Monday, May 20, 2013

Alive & Well in Riyadh

The journey was long and dull, as it always is. Our arrival & departure terminals in Frankfurt were so far apart that it felt like they were in different cities- we walked & walked & walked & got ripped off at the money exchange & walked some more...that may have been the most exhausting part of it all! We landed at Pier A and had to catch the shuttle to Pier C. There's a lot of empty space between the two; at the end, though, there was a bar at the gate. That's a new one for me.

Map is NOT to scale!

Saudi immigration was a breeze. (In the '90s, it was common for immigration & customs to take three hours. Yes, THREE! Ridonkeylous!) Not 15 seconds after we got in line, a man walked up to us, asked if we were a family, and took us to the front of the line. We were through before the luggage arrived!
King Khalid Int'l Airport
So we waited for our luggage; it all arrived intact. The only thing missing was the cat. I wandered over to Lost Luggage, inquired about the beast, and was told he would be last. Okay. As long as he arrives. True to their word, we heard loud meowing, and then a man walked up the luggage conveyor belt with his carrier. That made me laugh, but both DH & I were relieved & happy to see him. He was...less happy? You could tell he was happy to see us, but he was still scared.

Then there was customs. It used to be the bane of entering Saudi Arabia. The customs official would open and search every bag you had brought with you, hence the three hour wait to get out of the airport.


They've installed xray machines, so you just send your luggage through, and that's that! (Unless, I suppose, they see something suspicious, but we got through just fine.)

And then back to the cat. You need an animal import permit to bring a pet to KSA; it can only be issued by a vet in country (many hours of fretting were spent on getting this piece of paper!). Fortunately, our employer sent someone to pick up at the airport, and they had the permit. So I went out, found the guy, got the paper, back in to customs, and handed it over; the guy glanced at it and said "Okay!". And we left.

It was so easy. How times have changed!

For the first month, we are staying in a hotel/apartment building, paid for by the employer. We have to find an apartment, so we've been looking online and contacting people. We went and saw a nice place yesterday, but it's unfurnished- so no washer, refrigerator, or oven. I find the no fridge or oven thing to be very strange, but that's how it is here, so we'll deal with it. We're going out this evening to see two more places.

We did have an eventful taxi ride home, as the driver didn't know where to take us. My Arabic is limited to about 20 words, DH's is nonexistent, and the taxi driver had limited English. The man who had the apartment for rent told the driver where we wanted to go, but apparently there was a misunderstanding. All I could remember was Exit 10. Yes, but which way on Exit 10? Um, King Abdullah Blvd? No, that's not it. Finally (read: 45 minutes later), I called someone from our company, and she told me the road we needed. We survived and even made it to a restaurant before prayer call. Fairly successful, I'd say, for our first taxi adventure!

The cat is going completely bonkers. He went from having an entire neighborhood to roam in to being stuck in two rooms. He really, really wants outside. Also, my dad misses him. No one to watch him shave in the morning or wake him up at 4 a.m.!

We're looking for an apartment with an outdoor area or a balcony, which is not as easy to come by as in other countries. Because things are so strictly private here, the outdoor areas are surrounded by high walls. But it also means the cat can't escape and no one will have a conniption fit if I go on the balcony in a tank top & jeans.

I'd love to show some pictures, but I'm not really sure about the laws regarding photography. Once I figure it out, pictures there will be. For the time being, here are some cat pictures:

First he hid on top of the cabinets...

...then he discovered the inside of said cabinets!

I'm sure there are things about living here that people would be interested in, but I'm still fighting jet lag and can't remember what I should be writing about (I do notice what's changed here, so expect a blog about the bookstore someday). Anyhow, if there's something you're interested in, leave a comment, and I'll do my best to answer it in a semi-coherent fashion!

Best Stitches & Wishes,

Also, it's my mom's birthday- Happy birthday, Mom! I miss you (and the herd!) already.


  1. Glafd you arrived safely in Saudi Arbia and you went through customs like a breeze. I am looking forward hearing more of your adventures.

  2. Hi and welcome to Saudi I am still with my mum in hospital so for some unknown reason I can't receive or send emails but I can read blogs.

  3. I haven' t visited blogs for a while(pc crashed)...good to hear everything wemt well through customs and goodluck in finding a new place/apartment.

  4. Glad you arrived safe and sound (all of you) and your 'new' adventure is beginning. Enjoy! I will be looking forward to any and all info you share about your new home.


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