Tuesday, April 12, 2016

What day is it again?: Going around the world in nine days and 24 time zones.

Last week was kind of special. For only the second time in my life, I went out on a trip that went full circle around the globe. This means I left Miami on April 1st and headed East towards Europe. I then continued east and then more east (and still more east) until lo and behold, April 9th I was back where I started.

In between, there was some sightseeing, plenty of sleeping on airplanes, curry galore and that giddy euphoria that comes from the coupling of seeing a new place and the certainty of oncoming exhaustion.

To give an idea of what something like that is like, here is a cliff notes version of my schedule.
Day 1:  A 14 hour flight from Miami to Doha, Qatar.  Since we are on Qatar Airways, there are thousands of movies to chose from and we are fed every hour.  Between catching up on all the Academy Award nominees and eating my way across the pond, I forget to sleep, which is probably for the best since the combination of all that food and that creepy Revenant bear would only have resulted in some mighty weird dreams.

Print this map out, roll it so that the ends meet...that's my route.

Day 2:  We arrive in Doha.  It is evening. We are 7 hrs ahead of Miami so it is best to stay awake a little while and just adjust to this new time zone so we head downtown to the Corniche, where the Persian Gulf meets some the best architecture money can buy.

We ooh and aah at the light show taking place around us, wander into a high end mall (I suspect that is the only kind there is in Doha) and hit the food court for the 5th- maybe 6th- meal of the day.

Back at the hotel, we are still too awake so we decide to check out the hotel bar, which is supposed to be one of the most happening clubs in town.  Inside western men, Filipina working girls and possibly three Ethiopian trannies are enjoying the cover band.  For a hooker bar saddled with the most tortured anagram of a name, it is not really so bad.  We stay there until the 2am closing time.

Qube: Qatar Ultimate Best Entertainment
Day 3: We only have the day to sightsee, so we are up at 9am and heading to Souq Waqif for breakfast and souvenir shopping.

La Pozo en el pozo

From there, we walk over to the Museum of Islamic Art.  The building is designed by IM Pei, the collection is fantastic and it is free to get in.

We end up rushing through the last couple of rooms because time is running low and we still need to get to the Katara Cultural Village, home to galleries, restaurants, a beach and on this particular weekend, a car show.

These are pigeon pooperies: the pigeons fly in, poop and the poopery caretaker comes in and gathers the poop to be used as a fertilizer.

After a fantastic multi-course lunch at Marnig, an Armenian restaurant by the water, we make it back to the hotel with minutes to spare.  We grab our bags and head to the airport to catch a flight to Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Days 4 & 5:  We arrive in Dhaka around 3am but don't actually get to the hotel until 5:30am.  Very little sleep followed. For more on the Dhaka experience, check out my last post.

Remember this guy?

Day 6:  We sit on an airplane for six hours waiting for the weather to clear up enough so that we can fly into Kathmandu.  I later read that flights in and out of there can be canceled for days at a time due to weather and visibility issues.  The Himalayas are pretty but they sure do fuck up air travel.

We continue onto Delhi but because of the delays we now have a very short stay and we are out by the airport so I miss my opportunity to revisit the sacred cows, instead gorging on the buffet at the JW Marriott.

Day 7:  I sit on an airplane for 23 hours, stopping in Manila, Guam, the Marshall Islands and finally Honolulu, Hawaii.  By the time I get to Waikiki Beach, I no longer know what time zone I am in and have lost all awareness of how the International Date Line actually works.  I try to go to one of the top dive bars in the country only to learn that it has shut down.

Day 8:  After 6 hours sleep, I am wide awake again and don't want to be when I board my flight home later in the day so I try to tire myself out.  I walk from my hotel to the Diamond Head State Park.

My bird savvy friend, Betty, tells me this is a Brazilian Red Cap Cardinal.  It is possible he is further from home than I am.

I climb the 560 feet to top but along the way, I feel lightheaded.  I stop and sit down on the ground to catch my breath and in doing so, I am mistaken for a homeless person by a small child that approaches me to ask if I live there. At first, I find her concern sweet but then I realize the little wench never even bothered to give me a dollar.  I think she may have been mocking me.

I make it back down and walk to the hotel.  Entire route walked, according to my phone, 11.2 miles.
A watermelon/ lemon-lime shaved ice: my reward for not dying on Diamond Head.

In a now familiar move, I rush to pack and get to the airport for my flight to LAX, where I will land at midnight and wait for a 6am flight to Miami

Day 9: I arrive in Miami at 2:30pm.  Two hours later, I learn that there are tickets waiting for me to see one of my favorite bands of all times.  I run/ dance down the street to the American Airlines Arena and finish off this crazy/ magical week singing along to Pearl Jam.  I am particularly vocal during one song:

Now I can't see, I just stare
I, I, I'm still alive
Yeah, yeah I, oh, I'm still alive
Yeah, yeah I, oh, I'm still alive
Yeah, yeah I, oh, I'm still alive 

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