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Saturday, February 1, 2014

40 percent of Saudis ‘have no respect for law

This was the title of an article in the Saudi Gazette a while back.  This is truly evident in how they drive here.  I thought the driving in Moscow was bad.  In Moscow the infrastructure is no way able to keep up, so it was almost always congested.  Accidents were usually fender benders or scrapes.  People were always in a hurry and if you left to much space between your car and the one in front of you, someone would pull in and fill that space.  They didn't do it to cut you off, just further their progression down the road.  I would take hours to go only a few miles, but you were pretty safe.

Okay back to Jeddah and the piss poor driving here.  Here they drive so carelessly it will drive you nuts.  I find myself getting angrier and angrier each time I drive.  And, I don't think I'm the only one.  Last week when I was leaving work, I pulled out onto the main road, 3 lanes on my side, and in my rear view mirror I see this silver car in the middle lane ramming the car on the right, then he decided to go for the vehicle in the left lane a couple of times, then the back to the right.  At that point, I was too far away to see how it ended.  Granted that was one of the more extreme examples.

More of an every day occurrence is the drift lane change. Just imagine someone wearing a Keffiyeh, ( the checkered head scarf that the men wear) and driving a car.  The keffiyeh comes forward so much that the wearer has zero peripheral vision and do not bother to turn their head and look over their shoulder.  To change lanes the don't signal they just start to ease over the line and gradually get over.  They believe that the space will open up so they just do glide on over.  Now this in itself is mind boggling but a great many driver don't drive between the lines, they ride down the road with one side just over the line taking up two lanes.  When I encounter this I do what any sane person would do, I lean on the horn as I move by them and encourage them to get back into their lane, all the time muttering explicatives under my breath.

So I stumbled upon a youtube video of one of these drivers, they display a lot of habits we see here. Based on the number of drivers, this looks to be filmed on a Friday morning so about a third of the traffic.  It's about 17 minutes long but the first few minutes you can see how he drives on the lines.

Okay now that I've got that off my chest, things here are going well.  The temperature is getting warmer and the humidity is climbing as well.  Work is going good, and I've been getting in some diving whenever I can.

I know it's been a while since the last posting, but I don't want to bore you with the day to day things that don't change.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Wreck Dive in Yanbu

This past weekend I went out with my dive instructor, her husband and five others from the consulate to Yanbu, a small town North of Jeddah.  After a 4am meet up we hit the road, 3 hours and 1 speeding ticket later (damn speed cameras), we met up with our contact who got us up to the marina.  The boat was much smaller than I anticipated, but we piled on board, stowed our gear and set off.  it was a nice 45 minute ride out to the site.  We did two dives on the wreck and then went to a different reef for our last dive.  The dives were great, the lunch sucked, but oh well.  Enough rambling, here are some of the pictures, the rest can be found here: YANBU DIVE PICS

 Couple of Lion Fish

A look inside reveals 1000s of small fish


Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving in Dubai

Okay so as you can see from the title we went to Dubai for Thanksgiving.  Started out with a nice flight on Emirates airlines. I have to say they economy class seats were good size and plenty of leg room.  Service was great and the flight was only 2.5 hours.  So no problems there.

We rented a car but unfortunately the only drivers license I had with me was my Saudi license.  Fortunately, Jolene had her US license so she put the car in her name.  That was great for her since she can't drive in Saudi it was a chance for her to get behind the wheel for a few days, and a nice break for me.  So we checked into our Marriott hotel and got upgraded to a 2 bedroom apartment.

We were told about a gold souk so of course, Jolene and Crystal wanted to go check it out.  The gold was between 18 and 24 karat and this place is strongly regulated by the government for quality.  Needless to say I'm done Christmas shopping for Jolene.

One of 3 enterances to the souk

Lots of large breast plate like designs

And a little silver shopping too..

All I have to say here is Merry Christmas!

A few 24k bracelets

oh! and some gold!!!

With a few diamonds

and other people shopping.

So needless to say there is shopping to be done in Dubai.  After the souk and walking around all morning we went to a little desert dune riding in a Hummer and then a Bedouin meal.  This part was just okay, but the dancers were really good.

 This was the entrance to the desert area.

 Crystal found an Aussie friend to hang with 

 No trip is complete without riding a camel 

And that wrapped up a long day.  From here it was like an hour and half ride back to the hotel for a nice night of sleep and sleeping in.  After we got up and moving our first order of business was to find a Starbucks, Jolene and Boo need their Starbucks... and from there it was time to get wet at Wild Wadi.

And the view was pretty good from the high slides

The water park was really fun and it was nice just to run around and play in the water.  They had some really good slide and one that the bottom dropped out from underneath you and free fall a good deal of the way... Good times!

So after the water park it was time to go to the movies since there are none in Saudi Arabia.  We went to the Mall of the Emirates and saw Catching fire.  That pretty much rounded out our Thanksgiving, no turkey no table to sit at, just a bit of time in another country where the girls could where what they want, I could have a beer at a restaurant in public and Jolene could drive.  Kind of funny what you're thankful for when you can't have something you used to take for granted.