Phewww!!! I finally home. Though the journey was quite short (only 2 days and 1 night), it already has made my body to ache (sitting in the car for long hours could also cause this problem actually :)) We left Al Jubail at about 9.50 am on Friday the 21st December 2007. The night before Shahril has scanned through the google map and get the shortest distance possible. (Thanks to him for the effort because if he would had depended on me, who is really lousy in a sense of direction, I could make him lost before even reaching Dammam! Hehehehe).
Went through a windy, sandy, barren and dry desert was quite an interesting experience (yeah right!!). A perfect time to get a pillow and sleep too... My kids? They didn't take much time to find their comfortable spot and go zzzzz.... Though I was quite sleepy, I has to be awake cause I know how cool (ye la sangat) it was driving in a hot weather while listening to sentimental arabic song (sepatah haram pun tak paham). Then, Shahril decided to go to our first pit stop. Here it was. Shahril has bought himself a cup of hot shai halib (teh susu la tu) to make him awake. While waiting for him in the car, I noticed there were 4 saudi boys eating hot dogs in front of the cafe. They looked jovial at first. After a while, 1 of them has pushed another one to the back. I thought they wanted to fight but it was not. Perhaps it was just the way they (the arabs) mingle with their friends, though I admit it was quite scary (to me at least).
We moved on for we needed to reach Riyadh early (kalau sesat siang senang nampak sign board). Approaching Riyadh, we could see there were many camels at our right side. It was a camel farm I suppose. Shahril stopped to let us took picture. I could imagine how peculiar the arabs looked at us (kat Malaysia, macam orang ambik gambar dengan lembu la. Pak Arab mesti kata, dengan unta pun nak ambik gambar. baik la ambik gambar dengan aku...heheheh) Well, why bother? As long as we didn't go and poke at the camels tummy, I guess that would be okay. We didn't waste much time to take picture. After a few snaps, we continued our journey.
When I saw many building and houses, I knew we almost reaching Riyadh. From far away I could see the Kingdom Tower, which also told us that's the way that we should follow. Shahril kind of used his instinct. We did make 1 u-turn though, for using a wrong way and that's it. The rest was fine. The map was a good assistance! We drove till we reached a small town like Al Jubail. There were many Indians, Pakistanis and Philipinos around. We knew that we're supposed to go back to the city centre and get a hotel to rest. After about an hour of going here and there, we manged to get a deluxe room for only SR350. That's considered cheap (hello.... mana ada hotel seratus lebih kat sini! Malaysia lain la.. 350 dah boleh duduk 5 star hotel). You wanna know where we've stayed? Look at your left. I considered it as okay. Whereas can you find a hotel room in here with a king size bed, an extra matress for my kids, a toilet with bath tub and top of that, breakfast was included. Actually we did ask for a discount :) The actual rate was SR450. They gave us SR100 less! Perhaps they were not many visitors around during the time. That was why they could afford to give that much reduction.
We freshen ourselves and then, went down to look for more 'surprises' in Riyadh. Unfortunately, by not having much information about interesting places, we ended up went to the mall - Faysalian Mall (if I'm not mistaken). I was quite discouraged because going to the mall meaning spending money and our intention to come to Riyadh was not spending money. Of course we had to spend some money but not for buying things that we could get in Jubail... Well, after 'visiting' a few outlets, we decided to entertain our kids at the Toyland... Sophea and Sobhan (and part of Shahril) but not Shahmey enjoyed their time there. They even wanted more. Since Shahmey was not feeling well (having flu and mild fever), I had to promise them to go to the Toyland in Dammam... (entah bila la tu pulak). Then we went to Cinnabon. I had an Ice blended of Mocha Cappucino and a cinnamon roll. Sorry to say but the mocha taste is rather strong to me. The cinnamon roll was okay though! We sitted at the singles section. I knew exactly that there were a different section for family. The attendant already told us it was upstairs. We requested to sit downstairs (open air) and the guy approved. When other people came, I could see their bizzare look. For me, I would prefer to sit outside and enjoyed the night view of Riyadh city while having our supper than sitting in a stuffy room upstairs.
I hope the 2nd day would rather be appealing than a day before. I thought of going to the zoo since Shahril did mention about a zoo in Riyadh. He asked for a direction from the waiter at the coffee house. He's Philipino by the way. He was the one who came to us and asked Shahril about our kids. He has been in KSA for 10 years and only went back once in 2 years! Oh my.... pity his wife and the daughter. That made me thinking, how hard it is to get a job and raise a family. Some people are not lucky enough that they have to go thousands miles away leaving their family behind. Alhamdulillah, we don't have to be separated for years (4 1/2 months was long enough to me). After asking here and there (look at Shahril talked to the taxi driver), we finally reached the Riyadh Zoo. We saw a few men dropped their families and left. Kind of odd, I thought. When we went to pay for the entrance fees, the guy told us that men are not allowed on Saturday. We look at the schedule that was written in Arabic (apa la ngok ngeknya diorang ni. macam la semua orang boleh baca arab). Check out the schedule if you decide to go there one of these days.
In that windy and freezing cold weather, I went in with my three kids, without Shahril of course. Kind of distressing indeed. Just imagine I had to push Shahmey (in a stroller) and took care of my 2 restless daugters at the same time. To make it more delightful, I was having cough and cold (sabar je laa). One thing that I noticed about the zoo was the cleanliness. Congratulations to the zoo management! The place including the animals cage were well taken care of. The cages were not smelly at all (or may be the animals went to the toilet.. duhhh!!) I took a few pictures of my kids there. I asked one Indian lady snap a picture of me and my kids, though we're talking like cat and dog (she didn't understand English at all). Regrettably, kepala Shahmey nampak separuh aje. May be because Shahril was not around. That's why we can't take a family picture... (to comfort myself for having an incomplete photo). My kids and I were also fascinated by the Orang Utan that we met there. He (I think it's a male) was so engrossed eating chocolate and snack that were given by the visitors. He even asked for more when the arabs tried to throw another piece of chocolate. (You could see the Orang Utan - in the cage behind my kids).
After being nagged by my almost freezing cold kids, we left the zoo. Shahril has waited for us outside. We went back to the hotel and started packing. My kids were a bit upset for they wanted to stay in the hotel room longer. But, Shahril had to work the next day and needed to have an early sleep. We checked out and left for Jubail. Though it was a very short vacation, I was contented. I hope this short visit will lead to another meaningful and more adventurous vacation. Surely, I have to ask around and surf the internet for more information so that our next vacation to Riyadh will be a fruitful one.
We left for Jubail at about 1.00pm. After a few stops and makan, we finally home. It was almost 7.30 when we actually home. Alhamdulillah, we arrived home safely.