East to west

Doha Travel Blog

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Hong Kong Harbour

I landed in Macao and from the cheap familiar comfort of China I would plot out my next course.

Hong Kong is a large hub for international travel so from there I would fly to Italy one way and then go on to Romania. It was a simple plan and I was sure it would go without a hitch. So off I went on Qatar Air. The Gulf state airlines are a good way to get to southern Europe from HK as it’s basically a straight line.

I never have the good fortune to sit with interesting people on long-haul flights and this time was no exception. The grey mustached guy next to me spoke no English but at least he was pleasant.

I watched film after film one was a Russian sci-fi about vampires, which was the first and last Russian film I’ll see.

Roman rubble
It was total rubbish. Thankfully they sold alcoholic drinks on this Muslim flight the Arab passengers seemed pleased to tank up as well.

 We arrived in Rome very early in the morning. It was cold and the airport was not very organized or modern but the immigrations was a breeze. I noticed a dark man struggling with a large duffel bag and a crutch. He was very grateful for my help “Where are you heading?” “Verona” “Then you’ll have to go to Termini.” “I’m heading there myself.” On the train ride there we found out more about each other as we watched the sun come up over the Roman suburbs.

“I am from Bangladesh” Raji jiggled his head. “Oh I thought you were Indian.

” “No we are different. In Bangladesh we are Muslim but it is not like what you hear in the news. I think the world has a very negative view on Islam” his eyes lit up from behind thick spectacles, “Islam is a religion of peace.” “But of course” these people are very touchy. We went on to talk about life in our home countries. “In Bangladesh I go everywhere but hitchhiking no one refuses me” he tapped his crutch, “being a cripple has some good points.” He launched out on his praise of Japanese economy, which all third worlders do. “I have the deepest respect for your recovery after the war..blah blah” I don’t usually have time to explain to him or other Africans, EE, Indians etc about the Marshall plan, IMF, American Military occupation and bases, strategic alliances, funding the UN, regional development aid and other details that make Japan merely a glorified pawn nation. “Why thank you” I nod approvingly. I looked out at the majestic scenery passing us the hills and poplars were bathed in the golden glow of dawn. I feel ashamed of the adoration we receive from the poor of the world who will never be allowed to develop. But Raji was optimistic, “I will do my graduate studies in Germany then I will be a professor of economics in my country.” “Great plan, go for it!” I didn’t want to dampen his enthusiasm with my skeptical worldview. Still there is something depressing about the naïve glow in these bright young minds. I wonder how many of them keep their integrity intact and return to their impoverished lands when there is so much more for them materially in the ‘decadent’ West.

Termini is a large impersonal station there are the usual bums and Gypsies who I avoided. On the streets around the station I found a hostel to check in for 15 Euro a night not so cheap since I hadn’t reserved but I only figured to stay one night. My first day was pretty good with a detailed map from the tourism desk at Termini I walked around the center seeing all the good old rubble. 

It is quite impressive especially since this was my first time in Europe. I stopped to just stare at so many buildings the architecture of Roman Catholic and Imperial designs took me by storm. I had no idea all this history was so concentrated in this tight spot every turn there was another row of carved marble statues staring down on me from a stone façade or a greenish bronze fountain spraying with splendour. The museum looked impressive but I didn’t feel like paying a stack just to see Italian history. Like Chinese history it’s been so long since they did anything heroic or exciting. I was feeling this way standing on the top of the hill looking down on the ancient agora and piazza now a heap of columns and stones. I almost walked right past Circo Massimo it looked like a dried out castle moat not a glorious racetrack. For me the Coliseum was the most impressive ancient ruin just the sheer size of it was amazing.

Besides the rocks the people didn’t seem very outstanding. The streets were full of filthy panhandlers from Africa, Indian subcontinent, and China. These people are such a blemish to the cultural monuments they should get rid of them. They are all illegals pedaling their ‘made in China’ knock off Italian fashion goods to Romans right under the noses of the dumb police. No wonder why everyone is so fashionable there. The Italians were quite cold and unapproachable probably because they took me for the Chinese and their ilk.

I got back to my hostel and met some Chinese kids in the common room, which was just a small dining room with a TV. They were geeks so our conversation was limited. I tried to talk with my Aussie roommates but they were kids too. Great, well at least I can be out of here tomorrow I thought. 
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Hong Kong Harbour
Hong Kong Harbour
Roman rubble
Roman rubble
photo by: Stevie_Wes