Saudi Cats

Never seen so many of the buggers before. They are everywhere. There are no dogs in the Kingdom to speak of (I believe the exceptions are guard dogs, sniffer dogs and hunting dogs) so the cats rule the streets. I’ve never seen a dog here in over six months in Jeddah (and the time I spent many years ago in Riyadh as well).

From - The Hanna Barbera Cartoon CharacterThe cats are, behaviour wise, like dogs, taking over the role of the alpha scavenger in the various garbage bins around the city. If I had not seen a rat in the roof of one of our ex-favourite North Indian Restaurants I would have thought that the traditional vermin count was down in this town but it seems that the cats are happier scavenging than they are biffing rats.

And yes Doyle, the rat in the restaurant may well have been the classic “nimble-footed roof rabbit”. 😛

Can anyone tell me why there are not so many dogs in this part of the world (that’d be Saudi Arabia)?

Jeddah Hilton Hotel

Inside the Jeddah Hilton
Inside the Jeddah Hilton (yes, INSIDE)
The view from downstairs at the Hilton
The view from downstairs at the Hilton - across to the Red Sea

Today I had to travel to the Hilton Hotel in Jeddah for a function. Apart from the fact that it was physical Thursday/logical Saturday, the function started at 8:00 in the morning and meant having to get up at 6:00 to get there in time … on the day off no less 😦

However, the the Hotel as some wonderful features, such as the being next to the Red Sea (see the photo to the right) and more impressively, the lobby area of the hotel (see the photo to the left). The lobby area in particular really is wonderful and needs to be seen to be believed, with the internal streams, fountains and waterfalls plus a really high atrium.

The one thing that those of us with more fulsome figures was really looking forward to, however, was the food. We had heard many good things about the food at the Hilton and looked forward to a change from the food here at the Radisson. Living on the traffic island means that we eat in far more than we should and as a result, we have eaten our way through the menu here about 30 times now.

What can I say? The food at the Hilton was really very disappointing. The catering from the Radisson is far superior. Even the Om Ali, my favourite Middle Eastern dessert, was not so good – way too many nuts in it. I guess it is back to La Sani North Indian Restaurant again  tonight for a touch of reality.

No Harry Ramsden’s In Jeddah

The 2006 edition of Jeddah today listed Harry Ramsden as having an outlet in Jeddah. We went to the area, looked around and could not find it. We even interrogated the doorman at another restaurant in the general area who noted that it was there but had closed many months before.

Imagine then my pleasure at discovering in the 2007 edition of Jeddah today, Harry Ramsden’s listed again – and at a different address. Tonight it was to be Fish and Chips. Eighteen months in Mongolia, a few months in Thailand, China, Hong Kong and such and only brief visits to Australia had left me hanging out severely for a fried Haddock and chips and some mushy peas.

With mouth suitably salivating the phone number of the restaurant was dialled to check the address and to find out about their delivery service. “I’m sorry sir, there is no Harry Ramsden’s Fish and Chip Restaurant here.”


Family Night In Saudi Arabia

Last night (Wednesday night in Jeddah and therefore the same as Friday night in the rest of the world) we went to Chili’s for dinner. Neither of us had eaten there before, either here in Saudi or elsewhere, so we thought we’d give it a try. We got to the singles entrance (can’t go into the Family entrance as where the women eat is separate from the single men … this is to protect the women and prevent lasciviousness I guess).

Of course, single women and married couples can go into the family section so you work that out.

Anyway, we went to the singles entrance and it was closed. The family entrance was open. We then walked up to the road to Ruby Tuesday’s. There was at least a sign there on the singles entrance saying “Wednesday Night is Family Night” – so only single women, and married couples (with or without children) can go. It sucks.

We then walked on to TGI Friday’s which was open for families AND singles and ate there.

We then decided that we would not eat at Chili’s, or at Ruby Tuesday, because of their ill treatment of singles (er, men not accompanied by their wives) at any time and will positively encourage all those we know not to eat there either.

Friday’s, on the other hand, gets our full support … and our dinner Riyals (unless of course they are closed tonight for “Family Night”).

A Rainy Day in Jeddah

Jeddah Rain
The Hotel driveway after the rain

It rained four days ago. I awoke at 6 in the morning to the alarm then heard the thunder. Looking out of the hotel window I saw a lovely thunderstorm, thunder, lightning and rain. Had a shower, looked out the window again and the road at the back of the hotel (the Madinah Road) was flooded.

It then occurred to me, because it probably only rains once a year here no one worries about building a drainage system. In fact, walking around town I can’t recall seeing a drain. This morning, therefore, it was like driving to work through a lake.

I’ve been coming to the Middle East on and off now for 15 years and today was the first day I have been here in the rain. The nearest I came before was arriving in Kuwait two days after it had rained. I look forward to the few days here to see what happens after the rain – to see how long things remain wet.

Oh, and actually the road out the front of the hotel is also the Madinah Road.