...and his girl left behind. Justin Chambers is going to Antarctica as a chef, and leaving behind all that is normal, for a whole year. Together, but apart, we will document our experiences (well, he'll give me the info verbally and I will turn that in to a blog post!!) as we live in two quite different worlds for those 12 months.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Camels, camels everywhere

Camel Souk
My second to last day in Saudi saw me on a drive out of the city, accompanied by Louise, to the Camel Souk.  To my surprise, after all I haven't spent much time around camels, there are everything from white to black Camels.  The black ones in particular I found intriguing.  Louise offered to take photos of me near the camels and I got much closer than I thought I would.  Standing near the fence, a very dark brown camel came over to make friends and I gave his cheeks a bit of a rub.  He seemed to enjoy it and stayed there for a good few minutes while Louise snapped away.  This is my favourite shot.

Kingdom Tower
From the Camel Souk we went on to the Kuwaiti Souk where I made the purchase of a set of 12 crystal cups and saucers.  Intent on covering a lot of ground, Louise then whisked me over to Kingdom Mall, to the Ladies' Floor where we had coffee.  I was very surprised to walk in and be met with a sign that requested all women remove their face covering whilst on the Ladies Floor, for security reasons.  The reason being that we can then all be seen to be women.  The face cover, or burka, is a traditional garment, and not a religious garment - a fact not well known amongst the majority of us.  We met with Prayer time whilst in Kingdom Mall and everything closed up so used our time to head on up to Kingdom Tower to take a look at Riyahd from the Skywalk.  From the ground it looks as though the tower is a much wider expanse than it actually is and we were across it in a flash.  What a true engineering feat.  Looking out and down on to the building's incredible curve was something else.  

From there we headed on over to Louise's neighbourhood to a Turkish restaurant for lunch.  Being women eating out we were to sit in the Family Area.  Restaurants have two sections, one for men and another for families and women on their own.  The Family Area consists of booths with high walls and heavy curtains, designed specifically so that no one can see the woman/women within.  The curtain is closed and the waiters announce themselves in order to give the woman time to cover her head/face prior to the curtain being opened and food delivered to the table.  Being the relaxed types were are, we left the curtain open.   The bread was delivered to the table first and I have never seen anything like it!  It was almost the length of the table.  We also ordered a mezze plate with hommous, baba ganoush, tabbouleh, olives and other goodies.  It was gooooooooood.... but there would have been three quarters of the bread left at the end, easily.

My dream rug
Louise works from 2pm-10pm so while she headed up to the clinic, I was 'returned' to the compound by Idris where I waited for Bronwyn and Brian to finish work.  Then it was off to Deira Souk to pick up my kilim rug... yay!!!  Excited!  Bronwyn explained the sad side to all the gorgeous rugs we were pawing over in the shop.  They are hand made heirlooms which can take literally months to create, every one unique.  The way they come to be in the hands of our rug salesman is that the family need money so they sell these beauties to get it. A real shame.  My wee rug makes me very happy though and every time I look it I discover something new.  It is even crooked in several places, proof of the hand made.  (The cat and dog have also fallen in love with it and it makes a great tunnel for them to play in.)  Whilst at the rug shop I fell in love with another rug, twice to three times the size, that sadly also costs 5 times more than the one that made it home with me... something to save up for perhaps. 

From the souk, Bronwyn, Brian and I went and parked at Kingdom mall and made our way up to the Italian restaurant in the hotel above.  We had a gorgeous meal but I have to say that it is really weird enjoying a such a good Italian meal without a nice glass of chianti, barolo or amarone... alcohol being banned in the Kingdom.  The restaurant didn't seem to have a family section but there were curtained off booths for those that chose to use them.  There were some young women enjoying a meal and as men arrived, only one covered up.  I don't know... I guess some of the rules are flexible or maybe they are becoming more so with the younger generations.  That would be nice.

Just one day to go guys, watch this space.

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