Sunday, August 26, 2012

How to Find an Expat Blog

living in Jeddah

If you are an expat living overseas, or planning on moving or visiting other countries...this is a great website community that I just discovered. You can also post your own blog there, based on where you live.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Church in Jeddah | Sign of Coexistence

Ruins of an old 17th Century Dutch church. In conservative Saudi Arabia where no other religion but Islam can be openly practiced, there seem to be signs, such as the ruins, that it was not always this way in the Kingdom. One can hope and pray that coexistence and respect for other religion can come back to this part of the world. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Trip to Taif Mountains!

Al-Shafa | Road to Taif
Taif is a mountain city where visitors go to escape the heat and enjoy cooler weather during the summer days. We decided to visit Taif for the change of scenery and something to do besides visiting the malls. Also, a temperature less than 100 was much anticipated! I have to say, the "cooler" breeze was nice. I am guessing that it was in the mid-90's at the time!

This is nearby the area where stopped to picnic. We climbed a few rocks and saw some goats. But we scared them away and couldn't get any good pictures. These quick animal sightings were very exciting for the kids!
Toothpick tree | Named by our son for humor
Last summer, we enjoyed the mountains of Colorado, where we saw turkeys and buffalo's. However, the mountains in Taif, Saudi Arabia had other interesing wildlife including eagles, falcons, goats, camels, and monkeys. A few of us were lucky enough to see some monkeys climbing on the mountain wall as we drove by! But of course, we didn't get a picture of that either!

I did get a picture of this eagle at the nearby zoo that we visited!
After reading about the horror stories of Riyadh zoo we wanted to see how bad was Taif zoo. To our surprise it was no way close to the Riyadh zoo. Things were not how they should have been but the animals had bigger cages. The lion did look malnourished but in much better shape than the one in Riyadh. The lion and the bear also had open areas to walk freely. But along with all the usual we also saw a few animals that really surprised us. Actually, we couldn't stop laughing! I'll let y'all decide for yourselves!

Yes a Dog from the U.S. 

Cats from all over the world
Other animals that we saw were: porcupines, wolves, foxes, a very sad looking elephant, a 3-legged camel and a five-legged bull (poor thing!) We saw a baby crocodile, gazelle's, ducks, chickens, donkeys, horses, lots of camels, a parrot, an iguana, owl, llama, and little baby monkeys (they were adorable!) Overall, it was a fun and interesting experience. We had a great time with our family-and the kids had so much fun! We even went all the way there and back without any restroom visits! It's amazing how a stinky, squatty-potty will take away the need to go!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Joys of Exchanging Items

Extra, extra, read all about it! The return and exchange policy in Saudi Arabia is a bit different than in the US. For example, you can only exchange an item for a different item or for store credit. You also have to have a receipt. This is quite different than the Wal-Mart policy that I am used too, where you can return a product at any time and without a receipt.

image via

Now, I have to tell you about our experience with "bad customer service" today in a store called "Extra." We went to the exchange counter to switch out a blender with another one. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, we ended up being frustrated and laughing the whole time. At the exchange counter, the guy there had to call the other guy from appliances to sign off on the receipt. I asked him why he couldn't just exchange the blender for me-since this is the exchange counter. He said that the guy from appliances has to check and be sure that all the parts are there because if not, it will come out of his paycheck. I told him that was too bad, because he seemed completely competent. So, after waiting 10 minutes for the guy from appliances to come down (form upstairs), the guy at the counter told us to just go meet him upstairs. So we did and the guy wasn't there. Meanwhile.....we went upstairs to pick out a new blender. We picked out 4 from the display models, that we liked-but there were none on the shelves. The sales guy said they were all out. We found one that was on the shelf and went back downstairs. We went back to the exchange counter, expecting to see the appliances guy. Nope-he was gone again. We were told to sit down and wait because the guy was helping another customer. I said, c'mon, please help us and he yelled at the appliance guy to come. We lucked out this time-he came! He signed the receipt and we were able to successfully exchange the blender. This took just 40 minutes.

Oh, but wait...Sohail realized that he needed a special USB cord. He found it and we went to check out. We got to the register and as we were in line, I noticed the most amazing thing. 3 people worked at the register-each one having a separate duty. Guy 1 scanned the item, guy 2 pressed a button on the cash register and took the money then handed the receipt to guy 1. Guy 2 gave the item and the receipt to guy 3. Guy 3 put the receipt and the item in the bag. The customer left the register and headed to the doors. Guy 4 had to stamp the receipt at the door. And.....I'm not done yet....Guy 5 was in charge of the doors, telling the other customers that the store would be closing in 10 minutes and the shopper was not allowed inside. We couldn't help but laugh!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Trip to the Doctor

Doctor's offices overseas are always "interesting"! We took our youngest children in for a rash and came out 3 hours later. Now, I am not complaining because the staff were so nice and the hospital was clean. A sweeper guy actually walked through every 10 minutes, sweeping the floor.

Ok, let me start at the beginning...When we arrived here in June, just 2 months ago, my son started getting bumps on his arm. We went to the pharmacy to get some ointment and the Pharmacist said that he has eczema as a result of the heat and humidity here. We went through 2 different creams and oral allergy medicine. But a few weeks ago, the bumps started getting larger and raised. So, we went to our appointment, which was at 10pm at night!

We went to the 2nd floor of the hospital, to Pediatrics. Then they told us to go back to the ground floor to fill out paperwork, then recieved a credit card like thing (which they told us to bring every time we come). We did that then took the paperwork back to the 2nd floor and paid for the services (300 SR). This place was b-u-s-y and we waited for 1 1/2 hours. Near the waiting room was a Krispy Kreme, so we got the kids donuts to eat while we waited.

My son's name was called and we entered the exam room. The room had a typical table, covered in the white paper for him to lay on. It was also the doctor's office. He was sitting at his desk on the left and instructed my son to sit on the table thing. He got up and looked at the bumps on his arm and said that it was not eczema and that we needed to go to Dermatology. So he wrote down the name of the referral and we headed back to the 2nd floor receptionist. She refunded our money and sent us to the 5th floor-dermatology. I was absolutely amazed that since he could not help us-our money was refunded! This would n-e-v-e-r happen in America! The doctor's just keep taking your money!

We saw the Dermatologist after about 20 minutes. We entered her exam room/office and she diagnosed the bumps as a virus and said that they would have to be removed. We decided to get the procedure done because she explained that if the bumps were not removed, they would continue to spread. So, we were sent to back to the receptionist and we paid 750 SR. We waited some more then went to a different exam room. This one did not have anyone's desk in it! So she injected each bump then removed the bumps by burning them off with a laser tool. Our poor boy screamed and cried the whole time, but it was over in 5 minutes. She instructed the nurse on how to rub the cream and wrap the gauze over his arm.

After this procedure, our injured little boy enjoyed the attention of having an "arm wrap."

*Update* After one week, we went back to the dermatologist for a follow up visit. When we went to pay, we were told that there was no charge, since it was a follow up visit! WOW! Again, this would not happen in the US! His arm had healed and she recommended bringing him back if any of the bumps ever came back. She mentioned that there would be no charge! Again-I am impressed! It has been over 3 weeks and his arm is now perfect!

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Mini-Arabic Lesson

Arabic is the official language here in Saudi Arabia. English is the unofficial second language. It is written from right to left and books are read starting from back to front.

Most foreigners here speak English and Arabic along with their own language. I am feeling less smart now and with that in the US, other languages were taught to children at an early age. Most US public schools begin teaching foreign languages (usually Spanish or French) in middle or high school. This makes me glad that my children are here and will be learning Arabic at an early age. The school where they will be going, offers Arabic and French. All the other courses are taught in English. Currently, the kids are learning Urdu from our in-laws, which is the major language from Pakistan. Wow-so maybe our children will be tri-lingual!

I have been inspired to learn arabic, from a fellow American, who is also living in Saudi Arabia. On her blog, she posted this humorous video of her Saudi husband using a children's book to teach her Arabic. So, if you want to hear and see what Arabic is all about...check out this video.

Her blog is: 

Our blog has a new name...

Hi-We just wanted to let you know that we gave our blog a new name. Also, if you like reading it, you can "follow" it and then you enter your email address. Every time we write a new post, you will be notified via e-mail address. I usually keep the posts short and sweet.

The old name of our blog was:
The new name is: (you don't have to type in caps, you can type all lowercase in the address bar and it will take you there).

Thanks for reading! - Andrea

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Andrea's Most Recent Adventures in Saudi Arabia!

I have some interesting stories for you today.....

1.     Sadly, there are soooo many women/homeless beggars. They walk up to the car and tap, while you are waiting at the red light. At first I felt so sad for them, but then found out that they make thousands of dollars a month! I then realized that I shouldn’t feel sorry for them at all because they are getting money for doing nothing. However, I did decide that if the same type of woman is selling something, like snacks or water – then I will buy. There was even an anti-beggar campaign, where the local newspaper suggested to not give to beggars, because it promotes the same lifestyle.

2.    I will also buy from the people who sell cotton candy at the red lights. Each bag cost 1 SR (about 25 cents/bag).

3.    The ice-cream truck sits at the beach, selling treats. It is covered in neon lights and you can see it from a mile away. It’s so pretty!

4.    Vendors do charge me more money, even if my head is wrapped. They hear me speak English-that is why. We went to buy notebooks for the kids and they wanted to charge 15 SR (about $3.50) per notebook. Sohail went to the shop beside and got the same notebook for 5 SR (about $1.25)! So, now it is my goal to learn more Arabic so that I can trick the shop owners-and save some money!

5.    I went clothes shopping a few days ago. The American size on the clothes, is not actually the size that it says. I have to add 3 sizes to get the right size. This is a weight loss motivator, though.

6.    To get a really good deal on kids clothes, you have to go to the stores that don’t have American sizes on the tags. Me and Rayesa went to a store and every size outfit said, size 2-5, but they were all different sizes. Luckily, the one that we got her, did fit her. But the white jeans that she got, ended up fitting Malik better!

7.    We cannot find BBQ ribs here. We thought that we did the other night, but they ended up being lamb chops (ewww…I do not like eating lamb). However, the kids are easily tricked with lamb. They think its beef. But, the ribs we got with BBQ sauce were so spicy that Rayesa cried because she was so disappointed.

8.    We also tried to order ribs (twice) at TGI Friday’s. They have not received a shipment in 3 weeks. The same thing happened at Applebee’s. So-hopefully, we will satisfy Rayesa’s rib craving, soon!

9.    In Arabic, there is no letter “Bb” in the alphabet. So Pepsi is called Bebsi….!

10.  Grocery stores are usually 2 floors high or on the 2nd floor of a mall. At each store, a guy empties out the cart for you, bags everything and takes the cart out to your car for you. Then, he puts the bags in the trunk of the car for you. I like this. Usually we tip these guys.

11. Hahaha.....bra's are sold on street corners here....and by men. I will not be buying bra's here!

Photo disclaimer: All of these images are from