Monday, 27 September 2010

Holiday in Townsville


For the last month or so I have been out of Saudi for a holiday in Townsville and New Zealand.  I've only just got back from a my fairly lengthy, but I think well deserved, vacation.  It was really nice to get home and see the kids and nga mokopuna. They are growing up so fast.

Did I miss the heat?  The dust?  Did I miss the weird smells.  Ummm - No.  The Saudi dress code wasn't missed at all!  I had 3 weeks in Townsville.  We stayed at this cute little place, Eyre Cottage.  It had everything we needed and was close to the Strand action.


We were in T'ville for our daughters wedding.  Anya was beautiful.  She did an awesome job of organising her special day, which was absolutely fantastic.  All the more credit to her because, with Glenn and I being absentee parents, she really did it all by herself.  


A large contingent of whanau came over to watch her tie the knot and it goes without saying that catching up with them was great.

 
The family got to see our son propose to his lady love. My kids seem to have this wedding thing happening right now and I can state, categorically, that this goes totally against what I bought them up to think.  I recall spending a lot of time saying "Once you've had two years together, half of everything is your's anyway".  Obviously, they weren't listening.  But two more weddings in the next eighteen months is good reason for trips home.
 
Driving again was a real pleasure and I took every opportunity to get behind the wheel.  I'm getting a photo of my daughters car and showing it to Noor. 

Gold colored Mitsubishi 380 VRX
Yep Noor, I had control of this.  Of course I can handle your taxi.
I've only lived in Riyadh for 8 months, but I noticed that I have picked up a few Riyadh traits.  For example, in Riyadh, due to the lack of pedestrian crossings, when women wish to cross the road they simply step out into oncoming traffic and expect, or rather hope, the cars make space.  First time you do it takes guts of steel.  Eventually you get into the habit of playing dodgems with the traffic and can even get quite nonchalant about the whole exercise, which isn't really a good idea I guess.

The drivers know they should give you right of way so though they may not stop, in fact they hardly slow down, they do move to another lane to miss you.  That probably has something to do with the fact that, should they run someone over, apparently they have to pay a hefty blood money fine, so I've heard.  Anyway, I tried meandering across the road in Townsville - not a good plan!  Loud tooting horn reminded me where I was.

In Riyadh seat belt use, though compulsory, is not adhered to much.  I actually find the seat belt is extremely restricting on my seating position in the taxi with my ample behind perched on the edge of the seat, right in the middle so Noor and I can chit chat about this and that.  It's actually a wonder there isn't a dent there,   With an annual Saudi road toll of 6,485 people and more than 36,000 injured in over 485,000 traffic accidents you'd think one would be more diligent on road safety practices while living here.  Admittedly, while on holiday I failed miserably in 'Making it Click'.

Fooling in the taxi - note the lack of seatbelt on the females. 
Noor must have seen a police car, that's why he's wearing his.
And when my daughter said "mum, you can turn left just cut across"  I thought she meant do it Riyadh style, which is turn left by swerving from the furthest right hand lane across two lanes of traffic when the light turns green.  It took me more than a few seconds, and Anya explaining she was giving me a heads up to take the next left hand exit giving me plenty of time to move across lanes to do so, to remember what country I was in.

Warming up for touch.  Yeah, good on ya Gae!
I absolutely loved the outdoor lifestyle in T'ville.  I do miss that.  Bar-b-q picnics, the Water Park on the Strand is fabulous, the rock pool, playing touch, sitting out of an evening with a beverage or nice end of day cuppa.  Yes, love the outdoors.

Picnic with whanau
I would've loved the outdoors in NZ too except for the almost constant rain and annoying wind.  
After T'ville we headed to NZ for 2 weeks to see the rest of the whanau.  I swear it rained every day. Lots of people were complaining.  For us it was a nice change from constant sunshine.  Who would've thought the day would come when I'd be tired of constant sunshine?  I did catch a cold while I was there and it's just clearing up now that I'm back in the warmer temps.

Every day I tried to have coffee at a side walk cafe because I knew that would come to a complete stop once in Riyadh.  Cafe coffees have become quite a regular habit lately.

I don't know why I soooo love coffee on the side walk.  Maybe it suggests a certain freedom and carefree-ness of someone who can afford and enjoys the time out.  Maybe that's why I so object to only men getting the pleasure of sidewalk coffee in Riyadh - women here are not, from my western viewpoint, carefree.  The sound of women or teenage girls laughing loud and long in public is actually frowned upon.  Even in the women only shops.  I know. I've been given more than a few frowny looks when I've burst forth with merriment and the local friends accompanying me look about nervously.  As far as I'm concerned, men enjoying latte on the sidewalk while we are meant to bow our heads, avert our eyes and walk past them to the closed in family area just rubs in the fact women are seriously restricted over here.

Just before heading home for the hols I found a coffee joint where, if I stood up, I could see the main road and, what's more, those on the main road could see me.  What an opportunity!  I was, 6 weeks ago, past the point of caring if someone should come in and make a fuss about the lady in the window slowly and deliberately removing her black garb. Plus, I did wonder if anything would happen.  Nothing did.  Damn.  Will let you know if I get that shitty again and head back to that establishment to try again.


We did lots of other stuff while home in NZ.  Went and saw Dad at his new accommodation, headed north for a night on the farm, went house hunting (what a carry on that was), saw my niece's new little treasure - she's gorgeous.  Met my sisters new man - nice guy.  Went more house hunting.  Caught the ferry for a night on Waiheke - I didn't get seasick there or back, Yay.  And caught up with a few friends.

Our holiday was cut short because Hubster got a bout of conscience and decided he ought to go back to work because he actually didn't have any leave owing.  Got to say that didn't really bother me any.





Ka Kite,
Kiwi





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