Thursday, January 15, 2015

Journey to ten different cities in Saudi Arabia.

Continuing its tour of Saudi Arabia, having visited major cities like Dammam, Riyadh, Dharan. Khobar, and Jubail, Travel Army continued its exploration by visiting ten more cities in Saudi Arabia. Although the destination was Mecca and Medinah, there was transit through Taif, Jeddah, Al-Butain, Al-Khaamis, Al-Majmaah, Al- Qasim, Buraydah and Al- Duwadimi.

It was an interesting family road trip that started on a very cold day.

We set off in the morning at 9a.m., filled the car's fuel tank with just 25 SAR that's like $7.
You do not have to spend much money to have an enthralling vacation. You can make a road trip to cities within the kingdom with little expenses.

Driving on a smooth/free road across vast expanse of desert was captivating. The road signs and the GPS came in very useful. The fascinating cities and people of Saudi Arabia have been intriguing travelers with their peaceful road and delightful landscape. There are police checkpoints at the entrance of most towns. While every town looked similar in outlook, each had its unique and landmark features.
The long stretch of open road provided the first scare of the journey as the fuel indicator pointed empty with no petrol station in sight. All excitement turned to apprehension as I prayed for a filling station.

10 mins later, what appeared like a filling station appeared ahead, it was the opposite of the flashy filling stations typical of Saudi with drive-ins, stores, rest room, mosques, car service all in one. It happened to be a saving grace from an awkward and mortifying situation in the heart of the desert as we were not to come across another one for the next 3 hour drive.

I was just imagine what would have happened if the fuel tank got totally empty. Questions filled my head, like; Are we going to sleep in the desert? or leave the car on the highway? I've come to term this scenario, 'Favor in the Arabian Desert'.

We came across Taif, a city of hills and mountains with winding roads meandering through the rocks. The rest of the journey up to Mecca was effortless, uneventful and fluid. Here we were to experience the next little challenge - locating our hotel, which we had already reserved online.

If you are familiar with Mecca, you will agree that it is a city largely structured around mountains, especially the Haram area where the holy site is located. Houses and hotels are built on the edges of hills and rocks are blasted to create roads through them. We drove on slopes, ascending and descending from one street to the other. The mountains had scrambled GPS signals which was taking us around in circles and against traffic. Driving within this hour was more tedious than the whole journey itself. Giving up the search, we walked into one of the closer hotel. and just lodged there.

The Mecca police have a duty to ensure free flow of traffic in order to prevent congestion, so parking our car was difficult. Cars parked lamely on the roads are promptly towed away. It takes 50 SAR to recover towed vehicles.

I love the hotel apartment, everything was neat and beautiful. We took a short nap before going to the Haram.

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