Sunday, March 04, 2012

Day 106, Wednesday 29th February 2012

I took a one-day holiday today, and combined it with my weekend off that commenced on the next day, that is, Thursday, to join Dr. Narendra, the Orthopedic surgeon who works with me at the Al Muweh Hospital, in taking an outing to Jeddah. His purpose for the trip was to collect some stuff to take back to India, where he is planning to go on vacation next month.

Dr. Narendra had decided to take us to Ta'if by his car, but from thereon, we would travel by the Saudi bus run by the Saudi Arabian Public Transport Co. (SAPTCO). We had already decided that we would leave at or around 9:00 a.m., so it was no surprise to receive his call at a few minutes before the appointed time to ask if I was ready to leave. I had packed already, but had yet to wind up some things so I requested him to give me ten more minutes and I said that I would personally meet him across the road. However, within a few minutes, he landed up outside our house and knocked on the door. I took a few more minutes and then left the house to join him as a co-passenger in his Toyota Corolla car.

Our drive to Ta'if was without incident. We reached by 11.30 a.m., and after Dr. Narendra had parked his car in what we both perceived to be a safe parking spot, we crossed the road to reach the SAPTCO bus stand, also known here as "Nakal Jamaai" (don't ask me why this is so called). Purchasing two return tickets, we went inside to the bona fide passengers waiting area to await the arrival announcement of our bus . 

The bus arrived at 12.30 p.m. and we left soon after. The journey to Jeddah was accomplished in a little under three hours; the route was a bit longer than the straight one that takes you via Mecca, as this route bypasses Mecca. After we alighted from the bus at the Corniche SAPTCO bus stand at a little after half past three, it was a short, straight walk past a Pay and Park parking lot to the front entrance of the Hotel Janoup, a non-descript but appropriately located place that charged reasonably. We got a double room (#510) on the fifth floor for SR 130 per day. The room was simple, with 2 single beds, a nicely appointed bathroom, a working TV and fridge and a sufficient AC machine.

We took some rest, and left for the evening to do some local shopping. This area has at least 5-6 large, multistorey malls, and it was a pleasure to simply browse and do some window shopping. I had some fixed agenda: I wanted some stuff like, for example, an external hard disk cover, a mouse pad, etc. I also placed an order with an optician for a new pair of progressive glasses for myself (my current pair broke just a few days ago). Dr. Narendra wanted to visit a camera shop to make enquiries for a digital SLR camera, which we did later in the evening: the cameras cost nearly the same as they do in India. We had dinner in one of the malls: while Dr. Narendra ordered the four-piece chicken and bun combo from Al Baik, while I ordered a mixed meat rice combo with glass noodles from Jollibee, a Filipino eating chain well established in the Kingdom.

We finally went to bed around half past eleven p.m. 

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