My Yanbu: The Red Sea

When people say Yanbu, they could be talking about Yanbu Albahar, Yanbu Alnakhel or Yanbu Alsinaiyah (Industrial). I live in the latter, and it’s the place I’ve called home for almost 12 years.

It’s small, but in my opinion it’s a very nice place to live and raise a family. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles you may find in larger cities like Jeddah and Riyadh, but it has its own charm. And one of the best things about living here is being able to go sit by the Red Sea anytime I wish.

My favorite time to go is early in the morning because I like the calm, and if you like birds, this is the time to see them. Also, if it’s not windy, the water is still. My morning trips to various spots along the sea have rewarded me greatly. I’ve seen birds and lots of fish without having to dive.

It’s very tranquil. If you want to relax, sit by the sea in the morning with only the sounds of the water splashing and the laughing seagulls. If you want to venture elsewhere along the corniche, you’ll experience different things as can be seen in the featured photo.

I’ve seen flamingos, herons and egrets, and other shoreline birds that I’m not likely to see in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Some people comment on how small Yanbu is, or they say it’s not as nice as other cities. But I say it has its own charm, and I like it the way it is.

This is my Yanbu.

 

Butterflies and More Flowers

Well, I met my friend at the Flower Festival, again. We wanted to try going on a weekday and early enough to possibly have a few “people-free” shots. Dare to dream! Of course it didn’t go perfectly, but it was a huge difference compared to the previous time. Since we had seen the birdies the first time, we decided to skip them this time and enjoy the ability to move without bumping into people.

This time we headed to the butterfly garden. There was one last year, but I didn’t go at all last year. And that’s why I really wanted to go this time. I also happen to love butterflies. I used to joke that there were only a total of 4 butterflies here because we just don’t see them that often. This gave me a chance to see more variety as well as hold a butterfly in my hand which I hadn’t done since childhood.

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I kept holding my hand out, hoping one would land. Instead one landed on the bridge of my nose. But it didn’t stay long enough for me to get a picture though I would have loved to have gotten one. Truth be told, I would have been happy to spend most of my time there. But, we were there to also shoot the flowers, with our cameras of course! As we were leaving, we noticed one rogue butterfly that was determined to be free. My friend kept telling it to go the other way, but it fluttered its way out.

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It tried to hide between flowers as it continued on a journey of escape, but I saw it.

We left the butterfly garden and walked around, stopping here and there to take more photos. I changed lenses multiple times. I’d see something I like and then move a few feet and think that I need a different lens for a different shot. Indecisiveness, but that’s neither here nor there.

We took pictures, lots of pictures. But I won’t bore anyone with those because there were some in the last post.

When it started getting dark, it didn’t stop us. We used whatever light was available and made the best of it. It’s truly great to see how different things look when you take away the light. As you may guess, I like fountains. More specifically, the water rather than the design of the fountain.

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It was time to go home. My battery was getting low and I had forgotten to take my backup. My friend and I parted ways and I headed out, with the following as the final shot for the day.

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It was a good day.

Yanbu Flower Festival 2018

It has been quite some time since I actually wrote about life in Saudi Arabia, so what better time than the present? And what better topic than the annual Flowers and Gardens Festival held in Yanbu Alsinaiyah? It attracts people from various cities which is still strange for me because it’s where I live.

As I said before, it’s an annual event though I did not see it at all last year. I couldn’t be bothered even though people I know raved about it. So, this time I decided to ask a friend and colleague what she thought about this year’s. I trust her judgment and she’s also into photography so her opinion really counted. She told me not to miss it because it’s lovely. And lovely it is. The only problem? I decided to meet her yesterday, Friday. Note to self: Do Not under any circumstances try to go anywhere on a Friday, especially any “events” or the like which may be taking place.

To say it was crowded would be an understatement. It was as if everyone woke up at the same time and decided to meet me and my friend. It made taking photos a challenge. We both like to have shots without people in them. That was nearly impossible yesterday, but I did my best.

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Last year there was also a butterfly garden which I’m hoping to see on a different visit. And this year, there’s a bird “thingy”. Again it was, it was super crowded but we managed to get a few shots after bumping into a few people.

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Those who know me well enough know that I love birds, especially as a photography challenge. My favorite shot was of an Amazon Parrot that was apparently not feeling his handler/owner. He took off flying, as birds do from time to time. The handler was calling him, telling him to come back but he couldn’t be bothered.

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See you, suckas!

I followed as best I could and managed to get the shot above. He seemed to enjoy the fact that he was driving his handler crazy. And seeing this was probably the highlight of my time there.

Hopefully, I’ll get to make it back again when there is less of a crowd.

Only in KSA

A few years back one of my colleagues talked about a visit she had at the doctor’s office. She mentioned that the doctor was chewing gum and how she thought that it was inappropriate. At the time, I laughed as I tried to picture it. But who knew I’d have a similar experience someday?

Well, my experience wasn’t exactly the same, but gum was involved. I went to the pharmacy in hopes of finding a particular type of shampoo. As is customary when I’m shopping, I picked up a couple other items I probably don’t need. I put them on the counter and asked one of the pharmacists about the shampoo. He went to get it and gave me instructions on how often to use it. And then the other “pharmacist” behind the counter started ringing me up. I watched in amazement as he scanned each item while chewing gum. And he wasn’t simply chewing. He was really going to town.

I remembered my friend and said to myself, “Smacking gum isn’t a good look on a pharmacist.” He was trying to tell me the total but all I could see was his mouth moving a mile a minute and also hear the sound of gum popping between his teeth. As you might have guessed, I can’t stand that.

Where on earth would you see doctors and pharmacists chewing gum like school kids while on the job? Maybe it happens elsewhere, but for now I’m going to say it’s one of those things found only in KSA.

Weddings in Saudi Arabia: Jeddah

Who doesn’t love weddings?  It’s always nice to be part of the celebration of starting a new life together.  But for me, weddings are about more than that, especially since college when I first started to learn more about Arab culture.  I always wanted to go to weddings to see how different countries and cultures celebrated this life changing event.  I saw Palestinian weddings, Senegalese, Moroccoan-Iraqi and Iraqi weddings.  Each one had its on uniqueness.  And Saudi Arabia is no exception.

In all honesty, I’m not even sure where to begin.  I love and hate Saudi weddings, lol.  I hate the fact that they go so late though I’ve been told that in some areas of the country they don’t last that long.  I was most recently at a wedding that was supposed to begin at 10pm. Apparently in this part of the world, the time is a target time.  No one is ever on time.  If you say 10, it means at least 11, at least.  Unfortunately for me, I was already sleepy at 9.  But, it was important for me to go.  First, the bride was one of my best friends’ daughter and second I had never seen a wedding in Jeddah before.  I had seen Medinah and kind of Yanbu.  I was sick of what I had seen in Medinah so I was hoping to see something different.  Sadly, many things are in fact the same, for example the dresses and makeup.

Clothes and Makeup

When you walk into these weddings, you will see everything and I have a name for them all.  There’s the skanky dress, the gaudy, the elegant, the “eh” and the OMG.  You will see it all.  It should be a crime for some people to wear what they do.  Please think long and hard before showing yourselves in public, ladies.  I saw Punky Brewster style getups as well as the, “Who let you out the house like that?” While I saw much that entertained me, there was one dress that really stood out to me.  The lady reminded me of Little Bo Peep. You heard me, Little Bo Peep.  It was ghastly yet she was so proud.  And of course my friends and I  were the first ones to notice.  I heard my friends saying, “Wow!”  And all I kept thinking was, “Sorry, Little Bo Peep, we haven’t seen your sheep.  Now get back on your rightful page in that nursery rhyme book and we’ll call it a day.” What was she thinking?  I realize we all have different tastes, but come on!  Her dress wasn’t the only offensive thing I saw, but it was definitely the biggest offense.  I still have nightmares about it.  Then there’s the makeup.  What can I say about makeup?  Perhaps I shouldn’t talk about it since I’m not a fan of makeup.  I use light, very light makeup.  I don’t like putting gunk on my face.  Some women had on about 10 layers of crap which was then painted with various colors of the rainbow.  It’s not clown school.  I don’t know who told them that more makeup means more beautiful.  Less is more.  Not everyone opts for clown makeup, but many do.  I keep trying my best not to be so judgmental, but I simply can’t help it when I see it.  Often they were more attractive before the remanufacturing of their faces.

Entertainment

One of the things that can make or break the wedding is the entertainment.  If I didn’t mention it before, we westerners were on time.  We were there by 10pm.  Silly foreigners, lol.  Anyway, the “singers” didn’t begin until about midnight.  What was funny was that they performed one song and took a break.  The song sucked and then they had the nerve to take a break.  Really?!  Were they so exhausted that they needed a coffee break?  I didn’t even like the looks on their faces.  They seemed to have attitudes, bad ones.  They couldn’t keep people on the floor.  Lots of times people were dancing and they actually looked bored.  My buddies and I laughed at the scene we saw.  Interestingly enough, they got better later that night.  Unfortunately, many of us were half asleep.  I didn’t get back to my hotel until 5:30am.  I was awake with the roosters.  In fact, I could have done the cockadoodle doodling.  Who knows?  Maybe I did.

The last thing that I have to say about the weddings here is that I personally find them to be excessive.  I suppose it’s okay if you’re filthy rich, but contrary to popular belief, not all Saudis are wealthy and they don’t each have their own personal oil wells on their property.  Often people have to break the bank, maybe incurring debt, to pay for their extravagant weddings.  Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy seeing the wedding halls nicely decorated and the like, but I still believe it’s too much.  My advice to everyone is to consider toning it down a bit.  A grand wedding does not guarantee a grand, happy life.

I know that what I said might piss some people off and at the same time I know there are plenty of people who agree.  Feel free to comment, yell, scream or otherwise :).

Anyway, one wedding down, a gazillion to go.  Next up, a wedding in Yanbu.

 

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