Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Abha Roadies Part 2 : Al-Soodah & Al-Hablalah

Never thought mornings could be cold in the Desert Kingdom. Opening the window…. Awesome sight.. could literally see mist right in the middle of the road. And slowly brightness was filling in. Had a good night’s sleep and we were raring to go.

Lol.. I was challenged by a colleague that I wouldn’t find a hotel in Abha where I could get a decent breakfast. Little do they know about Malayalis .. well.. I forgive him.. because Mallus are the only guys who can set up a tea stall on the moon! Won’t believe it? Take a look!!

:D Yeah.. I found out a proper Mallu hotel.. the eponymous Kairali Hotel. And whats more, the owner was from TRIVANDRUM :D :D Joy doubled and I marched all of them promptly in for a sumptuous breakfast… Imagine : Having a breakfast of Aapam and Kadala curry in a place like Abha.. Fantabulous!!

Guess for the first time people realized the goodness of knowing Malayalam  There on.. Yours truly was the food guide for the ever hungry lot. Finally we left for the first destination on our sightseeing map. It’s a place called Al-Soodha. The way to Al-Soodha was scenic. Mountain ranges and splashes of greenery were really pleasing to the eye.. a far cry from the cement forest that Riyadh is.

A couple of stops for photo shoot later, we reached the destination. Please don’t mind the repeated adjectives I am using because it really looked AWESOME! After being in Riyadh for the past 7 months.. this place was heaven. Brought back memories of Munnar and Vampire’s place at Kodaikanal. Hmm.. that reminds me.. Devil.. we ought to plan for that trip soon.

Al-Soodha’s attraction is the rope car that descends down the valley. It has been set up by companies that run Ski gondolas in Switzerland… got passes for all of us and we planned to go together in a single gondola. Pity it could seat only 8 passengers. It was getting colder at the hill top so Harini and me decided to get our sweaters out. By the time we came back, our group had left. Since this is a country that gives importance to families, we were given an entire gondola  Amazing climate, good scenery and just us in a single gondola / rope car … very romantic right? Not at all  .. though we wanted a car for ourselves, we found the experience a little shaky.. dropping down 3km on an unstable cable car was difficult. 10 mins later we went down to the bottom station. We spent a good 2 hours there talking, walking and photographing the beautiful landscape.

The trip back to the top station was also good, albeit a little faster.  Once atop the hill, we enjoyed the cold weather and sauntered back to your cab. We had planned to go back to Khamees’ for lunch. And I was able to reserved food for us @ Delicia thanks to Mr. George Joseph who works there!  We stopped on the way to watch a few monkeys and also had a short trek down to a water reservoir before we had lunch.
Mr. George was at his courteous best when we went for lunch. Post lunch, we raced against time to visit a historical village called Al Hablalah. It’s a totally different place as it looked as if the world ends here. A sheer drop and nothing in front for a good 1000 – 2000 meters. Pity we couldn’t enjoy it in proper sunlight. Sunset started at 5:14 PM and before I could take some snaps, darkness crept in.  Sadly, we made our way back to our shiga mohfrusha and wound up for the day.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Desert Trip : The Abha Roadies Part 1

Wow! What an amazing trip it was. After slogging for the past 7 months, finally got a break : Bakrid or Eid Al Adha vacation. We planned for an impromptu road trip to Abha, the southernmost city in Saudi Arabia which is the summer resort of Gulf-ites. 4 families on a Hyundai H1 on a 2650 KM round trip in 3 days.. you could call us crazy.. but whats life without a bit of craziness??

We started out on a pretty cold day at 8:00 AM from Riyadh, hoping to reach Abha by day end. Little did we know that it would take us 15 hours to do so! The trip started in high spirits with rousing cries of “Ganapati Bapa Moriya” coupled with a cued cry from Anusha, a toddler.

We ate, sang, slept and finally reached the city before Abha at 9:15 PM. Much to our dismay, all the shops were closed owing to Eid. Finally, found a hotel called Delicia.. and with high spirits wandered in. Turned out to be a Malayali hotel.  Blessed are these people who will not shy from setting up a tea stall on Moon. Happily I spoke my way through setting up a special table for the 19 of us (Oh.. 7 bachelors were in a separate vehicle) and ate our way to glory.. imagine running up a bill of SAR 335 for 19 ppl when a modest breakfast for 2 types of Parathas, chicken lollypop and tea/coffee for 60 ppl @ a get together had cost us a little around SAR 900 :D  Ahem… lesser said about food .. the better..
The Road to Neverland :)

Finally we reached the place we were to stay.

It was no Hotel California but what the locals here call as “Shiga Mohfrusha” (Arabic for Furnished apartments). Honestly, I don’t know the name of the apartment where we stayed during our road trip to Abha. But it was decent enough.

Plonked on the bed and went to sleep with expectations of sight-seeing the next day. Actually, both of us wanted to see if we could really use the leather jacket and Harini’s jacket in Abha :D and not to forget the sweaters!

To be frank.. yeah it was cold.. so the jackets did come handy!

Next day… next blog.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Its Classic!!

01 November 2010. Our first anniversary.

Before we knew, we have completed one year of married life! Time has just flown!! Been an amazing, fun and tension filled first year.

Looking forward to all the fantastic years ahead, with a Classical touch ;)