My year of gallivanting and globe-trotting is over—I am safely back at home with many more stamps and visas in my passports. If nothing else, this year has helped me to know that people really are quite the same when it comes down to important things, that I really should keep up better with the news (lifestyle change!), and that friends make the best traveling companions—don’t leave yours behind! I am ready for medical school in the fall and though I’m sure I’ll have plenty of adventures, I don’t know if they’ll be quite so blog-worthy so I’m retiring my keyboard. Thanks for reading and thank you to everyone who made my time away so fun and worthwhile. Keep in touch!
After leaving Doha, a group of us headed to India for one last trip before coming home. HOT is an understatement—the unrelenting heat and humidity are the top reason for not visiting in the summer, so I’ll remember to visit again during better weather. But, on the bright side, the food, clothing, people were amazing and we all had a great time. Here are a few highlights:
GOA: Goa is a beautiful beach state on the west coast and we spent our time there hanging out at the beach, eating omelettes for breakfast, and riding around in our scooters. There’s also a heavy Portuguese influence so we saw the Church of St. Francis of Assisi.
DELHI: We didn’t see much of Delhi, mainly using it as a base for all our sleeper train travels, but we did shop (my favorite packed market was Lajpat Nagar, I think I just liked to say the name)—everything was so beautiful: the women’s clothing, bracelets, shawls and scarves, I wanted it all!
JODHPUR: Jodhpur, in Rajasthan, is also known as as the blue city and it definitely was very blue. We saw the Mehrangarh Fort there, a colossal structure with hundreds of rooms and treasures. We also maybe had the best lassis ever there, a Rajasthani specialty called makhaniya lassis—delicious! Other Rajasthani food (such as desert vegetables) are not recommended however. This is also the place where Adam got something in his eye that was really bothering him and so somehow he ended up having emergency eye surgery. It was easily removed and cost a grand total of maybe 100 rupees
ALLAHABAD: Allahabad is where my friend Noreen’s family is from so we were lucky enough to meet her family and play with her cousin’s adorable children. We also had some amazing tandoori chicken, took a ride at Sangam, a holy site for Hindus where three rivers meet, and visited Anand Bhavan, home of the Nehrus and Gandhis. On our way to Allahabad we had an almost-mishap where for approximately 10 minutes we could not find Noreen at the train station. This finally ended up with me, Adam and Zack racing to the train and hoping she was there with all of the tickets—luckily we were right!
India is so giant and there so much left to see! It’s a lot like China in someways, most notably the vast numbers of people. I would love to go back during a (much) cooler time.
The biology lecture final was this past Thursday and right after Phyllis had an end of the year party at her house with all the students. It was lots of fun and that’s when I realized how much I’ll miss everything after I leave. Here’s the top few things I’ll miss: the other TAs, the students, traveling, having a nice apartment and pretending to be a real person, school lunch!, iced coffee and frappes, yummy+cheap food, a new appreciation for mall culture, roundabouts (specifically oryx), so much more! This is my last week in Doha—goodbye, good luck, and please keep in touch everyone!
Sorry I’ve been lax in posting, but really life in Doha hasn’t been all that exciting. Here’s a recap: in terms of teaching, the semester is winding to a close. After dissecting chick embryos and fetal cats with our students, we just had our last lab test before the final. We have exactly one test, 2 final exams, and 60 papers to grade before our time as WCMCQ bio TAs is over—so soon, really only 3 more weeks! What have I been up to this last month? Just soaking up the decent weather before it gets too too hot. We made a new friend Charles and went out the beach in his Hummer one day; Diane’s friend from home Vanessa visited and we went on a dhow ride; some Cornell students from Ithaca paid Doha a visit during their spring break as part of the IthaQatar program so we had a BBQ and went to the souk with them; Noreen, Diane and I got really intense Thai massages—they were great; also helped my dad do my taxes and financial aid application for UCSD. I have tentative plans to go to India right after leaving here, but we’ll see we can make it happen. This summer I’ll be at home in California, helping my mom out with her summer camp and apartment hunting with Stephanie, hopefully I can squeeze in some trips to norcal and NYC. I can’t believe this year is winding to a close—I thought it would pass by slowly, but not at all! Everything’s been great and I’ve enjoyed myself immensely—traveling, becoming friends with the other (awesome) TAs (friends—not coworkers!), teaching and hanging out with the students. There’s not a second I’ll regret, but I’m getting excited about seeing my family and friends from home and I’m surprisingly excited about med school in the fall and being a student again—the other side, namely grading, wasn’t so great after all :). I’m still in Doha for a few more weeks so I’ll be trying to cross everything off my list—wish me luck!
Last weekend Noreen, Adam, Aleks, Zack and I hopped a flight to Dubai. I had never been so we did the traditional round of mall visits, pictures of the Burj Khalifa, beach and of course we had delicious pinkberry :). It was fun, a much bigger and better developed version of Doha. We had a Chinese food excursion—since there’s no good Chinese food in Doha we went on an adventure to find some in Dubai and we were fairly successful—I even ordered some things that weren’t on the menu!
Dahab was beautiful, a cool diving and snorkeling spot. We went snorkeling our first day and it was amazing!! It was my first time snorkeling but I think I mastered the breathing only through your mouth requirement. We snorkeled at the Blue Hole and there was so much to see—seahorses, rainbow fish, needlefish, beautiful coral, and a lot of other things that I can’t name. We were so close to everything though and I swam in a school of fish—I blended right in. That night, instead of lazing around at our hostel, we climbed up Mount Sinai, which for many is a place of religious significance—where Moses received the 10 commandments. We left on a minibus at 11 and got there around 1:30, then the trek up the mountain took a few hours. I was exhausted because we had already been traveling for a week at this point, but we made it up the mountain and waited for the sunrise. The four of us even brought two big blankets from our hostel and at the top, we picked the best viewing spot and set up camp, using our blankets to ward off the cold. The sunrise over the surrounding mountains was beautiful and I’m glad that we made the climb.
We made it to Cairo and found a hostel but by then it was around 2pm already and we were starving. So, instead of finding a delicious restaurant, we went for fast and easy—KFC right outside of the Egyptian Museum. The museum is huge and packed with things to see, but most items don’t have that much information and there’s really way too much to see in one day, much less one afternoon. We saw the highlights—King Tut’s treasure and the royal mummies. Everything from King Tut’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings was moved to the museum and the treasure (statues, jewelry, chairs, beds, etc) is in very good condition. The mummy room was very cool, there were around 10 mummies of past pharoahs and we could see their faces and hands, their preserved teeth and nails. While in Cairo, we of course saw the pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx and we even climbed up into the great pyramid. We also wondered around Islamic Cairo and market, haggling for some trinkets. The food was delicious, we had some yummy fresh juice and we also tried some traditional Egyptian food: a mix of pasta, lentils and spicy sauce called koshary and this vegetable/egg casserole cooked in a special pot called tagen, for dessert um ali which is like bread/rice pudding, and Aleks even tried the stuffed pigeon. During our day trip to Alexandria, we saw the beautiful Mediterranean, saw the new library and what used to be the lighthouse, and had some special ice cream—soft serve, but a little stretchier. Cairo was great, busy like any big city, but people were very friendly and willing to help us out. The only thing was the air quality was pretty bad, especially in the main downtown area so it was a little rough on the lungs. After Cairo we ventured to Dahab, a dive town on the Sinai peninsula, right by the water.
We just got back to Doha yesterday morning, but I was exhausted because our last night in Egypt, we climbed Mt. Sinai to catch the sunrise and then right after we took a red eye flight with a 6 hour nighttime layover at Kuwait Airport. I feel much better now though, after a nap yesterday and then a full night’s sleep. Egypt was amazing!! I feel like I was able to see so many impressive things and learn about ancient Egyptian history/culture. I had to use some memory recall back to sixth grade—ancient civilizations in Mr. Sand’s class :) Our first stop was Luxor, the ancient city of Thebes which is right on the Nile. It was the religious capital of Egypt for a long time and the place where they worshiped Amun Ra, the sun god. We went to Karnak, the temple for Amun Ra as well as the Valley of the Kings, where the tombs of many pharoahs are located. Karnak was huge, full of obelisks, pillars, and sphinxes with carvings and hieroglyphics on everything. We biked out to the Valley of the Kings—I hadn’t been on a bike in years so I was a little rusty, but it was really fun (ok, except for the uphill parts)! The tombs were elaborate, with many rooms for mummification, storage of treasure and of course for the actual bodies. Noreen and I got in trouble at our first tomb—we tried to sneak in a photo (not allowed) and one of the guards saw us. He tried to confiscate our cameras, but we kept saying that we didn’t have them and finally he let us off with a warning and even proceeded to give us a mini-tour in the tomb.No more sneaky photos after that. From Luxor we took an overnight train to Cairo—our worst travel experience in Egypt. It was uncomfortable, we couldn’t sleep and there was something wrong with the train in front of us as we got closer to Cairo so we were 3 hours late in the morning and desperate to find a hostel—but no worries, we made it!
Noreen, Adam, Aleks and I are leaving for Luxor, Egypt on Wednesday. From there, hopefully we’ll swing by Cairo, Alexandria, Sharm El-Sheikh and Dahab—I’m excited! I can’t believe it’s spring break already though—that means only 2 more months in Doha, 5 more months until med school, and approximately 4 years until I’m a real person!