Khobar and Abqaiq

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February 21st 2009
Published: February 21st 2009
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Trip to Abqaiq

Dhahran is somewhere near Al Khobar, but doesn't seem to be on this map. Probably that's part of the Aramco security measures. Just kidding. Abquiq is about 70 minutes south of Daharan by bus.

I bought a REAL Genie Lamp!I bought a REAL Genie Lamp!I bought a REAL Genie Lamp!

I bargained for more than three wishes.

Power Shopping and a New City - Abqaiq

This morning I went into Khobar with a mission: Find an Arabian style coffee pot. I took the 8:35 bus in and had between 9:00 and 10:30 to do a bunch of power shopping. I had scene a shop that looked interesting, but when Glyn and I were in Khobar on Thursday, everything closed at noon. So now was my last opportunity to buy some souvenirs of my trip.

The motto in Khobar apparently is “buy more and you get a larger discount.” I figured that if I bought the whole store, the discount would be 100%!a(MISSING)nd I’d get everything for free. Well, not quite. However, I did find my coffee pot (and bought another one as well). I also bought an Aladdin’s lamp, the kind you rub and a genie comes out. I’m not sure if this comes with a guarantee or not. But I figured it’s something that would be very useful at PDI these days! Perhaps I will rub it before opening my next 401k statement. I’m enclosing a photo of some of my finds. The others are meant to be surprises.

This afternoon, Glyn, Esbjorn
Persian CarpetsPersian CarpetsPersian Carpets

There are many carpet stores here.
and I headed for Abqaiq (pronounced "Ab Cake), which is a bit more than an hour south of here. How can a town have two q’s and no u’s? This must be a great one for Scrabble (but you can’t use proper names, can you?). Abqaiq is another Aramco location and looks pretty much like the Pleasantville here in Dhahran.

However, the joy was in the journey. For the first time I felt like I was in the real desert. There was even a “camel crossing” sign on the highway! Now you don’t see that in Minnesota.

On the way there, I saw camels on the far horizon - humps and all! On the way back there were two small camels near the road. I got a photo of them, but it’s not very good because I had to swing the camera wildly to get them. They look like the Lockness monster. But now I can now say I’ve seen camels in the desert!! That’s so cool!

Tonight, Pat, Wolf and I had dinner at the Tandoori house. The menu has an Italian section, a Mediterranean section, an Indian section, a Thai section, and a Chinese section. Oh, and the menu is half in English and the back half is Arabic. Still, I decided to go with what I figured must have been their signature dish - chicken tandoori. It didn’t disappoint.

Attached are more photos for your viewing pleasure.

By the way, I want to thank everyone for their nice comments and such wonderful support. It really means a lot to me.

Additional photos below
Photos: 50, Displayed: 23


Where I bought many a treasureWhere I bought many a treasure
Where I bought many a treasure

From his smile, I don't think I bargained as much as I should.
Alissa SoukAlissa Souk
Alissa Souk

Souk means market. This is where Esbjorn recommended I meet Manir.

More about this when I get back. (Nothing bad, but it's where I got some gifts.)
The Dining HallThe Dining Hall
The Dining Hall

This column is inside The Dining Hall. It's pretty cool Arabic writing. Sort of the Arabic version of Sesame Street.
Cutting the Palm TreesCutting the Palm Trees
Cutting the Palm Trees

See the guy in the trees. He moved his way down trimming the bark off every side of the tree. You can see the difference if you look hard. Double click to enlarge.

The top of the Mosque is a star and crescent.
Water PipesWater Pipes
Water Pipes

If the pipes are exposed, their for water. Oil pipes are buried (from Esbjorn, of course).
The Road to AbquiqThe Road to Abquiq
The Road to Abquiq

Click NEXT to see more photos!

21st February 2009

You Got Dessert Again
Ted: You know I was watching Andrew Zimmern the other day (or was it Tony?)...anyway they were eating camel in the DESERT! It sounds like you are having a great time. So glad the trip is working out. I love the pictures. Ellen
21st February 2009

"AbqUiq. How can a town have two q’s and no u’s?" I see a flaw in your theory. Enjoy your last few days!
21st February 2009

Jumped the gun...
I stand corrected. "Aramco - Abqaiq See, it's really spelled that way"
22nd February 2009

Dessert, Desert
Thanks for the positive comments, Ellen. The photos are a nice touch, but I almost didn't even bring my camera! What a mistake that would have been. You say desert, I say dessert. Potayto, potahto, bla, bla, bla. I'm frankly surprised that I'm not more incoherent when I type these blogs. Usually they are written around midnight.
22nd February 2009

I changed my typos, so it now reads "Abqaiq." There really are no u's in Abqaiq. It's just that it's hard to type a q without a u. See photo for proof!
23rd February 2009

Dad, your day sounds really great! I think it's the coolest thing to see animals in their natural habitat! (Which is why I think our next vacation needs to be to Africa!! An African safari, how amazing would that be?? -but i digress.) If you get a chance to pick me up one of those Geni lamps I would not complain one little bit!! I would love that! Have a great last few days in S.A! -Abby and as the name I typed in says, your favorite NINETEEN your old daughter. I am 19. Oh, and my name is ABBY. I'm hoping that you remember these things all the way over in S.A since you seem to have difficulty remember whilst still around the US. haha. :)
23rd February 2009

You say your name is Abby? Hmmm, I don't recall an Abby. Are you sure this is the correct blog? JK. I'm starting to remember now. Do you have your three wishes picked out?
23rd February 2009

80 Degrees in Phoenix
It may be 80 degrees in Phoenix, but I bet you don't have camels!
23rd February 2009

I can't believe... almost didn't take a camera! I'm glad common sense got the better of you, because we'd otherwise be missing a lot in these blogs! (Even WITH photos, I think it's hard to convey the vast unendingness of the desert.) I'm so impressed at how intrepid you are - jumping onto buses and heading into town to go shopping. You haven't shared any of your bargaining strategies - how are you communicating, and what are the reactions of the vendors?
23rd February 2009

Cameras and Such
Yes, I almost didn't bring a camera because I know that people are sensitive to it here and you run the risk of having it taken away if you take the wrong photo at the wrong time. However, you'll notice that my photos often taken from the bus where it's a more controlled environment. I haven't taken as many photos of people as I would normally because of the issues involved with that. Also, I've tried to take street scene photos as quickly as possible and to carry my camera in my wallet. As for communication, almost everyone speaks English, so it is quite easy. However, the accent can be quite strong, so I dont' always catch everything that's being said (but that's true even with the consultants that are here from other countries). However, it's much easier than France, for example. Almost all of the signs are in Arabic and English. My bargaining is not very skilled, I assure you. When you walk in the door, you are already entitled to a "discount" but that's like the sale price at Macy's. In other words, not that meaningful. Their strategy seems to be "buy more and get a bigger discount." However, I don't think they have to worry about their profit margin very much. Still, prices here are relatively inexpensive compared to the US, so it's not that much of a concern.
23rd February 2009

Abqaiq, eh? --- I see a new nickname for your favorite 19-year-old daughter! Hope your last couple of days in S.A. (San Antonio? South America? -- where are you again?) are as enjoyable as the rest have been. I know Linda is way ready for you to be home again. Tiner
23rd February 2009

Abs and Abqaiq
Hi Tina. I think your are right. Abqaiq sounds like a great nickname! However, it's really hard to type a q without typing a u. Especially in the middle of a word. It IS amazing that tomorrow night will be my last night here! However, I am ready to come back.
28th June 2010
I bought a REAL Genie Lamp!

erm............... R U sure? I think its a fake
22nd November 2010
I bought a REAL Genie Lamp!

is that real sir?
22nd November 2010

Genie Lamp
But of course, it is real. How could you think otherwise?
2nd January 2011
I bought a REAL Genie Lamp!

Genie in the lamp
I o believe in genies, but problem is I never seen one or had a wish granted. let me have one wish granted. With no harm to anyone.
22nd March 2011
I bought a REAL Genie Lamp!

wondering is it real
i been having this feeling that a genie is real!! What I really want to know is did the genie lamp actually come with a genie and three wishes?
22nd March 2011

Lamps, Genies, and Wishes
Yes, the lamp came with a genie and three wishes. I'm saving the wishes. Does anyone have a recommendation of what I should wish for?
24th May 2011
I bought a REAL Genie Lamp!

real one
i need a real genies lamp so i can get 3 whishes. if i get one of yours .will i get 3 wgiehes?
25th May 2011

Wishes from a Genie Lamp
So what would be your three wishes?
8th May 2012
I bought a REAL Genie Lamp!

Is it real?
If it is actually a real genie lamp where'd u get it are there more?
8th May 2012
I bought a REAL Genie Lamp!

Genie Lamps
Hello Zoya. Yes, of course the genie lamp is real. The tricky part is declaring the genie at customs at the border, since the genie does not come with a passport. However, I was able to use up one of my three wishes and get the genie into the country. Please note that you have to pay extra when you buy the lamp to get one with a real genie. Good luck and good travels!

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