Daily Archives: February 2, 2009

Welcome Back Qatar

Posted by on February 2, 2009

I arrived in Qatar safely. There wasn’t much to the actual flight itself. It was only an hour in the air between Dubai and Qatar. Time spent in the airport waiting for the flight was much longer. The Dubai airport is very nice and on a par with what I’ve seen in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Qatar, on a per-capita GDP basis, is the richest country on Earth. From what I see on the ground, it doesn’t seem like it. Qatar certainly isn’t a poor country, but it doesn’t seem as wealthy as Dubai.

There is a fair amount of construction here, but nothing on the level of what you’ll see in Dubai.

I have real bandwidth for the first time since I’ve arrived in the Middle East. It is reasonably fast and there isn’t a cap on what I can use. I’m going to try and get caught up on my photo uploading before I leave here. I’m also staying at a real hostel for the first time in ages. They don’t really exist in SE Asia or Dubai. I probably haven’t been in one since I was in Australia.

I don’t want to comment too much on Qatar because I’ve only been here a few hours and haven’t seen much yet, but the first impression is that is it very similar to the other gulf states I’ve been to…which is to be expected.

On other news: Umar who I met in Dubai, has posted an interview he did with me on his blog.

Google Earth 5.0 Beta Released

Posted by on February 2, 2009

The beta version of Google Earth 5.0 has been released. You can download it here.

The new version looks pretty nice. Improvements to the UI and a much better view of the ocean floor.

I mention this as a remind to people to check out my other blog, Where On Google Earth. The site is a game where different screen shots from Google Earth are posted every few days and people guess where it is.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #50: Town of Luang Prabang

Posted by on February 2, 2009

World Heritage Site #50: Town of Luang Prabang

World Heritage Site #50: Town of Luang Prabang

From the World Heritage inscription:

Luang Prabang is an outstanding example of the fusion of traditional architecture and Lao urban structures with those built by the European colonial authorities in the 19th and 20th centuries. Its unique, remarkably well-preserved townscape illustrates a key stage in the blending of these two distinct cultural traditions.

Prior to the communist takeover in Laos, Luang Prabang was the royal capital of the country. It is a very sleepy town (well, all of Laos is) on the Mekong river which is becoming a popular attraction on the tourist circuit in SE Asia. In addition to the European style colonial buildings, there are also several Buddhist temples in the area.

One of the most interesting things you’ll see in Luang Prabang is the daily alms ceremony. Every morning at sunrise, the monks of the local temples line up and walk through the streets of town to get rice and food from the locals. If you wake up early, you can buy some sticky rice and fruit and line up to give something to the monks. The Korean and Japanese tourists took it much more seriously than the Western tourists did.