Pray for Indonesia

My heart goes out to all those affected by the flood, the quake & tsunami and the volcano eruption in Indonesia.


Rotana Restaurant **

Unhealthy Bulalo 🙂

Those two stars in the title is my final verdict 🙂

Visited this restaurant – situated at a shopping complex, opposite Chevrolet showroom, Jaidah) last week, trigerred by curiosity on Bulalo.

Taste. **. We ordered seafood fried rice, unhealthy bulalo (a Filipino stew made from beef shanks and marrow bones), and half-chicken grill, and fruit juices. Seafood fried rice was served in large quantity (enough for 2). Although it is included in Chinese menu, it tasted like Arab-Indian. Shrimp served was from frozen shrimp, not fresh one. Bulalo comes in a big bowl with one big beef marrow bone and one smaller one. Unfortunately it is too salty (or too MSG?) and fatty, and served plain (no veg, sambal, celery, lemon to counter the taste, etc.). Half-chicken grill was good, as were fruit juices. Try Rotana special juice!

Service.**. We sat down on a table of four in this 5-seating capacity restaurant on the ground floor. I incidently and patiently waited to be served, just to test if they care enough to new customer. Nothing happened. No waiter came to offer menu. Enough to judge. After about 5 minutes, I waved my hand and called one waiter. Our orders were served after about 25 minutes.

Price.***. Price is reasonable. For one seafood rice (QR14), one bulalo (QR18), half-chicken grill (QR10) and furit juices total damage was QR67. Fruit juices were excellent and sure exceed their price tag.

Atmosphere & Location.***. Location is strategic with ample parking as it is within a shopping complex (been to Party Kingdom at Jaidah? it is opposite to that). Seating and cleanliness are no problem. The only thing is bright light from outside – if you visit during midday, strong enough to cause unpleasant ambient lighting inside the restaurant.

Will come again? No. Curiousity answered. Overall verdict not strong enough for pulling me in again.

Where to Buy Spareparts & to Service Jeep Cherokee


– Original (Company) – Jeep United Cars Al Mana, Industrial Area St.23 (corner of St 23 & East Industrial Street). Coordinate: 25 12’11.31″N 51 26’49.22″E.

– Aftermarket/Third Party:

  1. Salamco Trading, Qatari bin Al Fujaah St., Fereej bin Mahmoud. Phone: 4426706
    Open: Sat-Thu = 08:00 – 12:00, Sat-Fri = 15:00 – 18:30. Coordinate: 25 16’53.38″N 51 31’02.41″E. Driving Directions: Coming from Ramada to Jaidah Flyover (don’t take flyover), make U-turn on the Jaidah Roundabout, keep right, then turn right at the first opportunity, follow the road until trafic-lighted intersection, turn right. Follow the road with full of garages/auto shop. Salamco is on your left.
  2. Al Faris, Al Khaleej St. Opposite Jaidah Chevrolet showroom. Telp: 44428010. Coordinate: 25 16’46.29″N 51 31’09.02″E. Driving Directions: Coming from Ramada to Jaidah Flyover (don’t take flyover), make a left turn on the Jaidah Roundabout, keep right, then look for parking spots. Al Faris is just on the corner of Jaidah Roundabout.
  3. Al Faris, Al Gharafa. Across diagonally to Landmark Mall. Telp: 44791900. Coordinate: 25 19’48.31″N 51 27’51.23″E. Driving Directions: Driving to the west passing/in front of Landmark Mall, continue crossing traffic-lighted intersection under Al Shamal Road, then keep left . Make a U-turn at the next traffic-lighted intersection. Keep right, take a slip road to the right. Follow the road until it is parallel to Al Shamal. The shop – along with other auto shops – is on your right, just beside Dubai Wheel.


1. American Tech Center. Barwa Village, Wakrah, Building 18 (the most rear-left building). Contact: Ahmed (Mobile: 55520678). Coordinate: 25°12’34.12″N 51°34’30.89″E. Driving Directions: drive Old Airport Road towards Wakrah, passing D-Ring Road intersection then E-RIng Road. Pass Petrol Station. 1.5 km from petrol station turn right. You can see a building complex. The building is on the rear-left most of the complex.

Major Faults: A Story about Car Inspection

Technical Evaluation: Failed. Major Fault. Legal Requirements: Failed. Major Fault.

Oh my God. Couldn’t believe that my car failed in an inspection for car registration (istimarah) renewal. And I skimmed through the 2-page inspection report: paint scratch, paint faded in legal requirements and rear brake weak, turning signal not sufficient brightness, engine noisy in technical evaluation. Hmmm a lot needs to be done.

Law in Qatar requires vehicles to be inspected if they are older than 3 years old. This shall happen at the same time as istimarah expiry date. The law also requires that car owner to ensure that his vehicle passes an inspection, has his car insurance renewed, in order to renew his car istimarah. Good news is you will have a month from expiry date for renewal before a penalty is imposed.

Inspection is done by “Woqod for Vehicle Inspection (FAHES)”.

Now let’s me describe how I went through inspection, re-inspection process.

0. Prepare your car for inspection: technically and legally. See below. Also It is suggested that you ensure your car is clean, jack-washed before heading to car inspection location.

1. First, you need to locate where you want to bring your car for inspection. There are several places: in Wakrah, in Al Khor, in Industrial Area, and in Abu Hamour area. See bottom page for locations.

2. Know the timing. Majority is open from 7 to 5pm but individual inspection place might have different timing. For example in Al Khor, Saturday, Sunday, Monday is reserved for light vehicle, and Tuesday to Thursday for heavy vehicles. Friday is a holiday. Also you need to bear in mind that although they are closed at 5pm registration may stop earlier.

3. Plan your inspection schedule. Get there early in the morning for short queue or later in the afternoon. But I can’t give you a hint what time is the best. Just try your luck. Typically in weekend is more crowded than in weekdays.

I am not sure if prior booking does work for this technical inspection. Never tried. Tell me if it does.

4. Prepare your energy. If you are lucky enough you may need to wait for less than an hour. But in many cases you need to wait much longer. My case for example I need to wait up more than 3 hours before I am being served. Pack enough drink or light meal. Seriously.

5. Have yourself – in a car – in a queue. And by the way, bring your car istimarah. Inspection can be delegated however.

Outside queue for entry to Al Khor Car Inspection

6. An inspection staff will approach you as you get nearer to inspection gate/lane for registration. He will give you a queue number slip

7. Leave your car, go to Registration Office. Prepare to pay 75QR – cash. You will get two slips, one for customer, one for inspection staff.

8. Back to queue, ready for directed to inspection lane. Most places have only one inspection bay, making inspection quite time wasting. In average one car requires 10-15 minutes.

Queue inside Al Khor Car Inspection (seen here inspection bay)

9. When it’s your turn, drive to inspection bay. Present inspection slip to the inspection staff. You will be asked to: turn on wiper, headlights, turning light (front and rear), brake light, reverse light Legal requirements items will be inspected: paint, tinted window, stickers, tires, spare tire, fire extinguisher, body condition, car plate condition, seat belt, etc. The staff will drag a light test console: measure your car light brightness and appropriate height level of headlight beam. You will need to open car hood: check for engine noise, battery condition, overall engine condition. The staff will affix emission probe to your car exhaust for emission test. Then your car will be driven by the staff to a steel ramp to test you car brake system.

I heard that inspection in Abu Hamour is more sophisticated than in other locations.

Inspection Bay at Al Khor Inspection. Behind this bay are Police Office and Registration Office


10. You will be asked to go to Registration Office to obtain inspection result. Prepare for heart attack, no kidding.

11. Here is the clue and quite common unwritten practice. It is technical evaluation that matters. So if you have failed in meeting legal requirement you can have ‘approval’ from the captain (or police) in the inspection location (note that the police is not available all the time. In Al Khor for example he is not available on Saturday) provided that it is minor or not due to an accident. With his signature and stamp you can proceed with istimarah renewal provided that you pass technical evaluation.

12. Re-inspection. Suppose you failed in technical evaluation. At the back of payment/registration slip you will read that:

a. This report is valid for 30 days to complete the procedure for the traffic department

b. If a vehicle fails (Technical) during paid inspection it can undergo one free of charge re-inspection within 30 days

c. For re-inspection purpose please bring your inspection report.

d. If a vehicle does not pass the inspections within 30 days from the first inspection the vehicle has to undergo a full new inspection

e. For re-inspection purpose do not use sealant on the repaired parts

f. Defective parts under the chassis and tires will be marked with yellow paint. The leakages will not be marked with paint

g. For re-inspection of the brake system a full brake test will be carried out

h. For re-inspection of emission, the exhaust system will be checked for any leakage and for (black, blue white) smoke


j. We strongly advise you to have any fault repaired by qualified mechanics in accordance with the recommendations of vehicle manufacturers.

k.l.m. Disclaimers

For re-inspection, follow the same process, bring previous inspection report. The inspection staff will only inspect failed items.

As for my car, I bring my Cherokee to American Tech Center, present the mechanics with the inspection reports and come back three days later to collect my car with Technical inspection passed! (This American Tech Center offers services for  taking your car to Tech Inspection – so that you don’t waste your time)

As for legal requirements, I bring the re-inspection report (with Technical Evaluation Passed) to Police in Al Khor Inspection [no need to queue; just show your report and drive your car close to Police office] and have him to ‘waive’ and approve legal requirements. “Paint OK?” he asked. “Yes, as you can see”. He signed the paper, and took a stamp from his pocket. Stamped!

Now with this all technical evaluation and legal requirements passed, I bring the inspection report and renewed insurance to Traffice Office for istimarah renewal. Done!

Inspection Location:

1. Abu Hamour. Access through the road opposite Medical Commission. Near storage tank farm. Coordinate: 25°14’2″N   51°30’51″E. Open everyday except Friday, from 07.00-12.00 and 12.30 – 16.00.

2. Wakrah. Coordinate: 25°10’25.89″N  51°36’21.76″E. From Doha, pass second roundabout , look for big mosque on the right side. Inspection is in front of the mosque

3. Al Khor. Coordinate: 25°14’20.13″N  51°29’43.47″E. Behind  Al Khor Fire Station (Green-yellowish building). Open everyday except Friday from 7am to 5.30pm. Saturday to Monday for light vehicle. Tuesday to Thursday for heavy vehicle. Police is not available on Saturday.

4. Industrial Area. Open from 6.00am to 5.30pm

Check maps at

Shrimpy Promise

Shrimp. For some it can cause allergetic incoveniences. For me it caused dissapointment and lead to swearing for not to come again. All is because of “Shrimpy” promise.

I don’t like to be cheated nor false promised. I don’t like my rights are robbed by dishonest practice. And if I am being so, I will be fighting against it.

The story started when I ordered kids meals from Shrimpy outlet at Gondolania Theme Park, Villagio Mall, 1 October 2010. My kids ordered it for they can get toys that come with the meals as indicated in the menu register. It’s only QR13 per meal. After about 20 minutes of so of waiting, my orders came. I checked the box inwhich it has french fries and chicken nuggets. But no toys, in the box nor on the tray. Immediately I inquired the only server why toys were not given. She innocently explained that no toys were given because of late delivery. I asked further whether there would be compensation or price reduction in exchange of no toys. “Sorry Sir, no compensation. We don’t have toys because of late delivery”, she repeated.

This made me gone mad. “This is not right. You have to give me toys because I’ve paid QR13 for kids meal with toys….and on…and on…I went so emotional. “No Sir.” she insisted. Done. It’s clear.

I then returned a box of kids meal to her. “Eat it” I said unheard. Then left her confusedly.

It is not about 2-4 riyal cheap Chinese made toys that come with the meal. I don’t bother with the money spent. It’s more about a false promise, about a poor quality of service from a company that awarded ISO 9001:2000, about customer satisfaction.

Isn’t easy that Shrimpy explains to a customer when orders that no toys come with the meal at the first place so that the customer can decide? Isn’t easy that Shrimpy temporarily covers the word “toy” in its menu register when toy is unusually unavailable? Isn’t easy that Shrimpy just offers a compensation in exchange of absence of toy?

Never mind. I first thought to report it to Customer Protection Hotline but changed my mind. Let it be shared here.

I don’t like to swearing but this time I swear not to come back to Shrimpy for the second time.

As the history has been showing, you can’t underestimate a dissapointed customer . Believe me.

Zekreet Night Safari

7-8 October 2010. Our first offroad trip after a long summer and Eid leave. Travelling with 17 other cars (16 Indonesian, 1 Singaporean) to Zekreet beach, just 900m west of Mystery Village. Unlike two years ago, it’s now a night trip.

We mustered at Umm Alafai Petrol Station, 1 km west of Al Rayyan Sports Club on the Gharafat Al Rayyan – Dukhan Highway. This trip noticed a mind-shift: every participant came on time hence we could depart on time at 9.30 pm. My reminder to be on time wasn’t in vain. Thanks everyone!

At Umm Alafai Petrol Station, muster point.

 We arrived at camping site at around 11 pm after driving 55km to Zekreet exit (Exit 72), 5.5km from exit to the village and 12 km offroad from Zekreet village. It’s not camping per se as most of us didn’t erect tents. Many just slept inside the car or on a sleeping mat under the sky.

It’s still summer-to-winter transition but the weather was just fine; not so hot, just temperate and didn’t make us sweating.

At camping site
And when the sun breaks the darkness, we couldn't stop jumping into clear sea

 Our pick of camping site turned out to be good one. The beach is sandy; not muddy, not rocky. Clear sea water was so inviting.

Zekreet beach and my Cherokee

After enjoying swimming and having breakfast, we drove to Mystery Village and Film City.

Mystery Village
Mystery Village
Mystery Village
Mystery Village
Mystery Village
Film City, about 1.3 km southeast of Mystery Village
Scenery on the way back to Zekreet village


– Zekreet exit: 25 26’22.6″N 50 51’50.5″E

– Zekreet Mosque 25 29’07.41″N 50 50’48.22″E

– Our camping site: 25 35’13.1″N 50 49’45.5″E

– Film City: 25 34’41.61″N 50 50’46.65″E

– Mystery Village: 25 35’11.67″N 50 50’10.29″E

Istanbul Day 4 – Asian Side, Camlica Hill and Sufi Dance

I owed you complete Istanbul travelogues but I just couldn’t complete them. So I let the pictures speak. Complete pictures are in my Facebook.

Day 4 in Istanbul was spent to Asian Part, Camlica Hill and watched Sufi Dance. The trip started at Kadikoy Iskelesi (ferry dock). We took public ferry from Eminonu heading to Kadikoy. Charge? Only 1.5 Turkey Lira!

A trip to Asian side of Istanbul starts here, at Kadikoy ferry dock (Iskelesi) at Eminonu

 From the deck of ferry, as the ferry departed from iskelesi, we saw magnificent view of Yeni Camii (New Mosque) that built in 1597.

As the ferry that charged us only 1.5 TL departing from iskelesi a striking view of Yeni Camii amazed us

 The ferry then accelerated, cruising Bosphorus strait, and we were given this stunning view of the strait and Galata Bridge that crosses it.

Turkey flag with Bosphorus strait and Galata Bridge as the backgrounds

 As we approached Kadikoy, Haydarpasa is a landmark can’t be missed. Haydarpasha was built in Germany design.  In the early 20th century, when Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany was trying to charm the sultan into economic and military cooperation, he presented the station as a small token of his respect.

Haydarpasa train station

 And when we swept our view back to Istanbul, Topkapi Palace stood gracefully with the strait as a foreground.

Topkapi Palace as seen from Asian side of Istanbul

 Kadıköy (ancient and Byzantine Chalcedon) is a large, populous, and cosmopolitan district of İstanbul, Turkey on the Asian side of the Sea of Marmara, facing the historic city centre on the European side of the Bosporus. Kadıköy it is also the name of the most prominent neighbourhood of the district, a residential and commercial area that, with its numerous bars, cinemas and bookshops, is the cultural centre of the Anatolian side. Kadıköy became a district in 1928 when it seceded from Üsküdar district (source: wikipedia).

We continued our trip from Kadikoy to Uskudar using Dolmus (a minibus). With 30 TL for 8 of us, Dolmus took us right in the Uskudar center.

Dolmus (minibus) terminal (Dolmus means "full)

We alighted at the main road of Uskudar. Üsküdar (ancient Greek Chrysopolis medieval Scutari) was a city in Bithynia founded in the 7th century BC, in a valley leading down to the Bosphorus shore, by the inhabitants of the Greek colony of Khalkedon and was first known as Chrysopolis (city of gold) (Source: Wikipedia).

We visited Yeni Valide Camii (New Queen’s Mother Mosque) in Uskudar. The Yeni Valide Mosque  is an Ottoman mosque built between the 1708 and 1710 on the iskele (dock) road by Emetullah Râbi’a Gülnûş Sultan, mother of Sultan Ahmed III. The main part of the building is square in shape and covered with a flattened main dome and four half domes. The mosque has two minarets with two balconies each (Source: Wikipedia)

Courtyard inside Yeni Valide Camii in Uskudar

From Uskudar, we headed to Camlica Hill. The hill is one of the highest hills of Istanbul (268 metres high) and almost all major broadcasting antennas are located on this hill, since the hill dominates a great part of the city. On the top of the hill, a public park with cafes remind the visitors of an Ottoman atmosphere. Thıs public park is sponsored by the government so expect lower prices on food and drink than usual. 

Bosphorus bridge as seen from Camlica Hill
Istanbullus enjoy Camlica Hill
Camlica Hill

 Down from Camlica Hill taking a taxi which its driver complained about his being marginalized for his lack of English proficiency, we arrived at Uskudar Iskelesi passing Iskele Camii. The Mihrimah Sultan Mosque is one of Üsküdar’s best-known landmarks and takes its nicknames from the ferry landing near which it stands. It is the first of two mosques built by Mihrimah Sultana, daughter of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and wife of Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasha. It was designed by Mimar Sinan and built between 1546 and 1548

Mihrimah Sultan Camii (Iskele Camii)

 On the way back to Istanbul (Sultanahmet) by ferry, we passed Maiden Tower. Maiden’s Tower, also called Leander’s Tower, is built on a small islet surrounded by waters of Bosphorus off the Üsküdar coast . The Tower is accessible by boats both from Salacak (very frequent intervals four seasons) or from Kabataş in European Side, on the Bosphorus waterfront at the end of the funicular line from Taksim Square (about once every two hours, summers only). Story has it that a powerful emperor built the tower in the middle of the sea to protect his beloved daughter from death after hearing a prophecy told by a fortuneteller, but a snake had found its way to the tower (inside a basket of fruits) and, as you have already guessed, had bitten and killed the princess, although in reality it is far more likely that the place was built as a lighthouse to warn the ships entering the Bosphorus about the rocky islet the tower was built on. There is also a viewing area on the coast directly opposite the Tower where you can buy tea and sit down to enjoy the beauty of Bosphorus while listening to traditional Turkish music—much cheaper than the Tower itself. It is recommended to visit right at sunset, when the sun is reflecting off the water and the Tower’s lights are turning on. Also at the viewing area, there are 2-person gondola rides (as written by Wikitravel)

Maiden Tower

 In the evening we enjoyed watching Sufi dance or whirling dervish ceremony. Fee was 40TL/25TL for adult/child under 15 respectively. We watched the dance at Hocapasha Center at Sirkeci area, just 5 minutes walk from our hotel. Hocapasha is used to be a hammam (Turkish bath) but now converted into a stage for sufi dance.

At Hocapasha center. Ready for watching whirling dervish ceremony

 Sufi whirling (or Sufi spinning),  is a physically active meditation which originated among Sufis, and which is still practiced by the Sufi Dervishes of the Mevlevi order. It is a customary dance performed within the Sema, or worship ceremony, through which dervishes (also called semazens) aim to reach the source of all perfection, or kemal. This is sought through abandoning one’s nafs, egos or personal desires, by listening to the music, focusing on God, and spinning one’s body in repetitive circles, which has been seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun (Source: Wikipedia).

Whirling Dervish Ceremony