And here we go again, hello from Doha!
I have to be honest with you guys and tell you when I first arrived to Doha, I thought that I am going to get bored in here and leave very soon, but somehow this city has managed to change my mind. Just like any other city around the world there is a charming side to Doha, and i can say I was lucky enough to find that part and explore it.
Here I am writing this while enjoying my half hour bus drive to work sharing with you my list of the main 6 things I think you should do if fate ever brings you to this city. Hoping it will help you finding your own way to enjoy staying here in Doha.
1- Early morning breakfast.
This might seem common, and you might think that this could be done anywhere in the world, but trust me in here the options are endless! Mainly because of all the people from different backgrounds and countries who live here and have managed to bring with them all their authentic food which means you can be in so many cities all at the same time and the options vary widely from strict vegetarian to fish or meat.
My favorite place is a South Indian vegetarian restaurant Sarvan Bhavan! I simply cannot get over their food especially the vada, masala dosa and their fresh filtered coffee.
2- Night at the souq!!
Whenever you feel lonely at any time of the day just head to Souq Waqif, you will find shops that open 24/7 and you will always find people there. I always go to the same shop, Tajin, a Moroccan restaurant and cafe where I enjoy the Moroccan mint tea while smoking shisha!
3- Wild Doha !!!
Not so wild though :p. For me the one and only issue with night life here is that the law requires that all the bars, clubs and I guess any restaurant that serves alcohol must close at 2 am! Other than that there are so many options! Basically each bar or club has its own atmosphere and regular crowd.
I suggest you try Lava club in Intercontinental Doha, and try the terrace at the Double Tree, those two are my favorite.
4- Late night – early morning walk
Recently this has been my favorite activity to do. And since my workplace is a walking distance from the Souq and Corniche I always find myself ending up walking there alone. Especially at this time of the year when the weather is so refreshing, nothing
can beat this. Do this walk and you will see Doha like you never did before, I guess this is what helped me to fall in love with the city.
Well, just like many other cities shopping here is crazy! The number of malls and shopping arcades you have is uncountable! In every mall you go to you will find a couple of shops that you want to buy things from (at least that’s me, I am on my way to become my family’s shopaholic). So while doing shopping you would end up visiting 5 to 6 different malls going home with dozens of bags and yes and empty wallet and credit card!
6- Photography (to the photographer side of you)
It is true that I’m only an amateur, but I still like to go from time to time to take new pictures, try new features. And here in I found so many places that you will never get over. Just for example if you head to the Souq I guess you would need a whole day and might not be enough to capture images of all the allies and streets there.
As I said these are my top favorite things to do in here, but there is still way more things to do, for instance going to Katara, or hiking in the desert and much more, have you found your top things to do in here yet?
Sincerely an orange,
Marhaba from Doha !!
Moving to Doha! Sounds easy, no? For some people it is so easy, they get on the plane, sit for 5-6 hours or so, and they are in Doha enjoying their life one day at a time. Well, I wish I was one of these people.
Anyway preparing to move here took me a couple of weeks, the hardest part was to find out what to bring with me and what to leave behind. Believe me when I tell you, that it was not an easy task as I didn’t know what I would need here, how the weather is like, what I would not find here that I need to bring with me and so on . Personally, I searched and looked around the web none of the blogs that I came across had the information that I was looking for.
Issuing the visa will totally depend on your sponsor, the more they need you, the faster they will follow up with the authorities, and the harder they will try to get it as fast as possible. However, sometimes the process would still take some time. I personally was lucky enough to get my visa in one day, however one of my friends here had to wait 3 months till she got her! So if your visa is taking time be patient and don’t worry, it is just a matter of time 🙂
Summer is super hot, but I have to admit that it is not as humid as other gulf countries. I personally prefer the weather here rather than the weather in Dubai for example. In winter the weather gets cold during night times and early mornings so a sweater is needed. Make sure you bring a couple with you, and during some nights a light jacket would be a must. So make sure you get light clothes for summer and get ready for the heat waves, and don’t forget sweaters and light jackets for winter.
Don’t pay attention to any of the stereotypes that you here about the Middle East. People don’t live in tents and they are not riding camels and they also are not the characters portrayed with Jack Bauer in 24!! People are friendly and you will find everything when you arrive, everything is available at the airport. You can get your SIM card, exchange money and what have you. The only thing you won’t be able to get is alcohol, as here in Qatar in order to buy alcohol you will need to issue your own alcohol license which will allow you to purchase and enjoy your alcohol, a license valid only for you!
There are buses that have a schedule online and taxis that are available all the time. A subway is currently under construction.
“Karwa” is the official company that is monitoring all the transportations, taxis, public buses and even limousine services. All the official taxis have Karwa written on their doors. And when I say official I mean it, as you will find here that wherever you go and while waiting for a taxi, you will be approached by strangers asking you if you need a taxi. Be aware of scammers!
This is not an official transportation method and your safety now is in your own hands. That being said, there are some drivers who operate on their own and you’d find that some would actually be very kind and helpful, and would pick you up anytime of the day or night for that matter. Just make sure to ask your friends for a driver that they trust or deal with. Otherwise, always use a Karwa taxi.
Karwa’s official website http://www.mowasalat.com/en/portal
These are some of the basics things that crossed my mind, but feel free to comment below if you have any questions and hopefully I’ll have an answer for your questions 🙂
Welcome to Doha, and enjoy.
Salam from an orange !
Hello from Doha, Qatar!
It has been a while since I blogged, as I was busy moving to start my new work here in Doha. Moving to Doha was not an easy thing to do !!! Not at all !!!
Anyway on the night before flying to Qatar, I baked a couple dozens of my favorite cookies, cashew nuts and milk chocolate. I got this recipe while doing my apprenticeship in Hong Kong from my French pastry chef. It is simply delicious and very easy to make. Just make a batch and freeze them. Once you need some cookies take them out of the freezer, cut them, and bake them. It won’t take 10 minutes. The best part of it is that you can simply decide whether you like it chewy or hard by following a simple trick you that would give you the texture you want.
- 300 g Butter
- 525 g Brown sugar
- 180 g Eggs
- 600 g Flour
- 5 g Baking powder
- 5 g Salt
- 5 g Bicarbonate soda
- 500 g Cashew nuts
- 500 g Milk chocolate
*For soft and chewy cookies use dark brown sugar. Since it has more molasses, it will leave your cookies moist and soft. And for harder cookies I just use light brown sugar!
- Beat the butter and the sugar together then add all the ingredients following the order.
- Weigh the dough and divide it into 450 g portions, roll the dough in parchment paper and freeze.
- Once you want some freshly baked cookies, remove your roll from the freezer leave it for a couple of minutes till it is softer to cut but still firm to get nice identical cookies.
- Bake at 180 C for 6 minutes, et voila!
While studying, working and traveling you come across many recipes; some of which you keep, others you discard and some you treasure.
This is definitely one of the recipes that I don’t only treasure but more. By far this is one of my favorite recipes, which also could be made in a gluten-free version. This is the recipe that never failed me, whether I bake it in a professional oven or a simple house oven.
Ingredients: (20 cm cake pan)
- 200 g Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa)
- 200 g Butter
- 4 Pcs Egg
- 150 g Sugar
- 60 g Flour ( for gluten-free 40 g Almond powder, 20 g cocoa powder)
- 7 g Baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 180 C, grease and flour the cake pan.
- Melt the chocolate in a microwave or on a double boiler.
- Add the butter to the chocolate and mix till butter is melted and a homogeneous mixture.
- Using a whisk, mix the eggs with the sugar till fluffy and double in volume.
- Add in the flour and baking powder gradually.
- Fold in the chocolate and butter mixture with the eggs.
- Pour in the pan and bake for 27-30 minutes.
- Leave the cake to cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan.
Let’s say that when you are staying at home looking for a new job, you won’t be the happiest person in the world, and in these cases you need your own comfort food and one of my comfort food items is fried rice. It is true I am not originally from Far East Asia but Asian and Indian food comprises the largest percentage of my comfort food.
Anyway fried rice is a very easy dish to make, and lots of people love it as you can use all your leftovers. Leftover rice, meat or chicken, adding to it leftover steamed vegetables or fresh; both would be perfect. There are so many ways to cook it as every region and area has its own way and touch. But here I share my most favourite one.
Ingredients (4-5 servings):
- 20 g Vegetable oil
- 350 g (2 cups) Cooked white rice ( steamed, boiled) any would be good
- 2 pcs Meduim size carrot cut into julienne
- 1PC Zucchini cut into julienne
- 1PC Onion chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic roughly chopped
- 30 grams Premium dark soya sauce
- 20 grams Oyster sauce
- 10 grams Chinese spicy sauce
- 15 grams Sesame oil
- 1-2 Spring onions (scallions) roughly chopped
In a wok heat the vegetable oil, add in the onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add in the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add in the carrots and zucchini and sauté for couple of minutes till preferred tenderness is reached, I prefer my vegetables crunchy so I only sauté for 2 minutes.
Add to the wok your cooked and cold rice and stir for a minute.
While sautéing add in your sauces. Keep tasting while cooking, the quantity of the sauces could be adjusted up to taste. When it is done drizzle the sesame oil over and garnish with the green onions.
Well, living in Hong Kong was definitely a life time experience for me. Many things changed while staying there, what I eat, the way I eat and definitely the amount of food I take.
Before moving to HK , and naively whenever Chinese food was mentioned all what used to come up to my mind was sweet and sour chicken or sesame chicken or something close to that. Needless to say that by moving there I found out that most of what we consider as chinese food is actually not the real thing but an adapted version. And the adaptation differs from one place to another. As for example in europe it has a little western touch and in the states it is adapted to satisfy the local customers in there.
I won’t be able to write everything about Hong kong food, as I myself couldn’t try everything in 6 months. But I will certainly mention my most favourite food items. Either eaten in food markets or in the street.
For the street food my favourites are:
- Eggs puff ( gai dan zai), HK style waffles, double-sided grilled that is soft and chewy, that should be eaten only hot and fresh.
- Fish balls, curry (ga lei yu daan), made of corn starch and low quality fish. This mixture is shaped into balls to be deep fried and then served curry sauce.
- Iced milk tea, it is nothing more than a strong tea, and the way it served it hot tea with ice and some ( or plenty) condensed milk. My favourit tea base was earl grey.
- Egg tarts, which is basically a puff pastry dough that is filled with egg mixture, made of eggs cream and cinnamon.
- Moon cake, is considered as one of the most traditional Hong Kong desserts as apparently there is a really deep ancient story behind these cakes that are exclusively made to celebrate for mid-autumn festival. Traditional Moon cakes have two stuffings, either red bean paste or lotus paste, whith salted egg yolk or two in the center.
- Egg Custard buns (Lai wong bao), which are steamed buns that is stuffed with custard, there is also another version that is stuffed with red bean paste which is as popular as the custard one.
Apart from street food, and on special occasions, I used to go to have a “family dinner” with the whole restaurant crew in one of the traditional food markets. Where you actually get to eat everything you could think of: from fried rice to duck intestine, and maybe some stir fried frog legs.
We almost ordered the same thing every time we went out. Century egg( thousand-year old egg) was a must, which is basically pickled eggs (just for couple of weeks) that is served with pickled ginger!! And this is considered as a delicacy. Hong Kong style fried rice, which had eggs, chicken or ham and definitely some scallions. Razor clams, (those are my favourite) but not my chef’s as he had to pay as these were quite expensive. These clams are cooked with some bell peppers and dark thick soya sauce. Fried soba noodles where also something important on that round table. Deep fried tofu and deep-fried squid.
If you think that eating on a round table is a nice thing, you actually need to rethink as that is not so true at least not always. It is true that on round tables you can reach everything by just turning the glass center which rotates and makes it easy for everyone to reach, but the problem is if the person in front of you was a chopsticks expert, and was eating in a speed that you have never seen before. If that person was there, that means he is going to eat so fast and he wants some from everything on that table. So while you trying to take some of the food and struggling with those chopsticks, he would be rotating that table non stop. Now the only way for you to eat that night is either to use your hand to stop the table from rotating, which is considered rude or simply attack the food and try to grab it before you find the center of the table moving again.
For more Information about HK street food follow this link for an article in HK magazine:
Cheers from an orange ,
I would say that I was quite lucky to be able to live in Hong Kong for 6 months in order to do my internship at one of the best fine dining restaurants there. In this thread I will write about the basic things you should know if you are just planning a visit, moving there, or you are already there and you need some guidance.
Hong Kong SAR
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the people’s Republic of China.
Although HK is considered a city in China, it has a different currency (HK dollar), different language (Cantonese as opposed to the Mandarin they speak in China), and you are required to issue a different visa. This means that if you have a nationality that requires you to get a visa for HK and China before you depart your country then granting a visa for China doesn’t mean you are allowed to enter HK and vice versa.
In general Hong Kong is divided into 3 general parts: HK Island, Kowloon, and New Territories. HK Island is considered the Westernized area where most of the expats and almost all the rich people live. And as soon as you travel to the Kowloon side you will actually feel the difference and see more of the traditional chinese neighbourhoods.
As soon as you arrive at HK International Airport you can either take the MTR (underground) or simply take a cab. You might save a little bit of money by using the MTR, but if you have heavy luggage or if you just had to fly for 11 hours to get over here then don’t worry about saving 100 HK$ which is around 10 euros and just get in the Cab. Be careful though, because here in Honk Kong there are three different colors for Taxicabs. Red operates almost around all HK, Green is for New territories and blue is only for Lantau Island. Most of the taxi drivers understand basic english or at least they know the names of the places in English. Also be careful about putting any luggage other than a purse or back-pack with you in the cabin, anything else you better put back in the trunk or the driver will charge you extra.
Finding a place to eat should not be a problem, even if you are not ready to try any chinese food yet, you will find McDonald’s almost everywhere in HK. I will also write a later blog about food in Hong Kong and about some street food that you have to try while you are there.
After you arrive at your destination, and in order to travel around the city, you either keep taking taxicabs (which could break your bank), or you get your Octopus card which allows you to take the MTR, trams, and busses. The plus side to this card is you can even use it to pay in most supermarkets. You can recharge the Octopus card at any supermarket, or MTR station.
Sightseeing. There are so many places you can visit in Hong Kong. From small temples to large ones, islands and much more. You can know about almost everything in the official discover HK website, where I will also write later about specific places that are a must to see.
The very last but not least thing that people want to know about is Nightlife. In Hong Kong there are mainly two places to enjoy the wild nightlife. LKF (Lan Kwai fung) in Central and Wan Chai, both of which are located on HK island. For sure there are other places but those are the main two. If you are looking to meet young crowds, locals and foreigners then LKF is your choice. There you will find countless clubs, bars and restaurants all in the same area. You will also find more people outside, rather than inside, on the street drinking and enjoying their time. However, if you fancy a more mature crowd, an escort, or a girl to take home then Wan Chai is the place to go.
There are so many websites for expats and for meeting people, two favorites of mine were:
Cheers from An Orange,