Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Muscat, Oman

Our two day trip to Muscat (capital of Oman, refer to map at left) was exhausting to say the least. Thursday morning we woke up at 4 AM to catch our plane. After loading on the plane and arriving in Muscat we checked into our hotel. Amazing thing about Muscat is that it is so much more green than Qatar! Qatar is super desert. All of it is sand, sand, sand. Muscat however had trees and plants, along with sand and mountains. It was really amazing to that in a mere 1 hour flight the scenery could change so drastically. Anyways, we checked into the hotel and tried to find somewhere to eat. We finally settled on the hotel restaurant where we ate something boring, so boring, I don't even remember what it was. We then proceeded to take a dip in the pool until the souq opened. The pool was so nice and the weather was beautiful. The air in Muscat is more humid than Doha, but the air isn't as hot. However, the sun was unbearable. After chilling in the pool for a bit we went off to the souq! And wherever you go, I'm pretty sure the souq will be the same. It was a bit open building you walk into and there are shops everywhere. And the Arabian Sea was right outside, and a blowfish that was puffed up had drifted ashore. It was a bit odd. Anyways, inside the souq there are people everywhere! (and we saw a feral cat...) The stores are ususally scarf stores where you can buy the giant scarves to wrap around your shoulders, or little ones to wrap around, say, your neck. I'm pretty sure we bought about seven scarves that day. My mom gets sucked into buying everything when the people are like, "Come feel the scarf!". We stopped in a few silver/jewelry stores because mom was on a hunt for something. We were just walking along and all of a sudden there was a store full of necklaces and shiny silver things everywhere. So we walked on it. There were so many things to look at, but Daniel and I were content with rummaging through a huge bin of rings to find some we liked. I ended up with a hand decorated silver ring with colorful designs on the top. After that we kept on walking and went to the shoe store! After trying on billions of pairs of shoes my mom & I decided on matching (ahh! the terror!) black sparkly slip ons and she she got another red pair. I wanted the silver pair, but they didn't fit. Daniel then went to get his haircut. I'll let him share that with you. On our way out we saw some silver shoes at a store! So pausing to try on many a pair, I finally decided on an Aladdin-looking silver pair. :] That night we went back to the hotel and crashed since we were super tired.

The very next morning we woke up for our 7 AM tour. We met the tour guy out front after checking out of the hotel and grabbing breakfast. The tour van was a 4WD made for rolling through uncharted territory. Which, we did, oh we did. We started off by driving out of the city.

TO BE CONTINUED.  

Back to Qatar

So we are back in Qatar. I have a camel tooth i bought in Oman. I also got my haircut and learned a very important lesson: NEVER get your hair cut in a souq. OUCH! He actually managed to cut my neck. OK things we did in Qatar. I went ice skating twice. With a family my mom knows (she actually found someone she knows from work in Oman!). I found these cool shoes called Kangoo Jumps. You can check out their website, kangoojumps.com. I definitely ( i just found out that if you say slow and pronounce every letter it sounds like "deaf in Italy" lol) recommend them, i tried them on on the store and they are so awesome. We also went to a mosque. At first I was bored because we were learning sorta boring stuff but then it got really cool. I learned how to wash your hands before you pray and how you pray at certain times and we went inside a mosque! It was awesome. It was so cool seeing everyone do the same steps and doing them at their own pace but they followed the rhythm. I would totally go again if i could. Plus, i met some really cool people.

Danny

Oman

So, for our visa we went to Muscat, Oman (this mean we had to stand in a long line after we got off the plane). We went to a souq the first night we were there. We also went swimming. The second day we took a giant tour. You can look at the pictures and videos on photobucket.com. If we had a goat count, we would have about 150 easy. We went smimming in the wadi ben khalid. It is a natural smimming pool, again, check the pictures. We stayed in a 5 star hotel which was pretty nice. THE ELEVATORS HAVE ELEVATOR MUSIC HAHA. It was so cool. We only stayed two days so we made the most of them.

Smalls (Daniel)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Long Time No See! (Day Twenty Two!)

Yes, it's been quite a while. Many, many moons ago in fact. Today is day twenty two in fact. But I'm not going to go indepth, because we've been lazing around for a while, since mom has been working (too much). Mmm I'm trying to focus on any interesting things that have happened. Well, I've been lonely since there is NO ONE my age here. Not an inkling of one. No where. So it's getting a bit boring just me and my iPod. Anywhoodles...

NOTE: Old pictures are going to stay on Flickr, but since they don't offer enough memory to host all the photos, I'm switching to Photobucket, to host our videos AND pictures. 

Arabic lessons are coming along I suppose. We're learning more basic phrases, but as of now I can't remember many, which COULD be bad since we have a lesson in 45 minutes. But, hey. So the only things that have happened in this... week or so have been: going to Bukhara (yum) with our friends, going iceskating in the mall, getting some shoes, and going to Muscat, Oman (but that's for another post). Howeeeever, yesterday was a fun day. We actually did something! We went to the Islamic Center. Which, perhaps, if any of you end up in Doha, I advise you visit. It was big room sort of thing where we learned the basics of the Islamic religion: such as the pillars of faith, the prophets, the Qur'an, the miracles of the Qur'an and such. Then we went to enter the Mosque. Which involved taking off our shoes and putting on abayas & shalya. And let me tell you, I was an utter disgrace. First I couldn't figure out how to put on the shayla (the head scarf thing) and then when i finally got it on, it fell off. Great. Then I could not figure how to put on the abaya, which should have been fairly easy. It's like a great big Hogwarts' robe with big arm holes and snaps from neck to stomach, but we wore our clothes underneath. I looked so silly. Then we had to take our shoes off, and let me tell you, my shoes were NOT fit for quick on and off-ing. They have these ribbons that tie around your ankles and I couldn't get the knot off! Then as I was bending over my shayla blocked my vision. It was horrific. And everyone was just chilling there waiting for me, and I was like AGHHH. And then we finally entered the mosque once deficient Catharine got her shoes off. Inside was sort of a blase big room with red carpet and a pulpit sort of thing in the direction of Mecca. There were prayer thingys and a red rug. And overhead there was a balcony with a big grate in front of it where the women prayed since women and men pray separately. Then we left the mosque and went into the "library" where you could just take books for free, and keep them. Then we separated and the women went one way and the men went the other. However, I have no idea where my brother went, so refer to his post. First we went to the top of the mosque to the women's section during prayer time. It was a new experience to watch prayer. Then we went to this room with cushions on the ground, and food! And the food was really good. There were lots of vegetables and rice and the rice had really interesting spices. Then we got henna on our hands. It's so sweet, it's a design of flowers and vines and its still on my hand three days later. (pictures on Photobucket). So, then we all shuffled out of the center and met up with the guys and went home. And that was all for that day, really. Next post is about Oman. 

Feral Cat Count: 7

Catharine ♥

Saturday, June 7, 2008

a little update

So nothing much really happened, but what we did was play squash, i played around the neighborhood, we watched all the Harry Potter movies, my sister and mom had tae-bo and I found a cool game on the internet.  I practice squash but the top of the squash racket got unravelled a little bit so I tucked it in a little bit so that it works better.  I finally got to see the kids again.  It was fun playing again.  the Harry Potter movies were fun too watch too.  Tae-bo went as usual.  The game on the internet is named fishy, and it is on addictinggames.com and it is when you are this little fish and you have to eat the ones that are smaller than you and then you grow.   

I'll try to post another blog soon, 
Smallz

Day Thirteen: to the Villagio

Today. Finally, up to date. We started our day by heading to Bukhara at noon to eat some Korma! FINALLY. We've been waiting to get our hands on that. And, and, and! There were feral cats outside of the window in the bushes hiding from the sprinklers! There were three kittens, on the skinny side. One orange striped, one Calico (or black with polka dots as Daniel so says), and light orange and white one, presumed around two months old (by wise old mom, not old though). So, now we're up to seven! Anyways, then we got terribly lost going to Villagio. Because they put roundabouts on the map where there are none, and take out random roundabouts and put in bridges! So we ended up in the Industrial part of town, and by some stroke of luck got to the mall. We were intending on going skating, but we didn't have much time before we had to leave for Arabic, so we just shopped around. We stopped at H&M, and some odd little stores, along with....CARREFOUR! Duh. We got dresses, hats, and shoes, along with the food necessities; chocolate, pizza, and cereal. :] And then it was Arabic time. Lessons progressing well, I suppose. We learned more greeting/name phrases today, and basic classroom things, like pen (qalam). Then we headed home after our hour and a half lesson and sat around and talked to daddy. Oh, and I used Skype! Skype is good fun, even if I do have pointless conversations. That's all for today.

However, I left a point out about one of the past days. We sat in on mom's lesson! It was actually pretty interesting, we learned about French & American body positions and things of the sort. We watched a clip of Saturday Night Fever too. And a clip of a French movie. We got to meet her students too. There are three girls and two boys in her class. The girls wear the abaya and shaylas, which are their black dress things and head scarves. And one of the boys was wearing a thope (the white robe things) and the other was wearing street clothes, but mom said he usually wear a thope too. They were pretty similar to American students though, besides the way they look. They joked around and whispered and giggled like normal students, and were slightly afraid of my mom. As are most people. :] And what I think is pretty interesting, is that the girls, although they wear the abayas; they have really sweet shoes, and bags, and their eye makeup is the coolest. And if you see them in the mall they always have loads of shopping bags from regular stores too. So, I mean, they're just like us, but they were abayas and shaylas. They drink Starbucks too. Anyone who drinks Starbucks can't be too different from me. :] Well, I suppose that's long enough for today. 

Feral Cat Count: 7

Catharine ♥ 

Days Nine through Twelve

Day Nine:
Squash & exercising. Not terribly interesting.

Day Ten:
Tae bo & Arabic lessons! Arabic is easier now that we're not actually using the characters. We're just learning the pronunciation of words and then "english spelling". Like "assalamu alaykum"; which means "hi", or technically, "peace to you". And, other than that, we're just using conversational words.

Day Eleven:
Off to City Center to pick up our tickets for Oman! Oh, did I mention we're going to Oman? Specifically Muscat, the capital. We're staying in a fancy shmancy five star hotel near the beach side. :D Hooray! But City Center is a nightmare for parking! We drove around for hours and hours, or maybe minutes, and finally found a spot only to enter into the world's most crowded mall. It is super huge and I can't find my way around. We got the tickets and then went to the bookstore and got books. Hooray!! I finished the book in one night however. Oh, and, I got a Hello Kitty watch. It's totally bomb. And we got Starbucks. Then we came home, and...sat around.

Day Twelve: 
Sat around. Mommy worked. Oh, the life.

Catharine ♥ 

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

a lot about qatar

hey!  sorry i haven't updated in a long time.  
In the last week or so, we went to the beach, saw camels, went to the mall, i had squash lessons, i watched my mom and sister do tae-bo, and I played with my friends inside the compound.  The beach i didn't like because I don't like beaches and my mom  my mom kept trying to make me go into the water.  The camels were wild so i didn't get to pet them...  the mall, like all the other times, and the squash lessons were a lot more fun then i thought they would be, it is actually really fun.  Me watching my mom and sister was boring, they looked like weirdos so i didn't want to join in, and the kids around the compound, there are seven of ten of them, but i only like seven of them.  Hope you're not too mad at me!  Bye!!  Short people rock!!!

Daniel

Monday, June 2, 2008

Days Five through Eight

It's been a long time, I know, I know. I don't even remember what I did on day five. Oh, by the way, updated pictures are on Flickr. 
Day Five:
Ah, yes. We went to the beach! Oh, it was a fabulous beach in the city of Dukhan. It took about an hour to get there, because all the way there was road construction, as is the story with the rest of Qatar. OH! We saw a camel! Mom saw more than I did, they were sort of invisible to me I think... I just don't have camel vision I suppose. (But my brother riding back with another family Grace & Jack saw some on the way home) And...we didn't bring our bathing suits because mom thought we wouldn't be allowed to wear them even though my dad thought we could. But, now we know for next time. The beach was so sweet! We got there and it was around 100 there and the only people there were not natives, only silly people like us, because we were roooooasting. And the water, it was so blue! And then we got in the water and it was warm! I mean, since when is water a beach warm?! And so we stepped in the water, but my mom & I wearing our long skirts had to roll them up. Eventually the skirts got wet anyways so my mom gave up and jumped in and got all her clothes wet. Silly mom. I, on the other hand, took off my shirt, and pulled my skirt up and made it a dress. So clever I am! Then we got tired of swimming around and went home smelling of salt. But not before a trip to McDonalds... :]
For dinner we went to this wonderful Indian restaurant. I was a bit skeptical at first, but the food was amazing! It's called Bukhara, incase, you know, any of you ever come to Qatar. Actually, it's food from Uzbekistani, but it's similar to Indian. I had some great dishes, but my favorite was a dish called vegetable Korma, which is similar to curry, any of you that have had it. Ahh, it was so good. 

Day Six:
Went to the mall. Another mall. We just went to Carrefour. Ah, but the parking in the mall was simply mad! It was gridlock, car to car. There was a constant drone of a car horn. That was on the second floor, however. So then we went to the first floor again and let some lady pass in front of our car. And then in turn she gave us her parking spot! How kind. :] KINDNESS PAYS! And then we came home and mom and I went to Al Meera grocery store, a little grocery store near the compound. It was quite charming actually. 

Day Seven:
Ah yes, we woke up early to take daddy to the airport, and I had to navigate mom home. Oh, and we saw the most ridiculous thing, a car shoot around the corner on its two left wheels! And that is NOT an exaggeration. It really did. And my mom was a bit surprised by this uttering a curse or two... :O But on to the next point. Daniel had his first squash lesson, and by gum, he seemed to enjoy it! He beat all the other kids in the race, aww my little fast runner. :] And mommy & I worked out in the gym, and phew, I don't know why people bother to exercise, it makes you hurt! So then we came home and sat around and mom tried to sign us up for a billion more classes; like tennis lessons, yoga, Arabic lessons, and tae bo. Well as of June 2, I am doing Arabic & tae bo, and Daniel with Arabic & squash. We haven't heard from the tennis people yet, and yoga ended today. Squash for my age is held at the Sheraton hotel, so I couldn't take it. So then that very night we went to tae bo (my mom & I), intending to merely watch. However, the instructor, you know those fitness types, roped us into the lesson anyways. And it was all okay for the stepping part and such until we got to the ab part. OH DEAR ME. And today my abs are KILLING ME. Then we came home and I read Wuthering Heights. What has gotten into me?

Day Eight:
Woke up and sat around. Ah, and I realized my abs were on fire and I may have bruised my tailbone. In any case, it really hurts. So sat around and then our new housecleaner came! She's very nice, her name is Anna, she's from the Philippines, and calls my mom mum, much to her embarrassment. Haha. So we went to, where? where do we go when we have nowhere to go? CARREFOUR! So, yeah. We bought cheese & chocolate. Oh, so European. And yes, I am aware that I'm not in Europe. I have some hazelnut chocolate I'm quite looking forward to eating, and I shall once this is posted, since it is 9 PM here. We popped home to put away the cold stuff and then headed out to mom's office to take our first Arabic lesson! And that building is WEIRD. The the rug is blue with black patterns that looks like binary code. Weird stuff, let me tell you. And mom's office itself is this TINY, PATHETIC little cubicle. It makes me sad inside. I'm gonna draw her a picture to hang up just so it's not as sad. And then we went to the bathroom so she took me around and introduced me to just about EVERYONE. Seriously, smile, smile, smile. And then she made me speak French to this random guy. Gee, thanks mom. Ah, and we met this random guy who works there and he is so random. He has like random toys and slingshots and wrote on a piece of wood outside his office, "worst spear ever". I mean, what?! Okay, onto Arabic lessons. So we met this guy and he was not what we expected, but he was okay I guess. Maybe around 40, he was from Somalia, but spoke English & Arabic (naturally). And we started our lessons and oh GEEZ it is hard to learn. You know in French, you have different words, but the same letters, like, chat (cat), or pamplemousse (grapefruit). But Arabic has totally different characters and weird pronunciations. Like the uhhhhuhhh sound you make in the back of your throat. Go ahead, try it now. It's rather difficult. And we're not even learning how to write it, just speak it, which is sad to me. But hey, mom chose it. Then after 1 1/2 lesson we came home exhausted, where we are now. 
We are currently bumming around eating chocolate & watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. :] So, sorry that entry was so long since I was slacking off. And by the way, we can't take pictures of the natives, you're not allowed, or else they yell at you and stuff. And no feral cats were seen in all these days! It's so sad. Okay, well bye now. 

Feral Cat Count: 4

Catharine ♥ 

Playing Outside

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Daniel with the twins Grace & Jack playing in our backyard with the hose. The water was almost as warm as it was outside!
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cribs. second floor of my little casa de qatar. 

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day Four: to the mall! (again...)

First of all, check out the photos. There's a link on the side that should lead you right to it. If not... www.flickr.com/photos/cqydjy.

So, question answering time. No camels sadly. I saw a donkey though. Happily English is good everywhere. Sometimes you can't understand what they're saying because they have some sort of an accent or another, but its all still good. I haven't seen too many Americans, but there are a fair amount of Westerners, from wherever they may be. Gasoline is pretty inexpensive around seventy five percent less than in the US. The cats are just skinny little cats flitting around, but they do have that slightly deranged look in their eyes that comes with the territory of feral-ness. They are all different brands and such, as well. Some look better fed in different areas however. The food is okay for me, we recently found gluten free, I think I mentioned this, but hummus is always good too. 

So, today. We went to the mall for lunch and there was this bizarre food court full of American fast food places. But let me tell you, fast food was NOT fast. It took 15 minutes I suppose to get our food. I had a Greek salad today while my family enjoyed the American style: This new mall is not as decorated as the Villagio, but the stores were similar in style, however I did not recognize many of the stores, they were more foreign. The clothes inside were almost the same though. There was also a Starbucks. Hooray! We then went to Carrefour, again, and it was pretty much the same as the other one, but they had more French cheese. Oh, me and my cheese. Then we progressed on to the gym again. Today, was not so enthralling let me tell you. I used the workout equipment like the muscley ones and the erg for crew. I am terribly tired out now. And Daniel played in Game Palooza, which was an empty room with a pool table, a ping pong table, a foosball table, and board games. Woo, not my forte. Especially since I really, really stink at ping pong. But, whatever, mom. Then it was home again, home again, jiggity jig. 
On the flip side my mom is making me take squash & yoga. But I'm in the older group for squash above Daniel. Anyways, I'm a tad bit nervous, but not really, I mean who knows, I've never done either at any time. 

For today's feral cat count: 2!
So that makes...
Feral Cat Count: 4

Peace, Love, and Happiness
Catharine ♥

Three Videos

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video

more about qatar

hey everyone! Today my family and I went to the mall, we went to games palooza! that was really fun. We played ping pong and foosball and air hockey. I enjoyed that. I had lunch at the Pizza Hut in the mall. The pizza was greasy and very good. I drank 7up from a can through a bendy straw :) .

I was going to play squash today, but the coach canceled the lessons because he had something "important" to do :( .

New things about Qatar: i am not sure if people here do this, but they dip their pizza in ketchup. It kind of sounds good. I might try it.

Thanks for reading! Post a comment please!! Little people rock \m/:)\m/!!!

Daniel

P.S If any of my friends read this, please tell everyone about it and tell them to check in on it

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

what Qatar is like

For almost all of my friends, and anyone else that thought that Qatar was like Saudi Arabia, WRONG!!!  Qatar is very peaceful, i especially like all the cats, even if they are feral.  The people are very friendly, they know English, and , no, the don't carry guns.  I haven't seen any camels yet...  I think we are going to go to the farm this weekend.  But i did see a donkey.  
My mom is making me take Squash.  Which is the same thing as Racket ball.  I am kind of looking to it.  

I am on my third full day here.  I know how to say hi, thank you, no, my name is, my name, how are you?, and mom.  They are all very simple.  I also know all of the numbers.  That includes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 0.  Not much but i might be able able to talk to people.  

That is all for now!  Post again when i know more wrds or something interesting happens!!  Short people ROCK  \m/:)\m/!!!

Daniel

Day Three: Around Town (and day two)

Buenos dias everyone. Today was a day out and about around the town. Yesterday we visited the campus rec center. My mom & I worked out in the Ladies Fitness Room. Ooh now, isn't that fancy? There was also a pool, and a little kids pool. Daniel & my dad were in the little pool and we met my mom's colleagues and her little kids. After that we went to dinner at Turkey Central in the city. It looked a bit like the seedier part of NYC. All the shops were tiny and neon. There were  million different types of stores; hairdressers, restaurants, men's clothes, women's clothes, art stores, pretty much whatever you wanted. The food at Turkey Central was pretty good. Delicious hummus, spinach pies, chicken, etc. Now, today.

First off we went to Mega Mart. Not so mega, let me tell you. However, it had more gluten free food than there had been other places, but not much, not much. There were more American, British, and French foods rather than at Carrefour. Then we went on a drive to the souq; which is just a little market place, or not so little, in any case. It was full of a huge assortment of stores selling pretty much whatever you wanted. There were stores selling colorful scarfs, hijabs, and abayas in whatever color suited your fancy. There was a store selling falcon gear, because people use falcons as messenger pigeons. There was a sweet rug store in which my mother bought a rug. In the store there was a man making a rug by hand. They said it would take him seven months to make one of those full sized rugs. Seven! Phoar. There was a store that had the prettiest color necklaces too. Pretty necklaces were everywhere. Everything there smelled so good too, you could smell all their spices and cooking, and everything. Their architecture is really cool too. And I actually took pictures of it. Downtown Qatar is like a mix between Florida & NYC & something else Mediterranean. The sky line is so pretty. But I had to be veeery sneaky taking pictures since Muslim people don't like their picture taken. I'm like a spy... :]

Daniel is currently trying to learn Arabic, but I already know the Arabic letters. That's what you get when you watch license plates out your window while mom and dad try to navigate the city. Oh, but let me tell you, I am so sick of classic cartoons like Tom & Jerry, and whatever that one is about flying bears. There are only ridiculous TV shows on here, as currently James Blunt is on...you're beeeoootifullll....

And I've decided to start a feral cat count. Today I saw one. Yesterday I saw one. Oh, but today we saw two kittens in the souq. My cat instinct was twitching. They weren't feral yet. And then it was sleeping in the baby carriage with the fake baby. Weird stuff...
Feral Cat Count: 2
Anyways, off for now.

Catharine ♥ 

Monday, May 26, 2008

In Qatar!

Catharine, Daniel, Bonnie & Tom have arrived in Qatar. It's currently 10:50 PM here, and it's still hot out. It's probably around 80 degrees at night, like in Florida during the day. The air is thick though. Well, our house is pretty nice, kind of like, in Florida. It's two stories, furnished, maybe four years old? We have a TV & two bathrooms and two half baths. It's nice and air conditioned, thank goodness. But, all that's on TV is old shows like Tom & Jerry and the Flinstones. 

Anyways, today we went to the grocery store. Hooray. It was actually Carrefour, which is in fact a French grocery store. So I had great fun with choosing cheeses, because I really actually like cheese. :] Carrefour was in a mall, and there were tons of sorts of stores there. Like Sephora, Boots (British CVSish), H&M, L'Occitane, and Arabic ones that I didn't know. Also other French, Italian, British, and American stores. The mall was decorated all Italian style too with a gondola ride up and down the mall in this man made river. The mall was really big too. But there were fake house fronts above the stores, with a cloudy painted sky. 

Outside is really sandy and everything is under construction because it's all up and coming and jazz like that. There are supposedly random feral cats running around, but I have yet to see one. However, there is sandy cat foot prints on top of our car... huh. Otherwise, nothing special going on yet. It's only our first official day here. Once I take some pictures I'll post them up. 

Peace, 
Catharine ♥