Saturday, April 14, 2007

Edge Of The World

The weekend before we went to Qat@r to meet lollies, I joined Sunflora in a trip to a place called the Edge Of The World.

The Edge of the World is a point in the Tuwaiq Escarpment with breathtaking views of the plains below. The rocks of the escarpment form a window frame. It is possible to climb one of the jebels, but care must taken as there is a lot of loose rocks, and the sheer drop would be fatal, it has been reported that an expatriate actually fell off the edge and did not survive.

We drove to Riy@dh on the evening of the 4th of April, and spent the night at my friend Zura's house. Early the next morning we met up with Sunflora's family and 4 other cars (there were 8 families altogether) and drove off towards the north. We came to a small town which name escapes me. Outside the town we drove through a date plantation. The date trees resembled palm-oil trees so much that it reminded us of driving through a ladang felda in Malaysia, especially when we even saw a stall selling fresh vegetables on the roadside.

Several kilometres after the plantation we started going off-road, and entered what the locals call "Acacia Valley", because it had a lot of acacia trees. Being Mal@ysians, we couldn't resist stopping to take pictures. tee hee.
Just like the iris fields in Tum@yr, the acacia trees stretched for miles, but in a strip, surrounded by the desert and hills of rock. It is amazing to witness how fertile a desert can be, even if it is given the minimum amount of water.

The terrain started getting very rough from then on. The kids had fun going "aaaaaaaaa" and listening to their voices vibrate. Even Izani joined in. At some points we had to go up and down steep slopes, which made us thankful that we were in a 4by4. Even though the distance we covered wasn't very far, because we could not travel more than 40km/h, it took us almost an hour to reach the first site of the escarpment. But oh was the ride worth it!

The view from the edge was spectacular. It was probably not as deep as the grand canyon (I suppose, because I havent been to the grand canyon), but it was still deep enough to give me vertigo. We had to hold on to our hats because the winds were strong enough to blow them off our heads. In fact, Anis and Izani lost theirs several times, but thankfully they didnt fly off over the edge and we retrieved them quite easily.
Before going off to the second site, we decided to break for lunch. So we went off to look for a suitable spot among the acacia trees. We found one that was in what looked like a dry river bed, and we were not the first ones there. Apparently the Acacia Valley is quite a popular spot for picnics. I could understand coz it was very shady and the acacia trees were beautiful.
We laid out our picnic mats and took out our flasks of teh tarik, tupperwares of rendang, nasi lemak, sambal tumis udang, fried chicken and quails, roti canai, sandwiches, sausages, chocolate cake and balang of rusks. (No prizes for guessing which one was mine). The picnic was more like a gastronomical feast! (and a photo session). I got to know some of the other ladies besides Sunflora. There were 2 Kak Nors, Fiza, kak nora, kak zaitun and Annie, who was from Makkah and was in Riyadh visiting her brother.

After the picnic, we drove to the second site, which was similar, but this one had a hill that you could climb up for a more aerial view of the whole valley. I didnt climb up the hill because the rocks were kinda loose and I didnt want to risk slipping off it with Izani in my arms. So I hung around Ihsan and Anis, who started picking up and examining rocks. Ihsan showed me a rock that had weird looking spots on them and I was suprised to recognize them as corals. I asked Sunflora later and she confirmed that that area used to be underwater and she showed me a fossilized seashell that she found.
We headed for home (Riy@dh) at about 1pm or so, and after telling Ilham about the fossil discovery, we made this riddle up:
What is the dinosaur found in Saudi?
A Rabianosaurus.

As usual, I am still amazed at the things that we can find on this land when we dare to go a little bit off the beaten path.

After the Edge Of The World, we headed towards Jeni and Rizal's house, where She treated us with nasi ayam and her homemade keropok lekor and baked macaroni which Anis absolutely loved!
That night we just relaxed in Zura's house.
The next day Sunflora treated us for a steamboat lunch and then we headed to IKEA for some shopping. Tee hee!
We headed home on Saturday afternoon, after another round of shopping for souviners at Dira Souq. I would recommend Dira Souq to anybody visiting Riy@dh, but don't ask me for directions...

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