What’s up, internet? I’m currently heading back to Indonesia for a quick 2 1/2 week research trip, so Indolaysia will be back up and running again until the middle of January. Unfortunately, it’s just me (TP), as JM is back at home.
I’m writing from the Doha International Airport in the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar. Qatar Airways turns out to have been the cheapest flight from Denver (via Dulles), so for the first time I’m experimenting with the IAD-DOH-SIN-CGK route. I don’t expect that a lot of people fly QR from DC to Indonesia, but it certainly can be done.
So far Qatar Airways has my business. The first thing that happened when I took a seat at the gate was that a ticket agent walked up to me and gave me a free upgrade to Business Class. I’ve never flown anything other than steerage before, so the sheer awesomeness of business class is new to me. This is how the other .5% of the world lives. I used to think that I can’t sleep on planes. It turns out, I can sleep just fine when the seat turns almost into a bed, and after two glasses of Bordeaux and a big hunk of foie gras and smoked salmon (the appetizer) followed by chicken tangine and vanilla ice cream with fresh berries. This is how to travel. Too bad this is not going to be how my next three legs will be. I’ll be better suited to evaluate steerage in about 20 hours. But so far, I can confirm that as I have found throughout the world,
oil soaked dictatorships enlightened developmentalist monarchies have the best airlines.
The most peculiar aspect of Qatar Airways is that the background music for the personal entertainment system is the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ album Californication. The airline also has a pretty choice list of CDs to listen to during your flight, ranging from Appetite to the Stone Roses, the Smiths, Live at Folsom Prison, Ten, OK Computer, London Calling, the Chronic, and a range of others that I forgot.
The route we flew was interesting. Way up north, over Manchester in the UK then down over Hungary and Turkey. They planned us to fly over Iraq (I really wanted to blog from 39,000 ft over the Green Zone–"Tom’s over Baghdad") but they ended up putting us over Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. I can confirm that Saudi Arabia is unbelievably empty. Looking out the window, it was indistinguishable from being over the ocean–just no lights whatsoever, anywhere that you can see from horizon to horizon. Then we started our descent and then all of the sudden, lights.
I’m blogging currently from the Oryx Lounge at the airport, where for 25 bucks you can get unlimited free food and drink, free internet, comfy chairs, and (it’s rumored) even a shower. Nice. I think that I’ll probably do this again on the return trip.