Day in Doha

I like to go to an place with no expectations and ideally no prior judgements, then be pleasantly surprised when anything good happens. This was by far, the best layover, I have ever experienced! I like to break up long journeys with a longer layover so I can stretch my legs, eat some unique food and get a little taste of a new culture. Instead of doing my own research and having any image of what I would see or where I would go, what I did was just ask my friends Elona and Jerome for suggestions on where to go and what to see. The two of them live in Dubai and have travelled all over the middle east, I have modelled in Dubai, I thought it was very expensive and personally too luxurious for my style. However asking people who know the area on a deeper level is always the best route, they gave me a list which I followed, then I just go with the flow and ask locals where to go next when I am in a specific place. 

Still in Japan

When I take a long flight like this, I always make sure I can upgrade my seat. I discuss with the front desk staff that I would like a business class upgrade and see if they have a discount on seat sales, if it’s a 10+ hour flight and $500 I will pay. It’s similar to paying for a hotel for the night but saves time and helps me prep for the journey ahead. This has only ever happened to me once, otherwise a business class upgrade is typically around the cost of my whole flight. In which case I wave my metal credit card that I pay $800 a year for hoping it gives me some special powers, which sometimes it does. Sometimes I show my AMEX platinum and I get and emergency exit isle or extra legroom, not all the time, but maybe 95% of the time that I show up 3 hours before the flight and see what seats are still available. It pays to be early, plus I love taking my time and utilizing the lounge access. 

On the airplane, I told a gentlemen that I would be volunteering in Tanzania for a month. While we were talking, a young women came up to me and asked me if I would be volunteering with IVHQ. When I confirmed we were going to the same place, with the same program, she instantly cheered and started to hug me! This is very rare to experience in Japan, people are quite distant, so to experience a loving hug was a refreshing way to start this journey. I gave her my instagram, told her to give it to any family members who are worried, I would even give them my “Find My” just so they wouldn’t worry about their little girl on her big world adventure. Her name is Mei, she is a breath of fresh air and I am grateful to have her come along with me on this long layover! I told her the rough plan and we just agreed to go with the flow.

Landing in Qatar

Perhaps some people might be nervous about travelling around the middle east with a women they have only met on the plane, I thought Mei switched spots because she didn’t want to travel around with me anymore. I looked back and no longer saw her sitting behind me! I was prepared to now enjoy my 18 hour layover on my own. As I’m walking out though I hear my name called out, turns out Mei moved seats to lay across 3 empty chairs. Smart move.

The airport is a sight to see on it’s own, if you only have a 1-3 hour layover, take your time to enjoy the airport, we spent about 5 hours of our total layover time in the airport. It has so much to offer. Especially if you are rich and like to buy luxury, high ticket price items. The marker for the lounge was the Louis Vuitton store! We went to the lounge, we wanted to snag a free coffee and chill out for a little bit but they only let you in the lounge once, so instead we decided to buy a coffee for like $5USD and chill out in the green space. It was marvellous! Instantly we could smell the fresh air and people were chilling there having picnics. I FaceTimed my mom to show her how beautiful it was and tell her that I was about to leave the airport to go explore. 


In most places the train costs a different amount depending on how far you are going. In Doha the metro is a flat day rate, which is less than $2USD for the entire day! We wanted to hit every spot! The train is clean, quiet, incredibly convenient and comes every few minutes. Unless you are specifically headed back to the airport, then that train is about every 15 minutes. We hopped on the red line and went to one of the first places Elona suggested, Katara, which is the cultural village. Arriving there around 11:00 was really quiet, none of the shops were open just yet. On our walk walking up from the train station we met a women who was from the UAE and it just so happens that she’s half Tanzanian! Just another sign that we are in the right place at the right time. She walked us through the village and showed us some cool spots, we were a bit hungry so she suggested a good local restaurant. This woman was so sweet that she not only gave us some great suggestions, but she also walked us right where we needed to go, waited in line with us, answered any questions we have about life in Qatar, after our 20ish minute wait, she came in with us, requested a better table, and ordered for us! Thank you so much you Shaima, you have no idea how much I appreciate your assistance and continued friendship.

Our First Meal

Thankfully Mei isn’t a picky eater! I love going out with people and just eating whatever a local or server recommends. Shaima suggested a egg dish, dairy, meat, bread and chai. We agreed to everything she recommended; although it was going to cut into our $50USD spending budget for the day. The food did take a long time to come out, so we used this opportunity to people watch, and go up to the kitchen to see how their bread is traditionally made, where they slap the flattened pitas right to the side of the oven. It was amazing to watch!

Before our meal started we had a little bit of a language barrier issue with the fact that our local guide Shaima told us we had to have the chai. When we ordered chai they said red or katara, this was the day we learned that the word chai meant tea. Who knew! The food came out one by one in stone bowls. The egg and tomato dish was very light, whereas the creamy dish cut the richness with the honey that we generously drizzled on it. Finally when the meat dish came out I was sold. This is a meal I could eat every day and be totally satisfied. Mei and I were astonished, laughing and mesmerized by the servers spinning baskets of bread on their fingers as they walked. We asked a gentlemen who was sitting alone in the table next to us how to say “Thank you.” He was a good looking guy, whom I kept locking eyes with and quickly looking away. We were both surprised at how attractive the men were and how well put together they were. I guess he appreciated my eye contact and our excitement for the whole meal and experience. When we went to pay our bill, they said we didn’t have one, we were confused, then eventually we realized there was a bit of a language issue and a lovely gentlemen had covered our bill… Which was definitely more than his because we had an assortment and he just had one dish and one chai. To the man who covered our bill, thank you so much, you made our wonderful little glimpse of your country so much better.

Introduction to Islam

I have visited Dubai for a modelling trip in 2016 and that was the first time I ever entered a mosque. It was definitely for the photo opportunity and not so much for the religious aspect. In Malaysia I went to a famous blue mosque and was slightly roped in to a religious tour where I asked the guide inappropriate questions about the death penalty, the different laws they practice with muslims and non Muslim residents, also, I’m Canadian so I asked about Mary Jane… Apparently that’s a big no no and can not only lead to jail or deportation but also possibly the death penalty. 

Right next to the restaurant was the Katara Mosque, Mei had never been to a mosque before so we went in, we had to change to head scarf and clothing they provided. The women who gave us a tour was lovely and answered my question as to why men are allowed multiple wives but women are not allowed to have multiple husbands. It does make sense that if a man is expected to provide for the woman and her children that there shouldn’t be a question as to whether those children are his or not. But I just don’t know how a man can love and treat 4 women equally, if he has 4 wives he is bound to spend more time with one than the other, just merely financially providing for them all isn’t necessarily equality. This is what seems to work in their culture though so I do not judge. Noryn was the name of our guide through islam, she sat us in a room and answered many questions about the faith and why they believe what they believe. I have been raised a Christian and have a pretty surface level understanding of islam but I do know that descendants of Mohamed wrote the Quran, they refer to christians as people of the book, about Christians as knowing the word. She did speak highly of Christians and definitely did not have a very positive view of jewish people, which was really interesting to dig into and uncover a little bit more. I know there has been ongoing conflict in the middle east between the Israelites and neighbouring nations so it was interesting to hear the viewpoint of another middle easterners opinion. I take it with a grain of salt because I do have many friends from Israel and I have my own beliefs. My new friend Mei however, was a blank canvas, she knew nothing of islam, she has never been in a mosque, a synagog or a church for that matter. I have been in many different religious services and have really taken my time to experience different religions before making my decision as to what I personally believe. She started to cry while Noryn and I were talking about the love of God for all of his children and how we both believe our god is greater than anything and that’s why we believe we will one day go to a beautiful place. We hugged for a long time at the end of our session. Mei was shocked at how ignorant she felt and how brainwashed she was by the news and external forces thinking that perhaps muslims were dangerous etc… I do not trust what I read in the news or what I see on the tv. Only what I experience in really life. I love muslims, I love christians, I love buddhists and I love jews. My longterm ex was of jewish decent and I could not say a bad word about him. I think we both were reminded from this experience to love everyone equally regardless of what they believe but more so how they treat you and how they make you feel.

Tourists Paradise

I only spent a day in Doha but it was one of the best days of my life, packed with so many memorable moments! I love constantly experiencing new things and travelling to new countries and having more “Best Days of my Life” to add to the list. 

Our Day Consisted of:

Katara Cultural Village – Where we had an amazing brunch and visited a mosque

National Museum – A must see, great way to learn about the history of Qatar

Soup Waqif – Incredible Market Street

From there we hired a private driver through the city

Al Bidda – The World Horticultural Expo was going on so we checked out a few vendors there

Sport City – Asia Cup was happening so we figured we would go to the arena and enjoy the energy of the crowds 

Hopped on the metro to the next stop the Mall of Doha to watch the Korea vs Saudi Arabia game on the big screen. Korea won although they were behind the whole game!

We were exhausted by the end of the day and nearly fell asleep on the way to the airport.

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I did want to make a quick pit stop at the library which was really close to the mall but it was night time and I imagine its much more beautiful in daylight. Sometimes we need to know when to call it quits and not just make a quick stop for a photo opportunity.

We jam packed so much into one day and it only cost us $50USD each for everywhere we went and everything we saw. We managed to cover quite a bit of ground, we did a lot but still there is so much more to see! Each place we went we walked around and were able to relax with a nice cup of chai or walking through and enjoying the massive museum, I would have liked to see the museum of islamic art which is really close to the National museum, but I know I will definitely be back. Who knows, maybe one day I would even consider making Doha a home base and using it as my little travel hub. The tax free system would also be an added incentive. 

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