Road Trippin' to Al Ruwais

>> Friday, March 30, 2007

Yesterday, my boss tricked me into going with him to a two-hour road trip to the northern tip of Qatar. I ran out of excuses so I decided to go with him just so he could get over with all the excitement [ie "you have to go to our farm and breathe fresh air!"]. Just outside the city limits, the long stretch of highway dissolved into the horizon so I played some tunes and expected a boring ride towards the desert.

Road Trippin'

The purpose of going to "the farm" was to give some new Chinese guests a tour of a grand industrial plan that will rock that side of Qatar in five years or so. I texted my mom about this but she didn't seem to care. She was more keen on seeing photos of me in the actual desert so she kept reminding me to get my camera ready.

Along the way, I realized that the north's deserts are gone. No sand dunes (if there were any before). No vast areas of sand. Just large vacant lands waiting to be planted with villas and buildings. The only "desertful" characteristics were the palm trees, desert grass, and the promise of a camel because of camel crossing signs that showed up every five kilometers as if reminding us that we might bump into one any moment. I wanted to take a picture of the road sign but I figured that with the sun setting, the boss wouldn't like the idea of a photo op, and besides, I knew I could google it.

[The photo was taken someplace else. The road we traveled on looked a lot like this except for the outline of a mountain on the background.]

We finally reached the northern tip after almost two hours. There was no great view to behold. What greeted us was a small port, a few bopping dhows and some fisherfolk assembling gigantic fish cages. Boring.

We stayed there for fifteen minutes then headed to "the farm". "The farm" turned out to be three areas of fenced-in land. Inside one "farm" were some two hundred doves of different varieties. The other "farm" had fruit stuff. And the last "farm" was a vacation villa which was powered by a generator since we were too far away from civilization.

The Chinese guests, all prim and proper businessmen and woman, were relieved when we reached the villa. We waited ten and a half years for food to be served. When the caterers finally came in with the food, I noticed the fake amused smiles of the guests as they observed for the first time how an Arab dinner was served: on the floor. They couldn't imagine how such a nicely and expensively decorated villa could leave out a proper dining hall, but before they could come up with theories, they already found themselves kneeling in front of a huge tray of bukhari rice topped with
half of a roasted lamb, yes, that's how huge the tray was!

The Chinese acted weird. First of all, an exception was made for the Chinese woman, because under normal circumstances, she's not really allowed to dine with men. Then they all looked grossed out when the host dug in the rice and served the guests using his bare hands. When the host handed out a slab of meat to the lady, she was quick to grab her plate and avoid contamination. I have to admit, I felt the same way when I first had my Arab meal but they were out of line, they even took pictures! They probably think they found a highway sideshow. I freaked them even more by licking my fingers and digging into the best parts of the lamb.

After dinner we didn't linger for the usual tea and small talk. The Chinese were literally running for the exit door. It was considerably late anyway and the power generator finally complained by fluctuating the current.

On the way home, I realized the trip wasn't so bad, I did have fresh air after all and the bukhari and roasted lamb were the best I've ever tasted by far. Too bad not a camel dared cross the highway while we were on the road. But on the long drive home, I was just glad to see a strange yet at the same time familiar sign that can only mean we're back in the city:

4 responses:

sm 09 April, 2007  

ehe.. watta tarja maskin sign board ehehe... ohh so conservative!!! how nice...

Jap 09 April, 2007  

hehehe I know. There are other versions of that roadsign with the icon wearing a headdress which is hard to figure out if it's a man or a woman crossing LoL

sm 11 April, 2007  

ding! ang bato!!!

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