?
Shopping 'Villagio' style:

Villagio Shopping Centre

Villagio Shopping Centre Canal

Villagio Shopping Centre Canal

Villagio Ice Rink

Then there is the 'Cultural Centre', which is still under construction. This will be an amazing site, when finished...

Cultural Village Trees

Cultural Village Landscaping

Cultural Village Construction

And I LOVE this tile work:

Cultural Village Tiles


16 February, 2009

Welcome to Doha, Qatar

Ok, so a lot has happened over the last couple of days... Last Friday, I was sent a confirmation of flights for a meeting I was to have in Doha, leaving SATURDAY! That's right, 24 hours notice to fly half way around the world...
Emirates have an amazing product for their new A380. Here is me in the first class suite and a picture of the First class shower that is onboard:
A6-EDD First Class Suite

A6-EDD First Class Suite Top

A6-EDD First Class Shower
Once I got to Dubai, 14.25 hours direct, it was amazing. It is just like a huge shopping mall! I was told today, that it turns over $1M USD a day, and after seeing it, I would believe it as well!

Dubai Terminal Shopping Mall

Dubai Car Promotion

Dubai Terminal 3 Garden

Depart DXB for DOH Haze
I finally arrived in Doha 8.35am local, some 17 odd hours after leaving Sydney. I had about 6 hours sleep (broken mind you...) on the flight and was not feeling too bad at all. There was a slight mix up regarding the hotel, which was a shame as the original one looked great, but the one I am in now, will do just fine. I had a quick shower and prepared for my first meeting after have a Tour of some of the facilities nearby:

Welcome to Doha Qatar

Royal Qatar Suite

Aspire Zone & Tower

Aspire Tower

Kahfila Stadium
So, this is a quick summary, as I have had a sleep but my body is still in Sydney time, instead of Doha time 2.32am!

10 February, 2009

May they rest in peace...

This post is going to be a sombre one. As you may, or may not have heard, South Eastern Australia (mainly Victoria) is suffering from some of the most horrific bush fires ever seen. Already, 173 people have lost their lives trying to stay safe within their houses. It is not just houses lost in the fire storms, but whole communities, community buildings and in some cases even the local fire station AND police stations have been lost.
Some of the stories on the local news have been graphic in the content, inspiring in the communities desperately trying to stay strong and supportive (even though those helping others have lost EVERYTHING themselves), but far worse is the absolute disgust I have for the people who intentionally started these fires. Almost half of Victoria is now considered a crime scene, and people are still in the houses that were destroyed.
Here are a few news site recounting the stories.

03 February, 2009

Summer in Australia: - A bit of a 'catch up'

I had this sent to me today in an email, and thought that I would share it all with you (since we have been having a rather extended heat wave...):

Mr Whippy
Even though it has been hot, we are expecting even hotter weather this coming weekend, 42-44c, so I do hope that this will not happen in reality!
With the current water restrictions (Wed & Sun: - Before 10am and after 4pm) in place, coupled with this current hot dry season we are having, both at work and in the suburbs it is very dry (not to mention in the country and our farmers). Over the Christmas break, we ripped out our first season veges of Tomatoes, and replanted with some fresh stock. Whilst seedlings went in which were about 5cm tall, in the 2-3 weeks that they have been in, they are now nearly 40cm! Must be all that yummy Chook pooh I put into the vege patch whilst it laid fallow! Macc wanted to help with the vege patch (Tomatoes, Basil, Capsicum or Peppers and some Chives + Rhubarb) by turning over a small patch. Well, a small area that he wanted to bury his belated Christmas bone... The Ham bone! I was soooo angry with him, and he knew it, as he went off to the garage and tried to hide as soon as he saw it was me at home!!!
We also had the opportunity of finishing off insulating the house. We had some left over insulation from when we did the laundry (here, here, especially here, here, here, here, here & here) so it got used as a 'lining' of the upstairs study walls (in the roof space) and an additional bag of batts went into the area above the dining room, previously not accessible. Yesterday, the study was actually not to bad, heat wise, although a little stuffy from there being only the one window and not allowing the delightful breeze to pass through. but it WAS cooler!
Last week also saw the Diamond Princess arrive in Sydney. She is a very loooooong cruise liner indeed, not to mention BIG!

Diamond Princess Circular Quay
This was actually a photo I 'stitched' together from two photos. The following photo, I used a Circular Polarising Lens, which intensifies the blues and greens slightly... It gives it a somewhat dramatic style to it!

Diamond Princess: - Circular Quay
And that's life in Sydney, during Summer, for the moment...

28 January, 2009

Get Well Soon nieghbour...

Recently, a neighbour of ours was diagnosed with cancer, Breast Cancer. This was just before Christmas (great timing hey...) and in the interim, she had been assessing various treatment options mainly for reconstructive surgery. She had three options available, and chose a suitable option for her, and her family.
Today, was a day of reflection and prayers as she went into surgery to have her breast, her femininity, removed. Under the surgery, she will also be having a prosthetic inserted and over the coming months, will be filled (and stretched) with saline, via a valve. I sent an SMS to her husband around 4pm, thinking it should be all over, but she was still in surgery after going in at 8.30am!
Fortunately, for her, she will not require any radiotherapy or chemotherapy, so she will maintain her head of hair...
L&D, wishing you a speedy recovery and that you are in our thoughts and prayers...

24 January, 2009

Throw Out Time: - Let the 'fun' begin...

Today, and yesterday for L, is being set aside to 'clean out' the in-laws... Only trouble is, that yesterday it was in the very high 30's (38 from memory) and today, it is like already 40C!
But, there has already been a lot done, you can now see at least three of the four walls in the first bedroom! More will come, paintings have been taken to the last sister down, we took BOTH cars full of box's home, and there is still a LOT more to go!
So, I can't stay on here to long, I might get into trouble, as I am listing a lot of things on eBay for the FIL in his new account. Set him up on the net through this last week, and within a day or two, he has an eBay account, where he has also made his first purchase and is already searching for books He had better NOT collect to much after we de-clutter the house!!!
Cheers for now, its hot and I will be going for a quick swim to cool down and start listing on eBay.

18 January, 2009

Clipped wings and flights of fancy... (and some other stuff as well...)

Being summer and all, we have been somewhat busy, so sorry for the sporadic posts...
Last week, we finally had our ISP changed over from Virgin Broadband... Now, whilst this is an incredible service, when it is running, it was more often than not, slower than dial up! We tried installing an external antenna (which gave us some respite and additional speed), but then it started to slow down again! It even got to the point where, if on the net and a phone call came in, the modem would go 'on-hold' whilst the phone was in use, and sometimes the phone would even drop out!
Anyway, I digress, we now have a super fast Internet connection and a return to a 'landline'! Happy as a 'pig-in-mud'!
We have also been busy in and around the house as well. I have been asked (and repeatedly asked...) to hang some hooks in the recently renovated bathroom. It is not that I was trying to get out of it, but there were two bits of timber that we had to choose from! I wanted a slightly fancy version, whilst L was looking at a plain piece. The piece that had a bit of trimming about it, was from an old dressing table that the FIL had and I thought that, with a bit of trimming here and there, it could be used. It was!

Bathroom Hooks

Bathroom Hooks

Bathroom Hook

And then today, we were pottering around the house not doing much, went off to get L's car detailed as she gets a new one tomorrow, and she also got a pedi and a manicure! I hung the hooks as mentioned, and then we went into the 2nd bedroom and started hanging some of the pictures. I had to find the staple gun mind you, so we got started. All 'pictures' were hung and it was only left to the plaster wall vent L purchased for an 'art work'! It was a scene of some branches and a couple of birds sitting upon them. After putting some hooks in and then gluing them... they did not want hold tight, so I got another style and glued it on. All hung and it was looking good. Until... the hook came off and the plaster vent shattered! It was agreed that in, the unlikely event of it falling, there would be NO tears, right! So out came the vacuum (again) and mess all cleaned up until a replacement vintage bird was hung... Alas, a broken flight (down to the floor) ended in it being in more than one piece! Luckily enough though, there was a smaller one to be found...

Crafty Wall Hangings


06 January, 2009

Out with the old and in with the new...

Three and a half years ago, we purchased our FIRST laptop. It was a Samsung X20. We took it everywhere with us, New Zealand twice, Bali as well as to Brisbane, Melbourne etc... It was a sturdy little thing, but alas, it had been slowly failing... There was the odd 'crunch' under a couple of keys, a couple of start-up failures and program 'hiccups' but enough was enough when, looking at websites, the up and down arrows did not want to work, the mouse pad was becoming eratic and it was generally becoming slow!

So, on Sunday (before going to see Benjamin Button) we went and looked at a couple more laptops. Guess what, we found one that was fairly well spec'd up, in our price range AND looked pretty flash (L really liked it...)! But, you will have to wait until tomorrow (Wordless Wednesday & Thematic Photographic) to have a look!

With this, and a 'gift' from our phone prividor, we will have a very wireless home! I will be able to shift music from PC to xBox 360 and vic-versa, I already surf the net wirelessly and we are also able to get on the net, go to the TV guide and tell our TiVo to record a show if we are out!!! I do love technology!!!


05 January, 2009

Syzygium moorei