Saturday, July 4, 2009

Driving Through Saudi Arabia

Technically I didn't actually drive through, I was the passenger, due to that whole women not being allow to drive there. So I threw a scarf over my head, making myself look completely ridiculous, but it was necessary to enter the country. And why in the world would we go through such a hassle that included driving through Saudi, GOING TO IKEA!!!! Oh it was so exciting. There is a great big ole IKEA in Dubai, there is also one in Abu Dhabi, but they pretty much just get everything from Dubai anyway.

This was our plan: 12 hours of driving roundtrip, 3 hours of shopping, 1 day.

What it turned into: 17 hours of driving. We left the house at 2:15am yesterday, we arrived at 12:05 this morning. Only 5 minutes off of completing our trip in the same day. Hubby did most of the driving. I decided to drive on the way back while trying to find the single road that links about 3 countries in the region. Hubby thought we were on it. We were not. On the way in, after border controls (many annoying ones), it was a straight shot. I told him to get on that road again on the way back out. He thought we were on it. Turns out we weren't. There I am driving into what seemed like rush hour traffic in Adu Dhabi in his huge car that I never drive! Talk about tense. He called a friend from there and we were talked out, after he took control of driving. So I only drove for about 2 hours, 1 hour of which was in the wrong direction, but it WASN'T MY FAULT. Let's just say it was one of those moments where neither one of you says anything because if you do, someone might end up missing a limb. We stayed quiet and in a few min it was back to the radio and laughing at how stupid we were to try and do this in one day. After that we both decided that the only thing worse than doing it all in one shot would have been splitting it in two. It was better when we were delirious.

Onto IKEA:

We arrived in IKEA at 9:45 our time. Hubby slept in the car for about 2 hours before we ventured out. Mainly it was to find me a bathroom, I was bursting. We went and had dinner at Au Bon Pain and their Cheddar Broccoli soup was amazing! Generally over here, it says one thing and tastes like a completely different thing, not just the soup, but all chain store food. It's like they cooked it by just reading a translation of the menu description. Anyway good food, so we begin our IKEAing. And we're delirious. I mean like, doubled over, tears pouring out of our faces giddy. I'm sure people thought we were drunk. Every time we passed a nice big sofa or bed, all we wanted to do is sleep. We just wanted to lay down and have a good 5 hours and then begin again. That didn't happen and hopefully we didn't buy anything too hideous. Pushing around those carts is fun when we can't see straight. It's just a warning for families to not let grandma wander in the middle of all of the aisles when she has no business being there in the first place The putting together process of some of the stuff begins today. We're working on separate pieces unless the other asks for help. We know how to keep ourselves sane.

K.S.A. (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)

You could tell even before getting to the border control that you were in Saudi. It looks like sh*t. There was garbage all over the roads. No lights on the roads and just a general feeling of disarray. One great thing about Saudi was I didn't have to get out of the car at border control. We did however have to drive to about 5 different locations to do something one person could have done at one. We had to get a paper, then have someone stamp that paper, then have someone else take that paper and give us another paper that we drove to another booth where he stamped our paper and then a final person to take our paper. Yeah, annoying I know, but it only took about 20 min and I didn't have to leave Hubby, so it's cool. Driving through Saudi felt very Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, but they do get fog there. Like real live fog!!! The road was long, straight and really boring, but boring is good in Saudi.
Ok, so border control #2 same scenario as before, but only 5 steps, then progress to U.A.E border. They take the paper we got from Saudi and then we had to get out of the car, go into a building fill out a car and get our irises scanned. Back in the car, paper in hand, which we hand off to another booth and he tells us we need to buy insurance to drive in the U.A.E. There are 3 rickety looking stands and they are clamoring for hubby's attention to buy some insurance, $30 later, we're on our way to another booth, where they can now stamp our paper. Yay, stamps!!!

Then the real driving began. 6 hours in the U.A.E. You know what happens after than IKEA.


This is what the car looked like. Not too much on the top, but I couldn't put the seat up, it was continually in the reclined position because of the huge boxes we had shoved in between the two seats. One good thing was Hubby couldn't see whether or not I was sleeping, so it wasn't as guilt inducing. We came in at the budget I set and the car was packed to the brim. About 100 zip ties kept the packages on the roof and I'm not exaggerating, Hubby did a great job! It might have been 80 zipties, but it was certainly a crap load. Today, we begin putting everything together. I'll put up pictures of the process!

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