Sunday, December 20, 2015

Across The Arid Lands

Last month, I finally saw Saudi Arabia. I say "finally" because not a day goes by in the house without mentioning this country. My parents-in-law have called this country home for many years now. Mom and Dad stay in Dammam, which is in the eastern province of the country. And since the day I became a part of the family, Mom wanted me to visit Saudi. It was with her insistence and persistence that my passport was processed. 

Az and I went to Saudi Arabia for two weeks. A road-trip was planned in the first week of our stay. We were to visit Medina and Mecca. The route planned was Dammam--Riyadh (1 night stay)--Medina (2 nights stay)--Mecca--Jeddah (2 nights stay)--Dammam. As much I enjoyed the entire trip, it was the drive across the country that I enjoyed the most.

Our route
We drove around 3160 km in the round trip. It was Mom, Dad, Az and myself. The men shared the driving. Anyways women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. Coming from India, Saudi highways seemed like drivers' paradise.

I had never rode through a desert before and so I was pretty excited. I was fascinated by the camels. I had always known that camels are of brown colour. I was amazed when I saw black and white camels out there. On both sides of the highway, camels grazed with their herders nearby. It were those areas where there were sparse vegetation. One time, we stopped by the road and there were camels near the fence. I went down to the fence to look at them closely. They were the white ones. Two of them came over to me. May be they hoped to get some treats from me. They lunged their long necks over the wired fence close to me head. I wanted to reach out to them with my hand. But I feared that my hand would go into the mouth! I managed to click a few candid pictures. The poor camels were disappointed about the treats. Dad called me to get bananas for them from the car. By the time I was back with the bananas, they had moved on.


The Smiling Camels
 

At one point of time, the sand looked golden brown in the late afternoon sun. And there were black camels who specked the sandy horizon. It looked so mesmerizing. Unfortunately I couldn't capture the view in a picture. Nevertheless, it will always be etched in my memory.

There were also dates farm by the road. So much green at once stood out immensely in the brown arid terrain. 

A Dates Farm
 
Then there was stretch of rocky hills. They were bare except some sparse grass. It was dusk when were crossing them, and the setting red sun played hide and seek with them. It was beautiful.




Apart from the smooth roads, another thing which made the road-trip comfortable was the availability of amenities at regular intervals. Wherever there were fuel-stations, there were mosques, restrooms, departmental stores and eateries. Except a couple of them, all restrooms were clean. We had a steady supply of fluids and munchies. Good music and a portable internet device kept us entertained and connected.

There were check posts from time to time. As we approached them, we would turn off the music, I would cover my head and roll down the driver's window. There were also speed detectors along the highway  and the speed limit for private vehicles was 120 kmph. But of course vehicles were running at greater speeds. And whenever one vehicle would spot a speed detector box, it would blink its lights to warn the others. Such empathy!

 


The Symmetric Hill
 


When I look at the map now, I realize that we drove ened-to-end across the country horizontally, from the Gulf of Persia to the Red Sea. Sometimes I enjoy the roads more than the destinations. The Saudi road-trip was definitely one of those times. Looking forward to more.

5 comments:

  1. Awesome memories..well described!

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  2. the journey is always the most memorable part of a trip.....nice to see that you had a great time there! :) Looking forward to a few more posts about your trip :)

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  3. Sounds like a great trip. Driving on smooth highways is an experience. Glad that you had an awesome experience :)

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Loved that you dropped by. It would lovely to know how you feel about this post too :)