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.

The Famous Cave of Judas Escariot

A long drive from my place to one of the known tourist destinations here in the Kingdom known as Jebel Al Qharra or also known as Judas Cave in Al Ahsa. The capital city of Al Ahsa is Al Hofuf which is showed in the map below.
IMG_2457It took us about three hours trip just to get to this location. We passed by wide desert and little vegetation.1395347_351184785027494_615427151_n

But it was definitely rewarding once we arrived at the Famous Cave of Judas Escariot. We were also somehow intrigued how this attraction got its name. But according to legend, this is the place where Judas Escariot, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, hid after he forsaken Jesus Christ and betrayed Him and eventually committed suicide right at this place. We were in doubt if it is true since it is was not mentioned at all. Yet, we didn’t care about it since it was considered famous that is why we came and experienced how it looks like.1375146_351194831693156_2105258687_n 1378379_351194041693235_1621240401_n 1379574_351194928359813_2076445984_n 1381941_351194011693238_199817135_nThe view was amazing but it was just plainly a view. The place also kinda stink since other visitors or I don’t know who is doing it somehow peed in the place and smelled urine. They did not maintain the cleanliness of the place which makes it a downturn.

Since we were not satisfied with our trip in Al Ahsa, we have thought of other ways to enjoy and drove a little further for a place where quad bikes or ATVs were present just to compensate for the long trip going there.1381809_351185678360738_1888008403_n 1382312_351198915026081_173786143_n 1383387_351185728360733_2144161744_n