Barzan Olympic Park

Barzan Olympic Park (  is situated in Umm Salal, north of Doha, accessed through Exit 16 of Al Shamal/North Road. Not many people have known this new park, as it wasn’t until 29 April 2012 that it was inaugurated to be the first Olympic park in the state of Qatar. But once you pay a visit to the park, you’ll know how this small park can become your favorite one.

The park includes well-kept grass and green area, cafeteria, kids zone, mosque, cycling track, fountains, walking/jogging lanes and restrooms.

Barzan Olympic Park – a new park guy in the town 🙂
It’s easy to love this park
Green areas dominate the park
The park is sponsored by Qatar Olympic with its slogan: Sport for Life
Map of the Park

We visited the park on the way home from Al Khor on 27 Oct 2012; short enough that we couldn’t explore and try all of the facilities within the park. We promised ourselves to come back some day.UPDATE: We’re back on 2 Nov 2012 evening. The park was already frequented by many people though not as crowded as Al Bidda Park. Bike rental, cafeteria, Baskin Robbins are open in the evening and night.

The park is completely enclosed by a composite fence made of steel grilles and stone cladded fence walls/columns and controlled through a security gate. After paying a 5QR per person/ticket to Security we were given access to the park via a turnstile. Once we entered we have three options: going left to large tent area houses kids playground, going right to leaping fountain and to start jogging or going straight to go to cafeteria.

Ticket to the park: 5QR per person
Security Gate and Entrance to Barzan Olympic Park
Once you enter the park you have three options: left for playground, straight for cafeteria and right for leaping fountain or jogging lane

The spanking brand new playgrounds will be much adored by the kids. From mini rock climbing, typical slides of any size and swings, to mini flying fox and hide-and-seek houses, to fitness exercise equipment.

Children will definitely love this big playground
Mini rock climbing at playground
Exercise equipment at playground
Hold on Fathan and move 🙂
Swing, swing…
Bigger view of playground
Overhead travelling rail
Fathan plays a firefighter pole

Across the walking lane is a Bicycle Track in an E-shape route for kids and family to enjoy riding in single, twin and four-seater bikes. While riding your bike within approximately 180M length of track, you can enjoy an artificial Lake with Fountain, soft landscaping as well as small architectural model of prominent landmarks of Qatar such as Qatar University building, Barzan Tower, and Clock Tower. Other landmarks are also placed all over the park such as the legendary Sheraton, Emiri Diwan, National Mosque and Museum of Islamic Art.

Recognize the landmark? – seen also bicycle track on the background
Bicycle track
Bicycle track with Barzan Tower and Clock Tower miniatures and bicycle rental counter
Bike for rent

During our visit, the bicycle rental counter was closed so we couldn’t verify how much it would cost and or for how long. UPDATE: Bike rental is 5QR per lap.

The jogging lane is a rubber sports flooring lane with an approximate distance of 500m alongside the walking lane. Marked at every 50m with Sporting for Life slogan , the lane provides  good exercise.

Jogging track
Jogging track and sitting area on the right
Sandbox and cafeteria on the background
Sitting area and table tennis

Another feature of this park is the availability of many sitting areas and benches all over the park. The shaded sitting areas come with different capacities from two 4-person bench area to as big as twelve or more 4-person bench area. All is provided with tables and covered by tent.

Missing your sand for your kids? Don’t worry. The park offers two sandbox areas equipped with plastic beach toys you can imagine.

Big Sitting Area
Sandbox equipped with beach toys

On  the Leaping Jet Fountain, kids may be interested in immersing themselves in this 15-m diameter and 2m high fountain after exhausted with playground. The fountain has a 2-min interval between stop and next start.

Leaping Fountain
Leaping Fountain

We didn’t use facilities like mosque, toilet and cafeteria during our short visit (closed during our visit; apart from central cafeteria there is Baskin Robbins counter at bicycle track area) so we couldn’t comment on them. There are two football playgrounds, two tennis courts, basketball court, swimming pool nearby but not sure how to access and use these facilities. UPDATE: Cafeteria is selling light snacks (i.e. chips, popcorn) and Arabic light meals. There are separate mosques for man and woman.

This lane leading to mosque and toilet/restroom

I confirmed to Security that we can have picnic and bring food from outside but BBQ is not allowed. The park also prohibits smoking. UPDATE: No own bike/scooter is allowed.

The only drawback of the park is that no free wifi provided. As the park will soon become one of the favorites, ICTQatar may need to consider making the park an e-Park.

Hill view of the park



From Doha: Drive Al Shamal Road northwardly and take Exit 16 Interchange (just after Woqod Petrol Station) to the left. Follow the road and make a U-turn just before roundabout where a brown sign pointing direction to Barzan Olympic Park. The road will lead you passing Umm Salal Health Center, Police Station, Immigration, and Civil Defence. Go straight at the roundabout and then turn left at the next intersection where Barzan Youth Center is located at the left-corner. Follow the road for about 200m or so until you find the park on your left.

From North: You can take Exit 16 and follow the above direction or take a shortcut about 500m before Exit 16 where you can drive (temporary) access road that lead you to intersection. Turn left, follow the road until you come to the next intersection where Barzan Youth Center is located and make a right turn. Follow the road for about 200m or so until you find the park on your left.

Coordinate: 25°27’25″N   51°24’20″E (click to open Wikimapia showing the park)

Opening Hours:

Saturday to Wednesday: 6am to 10pm

Thursday: 6am to 11pm

Friday: 2pm – 11pm

Fee: 5QR per person above 6 years old. Not sure if this includes rental bike. Probably not. UPDATE: Another 5QR per lap for bike rental

Parking: parking slots along front fences or open area across the park to allow direct entry to the park.


Manchester is Red, Manchester is Blue

When I knew that I would fly to UK for my course, I couldn’t resist temptation to fly to Manchester (instead of London) first. I kept aside London for the inbound flight for reading newspaper its long queue of immigration process owing to Heathrow shortage of staff. Furthermore, the course location, Warwickshire, Coventry is located between Manchester and London.

The decision was perfect as the arrival process in Manchester International Airport (MAN) nothing but very smoothly. Qatar Airways landed at Terminal 1. From here, manchester Piccadilly station is 15minutes away. The train departs from The stationn, located between Terminal 1 and 2, linked to the terminals by a Skylink moving walkway.

One of the reasons to pick Manchester is to visit two big football clubs home: Manchester City (City) and Machester United’s (MU) stadiums. The rivalry of these two clubs was apparent and at high this year when City has won Premier League title since forty-four years, only with goal difference to its neighbor. Is Manchester Red or Blue?

Manchester is Blue

Manchester City’s stadium is the City of Manchester Stadium, also known as Eastlands and the Etihad Stadium since July 2011 because of sponsorship commitments. The stadium is situated in East Manchester; 20-30minutes walk from Piccadilly Station.

At the time of my visit the stadium  including its store closed for a concert. So a stadium tour was not possible at all. However, I managed to get one or two shots amidst light cold rain.

Later during city center walk I visited City store at Arndale Mall/Shopping Center.

City of Manchester Stadium
At Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium
Manchester City’s store at Arndale Mall
Ballotelli’s “why always me” t-shirt on sale at City Store

Manchester is Red

First note, I am not an MU fan 🙂

Second, visit to The Red Devil’s stadium was one of the best stadium tour I ever had. Let me tell you why.

Old Trafford Stadium is the home of Manchester United. The stadium can be easily reached by both the Altrincham and Eccles lines of the Manchester Metrolink network, with the nearest stops being Exchange Quay at nearby Salford Quays, and Old Trafford, which it shares with the Old Trafford Cricket Ground. Both stops are a five-minute walk from the football ground. During matchday, the stadium can also be reached by MU Football ground station adjacent to the south stand of the stadium.

I booked a slot at 10am through internet couple days before my departure. Arriving at the stadium, I was welcomed by the united trinity statue depicting three great MU players: George Best, Denis Law, Bobby Charlton. It is located at the east stand of the stadium. The stadium appearance is modern, unlike Anfield, but similar to Emirates Stadium.

The stadium tour started at Museum & Tour Centre when I registered and confirmed my booking. I was given one hanging badge/lanyard and ticket that I could take home. As I still have  30 minutes before tour is started, I spend the wait by visiting its museum. Otherwise visitor can also visit the museum after the tour. Ticket for museum visit is valid for one day.

The museum houses arrays of collections representing history of MU since it was established more than a century ago. Display of MU jerseys, memorabilia, trophies, MU fans documentaries, and timelines were also interesting. Sir Alex Ferguson (current manager and the longest serving manager) deserves one special room for himself.

The stadium tour starts at stadium tour meeting point. Along with me are another ten people. Guided by a stadium tour leader, we start the tour with visiting external of the stadium, pointing out several landmarks such as Munich Tunnel. The tunnel is to commemorate Munich air disaster in 1958 when 8 MU players died. A plague and still clock showing the exact time when the airplane crashed are installed.

We enter the tunnel and start exploring internal of the stadium. Dave, our guide, takes us to player lounge, executive lounge, and dressing room both for home team and visiting team. At the dressing room Dave gives us an account on how manager use the dressing room. We were also given a photo opportunity. Exiting the room to the tunnel to the pitch, Dave split the group into two lines turn on the music and crowd noise and we walked out to the pitch as if we were the special players.

Now we are in the pitch. The rule is we shall never touch the pitch. Dave shows us all different stands, special seatings, TV and commentators booths as well as the disable areas and its entry to the stadium. I can only imagine how it will be watching a match and feel the atmosphere inside this also-known-as-the theatre-of-dreams stadium.

One of the special moment is when we are given the opportunity to sit on the dug-out (the sitting where the subs sit during the match), or to Sir Alex’s sitting. Oh, this is how it feels being subs or manager.

The tour is anti-climax with exiting through megastore. Expected but slightly impelling.

I can only recommend that either you are a fan to MU or not, a stadium tour to Old Trafford is well worth it.

On the way to Old Trafford Stadium via Exchange Quay metrolink station
Old Trafford stadium from Old Trafford Park Rd
Old Trafford stadium
The United Trinity statue at Old Trafford Stadium
Museum & Tour Centre Red Cafe
Stadium tour meeting point
MU Museum
Owing to its countless trophy won, aMU dedicated a trophy room at the museum
History of jerseys
Ryan Giggs at MU Museum
Munich Tunnel, named to commemorate Munich air disaster in 1958 when 8 MU players and 3 staffs were killed during the incident

MU Dressing Room
MU Dressing Room – Rooney’s bench
Tunnel to the pitch
Tour leader is giving explanation on the different stands of the stadium
Old Trafford is also known as The Theatre of Dreams
Sitting on Home Team stand
Inside Old Trafford stadium with Sir Alex Ferguson stand on the background
Another view of inside Old Trafford stadium
MU Store

Generous Eid Holiday. Where to go?

10 calendar days Eid Adha holiday is given starting 25 October until 3 November 2012. So generous this year that I need to chalk up a plan how to spend the whole days in Qatar. 

Qatar Tourism Authority may be one good source of festivities schedule across Qatar during this Eid. Check

Let me throw my plan:

25 Oct –  stock up some groceries. preparation for camping

26 Oct – Eid prayer in Indonesian Embassy. Firework show at Katara

27 Oct – Eid Festival in Al Khor Community

28 Oct – 1001 Arabic Inventions in Museum of Islamic Art . Souq Waqif

29 – 30 Oct – Camping at Al Dhakira

31 Oct – Purple Island revisited. Football Match Doha vs Al Khor at Al Khor Community

1 Nov – relax at home. reading a book. heading north

2 Nov – unwind at the park

3 Nov – relax at home


What is your plan?

Pearl of Beirut Restaurant, Al Khor

This restaurant is conveniently located on Corniche Road Al Khor, just opposite fish market. Away from bustling Al Khor town road and commercial centers, the restaurant offers a perfect dining hideout.

Wood and bamboo dominate this small, yet with ample parking slots, restaurant. You may choose to dine in semi-open air terrace or air-conditioned (pinky!) room. The semi-open air dining area is frequently used to host live football match watching events or to host functions like birthday event. The place is also popular with motorcycle group or cyclist group during weekend.

I patronized the restaurant several times. Every time it has never failed impressed me.

Okay, you may be misled by its name, thinking that this is just another Lebanese restaurant. It serves mainly chinese food, seafood, filipino, few Arabic and newly added Indonesian menu. Don’t ask me why it is named and associated with Beirut….if only I knew.

If I have to be back, I’d have my table filled with sour fish soup, crabs, kangkung stir-fry (less salt please!) and egg fried rice. Oh, and two glasses of iced tea please…since one is never enough with this Indonesian legendary and first bottled tea: Teh Botol Sosro.

Since its share now partially owned by an Indonesian, the restaurant sees consignation on Malay and Indonesian food such as Nasi Lemak, rendang, balado, anchovy green sambal. Grab them quickly as they are ones of the favorites.

Price? Trust me, you won’t go home bankrupt….see attached menu.

Pearl Of Beirut Menu

Direction: On the fourth roundabout after Al Khor Highway (second being Al Khor Mall), turn right to Corniche Road. Follow the road, passing traffic light, just before Fish Market/Port on the opposite side, spot bamboo-dominated building. Coordinate: 25 41.144N 51 30.875E

Reservation: 4472 0123 & 7034 8032

Die die hard must try – sour soup
Don’t judge by its look. Though simple, it is mouthwatering. Egg fried rice
Coconut milk crab. I’d rather have my favorite black pepper crab
Kangkung stir-fry.
Seafood is one of the offered menu.
Pearl of Beirut Restaurant
Beirut goes pinky! 🙂
You may host a small event here without bankrupting your wallet

Farkeh Beach – Al Khor

Farkeh Beach – Al Khor


Farkeh Beach. Let’s call it that way as you can arrive at the beach by following Farkeh Coast road signs. Security Guard building also bears the name Farkeh. Online maps however named it differently i.e. Al Khor Family Beach or Nouf Beach.

This well-equipped beach is situated at a small peninsula at eastern Al Khor overlooking mangrove strips and Purple Island. The route to the beach starts from the first roundabout at the end of Al Khor Highway (supposed you drive from Doha. Take a right turn and follow Farkeh Coast brown signs. About 2.4km from the roundabout you’ll need to take an offroad track for another 2.2km. If you happen to arrive to Marine Scout Camp, a building at the end of asphalt road, you’ve gone too far and missed the turnoff.

Farkeh Beach is fenced beach. Exit and entrance is through a single security gate and continuously manned. Once you pass the gate, you can park anywhere behind concrete barriers that separate perimeter road/parking slots to the beach. From this parking area, you have to walk between 50-100m to the shades.

There are about 50 something shades along 1-km strip of beach. Nevertheless, the beach starts becoming a favorite, so 50 may not seem many. This flat beach, you can venture out knee-deep until hundreds of meters. Beware though that the shore is bordered with an inlet to Al Khor Fish market and is a busy route for fisherman, where deep channel is provided for the boats. When we were there from 2-5pm, the sea receded, leaving out muddy shore for use.

Apart from shades, the beach is equipped with toilet and shower facilities (one at each end), three big sandboxes, several barbecue stands, and children playgrounds. I believe that camping is not permitted here although you can pitch small beach tent during your visit.

Coordinate:  25°40’48″N 51°32’17″E

Route to Farkeh Beach


Farkeh Beach


Purple Island (see people on top of the hill?) from Farkeh Beach
Though sand quality is not the best, Farkeh Beach still offers a good playground or kids
Cars can’t get close to the beach…you’ll need to walk about a hundred meters
The beach is equipped with shower and toilet facilities
Shades and barbecue stands are provided
Small children playgrounds are also available
Ah kids…even that muddy beach does not matter
The beach is located near to inlet to Al Khor Fish Market or harbor…expect to see fisherman’s boat
The beach is very flat…it’s knee-deep even after quite far walk from the shore

You’ll never walk alone in Liverpool

Don’t miss The Beatles museum“, my friend commented when I checked in on Facebook to Liverpool Limestreet Station. Ah…too bad I am not The Beatles’s fan. Though, I eventually visited The Beatles story shop – for the shake of “been there”.

Arriving from Birmingham at Liverpool Lime Street Station, after finishing my course, I hurriedly walked to Lord Nelson Hotel, on Lord Nelson St, a small street on the right side of the station. A non-refundable rate for a single room costs me 33 GBP (including breakfast!). I only have 22 hours in Liverpool so I better start hitting Liverpool.

First stop is Albert Dock. This is where old warehouses converted into shops, apartments, restaurants, museums, pubs and galleries. Good thing is it’s less than a km away from the station. Walking is the most preferred option. From the hotel, I am back to Lime Street, take a short stop at St. George’s Hall in front of the station and walk down to Ranelagh St continuing to Hanover St, passing through Clayton Shopping Center and Liverpool Central Station.

At the end of Hanover St is Liverpool One bus station and a major highway that separates Liverpool One from Albert Dock. Liverpool One is a landmark development opened in 2008 (celebrating European Capital of Culture 2008), comprised of three levels of pedestrian-friendly shopping and entertainment complex.

Major attractions in Albert Dock are Maritime Museum, Slavery Museum, The Beatles Story, Echo Wheel of Liverpool and a range of coffee shops, gallery and restaurant. Museum of Liverpool is also a walking distance from Albert Dock. You can also find souvenir shops at the inner circle of Albert Dock, about behind The Beatles Story.

It’s almost 6pm when I reached Albert Dock and it’s raining. Museum were closed already, so I continued walking down to Museum of Liverpool and Dock Office. Later tomorrow I am back to this excellent museum.

Passing through tidy, modern Liverpool One, I head to Cavern Walk/Quarter where nightlife seeker will find heaven. I continue my walk to go back to my hotel through Municipal Office, St. John’s Garden, World Museum, Liverpool Library and Walker Art Gallery.

That was it for today. I conclude my first night and only in Liverpool with having dinner in a halal restaurant, one block away from Lord Nelson Hotel.


It’s Saturday and I have a busy plan this morning and afternoon before heading to London. I wake up early and start my walking tour around Liverpool. Traffic has not woke up yet while sun rays is not hot enough to warm this cold June morning. From the hotel I take an opposite direction to circle Lime Street Station from the backside. A striking architecture invite me to take a closer look. Known by locals as Paddy’s Wigwam, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral is a unique architecture. I continue my walk to enjoy nice stretch of street (Hope Street) packed with restaurant, bars, hotel and notable buildings like Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.

My walk end up at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, one of the finest examples in the world of Gothic revival architecture. Continued down Duke Street, I pass this global cultural phenomenon: Chinatown, with its trademark of gigantic Chinese gate.

From here, I walk few minutes further to Lime Street Station then to my hotel. Fiuuhh what a morning walk.


Grabbing cereal, banana, croissant, orange juice and hot tea from complimentary breakfast from hotel, I am so impatient with my next plan: Anfied! Home to one of the most successful British football club: Liverpool FC.

Hotel has posted on its lobby clear information poster on how to using public transport (bus or tram)  to go to Anfield but I choose to go by taxi to save time. Taxi is readily available 2-3 minutes walking  from hotel back to station. There is one exit from station to Lord Nelson Street where this hotel is located at. Taxi to Anfield costs 8 pounds and takes no more than 10 minutes for less than 5km trip.

This is Anfield.

Instead of saying a standard “Welcome to Anfield” that sounds friendly & welcoming, former manager Bill Shankly installed this red sign posted on a wall on the tunnel to the pitch: “This is Anfield”. This was only to instill fear to the opposition hence giving more chance of winning a game.

I take a 15 GBP Stadium Tour and Museum package by purchasing the ticket directly at the stadium. Package can also be bought online though. This 45-50 min tour gives a glimpse of this sacred Anfield stadium and get insight behind the scenes. Guided by a lady staff, I tour to dressing room, board room, visitor dressing room, and press conference room. I also go down the tunnel to the sound of the crowd and touch the famous This is Anfield sign before taking a seat in the dug-out. It is so apparent that this old stadium (established in 1884) has its charm, preserved heritage, and speechless atmosphere. What an experience for me.


Finished with Anfield Stadium, I head to Goodison Park, home to Everton FC. Goodison Park is around a km from Anfield. I decide to walk this distance although drizzle is happy enough to wet me. The walk to Goodison Park is passing Stanley Park, a proposed site for, if built, future home for Liverpool FC.

Though Everton FC offers a stadium tour, I did not take the chance. Just couple of photo shots and walk around the stadium is satisfying enough.


Back to Liverpool city center using a taxi, I ask taxi driver to drop me to Museum of Liverpool located adjacent to Albert Dock. The museum, opened in 2011, tell the story of Liverpool and its people, and reflect the city’s global significance.

The Museum displays are divided into four main themes: The Great Port, Global City, People’s Republic, and Wondrous Place, located in four large gallery spaces. On the ground floor, displays look at the city’s urban and technological evolution, both local and national, including the Industrial Revolution and the changes in the British Empire, and how these changes have impacted the city’s economic development. The upper floor looks at Liverpool’s particular and strong identity through examining the social history of the city, from settlement in the area from Neolithic times to the present day, migration, and the various communities and cultures which contribute to the city’s diversity.

The Museum also features: Little Liverpool, a gallery for children under six; History Detectives, an interactive archaeology and history resource centre; a 180-seat theatre for community and audio-visual performances; meeting facilities; and a brasserie. [Wikipedia].

One of my favorite spots in the museum is viewing gallery facing Mann Island area and River Mersey.


Time is about past noon when I finished my visit to the museum. I continue to Maritime Museum and Slavery Museum, both located on the same old warehouse building. The museum, easily marked by huge anchor on its foreyard, displays collections that reflect the international importance of Liverpool as a gateway to the world, including its role in Transatlantic slavery, emigration, merchant navy and RMS Titanic. At the time of my visit, there is an exhibition of RMS Titanic (commemorating its century), with large-size replica of her on display.

One of the most unique exhibitions is probably displays on the life as g*y of the sailors. Others include Battle of the Atlantic (vital role that Liverpool played during Second World War), and Lfie at Sea ( the role of merchant ships and seafarers in providing a vital lifeline for the country by carrying goods and passengers in both peace and warover the last three centuries).

On the third floor is International Slavery Museum that is concerned specifically on Atlantic Slave Trade (and Africa) rather than the history of slavery in other regions or eras.


The visit to last two museums conclude my day in Liverpool. I go back to hotel to pick up  my stored luggage and head to Lime Street Station to catch up my Virgin train to London.

A less-than-a-day visit to Liverpool gives me a glance of the life of Liverpudlians or Scousers. If I can summarize, You’ll never walk alone in Liverpool. The city is surrounded and immersed with maritime heritage, football madness, cultural heritage, and modern transformation. Oh…and that Liverpudlians accent of British English 🙂

Liverpool Lime Street Station


Lime Street Station from St George’s Hall



On Lime Street


Albert Dock


Albert Dock


Albert Dock


Superlambanana at Museum of Liverpool


Dock Office


Warehouse-converted-to restaurant at Albert Dock
Echo Wheel of Liverpool


Can I see Mermaid?


Boats docking at Albert Dock
One of the areas in Liverpool One


Cavern Quarter – a must for Beatles fan


St. John’s Garden


Litter Bin with Liverbird Liverpool’s symbol
Areas around Walker Art Gallery


Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral


Liverpool Cathedral


Liverpool’s China Town
“Do you feel lonely?”


Chinese Influence in Liverpool
Areas around Liverpool Central
Liverpool Radio City Tower
Anfield Stadium
Bill Shankly statue – he is one of the most successful manager of Liverpool FC
Liverpool FC Museum
Liverpool FC Dressing Room – sitting on Gerrard’s bench
This is Anfield!
Press Conference Room at Anfield
Inside Anfield
Everton FC – Goodison Park
Museum of Liverpool
Mann Island from Viewing Gallery Museum of Liverpool
Museum of Liverpool
Museum of Liverpool collection – Rail History
RMS Titanic on display at Maritime Museum
Inside Maritime Museum
One of the rockets used during Second World War – at Maritime Museum
Albert Dock with dockside restaurant/cafe

Half-million mark

This blog has reached a half-million mark of hits few days ago since it was made public in October 2008. Wow! Thanks readers!

The blog has revolutioned throughout the last 4 years. From a means of communication when I was away from my family, to additional mission to encourage Indonesian working in Qatar, to anything about (and what happening) in Qatar, to merely an online personal documentaries. Is it reaching its plateau? Probably yes…

Situation is a bit different than it was 4 years ago. Workloads, off-the-job activities has occupied most of my time that I can’t spare much time writing. So bad as I have so many things inside my head..

Nevertheless, writing (and accompanying photography) is still my passion.

Keep following then…..

*until the next post*