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Do you want to know My story – Jeddah?

Jeddah, the ancient Arab trading port, is a city of great beauty and often referred to as the ‘Bride of the Red Sea’. After securing an in-country certificate from the Personnel Department, I joined twenty one American expatriates for a weekend tour of Jeddah. We left on a Wednesday after work. We had three male Filipino tour guides. We took a van to the airport. The flight to Ahba was 45 minutes.

We were greeted by the staff and transferred to the Red Sea Palace hotel. Welcome drinks were served upon arrival and during check-in. I shared a room with a friend. We had Mongolian Barbecue dinner at the poolside. The set-up was amazing. Chef preparing varieties of food by the pool, and waiters serving us.

Thursday, we had Swiss Buffet Breakfast at the ‘Al Bouhaira’ restaurant. We met other American expatriates from other cities. Then two hotel vans took us for a tour of Old Jeddah. Unlike being in public in Riyadh, the women wore not required to wear their bandanas. The guides told us that the old buildings were built from clay and straws. We walked through narrow streets taking pictures without any restrictions. We visited the Abdul Raouf Museum. There was a short movie to familiarized us of the city’s development while tea was served. Some government officials patiently answered our questions.

Do you want to know My story   Jeddah?

Do you want to know My story   Jeddah?

The hotel tour guides carried lots of food for lunch. We had choices to either went to the Horse Farm or Downtown shopping trips. My roommate and I opted for the Horse Farm. We drove to what seemed to be a continuous desert until we reached the horse stables. A British lady who managed the farm gave us an overview about raising Arabian horses. She had lots of male and female helpers. My friend was excited. When she was younger, she used to ride them but decided against it. A lady rode a horse and fall. Fortunately, she was all right.

I talked to a lady feeding the horses. She handed me a carrot and told me to feed one. I was never this close to a horse. He took the food from my palm. Then I watched a guy expertly cleaning and changing horseshoes.

From the horse farm, we were driven to downtown for a shopping trip. We were allowed three hours to shop. We visited the Fashion Center/Jamjoom. My friend wanted to buy a nice abaya. There were lots to choose from. She tried a few and found the right one. We walked in and out of the stores. I bought souvenirs. The mall was huge. It was easy to lose track of time. Finally, it was time to go back to the vans.

Seafood dinner at the ‘Al Bouhaira Restaurant. Citizens from different countries came to attend conventions held at the Red Sea Palace Hotel. I met some Filipinos. They thought I was there for the convention. They were surprised to find out I was there for a weekend trip. We also dined with the American expatriates from Jeddah. They love the freedom they had. The women were free to go anywhere without the Mutaween telling them to cover their hair.

Friday, Swiss Buffet breakfast at the ‘Al Bouhaira’ Restaurant. Then off to Al Nakheel Beach for those who opted for it. My friend had a stomach problem. We tried to find a drug store. It was a weekend so most of the stores were closed. Finally, we found a lady in our group who carried some medications for emergency purposes. She gave her the pill. She felt better after she took it. We decided to go shopping.

A hotel staff offered to drive us to the mall. This time we took our time. We went to different souks which were virtually found everywhere. There were moneychangers’, material, hardware, gold, silver, antique and carpet souks. Colorful stalls bursting with daggers, incense burners, Turkish-style coffee pots, copper-studded Zansibar chests, leather Bedouin saddle-bags, etc. were displayed. After shopping we took a taxi back to the hotel and just rested. This was our last day. We had our luggage ready for check-out. The Filipino tour guides instructed us to assemble at the lobby and get ready for our departure to Jeddah airport. They were there constantly helping us with our needs. It was late when my friend and I were dropped off in our building. I treasured this enjoyable and wonderful trip.