Friday, December 13, 2013

14 Hours in Riyadh

The problem with choosing the cheapest flight when flying around the world is that they also tend to have the less desirable routes and times. Case in point, my trip back to Virginia for Christmas. My first leg was an 8-hour flight, nothing too crazy or eventful to report. As I write this, I have been at the King Khalid Airport in Saudi Arabia for 10 hours (with 4 more to go!!). My last leg is a 14-hour flight, hopefully ending with at least one family remembering I'm coming home today and picking me up at the airport! ;) While it isn't the ideal schedule, I just keep reminding myself of how blessed I am to be able to go home at all and that there's a chubby little nephew waiting for me when I get there. I'm sure all of my travel woes will be gone the second I set my eyes on him. (Don't worry, my family already knows they've taken a back seat to him!)

While trying to help pass the time here, I started thinking about some things I've learned during my stay. Without further ado, and in no particular order. 

1) I'm so thankful my parents raised me to be independent, a skilled traveller, and to have common sense.

2) I can't wait to use a dry toilet and not have to provide my own toilet paper.

3) Arabic food is yummy, but my tummy sure is craving some Chipotle, Outback, 5 Guys, Chick-fil-a, and every other American goodness you can think of. :)

4) It's hard to get re-hydrated after an 8-hour flight in which they only provided juice once and a small water with each of the two meals. It's harder still when said small water cups are all you have to work with. Thankfully they were free because, yes, I did have 10 of them.

5) I never want to be homeless or a refugee. Because of my long layover, they provided free dinner. To get it, all I had to do was stand in a long "line" (some cultures define this word differently than America), show my ticket, get my hot meal in a box, and go eat. It was loud. It was crowded. But I was thankful for food. :) That was instance number one of feeling displaced. Then it got worse when I realized it was technically midnight (5 a.m. on my body) and I should probably sleep. The only chairs around were the metal ones with a centimeter of cushion and bars in between each seat. This did not look comfortable. Neither did the marble floor, but for whatever reason, I chose the latter. Obviously I couldn't take a picture of myself passed out and probably drooling, but I imagine if I had asked around, a few people would've had one. If I had seen someone else doing what I was doing (believe it or not, I was the only one!), I probably would've taken a picture. I had my little throw blanket under me, my backpack as a pillow, my scarf as a blanket and big, puffy, pink socks on my feet. Surprisingly, I think I actually got almost 4 hours of (very choppy) sleep! It was painful waking up because every nerve was pinched and every limb was asleep. 
A real life "Would you rather...?"

6) I am thankful for technology. I've checked email, been on Facebook, written a blog, played games, found exchange rates, chatted with friends, taken pictures, and more. It's amazing. I don't know how people survived beforehand. Playing games with each other? Talking? Reading? What is that? Haha.

7) Don't forget to bring toothpaste. They don't always sell it at the duty free shop. :) thankfully they give it out on the flight, so I'll be hitting that up as soon as I board. I forgot to grab my little travel kit on the last flight before I disembarked. Oops.

8) I'm thankful for comfy sweatshirts and jeans. 75% of the men on my last flight were wearing what looked like towel/blanket togas. Now, you might ask what that is. It is a piece of material that looks like a towel, is the size of a blanket, and is wrapped around them like a toga. They all had matching rolling suitcases (that had to be confusing considering there were >200 of them!) and name badges, so it was clear they were part of a group. I've seen people wear similar attire in various countries I've visited, but this was definitely the most I'd seen in one place at one time. I'll let you draw a conclusion about what happens when they raised their arms up to put their luggage in the overhead bin. 

I'm sure this list is not conclusive, but it will hopefully give you some idea of what goes through one's head during a 14-hour layover. If you've never had one, try to keep it that way. If you have, anything I left out?

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