Saturday, August 30, 2008

Our Weekend in Riyadh

So I'm not sure how many of you know this, but the weekend here in Saudi is Thursday and Friday rather than Saturday and Sunday. It takes some getting used to. Anyhow, we had a pretty interesting weekend. On Thursday morning my man and I went out to the pool to relax where we ate a big breakfast cooked by yours truly. We saw a familiar face by the pool and my man went into complaint mode with our new friend about his hair and teeth, while I swam in the baby section of the pool...we must seem a little batty. Thursday evening we had our first party at our house, which ended up being fairly well attended mainly due to some very friendly Americans, and we had all sorts of interesting people show up.

The next day, we ate leftovers and vegetated in front of the television in various states of sleep. By the time the late afternoon rolled around it was beginning to look like a pretty uneventful day until our Aussie friend a block away talked us into visiting a textile souk with him. We were shocked to find ourselves in an area of town teeming with south asians with virtually no arabs in sight. It reminded me of the massive blackout in the summer of 2003 in Toronto that caused utter chaos on the roads - everyone spilled into the streets downtown, milling around in confusion. At the souk, people were bartering for fresh fruits and vegetables, and frying peanuts. It was great! We went into a couple of suit shops - here is our friend's driver, modelling some fabric for us. He takes modelling very seriously:

In the evening, we went out for a fantastic steak dinner at a restaurant called Entrecote at the top of Faisaliah. Here is a photo of the mall section of Faisaliah. You are not mistaken, that is indeed a giant bee in the lower right hand corner. This is the kid's section of the mall, and what do kids love more than giant bees?

The Entrecote restaurant has a lot of atmosphere - it's like Panorama in Toronto, except a million times better with steak and no alcohol. And family sections. And plush leather menus. And security screenings with machine-gun toting guards. You know, it's really not like Panorama at all. Anyways, have a look at this beautiful view from the balcony:

While waiting for our driver to show up after dinner, I took a picture of Starbucks - It was 11:45pm and the Starbucks was still open. You can see some saudi men in traditional thobes.

Oh, and these are a couple of random pics I keep meaning to post. Here is a picture of the kids section in one of the malls - every single mall I have been to has one of these sections in it. Some have roller coasters inside. I just wanted to show you how elaborate these children's areas are because we generally don't have anything like it in Canadian malls. Because in Canada I guess we don't care if the kids are bored at the mall - that is their lot in life. We are adults, hear us roar.

And this is a touchscreen electronic map of the Hyatt mall, complete with a Saudi lady avatar that speaks to you. Nifty! Though I still got lost.....

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