If you haven’t noticed by now, two of the PT girls are hands down lakwatseras
(Sundrenched and moi). Apart from combing the city of Riyadh for the past two months, we’ve been planning on this train trip to Dammam ever since the year started (primarily because we wanted to experience the “train” ride). However, it was only last week when we finally got it out of our system.
Time and again, I would hear Sundrenched exclaim, “Let’s go to Dammam!“. But it was always like a yeah-whatever-moment. Until one day, we were scheduling our weekly activities for June and said, “Okay, we need to do this Dammam thing already. June 17-18 would be a spot-on day for us to go”. So S did the research and two days before our scheduled departure, we purchased our VIP tickets at the train station. We left Wednesday afternoon for their 4pm trip. Check out the amenities and the view:
VIP sections boasts of their leather seats and more spacious space. :p That’s what the train looks like from the window seat (upper right side of photo)
The traveling divas.
It’s all desert baby. Magulat ka kung may makita kang dagat.
The trip takes around 4-5 hours with the train making a stop at Hofuf for another set of passengers (VIP section allows co-ed and families to travel mixed). It must be noted that the trip going to Dammam has you going backwards…meaning, you are seated facing the North but the ride is going towards the South (get my drift?). It may appear to be a little kick in the head for the sensitive ones, especially if you constantly have migraines, but I personally didn’t mind. I mean, everything else in Saudi Arabia is backwards, why be surprised if their train does the same? They serve complimentary Arabic/Turkish tea with dates early on the departure and there are food carts that go through the coach every two hours. The food is nothing fancy at all. For all I know, our cafeteria serves better food. You’ve got water and a bag of chips as the best bet from that food trolley. I suggest you pack your own snacks. For S, she munched the trip away with a good book at hand.
Day 1: Hola Dammam and Corniche!
We arrived at the Dammam station half-past 9 and we waited for my dear friend Amir, along with his family, to pick us up. Amir is a good friend of mine from high school and his family moved to Dammam a couple of years back to set up a restaurant business (Their Filipino resto is called TFC: Tropical Food Center). They were extremely generous enough to offer their home to us during our overnight trip and props to Amir, for being an awesome host!
After dinner, S and I expressed our plans of visiting the Corniche early the next day but since Amir’s dad would be unable to take us there the following morning, we decided to stake out the hotspot that very night.
According to Amir’s dad, the shoreline of the Corniche has been constantly under development. I’d say they are doing a helluva job.
That’s me with my friend, Amir and S posing on the other.
A beautiful cityscape behind us. Now with Kuya Rex, Amir’s older bro.
One thing that really made a mark on S and I by the way was the WEATHER! When we first got out of the van to get a closer look at the water, we were attacked by the strongest humid air I could ever imagine! It was killer HOT! And we were absolutely melting at where we stood. I was strongly inclined to take my clothes off and jump into the water that very minute. But then again, my better judgment crept in (dammet). Anyhoo, we enjoyed scouting the sights, seeing restaurants and theme parks mushroom their way through the shoreline. The landscape was well-maintained and it would appear to be a favorite for families to hang out during the day with mini-playgrounds available for children to play at. Somehow, I thought it was better that we visited during the night because I cannot imagine the heat that it could further muster during the day. Photo-ops will suffer but then again, I want to live more than I want to have a good photograph. Perhaps during winter would be the best time to visit.
Day 2: Daytrippin’ and Malling
S and I woke up to the idea of visiting the largest mall there is in the Eastern Province. Since we knew that the hot weather will get the best of us, what better way to escape its wrath than by going to the mall? Amir hooked us up with a taxi and off we went to AlKhobar’s Al Rashid Mall. We took pictures of the streets of Dammam along the way and wondered, where are all the people? Hehe. Compared to Riyadh, I don’t see any Afghanis or Pakistanis hanging out on the sidestreets. Most of the time, they’re just empty. Hmmm, maybe they’re all at the beach? :p
Taken while we were in the cab. We also spotted the Mall of Dhahran along the way. Does this mean we were at Dhahran too? 😛
We arrived at Al Rashid Mall and maaan, it was HUGE! S and I were like Hansel and Gretel, lured by the delectable treats in the evil witch’s house! We spotted stores that weren’t available in Riyadh and those were the ones we hit. There was FOREVER21 (now that experience will be relayed in a separate post), Popeye’s fastfood chain (there used to be a Popeye’s in Riyadh when I was younger, but I wonder why it disappeared?) and the Le Royale Cake (where a certain friend of ours begged us to get her some bread from their bakery).
Sights we hit at the Al Rashid Mall
The mall was a delight to visit. For me, it felt like I was in a mall in the Philippines with the atmosphere being more lax and open. The food court was noisy and crowded with males and families sitting together in one area. You would have seen a sparkle in my eye as I gazed the surroundings, almost surprised that such a scenario can exist inside the Kingdom. We bought a lot of pastry items from Le Royal Cake as pasalubong for our families back in Riyadh and ended up waiting for our driver to pick us up at 4pm.
Self-timer: S and I enjoyed a cool, caffeine drink at the Ladies’ section of Al Rashid’s Starbucks while waiting for the cab.
We came back to Amir’s house at around 5pm to get ready for our train trip back. Our train leaves at around 7pm and we neded to be there at least an hour before. It seems to be a quick trip ain’t it? We’ve had a blast, mostly because of our stay with Amir and his family. If it weren’t for them, we probably wouldn’t have enjoyed our visit as much. (Coz you know, me and S just originally planned this whole trip to be a back and forth thing…like…we just wanted to experience the train, that was basically what we wanted) So had Amir not offered, it would have been far less exciting than it was. So a big big, BIG THANK YOU AMIR
! *air kisses* The Pink Tarha Team is grateful. *bows*
Here are some of our photos before leaving Dammam. Did I mention that we were in VIP class during our trip? 😀 Posh kung posh.
Our pretty travel bags sat with us at the Al Rehab lounge, where VIPs are seated while waiting for the trip. (The blue floral bag is Sundrenched’s, from Mexx and the hand-painted pink floral is mine from Accessorize)
Bye Dammam! We had fun!