Arcticterntalk.org

The blog of a travelling psychiatrist and football lover. Who happens to be a halfway decent photographer. Takes a cynical view of the world

Archive for the tag “KSA”

Cycling from London to Istanbul for Charity 4500 kms. Aeriel view of where they cycled – sort of.


Just to remind anyone, a group of Exeter students including my son Charles Bushe cycled to Istanbul in temperatures of often 40 degrees this summer. The 13 cyclists did an incredible thing to raise money for Help for Heroes. Below I have reposted what i originally wrote. But today i flew back from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to london and for most of the journey the plane followed the route that they cycled. it took them around 40 days and the plane around 5 hours to do that stretch. I hope these photos remind folks what an epic thing that was to do. the quality is not good as they were taken with the humble i Phone 4S.

A week ago on 26th July 13 students from the University of Exeter commenced a 4500km cycle to Istanbul. Why? To support Help for Heroes. Many of these students had just completed their degree and graduated 2 weeks before. Somehow they found time to train,organise and generally prepare for this strenous trip. Aside from the obvious physical aspects there were numerous other planning aspects to consider. For example how to spend as little as possible on the trip, as this would reduce the sponsorship amounts for the charity. So, they spend most nights in tents and some nights in cheap hostels. The van they were donated is not of the Formula 1 category and rather like a beached whale is not deemed well enough to migrate the Alps, so will go around and meet the cyclists on the other side. To date they have reached Lyons and are having a well deserved rest day. My son Charles Bushe texted that he had spent a good day but things like washing needed to be done. They will have finished and be back in UK on September 8th. They deserve as much support as is possible. Even if you can only donate £1 then please do so and also importantly please pass on this message so that others can donate.

They are all good folks and already it is clear that they have bonded well together and are supporting each other when needed. For example the first day of their cycle down to Folkestone the temperature was well into the 30′s C, and there were obvious heat problems. A couple of them have had minor injuries such as a fall and tendonitis but they all keep going.

The links are below.

http://www.justgiving.com/Charles-Bushe  for Charles

 

for the others they can all be accessed here.

http://www.justgiving.com/teams/London-Istanbul2012

 

So, even if it appears a very small sum of money do please donate and help them to collect a decent sum for Help for Heroes. Do not forget that all the weather we have had here they have had too and have continued to cycle! Even Charles 11 year old sister has donated 5£ of her pocket money. Charles also gave up his olympic tickets to see the weightlifting to go on this cycle. Many thanks and again please pass this on to all that you know.

Jeddah and all its airports. Final KSA Chapter for now. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


I really have enjoyed my time in Saudi and find the people so pleasant but nothing surprises me here and that is the key to enjoying the country. This morning I was picked up at 6 am for a taxi ride to the airport. Simple. The first question was establishing which Jeddah airport. There are three all within a proximity. The first one would have been for Saudi Arabian Airlines flights which was 12 km, the second was for only the Saudi Royal family, this was about 25 km away and finally the last , third, and final airport which was for all foreign airlines 35 km away. 

I was fully prepared for plentiful discussions and debate with passport control and border agency equivalent staff at Jeddah, as that was my recollection from my last visit in 2008. Establishing beyond doubt that I did want to leave, that I had not and did not intend to commit any crime in KSA and to enquire as to exactly what I had been doing for the few days of my stay. My paranoia was misplaced. My interview with passport control was over in 5 seconds and the stamp provided and no-one else expressed any interest in what I was doing in Saudi Arabia. 

As I sit here in the lounge watching the sun rise higher in the sky and trying to look out of the windows ( not so easy as they are all covered in sand and dust), it does seem that KSA has changed for the better over the last 4 years and I would really look forward to the opportunity to return here one day not too soon.

Final thoughts on Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Do you want to pay 9p for a litre of petrol?


The two days I have been here have been interesting although I am not sure I have seen much if any of the kingdom. My conclusions are simple that I like the people or to be precise I like the men. They are more humble than I would have predicted, not all but most and interesting human beings. I hate the roads they are full of cars and bad driving. Yet astonishingly I have not seen a single accident. The reasons for the roads? Easy. The price of fuel is incredulously cheap and each family has 2-4 cars. Women are not permitted to drive so a second car is needed for the driver who drives the women.

The whole women thing takes some getting used to. In the audience for my talk tonight ( they like the term talk and not the term lecture) were no females. To have allowed them to be present would I was told have needed special governmental permission. I did see around 10 females arrive and sit down, and one was of european origin, but then they vanished. At the end of my ADHD talk I realised where they were, in a separate “womens room” presumably watching the slides on a monitor. Yet on the Saudi Arabian airlines flight this morning the cabin attendants were all female and wore no specific coverings of the face. Maybe I need to understand a little more.

Saudi Arabia is not a small country with a constantly growing population of 28 million inhabitants of whom 8.4million are non-nationals.  The two largest cities are where I have been staying, Riyadh 5 million and Jeddah 3.5 million. The native name for KSA is actually Al-Mamlaka al-‘Arabiyya as-Sa’ūdiyya (I have to admit to copying and pasting that one).

Geography was never my strong point but it is interesting to note the size of Saudi Arabia when compared with the other Gulf countries that surround KSA. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Arabian Peninsula. It occupies an area about the size of the United States east of the Mississippi River. Saudi Arabia’s population is 28 million, including 8.4 million foreign residents (2010 census),  and its capital city is Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia’s geography is diverse, with forests, grasslands, mountain ranges and deserts. The climate varies from region to region. Temperatures can reach over 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the desert in the summer, while in the winter temperatures in the north and central parts of the country can drop below freezing. Saudi Arabia gets very little rain, only about four inches a year on average.

green background, with in white letters the Muslim creed in Arabic: “There is no god but God: Muhammad is the Messenger of God.
I will definitely return and would encourage others to do so.

By the seaside. Jeddah in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)


Jeddah is about 75 minutes flight from Riyadh and very different. Firstly it is by the sea and I know that as I can see the sea from my window on the 6th floor. The humidity is incredible, so different from Riyadh which seemed pleasantly warm although around 30 degrees even in the evening. Lots of usual signs appear for Domino’s pizza, Subway, McDonalds and many more. The driving here is incredulous. I would issue a challenge to anyone to determine in the first 30 minutes of being in this city which side of the road they drive on. At one moment this morning my taxi on the right hand side was passed on its right hand side by another vehicle. Each and every car has serious dents and paintwork needs and I can see why. Most cars are Hyundai, the Elantra seems popular and most cars are white which is a big mistake as the sand everywhere soon turns them a kind of beige colour.

The hotel I am in, Crowne Plaza seems excellent and its location at the end of a dusty bumpy road is just odd. So, sadly with no swimming items I can neither go down to the sea, though suspect that oil tankers might be my company there nor go in the swimming pool that can be seen below. But the last bit of good news if you are listening Marriott hotels, is that the room wi-fi is totally free and excellent quality. That alone would make me choose this hotel. Simples…….

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Playing in a sandpit.


Arriving in Riyadh early in the morning is an interesting experience. This last week has been occupied with trying to get a Saudi Arabian visa to come over for the weekend to give a couple of lectures as invited to do so on ADHD. This is a complex effort to do and I am eternally grateful to Ahmed at A and M visas who guided me through the whole process, submitted the visa on monday and had it back in my hands on wednesday.

The flight is an overnight flight of 6 hours from Heathrow and landing around 6 am means the temperatures are already around 29 degrees. Driving seems interesting here. In the short term car park most cars are white and most/all are dented. The huge concrete pillars are all dented and scratched with car paint visible. The driving style resembles Stock Car racing. The lanes seem to be randomised to 3 then 2 then 4 then 3, which makes for an interesting drive. First impressions are that I am in a huge sandpit, which I am of course, in the desert. All the buildings are essentially built on sand on rock and there is a lot of building going on. A huge Hummer car passes with what looks like a mural of Gaddafi on the back. I don’t know enough about history or politics to know whether this is correct or likely, or if it is someone else. What I do know is that writing an address on an envelope must take a long time here with huge long road names mostly named after Saudi princes.

The place is a mixture of Saudi nationals in traditional headdress ( looks kind of smart to me, could be tempted) and westerners. There is little interaction other than the few undertaking business activities. My only dislike so far is that all food is served lukewarm but some of the Saudi desert pastries are delicious and I suspect highly calorific. This Marriott hotel is in many ways just like many others in UK and EU with the exception that no bar is obvious.

British Airways First Class Lounge- Reflections in a wine glass


After a good many life years I have finally got to be allowed into a first-class lounge. I will not bore you with the details as to why but it is a curious place. Hundreds of bottles of wine and champagne but with hardly anyone drinking. Most travellers are sitting or lying around with varying degrees of pained expressions that suggest terminal constipation. Maybe there is a rule that ” though shalt not smile in first-class”. Or maybe the butler does it for one?

Big chairs, huge piles of newspapers and magazines, uncrowded ( but there again who in their right mind with a life to live wants to be flying out of Heathrow on a friday evening?), lots of biscuits ( few less now that I have arrived) but no smiles and eternal warmth .

Curiously there are two life size horse statues guarding the way in and numerous other artistic efforts.

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