Thursday, August 27, 2020

Reviving Air Travel

Reciprocal Green Lanes • Travel Bubbles • Travel Corridors • Corona Corridors • Travel Bridges 

Some new synonymous words in the COVID-19 lexicon. 

Recent news articles on reviving air travel have generated polarised views. On one hand, some want it resumed as soon and safe as possible. On the other extreme, some want borders closed until the extinction of COVID. In such times, we must be thankful that we have a centrist and balanced government. 

Not many governments can endure prolonged lockdowns unless they have huge reserves; print more money (which may lead to fiscal instabilities) or borrow more (increase burden for younger generation). In any case, please don't be alarmed when you read about Singapore starting discussions on RGL with Indonesia (which has about 2306 new confirmed cases today). 

In fact, I think our Singapore diplomats and transport ministries should start discussing with every country. Establishing mutually agreed arrangements and protocols take time. To start discussing only with countries that have low cases will mean missing the window of travel before the next wave hits. 

Just like in business, you don't wait for the clients to start issuing cheques to you before printing your product brochures to show them, it is in our interest to establish RGL arrangements with every country which are ready to be implemented when the time is right. And yes, we can then disagree on what time is a right time. But till then, let's hope Singapore gets into as many travel arrangements as possible.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

My Qatar Escapade (Day 2)

 29 December 2019

Headed to the gym in the morning after a great night of rest from the long march the day before.

After getting my hands on some Qatari Riyal, I finally could take public transport. I would like to say, like how locals do, but apparently locals formed the minority in the metro.

Prior to the trip, my travel research did not pick up the Doha Metro, possibly because it was opened only in mid-2019. I was pleasantly surprised to find out the price of a single-trip ticket. For just QAR2 (or SGD0.75), one could take a single trip to any stations within the metro network.

My single-trip ticket

Qatar Rail's Doha Metro

Boarded the Metro at Umm Ghuwailina station

Similar to most of Singapore's MRT trains, the Doha Metro trains are driverless

Seats with the best view

Empty train :)

Alighted at the Katara Metro station to explore the Katara Cultural Village.

That sun...

Popped in this exhibition centre to view the bazaar that was ongoing

The Katara Amphitheatre

A view of the surroundings atop the Katara Amphitheatre

Sculpture of Mother Nature Rotating Earth

Private beaches closed off to visitors

Lunch at Mamig, an Armenian and Lebanese restaurant

Gandhi’s Three Monkeys by Subodh Gupta, with each piece made of cooking instruments, used pails, traditional Indian lunch boxes and glass bowls

Farmers Forum

These Pigeon Towers could house thousands of pigeons. They were designed to collect pigeon droppings used as fertilisers

Katara Mosque

"My Bouqnag"

Minaret of the Golden Mosque

Went in this interestingly shaped architecture to view an exhibition on hunting eagles

Katara Plaza - uptown shopping area

Returned to the Doha Metro to pick the next destination based on the name of the station. Doha Exhibition & Convention Center (DECC) station - this sounded like a place to visit.

Family Cabins!

and this cabin is for the "standards"

The Doha Exhibition & Convention Center (DECC) behind me. Too bad there was no ongoing exhibition

Did some shopping at the Carrefour supermarket inside City Center Mall Doha

Returned to Oryx Rotana Hotel

2 days were grossly insufficient to explore Doha. 

Heading home at Hamad International Airport

The Lamp Bear

An interactive game of penalty kicks

Home Sweet Home

The Middle East region often gets depicted in the news as a troubled region. Having visited Qatar, it was an eye-opener to the beautiful landscapes and architecture. I felt safe moving around on my own. The hot weather was slightly tormenting, and the poor air quality was a slight turn-off, but overall, I couldn't tell it was a country being blockaded by its neighbours. Another country to remain in my to-travel-again list!