I was transported to a hotel by a chatty Sri Lankan taxi driver. As tired and unsociable as I felt, it was less effort to participate in the mindless small talk that it was to have to deal with an uncomfortable silence.
I had a prolonged moment of panic as he weaved his way through rundown, dirty streets and dumped me at an entrance which looked like a deserted entrance of a third world office block. But I was grateful to get out of the car and politely gathered my bags as I wished him well.
The empty foyer contained a dilapidated table and chair and an elevator which made me pray that I won’t get stuck or fall. I pressed a button which clearly said “RECEPTION”. But reception wasn’t reception. The doors opened on another small foyer which had nothing but a mirror and an emergency exit door. Panic set in again. I have no idea what I did but after traveling in that damn lift for what felt like an eternity, I managed to get the doors to open at the right place.
The lobby was large, spacious and reflecting nothing of the dump like environment outside. The staff were friendly enough as I checked in and they won over my heart when they handed me three meal vouchers.
Room 631 was straight out of a 70s magazine. It was perplexing – the hotel was supposedly 4 star. I expected something a little better from a 4 star hotel in an oil rich Middle Eastern country. But this was just a sandpit in the middle of nowhere. That being said, a bed was a bed, and if they had hot water and a clean bathroom, my needs were seen to.
After a quick bath I made my way down to the dining room for some much needed sustenance. The food was plentiful and I was so relieved that there were various vegan dishes and not just multiple variations of something “exotic” like camel.
By now, as knackered as I was, I was wide awake. It was time to hit the town. I was fully prepared to be overwhelmed by desert heat. Memories of my disastrous trip to Dubai a year and a half ago when I was stupid enough to get heat stroke, were still fresh in my mind.
There wasn’t much to do in Doha. I walked around and took photos of the scenery. I saw no Qataris. Everyone seemed to be some variation of Indian.
People openly stared at me. It was extremely uncomfortable. After an hour of walking around I finally figured it out: I was the only female in public. I had enough anyway and realised it was time to get the hell out of dodge and back to the hotel.
When a phone call from the front desk woke me from a deep slumber to inform me my taxi would arrive in 30 minutes, I wasted no time to pack up. Doha is an uninteresting dump and I was glad to see the back of it.