Rapidly modernizing and billed as one of worlds fastest growing cities, Qatar’s Doha is filled with some amazing contrasts and photogenic opportunities. The buildings are stylish and modern, the institutions are magnificent and history is incredible.
There are so many “top 10 things to see in Doha” and its not that big so many places and landmarks repeat, but just few images from our flying visit. And there’s a few more at Doha images
Museum of Islamic Arts is an impressive building from outside, above palm lined entrance ramp and below the entrance foyer with its dramatic circular staircase. One side of the staircase and the floor, ceiling and lighting patterns make a complex architectural vision.
From the Corniche promenade through an opening in one of the pieces of public art, to Al Dafna, the business district across Doha Bay.
One of the traditional style fishing dhow now used for tourist cruises,
Karak, traditional sweetened coffee drink in Qatar served at this little cafe in Katara Cultural Village. Waiters ready for next order to be served through window.
Simple effect of this Islamic architecture in white with red and blue seats above and the modern urban architecture of Al Dafna, the business district of Doha. New construction is underway everywhere you turn.
Completed about 2006 The Pear-Qatar, an up-market residential development with marina for residents.
Who go to the trouble to build such imposing structures just fors flock or two of pigeons?
In the Katara Cultural village, Doha, that’s what they have done, said to be of Arab/Islamic heritage.
Dhow rigging along the Corniche.
Everything imaginable can be purchased at Souq Waqif, clothes, fabrics, perfumes, cage birds, falcons, spices and on and on. A colourful and vibrant place every evening.
Some night scenes around the souq below.
Al Fanar Mosque, next to Souq Waqif illuminated at night with lights of passing cars on street.
A man and his bird.
The desert animal, camel ready here for tourist rides.
And riding in the shadow.
As already stated the are a few more images from around Doha, click here; images
Wandering the Corniche, a drive through Al Dafna and some of the new up-market residential areas such as the Pearl-Qatar, a night and dinner at Souq Waqif, the museums and a trip into the desert all worth the effort that will provide those lasting memories and photos we all seek. Many would say the massive shopping malls are a must, I’m not so sure, but over to you.
Borneo, jungles, beaches and wildlife; a photographers dream. And we are expecting an experience like no other.
Borneo, the world’s third largest island. About 3 x size NZ and headed-off by Greenland and New Guinea. It is best known for its ancient 165 million years they say), bio-diverse rain-forest (15,000 plant species) , home to and incredible array of wildlife (over 1,4000 animal species) including the man of the forest, orangutans. But that is only the start.
Leaving Auckland incurs about a 40 minute delayed departure on 8 May. That’s traveling for you, and the first of a series of minor hiccups.
We arrive on May 8th. The Tawau forecast is for thunder storms, we fly though and above cloud and mist from KL the predicted weather does not eventuate.
Looking down on expanse of oil palm plantation through a break in cloud as we arrive.
Our bags though decide they want a holiday on their own and head off somewhere else. We’ve sent the search party out hoping to find, apprehend and return asap. Let’s hope, at least I have my cameras.
We are met by Zahari our naturalist photographer guide at airport 40 minutes late, but he turns out to be the nice guy we expected. He gets us to the Shervinton for or first night. A “flash on-the-outside but rough-as-guts on the inside joint”. Guess that’s the standard for the next 3 weeks but we didn’t come here for the hotels.
Tawau is a typically Asian city but with less motorbikes. The 3rd largest city in Sabah – Malaysian Borneo.
Earning a living. Row of umbrella protected shoe repair and second hand sales operators on street in Tawau and in local food market below.
From Tawau we head to Semporna and our first resort. Lato Lato is a built on stilts resort that looks spectacular as we approach by boat. It touches no land but the shallow coral seabed where the stilts made out of slim tree trunks (I’m told they are ironwood, never rot and as hard as hell, but never-the less a little spindly looking) a bit like old fashioned fence post.
Through the chalet window at Lato Lato looks relaxing and wonderful, but this belies the underlying story.
We check in and head to our room. Kind of unprepared for this we were. The room is rustic, but without charm, the bathroom has a dunny, no seat, a bucket and ladle as a substitute for a shower. a tap, a shower-head for appearances sake cos it ain’t plumbed. But something even more interesting, as we walked the gangplank, so to speak, to get here I noticed the external plumbing and wondered where the waste went. Looked specifically at ours and it appeared to terminate about where the tidal level then. We did a wee test, flushed the loo, and voila into the tide she flowed.
Hmm, went back to our guide and explained that we would not stay in that room and explained the environmental concerns we had. All denied, until we said we would photograph another test. Change of mind occurs, oh yes you right comes an admission, the tradie hasn’t quite finished comes the excuse, we’ll shift you.
Mattered not really, because it wasn’t long before someone else was checked into that room. uuggh. Temps are about 30+f, humidity about 500 and only a fan to cool us during any time we spent in our room.
Tall palm trees on one of the Semporna islands we visit.
Children of sea-gypsies we pass visiting some minute tropical Semporna islands see us approach and paddle out in their little boats in hope of receiving some gifts.
Sea-gypsie mother and two small children peer out at us from window of their boat off a Semporna Marine Park island.
Decided to check out a day early from this place, the Lato Lato Resort.
Idyllic tropical sunrise from Lato Lato Resort, on the morning we leave, Sabah Borneo,
Our guide had to find somewhere else. we end up at an expensive but very nice Hawag Danum Valley Resort in the middle of the jungle.
It’s expensive, but lovely. aircon and a nice clean room. It’s a package deal, so we get their guides to handle us for our stay. Sagely, we’re advised to buy some leach socks.
Dumb Kiwi’s that we are we put these big baggy things on, as you do, under your trousers, then to to meet our guide who asks if we have leach socks. proudly we say yes, pull up our trouser legs and display them. Laughs from our guide, and no doubt others standing around as its explained you put them on the outside and tie them below the knee, well we had that right).
Off we set, very soon to learn the importance of these things. By the time we get home the blood sucking leaches had beaten the socks and found ways to attach themselves all over us. Deprived of lots of blood and being in a place with no alcohol (that’s a blood substitute I’d always believed) we had to re-calibrate our expectations.
Although we spend 2.5 days being leached every which way (and i mean that) this was to turn out to be a beaut experience.
Dinner then a night drive. Bumping along a dusty on back of a ute with a couple of spotlight wielding spotters and our guide we look for critters under the trees, in the trees and flying about.
Venomous wrangler pit viper in Borneo in rain-forest, Sabah.Danum Valley.
Brown wood owl high in tree in Borneo Rainforest, Danum Valley, Sabah
File-eared tree frog in Borneo rainforest at in Danum Valley, Sabah.
There’s a long story to be told here, but that best left for a separate blog, or another time. It involves our guide, a few lies, and the police. enough said, but it becomes important to dump him.
Arrived following characteristic delays on Southern Motorway and of course AirNZ.
Blustery as all hell, 35 – 45 knot winds, huge seas, and 28 degrees.
Nice resort, a wine, dinner and good sleep set us up for what is in effect day 1.
Collected hire car – rattletrap of Nissan Cube. More rattles in this thing than grandkids have. Spent day dodging potholes, and taking walks down to rocky coves with wonderful rock pools all fairly teeming (slight overstatement, but compared to what we are used to!) little fish, myriad of colours and styles. Had a wee snorkel in one of the larger pools, very pleasant. Heaps of coral types growing, all colours and shapes and styles (or is species).
The whole place though is somewhat of a grave site. Typically Pacific Island, everywhere you turn there are the graves of those who have gone before, be they people, old houses or dead cars, they scatter the landscape.
The monthly ship from NZ arrived today to restock the necessities of life here. It’s a monthly event, and quite an exercise as the ship is tied off to the wharf about 300 metres out and motors kept running to hold her stern on while the unloading of containers on to a barge occurs one at a time over the next couple of days. By then the supermarket, the gas station and I hope the cafes will be restocked (not that we have had any trouble getting a coffee, but was getting worried).
I say not that getting a coffee…… actually the coffee is quite good, but you’d better not be in a hurry. Average wait time would be 30 minutes, and (through beautiful bush usually) continually rising too. To get to the coral ledges and tidal pools we often have to take a bush walk or sea track and then a swag of steps to the bottom.
Seems like we descend and rise the 70 metres every time we head to the rock pools.
We’re heading out today to start with a school assembly. An interesting experience. About 100 kids singing, praying and receiving awards, all in two languages.
Then off to some more of the scenic spots navigating our way through the strategically located potholes.
It’s fun swerving our way down the road, slowing and waving when cars come the other way. Not sure Anne feels it as much fun. Especially when I hit one, it sends a shuddering reminder that I’m alive to my spine. According to Israeli owner of the Japanese restaurant they are waiting for the Chinese to return to repair them. Better hurry because I’ll swear some of them are big enough to be home to marine life now! The Japanese food was worth the effort Graeme, some of the best we’ve had. Thanks for that recommendation.
The other side of the island (east) is very different. Rugged and rough.
Met a woman collecting what turned out to be large sea-snails for lunch after church on Sunday. Told me it was good on this side today, can’t always do what she was doing. Looked pretty rough to us.
As well as the rock pools and coral at end of the walks, arches, chasms and caves add to the beauty spectacularly.
Not much in way of wildlife. Haven’t seen a seagull of any variety. Quite amazing, but the place is chocka with cats and the ever-present chooks, or jungle fowl as they know them.
Not sure but am seriously wondering whether the cats are to blame for the dearth of bird-life.
If Gareth (cat-man) Morgan really needs a mission perhaps he should check Niue out.
I think life is pretty good here, simple, seemingly worry-free and warm. Met the Secretary for Government on the plane on way up. He says, that with the taro, a few veges (hydroponically grown), coconut and fish it’s a breeze.
The working week here is 4 days. Guess that works because 35% of the people work for the Government so we are told.
Lunch at another of Graeme N’s recommendations. The Washaway Bar. A rustic fun joint only open on Sunday afternoon, after all the church services are over. Again, a great experience.
Final sightseeing journey was to the Talava Arches. Worth the 30 min walk through bush and over a rugged coral path that requires some concentration to avoid falls, then through some narrow limestone caves to finally spot the arch across a bay. This is one of the more recognised scenic destinations on the island.
Potholes, strategically located, chooks, ,amazing variety coral, chasms & caves, that’s about it.
it all here and tomorrow the cocks crow for the last time for us.