Jeddah Blog

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Archive for the tag “transportation”

The Mad Traveller Comes to Jeddah!

Paul Hudspith, British Airways cabin crew member, has been making videos of his travels every week since 2004. Paul always travels with his (very cool) Brompton foldable bicycle, cycling even under the sweltering sun of Saudi Arabia. The Mad Traveller’s videos can be found on his YouTube channel bromptonglobetrotter

While Paul had already been to Riyadh earlier in 2011, he most recently made a video on his visit to Jeddah where he talks about the scorching weather, the beautiful architecture, the open-air art museum around the Corniche and his visit to Balad. We were very lucky to catch hold of Paul and speak to him about his travels, his videos and his visit to Jeddah. 

Paul, you work for British Airways. Is this what inspires your love of travelling?

I’ve worked as a cabin crew with BA for nine years now and yes, the job does inspire me a lot but it’s mainly exposure to nature programmes as a young child that really gave me a huge appetite to explore the wider world around me. The job is really more of an excellent tool to enable many of my dreams to become a reality.

Paul's first camera operator and fellow Couchsurfer member, Mo.

Paul’s first camera operator and fellow Couchsurfer member, Mo.

Of all the Mad Traveller videos you’ve made around the world, which is your favourite?

I’ve been making videos ever since my first trip as crew – which was to Warsaw, Poland on an extremely cold winters’ day in January 2004. Since that first not-so-confident presentation, I’ve developed my shows to the programme format you’ve seen.

Choosing a favourite is always tricky but I would say my top three are: Hong Kong, San Francisco and Tokyo. India is also a fascinating place.

Paul's second camera operator and fellow Couchsurfer member Toni Riethmaier.

Paul’s second camera operator and fellow Couchsurfer member Toni Riethmaier.

You mentioned some myths and preconceptions about Jeddah in your video. What surprised you the most?

The myths and preconceptions I mentioned referred to Saudi Arabia in general and I would say that the biggest surprise so far has been how amazingly peaceful the cities are. There’s an eerie sense of calm everywhere you go. The allowing of men to wear shorts also came as a surprise.

A visit to the Gold Souk. Paul buys gold on his visit to Jeddah.

A visit to the Gold Souk. Paul buys gold on his visit to Jeddah.

Your favourite part of Jeddah?

My favourite spot in the city was the coast (Corniche) – beautiful clear waters and an easy ride along the shore line, and some very quirky public displays of art!

Cycling along the Corniche.

Cycling along the Corniche.

How long did it take you to film the video?

The video took around 6 hours to produce and included the time it took to cycle from Jeddah airport to the hotel. The second half was then filmed in the evening.

Presenting on the Corniche.

Presenting on the Corniche.

 How did you come to choose Jeddah as one of your destinations?

It wasn’t solely my idea to come to Jeddah – I was rostered to operate the flight as crew. I’m randomly rostered to fly to an average of  any 4 global cities served by BA from London per month which could be anywhere in North or South America, Asia, Africa or the Middle East.

And finally, here is the final Mad Traveller video, This Week in Jeddah:

Parking Problems

Jeddah is notorious for its heavy traffic during rush hours and double (or sometimes triple) parking. What does one do, however, when you wake up one fine morning to find that your car has been completely blocked by a number of other cars? As we left our house on Thursday morning to catch an appointment at the hospital, we were welcomed by the scene below. If you look at the following photograph, you’ll see our car boxed in by three other cars.


Our car

Even Houdini wouldn’t have been able to get out of this one.

We asked some men working nearby if the cars belonged to them. No luck. After searching for a while, we found out that a man in some offices (you can see them in the right-hand side of the picture) had parked the car quite conveniently and was sitting inside. Five minutes later, we were on our way. If we hadn’t found the culprit, we could have missed our doctor’s appointment.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? Where do you think are the worst parking spots in Jeddah? Drop us a line and let us know.





Back to School Checklist

Children all over Jeddah have been chilling at home for the past few months, and now it’s time for them to go back to school. With so much to do, we’ve tried to make your job a little easier by compiling a checklist to get you organized for that exciting first day. Our regular contributor Anosha Vakani has covered all bases, from finding a good school for your child to planning lunch menus.

What is your method for getting organized for school? Is there anything you’re particularly careful about? Drop us a line and let us know!

Find a school and get to know it, or re-register

  • If you’re looking for a new school for your child, or a transfer, then take a look at this list of schools or playgroups and preschools compiled by Jeddah Blog.
  • Fill out necessary forms and make sure your child is up-to-date with vaccinations.
  • Find out if you can meet your child’s new teacher to discuss essentials.
  • Confirm when the first day of school will be. It’s quite normal for schools in Jeddah to postpone the first day of school so be prepared for this possibility.
  • Get a copy of the school policies – these are usually handed out within the first week of school or available online.

Arrange Transportation

Decide on the best mode of transportation:

  • School bus: Find out if your school offers this option and the additional costs involved, also have a clearly drawn map of your house to submit to them.
  • On foot: If you live close enough, you can walk the younger kids to and from school, or delegate this to domestic help.
  • Private drivers or compound buses: If you have a private driver or a compound bus that takes children to and from school, discuss school timings with the driver and ensure the school is informed as to who will be picking your child up every day. If you are a working mom, then make arrangements for someone to receive your child on their first day.

Buy school supplies and uniforms, and plan lunch menus

  • Get bags, lunch boxes and water bottles. Find something sturdy yet easy to carry. Try Centrepoint, Citymax, Jarir, Pottery Barn, Go Sport, Kiplings or Fanoos Stationery.
  • School supplies – A specific list is usually handed out within the first week of school but you may consider stocking up on the essentials beforehand. Plan a single trip to Jarir or any other bookstore or stationery shop, and stock up on pencils, pens, folders, paper, crayons, colour pencils, labels, rulers, erasers etc.
  • Find out whether the school has a uniform and whether it is to be purchased from the school or an external outlet.
  • Purchase the uniform as early as possible and make the necessary alterations.
  • Get shoes and socks. Find out if the school has specific requirements for shoes. Try Centrepoint, Hush Puppies, Payless, Clarks, Mothercare, Debenhams or Marks and Spencer.
  • School clothes – If the school does not have a uniform, then purchase suitable clothes. Make a list and don’t buy more than the essentials. Label the clothes to avoid them getting misplaced. For preschoolers, remember to include an extra pair of clothes in their everyday bag in case of emergencies. Also keep an eye out for back to school sales.
  • Plan healthy lunch menus and make a grocery list, make sure to add variety.
  • Limit the amount of money per week that can be spent on the school canteen.

Declutter, organize and smarten up

  • Organize closet – Donate old clothes, shoes and uniforms to charity. Old textbooks can be donated or sold.
  • Clean out old school supplies, papers and artwork and make space for new. Clear space under fridge magnets for school notices that will be coming in.
  • Get a wall calendar to mark important events.
  • Label all your school supplies.
  • Schedule a haircut.
  • Pick out clothes for the first day of school. If this is the first time your child will be wearing a tie, then make sure to practice with him/her so they will be well-prepared. The same goes for tying shoelaces.
  • If your children have fallen into a late sleep routine, then gradually begin to pull back on their sleep timings. If you start a week early and wake them a little earlier every day, they’ll be able to get up at the crack of dawn bright and happy.

First day of school

  • Lay out clothes or uniform for the next day.
  • Pack lunches.
  • Have your child pack his or her own bag.
  • Insist on a proper breakfast.
  • Get your camera and snap a million first day of school pictures!

Ask Bee: Taking the Back Seat

New to Jeddah and missing the luxury of being behind the wheel? Does your husband come home and narrate horror stories about women and taxis in Jeddah? Have all drivers begun to look like potential molesters and serial killers? Do you feel imprisoned? Can’t seem to find your way between nightmare stories and the need to be out and about in town? Your commuting nightmare ends now. Our very own wisdom-dispenser, Bee, is here to the rescue.

About Bee

Bee is a 30 something mother, wife, corporate consultant and a bona fide prodigy in the art of shelling out unnecessary, unsolicited and often useless advice. The kind people at her office actually pay her for doing this on an hourly daily basis and she returns the kindness by making them lose sleep over random pointless issues. She currently lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with her very sane husband (he takes after his mother) and her two not very sane children (they too take after their mother). Her own personal hell would be to have nothing to do with no-one paying her for pretending to have nothing to do.

“Dear Bee, I have been in Jeddah for over a year now. I have adjusted to everything else, but I cannot get used to waiting around all day for my husband to come home to run the most basic of chores. I feel it’s very unfair for him, and I hate being crippled without him. He tells me that it’s completely unsafe for non-Arab women to take public taxis. I don’t see a way out. Please help if you know a way around this problem.”

– Wheel-less turning mindless

Dear Wheel-less turning mindless,

Ahhhh! The ever-present Saudi curse of wheel-less-ness…well, I will start off by saying “Welcome to Saudi Arabia”. Yes, it’s true that you will not be able to drive a car in this country (only lust after some amazing hot wheels on the road) but it’s also true that you are not destined to spend the rest of your days in solitary confinement. Here are my top tips on how not to die of isolation and have a life out of the four walls:

1.      Get a cab! Yes it’s that simple. Contrary to what you may have heard about blood-sucking and child abducting taxi drivers here in KSA, getting a cab off the road is pretty safe. However, like all countries, you should not take a cab if you don’t have at least a general idea of where you are going. You need to know the basic Arabic words for “right”, “left”, “go Straight”, “stop” and “how much money” in case you end up with a non-English speaking driver. However, in my experience most of the taxi drivers understand the Basic English words. Also note that most residential compounds will not let a cab enter the gates so if you are going to a big compound or hate walking, make arrangements for someone to pick you from the compound gate.

As with everything, it’s not impossible! Nor as hard as it is made out to be. You CAN get a taxi in KSA safely. Just make sure you know your directions, along with the nominal Arabic terms.

2.      Ask for his number: Most cabbies will offer pick-and drop service if you live somewhere in their vicinity. If after a trip, you feel that the driver was decent and sensible, you can ask him if he will be available for a pick and drop if you give him a call.

3.      Create a portfolio: I have a huge portfolio of drivers and I suggest the same to you. Ask around for drivers living in your vicinity who provide pick n drop services to your neighbors and friends. At any given time you should have at least 6-8 numbers with you for drivers that are dependable and punctual. Also, if a driver ditches you once, he is a habitual ditcher so cross him off your list. The drivers with private cars are generally very punctual and trustworthy so when you find a good one, stick with him.
Keep asking for drivers’ numbers whenever you’re satisfied with their service, and build these up into a reliable portfolio. Very soon, you’ll have several contacts to count on when you need to set out.


4.      Get a second car: the last option is what most people don’t find feasible because of visa and residence issues for drivers. But if you can find a good driver with free iqama (and driver’s licence) and have a place for him to live, this is indeed your best bet.

Good luck with trying to venture out! It takes a while getting used to not having a car at your disposal, but it gets better with time. Promise!

Saudi PMV (Plant, Machinery and Vehicles) Show

On the 7th, 8th and 9th of March, 2010 an exhibition of heavy machinery called the Saudi PMV Show was held in Jeddah displaying trucks, bulldozers, forklifts, excavators among many other gigantic pieces of heavy machinery. The venue was at Emaar’s Jeddah Gate development in the center of Jeddah located on Abdullah Street, between the Al Andalus Mall and the Haj residences. The area used to be the old Jeddah airport.

Caterpillar, represented by their local dealer, Zahid Tractor, was one of the many companies displaying their products, and they put on a show every evening open to the public. This was the view as we approached the exhibition:

We took our seats and music began blaring from the surrounding speakers. The Caterpillar drivers brought out the huge machines and began to excavate the massive mounds of earth, fill dump trucks, bulldoze the hills and then flatten the area, all synchronized and moving to the music:

After the show had ended, Zahid Tractor handed out gift bags and we went to look at the standing machinery on display. The kids were fascinated by the sheer size of the machines and were lucky enough to have a go sitting inside the driving seats.

This was the third year running for the exhibition and not only was it a big hit for suppliers, customers and enthusiasts, but good fun for all the family.

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