Thursday, September 25, 2008

So much for relaxing: Our last week in Qatar

And we still have 3 days to go. I usually try and refrain from ranting and raving on here, not only for the sake of anyone who might read it, but also for myself - I go back and read this sometimes and I really don't want a temper tantrum posted online for all to see. However, this week has been more like a dream, er nightmare. I don't think I could have scripted it better if I had been writing a disaster movie. Let's put it this way - if it could go wrong, it did - and big!

If you don't recall, this move has already been a crazy one - with the multiple delays, visa problems, limited airlines/routes to take, the dogs, you name it, we have had a problem with it. Well, here we are at the end of our time in Qatar, finally with Russian visas in hand - and we are still having trouble!

Let's just start with the packing/loading of our shipping container. The packers showed up Saturday and Sunday and packed up all of our treasures and loaded them onto a shipping container. All except one thing: you guessed it, the new sofa that we bought specifically to take with us to Sakhalin. Yes, I know, the surveyor said that it would fit and that we would have room, but I guess he was wrong. The problem was solved about 1 hour later when we sold it, but still, par for the course.

Next up, our rental car - the first one. We sold our 2 cars upon return from Houston, so we had to rent a car to get from point A to point B. We are allowed a company-provided rental car, but only for 5 days, and we needed one for about 12 days. First off, the thing was a piece of junk, with dented fenders, multiple scratches and stains throughout. It was a Nissan Pathfinder - my guess is a 2004 or older, but it sounded like a Mac truck, definitely not like the one I used to drive when we lived in Houston. Anyway, when we went to return this car on Tuesday, we found that the parking lot was chaos and there wasn't anywhere to park. This is not unusual for Doha - it is common practice to build a building without a proper parking lot or garage. Shane just pulled up as close as he could and got out to go and get rep. When he returned - 1 minute later - a policeman was giving him a 500 QR parking ticket. Perfect - because we needed something else to do before we leave. He is going to try and pay it today, because we don't want to get stopped at the airport and prevented from leaving due to it. A few have said that they can't tie it to him, yada, yada, but I am not feeling like pressing my luck at this point. Read on and you will see why.

Next up, our airline tickets. We thought we had all of this sorted out before we left Houston. We did, actually, what we didn't have sorted out was the price of the tickets. The route/airline that we chose was KLM to Tokyo via Amsterdam. KLM accepts pets as accompanied baggage, and with this route we can take the company charter from Tokyo to Yuzhno. The Travel Rep is supposed to alert us of any major price differential between the route that we choose versus the company's desired route (which is Qatar Airways to Korea, and then Asiana to Yuzhno). The difference in price between the two was a whopping $16,000! He only told us this on TUESDAY! There is no way the company is going to agree to pay that much of a difference, but we asked anyway - and of course were rejected. It was acknoledged that this was in fact the only route possible for us and the dogs, but they still wouldn't approve it. Great, so just like that, we don't have a way out of here, and neither do the dogs. Another problem that I should mention is that Ramadan is almost over, so after today, everyone will be on vacation for Eid. With the "Eid clock" now ticking, Shane was up all night last night speaking with Houston and Yuzhno - and their bright idea was to send us via HOUSTON. Hello, can anyone say 48 hour trip? Yes, it was cheaper than KLM, but seriously - I don't think we would have made it without killing each other. Not to mention all of the paperwork for the dogs that we would need to get us through the USA. Crazy! The next idea was to split us up: send Shane and the dogs on the KLM flight and agree to pay the overage on his ticket, and then send Adam and I on the cheaper route. However, when Shane went to work this morning the Travel guy said that he was on the phone with KLM trying to get them to lower their prices down to an amount closer to the Qatar airways route. Brilliant. Why didn't I think of that - or better yet, why didn't he - TWO WEEKS AGO when he booked it??? I don't know the answers - but after a few sleepless nights and several heated phone conversations and emails, this is all resolved by the moron who didn't do his job right the first time. Our tickets are now paid for and approved. We are all on the same flight we reserved weeks ago. Talk about wasted energy.

Now here I am today, exhausted, both mentally and physically from all of this stuff, trying to close out my mobile phone account. Duh. How long have I lived here? After standing in line for 30 minutes I find out that my husband has to do it. Right. Because women aren't capable. Well, I won't get started on that one...

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