Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Khobar to Al-Ain

Ops Jalan Sakan (Mission: Travelots) - UAE and Oman, Spring 2009
Part 1

April 2nd, 2009

The first day was filled with driving, and more driving.
We started the day at 7:30am and had to have breakfast (turkey and egg salad sandwiches) in the car. We reached Salwa (near the border to Qatar) around 11am.
Taufik filled the car up at Salwa because he was told there would be no petrol stations from then on and the gas prices in UAE is double. He was misinformed though, because we found a gas station in Batha (on the border of UAE), right before the Saudi immigration checkpoint. By that time we had used about a quarter tank of gas.

The immigration in Saudi took only about 20 minutes, but the immigration in UAE took more than an hour. They recorded our irises (?) and took forever to stamp our passports. The kids (especially Izani) had fun running up and down the long immigration hall though. By the time we were done, the kids were hungry coz they had finished almost all of the food we had packed in the car, but the dads decided to press on, thinking there would be a rest area a little further up along the way.
Boy, were we wrong! There were no rest areas on this side of the highway that leads to Abu Dhabi! It also didn't help that there were no signs telling how far the next gas station or rest area would be.

By 3pm we decided to make a U-turn so that we can stop in Mirfa, at one of the mosques on the other side of the highway. After solat, we looked for a restaurant, any restaurant, and had lunch of white rice, really thin curry and fried chicken. It wasn't the best, but it was okay. We were thankful that we had food.
The next gas station we found was about 300 kms from the UAE-KSA border.


Mirfa Mosque


The highway from the border to Mafraq (right outside of Abu Dhabi) and then to Al-Ain was actually quite nice. They are lined with small bushes and growing date trees, sheltering our vision from the vast barren desert behind them, giving us the illusion of lushness. The trees also acts as shields against crosswinds and sandstorms. Pretty smart :)

We finally reached Al-Ain at around 7:30pm local time (6:30pm Saudi time). We had dinner at a Pizza-cum-KFC restaurant in town, then searched for Al-Ain Al-Fayda Chalets, near a mountain called Jebel Hafeet.
Our chalets were located in a huge garden filled with trees and looked pretty creepy at night, but looked so awesome during the day. I felt like I was staying right in the middle of Lake Gardens, KL.


The chalets were nice and clean, albeit a little dusty. It had 2 bedrooms and a huge living room that could probably fit a few more people. There's a dining table, but no kitchen. At night the water pump was a little noisy, but in the morning I was greeted by the chirping of birds, which sounded so peaceful.
I took a morning walk with Ihsan and Anis and took some pictures of the grounds.

The gardens looked very well kept, the lawns immaculately green, trees are thriving and flowers are blooming, but some of the facilities (the boating and picnic areas) looked absolutely rundown. I wonder what it looked like during its heydey or when it first opened. Apparently the 'resort' is government run, so.. perhaps it did not get as much promotion as the commercial ones does? Such a pity, because it is quite a nice place to spend a weekend in.


The boating and picnic area


I wish we had more time to explore Al-Ain, because I heard the Zoo is quite nice, but we still had a long drive to go into Oman. So soon after breakfast, we headed for the Oman border.




Useful information:

Al-Ain Al-Fayda Hotels and Chalets
Phone: +971 3 7838333
They have Hotel rooms and 2-bedroom or 3-bedroom Chalets.
When you call, you have to tell them whether you want the Hotel or Chalet, because they have seperate reception areas.
Our 2-bedroom chalets were AED511 per chalet/night, Room only.
The restaurant at the hotel offers room service to the chalets but is quite expensive (AED5 per cup of tea!), so if you can avoid it, do.

More pictures on my Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=84798&id=581327114

7 comments:

  1. bestnya jalan..

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  2. siapa potong rambut izani?

    *sorry can't help to ask*

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  3. cantiklah gambar the boys (last one) , very nice and sharp.

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  4. Birthday hugs and kisses to Izani.
    Unique haircut. Macam style Temenggong Jugah.

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  5. kalau pergi lagi sekali akan guna pakai the place you stayed also. :D

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  6. Lana,
    Best,, tapi penat :P
    Lots and lots of driving.

    Nina,
    Abang Taufik brought him to the barber's a week before we left sebab sebelum tu dah panjang sampai tutup2 mata. I didnt ask him to do the temenggung jugah look though..

    Zan,
    The sun was very bright that day, so it provided great lighting. :)
    Dah beli SLR belum? tee hee

    Papa,
    Thanx Papa! I took a video of him this morning, am uploading it right now.

    Lollies,
    Yeah I would definitely recommend this chalet. Tapi my judgement is purely based on the environment, coz we stayed one night aje, and didnt use their 'services'.
    Tapi kalau nak pegi Mussandam (hopefully our next trip), makes more sense to sleepover in Dubai kot ek?

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  7. they recorded your irises? canggih tu siap pakai biometrics punya id. whatever for lah?

    what's the mileage clocked for this trip?

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