The Zoo

Did you had those times wherein you were on your way home but there is something in your gut that you just want to check what it wants? Yes, I do have those instances, too, but I was actually not referring to foods. My inner self wanted me not to go home early and instead to go somewhere else new. I was looking on the window of the car and suddenly, I saw a big signage telling it is The Zoo. And to my surprise it was indeed a zoo in the middle of nowhere. Oopps, it was the road heading to Al Jubayl from Ad Dammam but the zoo was located in Ad Dhahran.2014-08-18 17.28.28

I haven’t featured Ad Dhahran yet since the only thing I know in Ad Dhahran is the mall. Mall of Dhahran is one of the biggest malls in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. I’ve been in Mall of Dhahran too many times but as what I have mentioned, photography is prohibited in public places. Thus, I’ve got nothing to show how Mall of Dhahran looks like. Anyway, when I saw the signage. I told my friend to turn the car back to where I saw it. So, we took the longest U-turn and we got to The Zoo.

The Zoo looks kind of outdated. From the outside look, you will think if there are really animals inside or is it just a playground and they named it the zoo. To get inside the zoo, you need to pay 10SR for adults and 5SR for kids for the entrance fee. There is a ticket booth just beside the gate.2014-08-18 17.27.38

Upon entering the zoo, all I saw were plants and trees. But, when I got inside to this cave-styled gate, then I saw cages of wild animals. Wild animals that vary from sizes to classes.2014-08-18 17.25.402014-08-18 17.21.02Here, I got to see animals which I haven’t seen. To be honest, I’ve never tried going to zoos because I don’t want to see those poor creatures inside a cage. Yet with zoos, an individual can see wild creatures up close. Somehow it gives awareness to people and knowledge about these animals. I was able to have close encounters with hyenas, lions, crocodiles and many more.2014-08-18 17.06.14 2014-08-18 17.08.12 2014-08-18 17.08.58 2014-08-18 17.11.552014-08-18 17.07.24

I can still remember the questions asked to me during my IELTS test. The question goes like this, ‘What is your opinion on animals put in zoos?’ I answered it is ok since a lot of people can see these animals that we have never seen and as long as these creatures are well taken care of then it is fine for me. The conversation goes til we talked about extinction and endangered species. Anyways, the sad thing about this zoo is they didn’t maintain it well. The animals are not well nourished. The cages and surroundings are full of filth and all I can see is business they are running and they are not taking care of these poor creations of God.

Advertisements

Glimpse of Al Qatif

I’ve been gone for 3 months and I’m still busy as a bee. From time to time if I get some free time, I’ll be posting some of my adventures. And here one goes.

I just love to travel in a new place during my off. I’ve been wandering in Eastern Province for quite some time now but still there are places that I have never gone to. One of those places that I have never visited is Al Qatif. That’s why I took the liberty to take advantage of my rest day to saunter in that place.2014-08-04 12.02.28Al Qatif is just minutes drive away from hustle and bustle of the city of Al Khobar. It is a small town with few interesting facts, stories and sceneries.
Upon entering Al Qatif via main road, there are police checking cars and asking questions regarding your visit to their place. As I was told about that, I took the different route and followed a different exit that won’t lead me to the main street or highway.2014-08-04 12.15.08
Al Qatif is a town where most Muslims are Shiites. There are certain places in this town that are feared due to high crimes and one of those is Awamiyah. 2014-08-04 12.33.21When I was there, I just wander in corniche but I was mostly on the road.
As I see it, Al Qatif is indeed a small and not so commercialised town of the Eastern Province. But if you will look on their houses on the corniche, your mind will be blown out. Those are not just houses but those are mansions. Too bad I didn’t take pictures of those. I’ve heard also that people living in this town make party on streets. It sounds to me that they are liberated from the rest of the Saudis.2014-08-04 12.11.532014-08-04 12.13.15 2014-08-04 12.19.02 2014-08-04 12.19.15 2014-08-04 12.18.44On the other side of Qatif Corniche is Tarut Island where it connects via Qatif-Tarut Bridge.2014-08-04 12.15.032014-08-04 12.15.432014-08-04 12.31.46
So far, Al Qatif sounds a bit OK. You can visit there but just be careful and cautious.2014-08-04 12.11.18

Oasis of the East

My first visit in Al Ahsa was not that memorable since I was in a hurry but this time, I just relaxed and carried my whole stay in Al Ahsa as if I am a local. Since the municipality of Al Ahsa has only few attractions and most of the parks were closed due to some renovations, so I went back to Jebel Al Qarah.2014-03-21 16.26.55
Jebel Al Qarah is just a few minutes drive from Al Hufuf, the city centre of Al Ahsa. This time, me, being an adventurer has awakened. Instead of just enjoying the view inside the cave, I went out and followed the most difficult and life threatening path going to the top of the cave in Qarah. At first, it was easy. But halfway, I needed to catch my breath. The trek was very challenging. Rocks were too small and mixed with sands and it’s a steep uphill climb. If you tripped, there’s no way to stop from falling. For me, it was nerve-wracking indeed but the view atop was amazing. Seeing the luscious green of the date plantation with the brown contrast of the mountain desert just made the experience worth dying. That is how I describe it.2014-03-21 16.27.44 2014-03-21 16.47.55 2014-03-21 16.50.48 2014-03-21 16.52.14 2014-03-21 16.52.23 2014-03-21 17.04.03 2014-03-21 17.04.35 2014-03-21 17.05.17
After Jebel Al Qarah, I went back to Al Hufuf. Al Hufuf, as what I’ve said is the capital of Al Ahsa. The lifestyle of people living here are somewhat laid-back. It’s just like a big town but developing. I saw locals walking on the streets at night even females without male accompanying them. It felt like it is a very safe community to live in. I saw how the people tried to enjoy their weekends by going to parks or malls. At first, I thought their lives are boring and confined on the four walls of their homes and they needed to wear and hid themselves from the rest of the people but I was wrong. They were able to enjoy their lives. I got to see them dancing on the sands barefoot, got to talk to them on how they are happy to be them and even joke with them. They are just simple and they see life simple. That is what I see in the people of Al Ahsa.2014-03-21 17.14.44 2014-03-21 17.15.08 2014-03-21 17.18.41 2014-03-21 17.19.52
Indeed, I can say that Al Ahsa is the Oasis of the East. It may have few attractions but I found the people to be the most heart warming in all of the Saudi Arabian country. Though I was thirsty for something nice to see but I was filled with warmth and being welcomed.

Spending My Weary and Tired Body at Al Ghazal Hotel

During my 3-day Al Ahsa excursion, I stayed in Al Ghazal Hotel. Al Ghazal Hotel is situated right across Power Gym and Bank of Al Jazira in the corner streets in Al Faisaliah District. It has parking space for hotel guests but only limited.2014-03-21 12.52.23

Upon entering the hotel, you can see the lobby, the party room, the reception and the waiting area. It has a nice implication of details showing what Al Ahsa is abundant with. Since Al Ahsa is the Oasis of the Eastern Province, most of the date plantation can be found here. 2014-03-21 12.52.45 2014-03-21 12.52.52 2014-03-21 12.53.06 2014-03-21 12.53.14 2014-03-21 12.54.362014-03-21 12.53.18

The receptionist was good and nice. He speaks English and seldom smiles since most Saudis don’t smile. He gave me a room in just minutes and took my details briefly.

After I received my room key, I was shocked to see it. It was like a bronze medal. Then, I went to my room in the 4th floor at Room 4003.2014-03-20 18.46.41
When I entered the room, it was decent. I have queen sized bed, flat screen television, a small side table, a big closet, a vault, fridge and a big mirror. The standard room also has a toilet and a shower. Too bad, it doesn’t have a bathtub but it’s OK. To add some good point of the hotel, they also offered 24-hour wireless internet connection.2014-03-20 18.24.18 2014-03-20 18.24.34 2014-03-20 18.25.54 2014-03-20 18.37.352014-03-20 18.23.24 2014-03-20 18.23.18

I didn’t mention one thing. In every floor, there is also waiting area for hotel guests and in every wall, there are pictures showing how beautiful Al Ahsa is.2014-03-20 18.38.12 2014-03-21 11.35.33 2014-03-21 11.36.00

Al Ghazal Hotel has a restaurant in the first floor and offers 4 different cuisines only such as American, Indian, Arabic and Chinese. The prices vary widely but it is acceptable.2014-03-20 18.44.22 2014-03-21 11.43.03 2014-03-21 11.43.23

Those are the great points of the hotel but I also have few negative feedback. First of all, the things and furnitures were somewhat old. The restaurant is not well maintained. But this is the first time I didn’t see hair strands in the toilet coz most of the time I see those.

To sum it up, my stay in Al Ghazal Hotel just relieved my weary and tired body.

A 3-Day Excursion in Al Ahsa

Since I had 2 days off from work, so why not spend it out somewhere different. I have been scanning the map of Eastern Region on which place to go for a 3-day excursion. Of course, it is noticeably seen in the map that almost one-third of the Eastern Province is covered by the municipality of Al Ahsa. Thus, I have come to a conclusion to head there again.

photo credit to saudia-online.com

photo credit to saudia-online.com

The day before my trip, I already packed my things good for 3 days so that right after my work, I can head to Al Ahsa. The excursion started with a hitchhike from Al Jubayl to Al Ahsa for SAR200. It was a grueling ride for 2 hours with lack of rest from work. The view was amazing when I reached Al Ahsa after I saw this odd looking mountains. It made the picture more perfect upon seeing the sun setting and the color of the sky changing. I arrived in Al Ahsa at 1800H.2014-03-20 17.35.49 2014-03-20 17.36.22 2014-03-20 17.36.55

The municipality of Al Ahsa is not well developed yet as I have seen it while on the road. As compared to other Eastern Province municipalities such as Al Khobar, Ad Dammam, Al Jubayl, these provinces have been established well. In Al Ahsa, I only saw one mall which is the Othaim Mall. It was indeed a tiring trip that I directly headed to a hotel. I checked in at Al Ghazal Hotel for SAR 137/night, total of SAR411 for 3 nights. The hotel is decent but not to a point of being luxurious. Check my Al Ghazal Hotel review on my next post. So, basically my first day in Al Ahsa was spent in the bedroom snoring.
On the second day, I went again to the famous attraction, the cave of Qarah. It was nerve-wracking since I tried to go up the mountains and in the evening, I went out to another sand mountain to see Al Ahsa’s night lights. Check my post titled, Oasis of the East.2014-03-21 16.22.40 2014-03-21 16.25.32 2014-03-21 16.50.48 2014-03-21 18.31.53
The third day, I was a little bit timid due to the energy used on climbing the mountains. I just stayed in the hotel and I went out at 1700H to the malls in Al Ahsa, Othaim Mall and Al Ahsa Mall but to my surprise I was kicked out for singles were not allowed. So, I just wasted the day and went back to the hotel. Early morning of the next day, I headed back to Al Jubayl for work.2014-03-22 19.21.28
That’s how I spent my 3-day excursion in Al Ahsa. It would have been more fun if the malls were opened for singles/bachelors, if the parks were not under renovation and if taxis were too abundant. But, basically, I had fun. That is the most important thing.

A Walk in Jubail Corniche

You have been wondering what is ‘Corniche’ coz I, myself, kept on thinking why people here in Saudi  Arabia tend to call it Corniche. Then, I checked it on the dictionary and here is what I found, Corniche means a road built along a coast and especially along the face of a cliff.

The Philippines is an archipelago and most of these islands have cliffs and coasts but we never call it corniche at all. Maybe I am just too curious yet at least I got to know one new word. But I don’t really care coz if you ever get the chance to come here in Saudi Arabia or any country in the Middle East, they usually call it, corniche or cornish. And when you are going to ask a local about tourist destinations, they would usually say, ‘oh. try to visit our corniche’. And yes it is true. The places nice to visit in Saudi Arabia are the corniche viewing the vast ocean.

One fine afternoon, I was walking in Jubail Corniche. It was first time to get there but I always see it when I go to work. It was on that day that I had a chance to visit and set afoot.  When I got there, there were a lot of families camping out. But I didn’t bother. I just had my mind focused like I was walking in the park. The place was relaxing but I’m a bit disappointed due to the stingy smell from the sea. It was polluted and you can see upfront, the ginormous plants. Yet, it was way for me to relax after a stressful day at work.2014-03-19 16.47.14 2014-03-19 16.49.43 2014-03-19 16.50.33 2014-03-19 16.54.10 2014-03-19 17.04.55 2014-03-19 17.11.44 2014-03-19 17.12.21 2014-03-19 17.59.44 2014-03-19 18.17.21