Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Beautiful Taif_One Weekend in June 2005

GO Office, NPC Al Laith, 02 June 2005

It was just another ordinary Thursday noon when the idea of spending the weekend at the malls in Jeddah was not the best thing to do. I was more than year in KSA at that time and my weekends were spent in Al Balad, the Corniche, fishing at a lagoon near the Red Sea, watch my pelican-friends fish near my room, or hop at some friends' quarters to feast on their Pinoy lunch and the "lauriat" would sometimes end until dinner. I enjoyed very much those weekends but there was just something unusual that day. I saw my friend Mario, kind of busy doing some sort of things at his office table. Al whispered to me that Mario was trying to figure out a concoction of activities for the weekend. Toink...toink... though his feet were concealed by his table and covered by his sandal shoe with socks, I could see through very clearly, with my magnifying eyes that his feet were beginning to "itch". (Yes at that time my vision was still 20/20 until age took its toll). He started talking about how beautiful the countryside is... I agreed. There was no doubt about it.

We were unanimous in agreeing that going to Jeddah or staying at the company site will be one of those monotonous and boring weekends (at that time!). Well, he didn't have to convince me more. Little did he know that he only need nil persuasion power in order for me to change the course of my weekend schedule. (Btw, when i was about a month here in KSA, I told my friends that I'll never go out of the project site so I can save, except only when I need to remit my earnings to my family. I dunno where I got those thoughts then...maybe it's in my northern Philippines blood connection).

Power of 2
They say that "two" will send thousands to flight... The two of us tossed into the sand-dusty laden air the idea of travelling to another place...something new and at least somewhere near. Right after those words landed into the ears of those near enough to hear us, all reservation seats for the tour were all taken. Cell phones were ringing - calling their best buddies of the chance to be in a new place.

Seat Reservations 
In just probably a split of second all seats in my car were fully reserved and taken. If only I am an entrepreneur, I could probably have made a fortune that noon. If I opened my car, it could have been full of bags and other personal effects to signify that the seats are taken (just like what we see in PUBs and PUJs awaiting for schedule to depart...whew). Naturally, Mario was in as he was the "master mind". So that leaves 3 vacant seats in my Mazda 5.

I would opt for someone who knows the place or least someone who can communicate with the locals. Voila... Basha is it and his cousin Ali Yaseen. They are Saudis. Basha is one of my Saudi staff who became very close to me... he was like a son, a chauffeur, a butler, an all-around assistant and was great help to me while he was at NPC (To this day, he is not at NPC anymore but still stayed as a very close friend). Completing the confirmed passengers list was Alfred, an IT Hardware engineer who is also a very good friend of mine.

The confirmed passengers to the Tour de Taif:
Mazda 5: Basha steered us safely all the way up, Desert Aquaforce, Mario, Ali Yaseen & Alfred.
V-165: Al, Larry, Melvin, Ian, Ranilo

That weekend is now history... the first out of town trip I had... and soon many unstoppable out of town trips followed.

Need I say more? Scroll down through the pics and see the wide-grin mouths we had proving that indeed it was a weekend worth remembering.

This was a stop-over dinner at an Arabic Resto outside Makkah. The guys had their first taste of "mandhi" (roasted goat/sheep - tastes really good). I kidded them that it was a Thursday and not a Monday (LoL).
When we reached Taif, we didn't know where to go. Basha And Ali Yaseen convinced us to go first to a park and have some "ceremonial tea"...Welcome to Taif...
Not contented with the tea, the coffee drinkers had to drop by a coffee shop to keep those eyes open for some more minutes.
This was the breakfast setting the next day...kuboos, cheese, milk, tea, coffee and some Arabic dips (forgot what it's called) Every one is enjoying...but there was this phone call to Al from Sunny...3B01
A pose at the facade of our accommodation for the night...
Another pose at a facade of an antique house.
Good morning Basha!
Fruits, fruits, and more fruits... Contemplating whether or not it's fattening.
More fruits...wild apples, mishmish, bukarah, habhab...
This was the guy who did not pay 5 riyal to the owner of the camel.
We didn't know that anyone who poses in his camel has to pay...
Bridge over a dam (not really a big body of water...just some faucet-like trickle)...
may be better to say A Bridge Over No Water
I really forgot how this shot was taken. Obviously it was Mario who took this i already forgot.
A bridge too far? 
A shot from a different angle
With my Saudi friends...
Mario and his lens...It was supposed to be a mirror image effect
This is what we get for being bachelors. We cannot ride in the cable cars because admission is open only for those with families... We had to stand outside to have an orphan effect...maybe they'll take pity and let us ride.
A pose in front of the cable car station...just a memento even if we were not able to ride.
Heavy lunch provided by Yayah... bought food from the resto..looked for a place...
spread a carpet/mat and had a delicious Arabic lunch.
(Apologies for the blurry's the only one I got)
Darwin's theory of evolution is proven stopped here!
The trip to Taif was so short yet everyone enjoyed (except for that DO problem in 3B01). That was my first trip outside my "comfortable zone". That opened up to my travel world in KSA. It was never the same again...

Photography: Mario Acuesta Aguado & Desert Aquaforce

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