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Friday 10th December – A Message From Riyadh (KSA)


DSCF6095An email from Nick Hodgkinson:

Hello everyone,

I am beginning to settle in after a few really dreadful days. Everything is very different – work is really hard, sites are very dangerous, traffic is unbelievably bad (I had a small crash on my second day) and I can’t understand the language etc etc.

However, today has been very busy socially (Friday is like your Sunday) and I had actually planned to do lots of work but I am trying to strike a balance between working and not working. I now feel guilty for not working and will already be behind when I go to work tomorrow.

So what did I do today? Well, set my alarm for 5:45am so that I could get up and go to run the Salwa Compound 10K.

Salwa is one of the many fortress like compounds dotted around Riyadh and where most of the outsiders spend their time. Salwa is about ten miles out of town and approximately fifteen miles from here (Home No2). The traffic was very light and I got there about 7.00am. It took about 20 minutes to get through the high security which included a full search and scan of the car and full body scan of me. The compound is very bare and dusty but with excellent facilities (tennis courts, pools, gyms…).

I have now joined Riyadh Road Runners as a fully paid up Member and have the ‘T’ shirt to prove it.

The run started at 8.00am and was as boring as you can imagine being four laps around the inside of the perimeter fence.

I really struggled, partly because I have not run for about a month and also due to the heat (mid twenties).

My time, for those interested, was 58:29 – a new Saudi pb. Will this count for the Runner of the Year when I get the full results?

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I then tried to find my way back to the house and got terribly terribly lost. I ended up on the road to Mecca (or was it Jeddah?). I was too far out of town to take a bearing on the two big towers in the middle of Riyadh. I ended up on a three lane highway, called King ‘something’ Road, which I thought would take me somewhere with a big sign to Riyadh. No such luck.

The road just stopped in the desert with only sand in front of me.

So I turned round and tried to retrace my route but everything looked the same and all the road signs were in Arabic. Eventually I found a sign with an airplane symbol so followed this to the airport and found my way home about an hour later.

This afternoon, I went on an adventure with my two ‘housemates’. First we went to look at a bridge.
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A fantastic bridge but the area around was not so picturesque. The photos look better than the real thing as I tried to miss out the power pylons and mega car dump.

We then went on to see the view from the top of the escarpment which itself continues on for about 50 miles and ends up at ‘The Edge of the World’ where I plan to visit next week.

IMG_6656We then drove down the escarpment highway and headed in to the desert for about five miles to end up at Faihad’s Needle. This area is very desolate and reminds me of one of the Star Wars films. I hiked part way up the needle which was similar to many rocky scree climbs in the lakes but hot and dusty. The slopes on either side were a bit like striding edge. I then ran down. On the way back met some camels and saw Bedouin camps. Brilliant!

More pictures in Club Photos.

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