Sunday, March 15, 2009

Intercontinental Oasis

One of the nice parts of this city is the Intercontinental Hotel - it has a nice oasis-like atmosphere to it where you forget you are in Saudi Arabia. The grounds are lush and very well kept. They have a small driving range there that I like to go practice on during the day when it is empty. The most disheartening and distracting thing I find at driving ranges are children half your size sending those balls sailing 150 yards straight down the line. When you're doing really badly, you just want to snap their mini-golf clubs in two. Thankfully there's no little Tigers running around especially during the day at this hotel. Here are some pictures of the grounds. Hmm...I have to work on posting a picture of their sad little driving range. It doesn't bother me so much because I can only hit the balls a certain sad little distance.


cheesecake3 said...

Hello fellow Canadian...have been reading your posts since I am headed to Saudi in the next few months....thanks for sharing!

I will have to visit the Oasis!

Can you recommend any good compounds for Canadians with kids?

Orchidthief said...

hello cheesecake3 - I hope your preparations are going well. I think I'm ill-equipped to give you a good answer to your question since I don't have kids and haven't met enough Canadians to find out where they are all hiding. From what I know most compounds are family friendly and there isn't one in particular I would recommend over another. But you're welcome to email me more specifics so I can get an idea of what you're looking for. Thanks for commenting it's nice to know someone besides my husband is reading this

cheesecake3 said...

Oh...your comments and pics have helped ease my mind..although I grew up in T.O. and lived near a muslim neighborhood..Saudi is a different and far away place for us! Had no idea what to expect! Feel better now since I have been reading posts about living there.

I have 3 kids. My dh will be there in about a seems finding a compound is going to be tricky.

Now, i am spending time trying to figure out what essential to bring? For example: books? I have found Jarir website but don't know how diverse their selection is for kids educational books in English (we homeschool)? I also read a suggestion to bring a water filter for the shower..but what kind? AND we hope to bring our pet guinea pigs but trying to find out if we have access to food (timothy hay) for them? Lots to find out so I can pack well!

AND hijab? Can I wear other than black? Can expats just go out covering their necks with a light scarf? Or full head + hair? Hmm?

Hope you can shed some light?

Orchidthief said...

The compound issue is a tough one for new residents because many of the best ones are now full and have 1 to 2 year waiting lists. I would say you would have to deal with that in person because typically, meeting the compound manager in person is imperative if you wish to make any headway. Each compound also has its own mix of people, quality of residences, programs, and price range so although you may see 80+ names on a list there are only about 10 or 15 that westerners stay at - the rest are filled with expats from asia or the middle east.

I wouldn't worry about bringing too many essentials from home for your housewares because you can pick up anything you need here. I have no idea about water filters (?!) my life doesn't nearly reach that level of complexity =)... I probably would leave the pets with friends or family until you get adjusted and feel you have time to find a petshop that can supply feed like that, then scoop them up and take care of red tape with customs on your next trip home.

Jarir is a great bookstore with lots of books in english for kids and a good selection for us adults too - textbooks might be a bit thin though. Maybe ask your husband to take a peek around and report back to you about that. No use calling them - been there done that!!

About dresscodes, the headscarf is worn by all muslims in this country, but if you are not muslim it's custom to wear only the abaya. Only in Ramadan do you require something to cover your head...with any colour of your choice

I hope that helps a bit!

Orchidthief said...

oh I forgot to mention the Jarir website is garbage, and 99% of abayas are black here.

cheesecake3 said...

Thanks a million! I look forward to following more of your posts.