Pre-flight: Middle East
This time last year I posted a rambling thought about wanting to go to the Middle East. Ever since special K told me about Socotra, I became more and more obsessed over it. It is an island enveloped in nature, not yet touched by modern civilization. Plants and wildlife you've never seen before flourishes there. No human has yet to plant fences to mark territorial ownership all over like in Africa. I was so surprised and saddened by the true extent of the human greed I found in Africa. That Kruger national park is nothing but merely a giant fenced in zoo simply crumbled my life long imagination of what wilderness truly is like. I have high hopes that Socotra still remains wild.. At least for now.. But probably not for long. The Yemeni government recognizes that they have in their posession a unique tourist destination that is yet untapped. The boom is around the corner but has largely been slowed down by recent political unrest.
TEDxSummit is scheduled to be held in Doha for 1 week. It will be my first time going to the Middle East. What better time to tack on a trek to Socotra afterwards. Or so I thought. I won't go in to the detail of how hard that plan crumbled. Let's just say.. (1) if the consulate refuses to give you a visa until further notice, you should give up right away. (2) they really hate americans. (3) even if you did find a way to swap to your Thai passport mid way, book flights from near by country, and sneak in through cities that do not have big international airport hub, you still should think twice about trying to jump into a land plagued by riots. Even if it's just a pass-through. (4) the french or Italians were pretty useless.
Heartbroken from this (somewhat suicidal) mission, I diverted my plan to UAE instead. But by now there was no more time to plan much. Traveling around this part of the world really require a lot of pre-planning. The only countries you can sort of go in and out last minute are Qatar, UAE, and Oman. It looks like after the week in Doha, I'll be flying into Dubai, skydive it, then take off with a rental Toyota and see where the road takes me. I'm hoping to be able to hit the edge of the largest desert in the world "The Empty Quarter" and camp out there. See the stars over the desert sky. There is a little town called Liwa Oasis, 5km to the border of Saudi Arabia. That might be a good spot. Of course navigating the roads here won't be as challenging as navigating the possibility of getting arrested for being a solo Asian girl driving around with an American passport. But hey, never let your fear decide your fate. More on the Middle East adventure here as it unfolds.
Ps. Qatar air rocks.
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