Actually, there weren't really much 'hunting' required, we did not even have to do any digging!
It was very easy to get to the fossil site, and you don't even need a 4-wheel-drive. You just go on the riyadh-dammam highway (heading towards dammam), take the exit to thumamah, then the junction to buwiah (i may spell it wrong), then go off-road once you see an upright tire on the left side of the road. Just head towards the hills, park your car, and look for fossils on its slopes. You'd be suprised to see how easy it is to find the fossils once you found your first one.
There were lots of fossils that looked like 'lips' (as Sunflora politely calls them), but looks like something else to me (you know what I mean if you see what I named the picture). I think they were some type of sponge or prehistoric sea-life or something. I've been scouring the web for a scientific name for it, but couldn't find any that looked like the ones we found. sorry. If you do know what they're called, please tell me!
If you're lucky, you'd find shells or clams, like the ones I found above. The second one from the left is actually a whole clam (kepah). It looks like just a lump of rock, but upon closer inspection you'd see it's actual shape. The rightmost fossil is of an oyster shell. It's amazing how it still retains its sheen after billions of years.
Also in abundance are fossils of sand dollars and corals, the kinds that branch out like trees and also the soft coral types. Ihsan even found a petrified twig (the 'nose')
My prized posession, though, had to be this really tiny sea shell I found. It was so tiny I almost threw it away, but it felt round so I brushed the dirt off to see if it was something worth keeping and was pleasantly suprised to see that it was a shell :)
We were hoping to find some shark tooth but unfortunately we didn't find any. We didnt stay long enough and didnt have the right tools for digging and breaking of rocks, so we had to be content with whatever we found, but even then they were still impressive to me.
As usual, any melayu trip would not be complete without eating. We had headed out around 7am to avoid spending time out in the dessert under the noon sun, so we had a breakfast picnic near the hills after we got tired of picking fossils and started getting hungry :)
Since we had extra time, we decided to drive to another site further up, to pick 'saudi diamonds' (cubic zirconia like rocks that could be polished and set into jewellery), but unfortunately our drive was hampered by a sandstorm, so we decided to turn back and head for home instead.
We (read: Taufik and I) took a nap before noon prayers (while the kids made a racket playing god knows what), and then we drove to Granada Mall and met up with Ruby and her family for lunch.
We wanted to visit Old Diriyah, a historical site with an old fort and old buildings, but they were closed for restoration and upgrade, so we went to Ita's place for tea instead. We're not that dissapointed. At least we have an excuse to drive up to Riyadh again (and perhaps drag some other people along next time? *winks at lollies*)
That night Jeni, our host, and the other Malaysian occupants of the apartment building we were staying in held a barbecue on the building's rooftop and we had a blast eating and chatting till our tummies almost burst at their seams.
The next morning we said our goodbyes and thankyous to Jeni, and headed for Ruby's place for an egyptian-singaporean breakfast of spicy Singapore style fool (egyptian lentil soup) eaten with bread and Roti John (french bread with a layer of mince meat and eggs fried on it). We were further spoilt with chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, topped with chocolate ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate syrup. I could die happy right there and then.
But I could not die because we had to go to Swahili's house for lunch.
Swahili's house was like heaven for my kids, coz the big boys got to play Halo on XBox, and Anis and Izani played outside with the pool, then snuck off to play in the garden and got so dirty that I had to make them change before having lunch.
Lunch was super yummy and I am amazed at how Swahili managed to make time to cook dishes that cater for both adult and children taste buds. Dah lah tak kasi orang tolong basuh pinggan!
Oh, and at Swahili's I also met Han, who has been reading my blog but commented only once ;) Yay.. dapat kawan baru!
As with all of my trips to Riyadh, it was hectic but fun! Not only do I get to see another facet of Saudi Arabia every time I go there, I also most usually get to make new friends.
The kids had a lot of fun looking for and at fossils. They even had fun cleaning and brushing the dirt off the fossils to discover what it really looked like. It brought up a lot of questions about how old the earth is and how it and its inhabitants have changed throughout the ages.
I'm going to make them search the web for more information, maybe it will spark more interest in natural science.
I hope that they would gain a love for the earth, and the passion to care for it, at the very least.
My friends in Riyadh, if you're ever in Khobar, do not hesitate to contact me so that I can return your hospitality!