Monday, 26th November
Traveled to Doha, stopping in Colombo en route.
Left KL at 8.50 a.m. and arrived in Colombo at 9.45 a.m. or so. Took a tuk-tuk to town after several rounds of haggling and boarding the airport shuttle etc. The guy looked half dead with red-eyes and his bike was no better. But sharing with another guy, it cost me 630 rupees, which was about half the going rate and I really didn’t have the time to wait for buses etc. Arrived in Pettah Market which turned out to be a market district instead of a single building. Was denied entry to a masjid, (apparently ladies did not pray in public places), I wandered around and did not find anything worth buying. Ate some snacks at a corner shop with Coke and milk tea which turned out unacceptably too sweet. Asked around and was directed to another masjid in the area. Apparently the first one catered to Indian “bonos’, whatever that meant.
Found the people there very friendly and helpful. Communicating was easy since we all spoke some kind of English and I have like 3 crucial words of Tamil I learnt in Malaysia. The caretakers kindly spread a sejadah for me at a corner of the ground floor so I could pray in relative privacy. Afterwards, I bought some fruits outside and made my way back to the airport. I caught the 187 bus from the main road but it was really slow going as it’s a normal bus which stopped all along the way. At one point a priest (who looked exactly like the one on my flight from KL) came on board and the guy next to me stood up. I gave him a dirty look, daring him to sit next to me, but soon found MYSELF the focus of imploring looks from the public! Ooopss… Apparently, one was supposed to give up yr coveted seat for exalted priests of the land. Eeps.. my bad! Another aunty quickly offered me her seat instead, which I was reluctant to take at first, but eventually accepted upon learning that it was still some distance to the airport. After more than an hour in that rattletrap, I was praying for the bus to quickly get to the airport already so that I could enjoy the relative comfort of the waiting hall.
Almost missed the stop, but managed to get down in time, and took a tuk2 to the departure gate. It’s normally 50 rupees but of course the guy insisted I pay the special price of 100 rupees. Since I did not have small change on me, I offered him a loose USD1 I had in my purse and he accepted. Changed out of my dusty t-shirt into a blouse and washed my face in the bathroom once I got to the airport. Immediately felt better! Bought some overpriced tea at the shop and just sat around waiting for boarding. Yun and Julia joined me there, having come over from Colombo; they had overnighted in Kandy the previous day.
If the airport was deserted during arrival, it was PACKED for departure. There were so many people sending family members off, and there were numerous people from Nepal, Philippines and Indonesia heading towards Doha. The 747 towards Colombo was quite empty, but the Airbus 330-200 to Doha was filled to the gills. I sat next to an Indian guy who dared to challenge me at Sudoku, even though he just learnt to do it 5 minutes earlier. Heh, typical Indian overconfident male! He lost. Everyone slept after dinner.
Upon arrival in Doha, we took a cab to Ezdan Hotel where we were booked. Unfortunately the hotel messed up our booking and we ended up in a standard room with one king bed which dominated 95% of the floor space. I ended up sleeping on the floor but I didn’t care because I was so damned exhausted.
End of Day 1