If you want to go out but just want to go out beyond the four walls of your room, that is called laziness. LOL. Don’t worry because I feel you brothers and sisters. That’s what I want to do too. No, who am I kidding? The truth us I just want to stay indoors with my family and read, write, watch movies and tv, sleep, and eat. Yup seems like the perfect life to me. Haha! Kidding. Of course, I don’t want to be just at home for the entire week of eid holiday. I also want to go out but I’ll reserve that during night time because seriously, who even want to go out on this HOT weather? It’s giving me the headaches when I come from an air-conditioned place and go out to face the warm weather outside. Who’s with me on this? So it’s better if we go out at night. But where are we going to go? What are we going to do?
Well, first and foremost, if you want to join the eid celebrations, you might want to check out this website: www.alriyadh.com. It’s the website of the Riyadh Municipality. They’re really active on Twitter so check it out also. You can also check out the Twitter account of Alburaiji District, the food and arts area of historical Dirriyah. There’s also this schedule from the Arriyadh website. I’m just really annoyed that all of their announcements are mostly in Arabic. Are people who can’t read Arabic not invited? Haha! Oh well, social media accounts have translation on their pages so you can go ahead and use that to read and understand the events’ timings, schedules, and venues. (What to do with the details on Arabic inforgraphics though?).
If you don’t have the time, the energy, the willingness, and the money to go out of Riyadh then that’s okay. There are places here in the city that you might want to discover or rediscover. There’s always the Saudi National Museum which will be open from 4:00PM to 8:00PM (with last admission to enter at 7:00PM). That’s it if you haven’t seen it because if you have, then I’m afraid to say that there’s nothing new in the place unless you’re interested to see the art and culture events happening in the square near it. Between you and me, I have been to the museum thrice and while I’m a culture nut, three is enough. Haha! Then there’s always the Landmarks Park, which is one of the venues of kids’ shows this eid. If you have children then this will be a fun learning experience for them because they get to learn the famous landmarks in the world and they also get to enjoy a small carnival.
But serious you guys, what else can we do this eid?
1. Visit theme parks or entertainment centers.
There was one time in the year 2009 (yes, that long ago) that we ventured to Star City in Exit 9 on an eid night. It was also the time that my birthday corresponded with the eid vacation and so we were supposed to celebrate my birthday along with the eid. We clutched our SR 5 vouchers from Cobone to Star City only to find it dark and the lone guy in the place was irritated to see us. In Arabic, he informed us that it was closed (we didn’t really understand him but he was making the “shoo shoo” motion and well, that pretty much said it all). Wow. That voucher was specifically for the eid and uh, they were closed?!? We charged that to experience and because we were probably too traumatized by that, we didn’t return to Star City or any of the theme parks beside it ever. However, I couldn’t hep but pass through that area countless time and the only theme park that I see which looks open and active is Al Hokair Land [MAP].
I don’t have any experience in Al Hokair Land but kids seem to enjoy the place. The rides though are a bit old-looking and rickety and you might want to make sure of the safety standards of the place first. There are some rides and arcade games, along with kids shows and activities. It will keep your kids preoccupied for a certain period of time. There are some rides that are open to adults so if you want to indulge that inner kid in you… why not? Haha.
Alternatives: Entertainment centers inside the malls are a good alternative. Try Toy Town in Sahara Mall [MAP], Sparky’s in Hayat Mall [MAP], and Billy Beez in Al Nakheel Mall [MAP]. However, on the first day of eid, malls might be closed but try going on the second and third day (July 7-8, 2016) and they might already be open.
2. Visit the other kind of park.
And by park I meant the normal nature park. The King Abdullah Park [MAP] has been renovated a few years ago and it now has a musical fountain that keeps visitors delighted. They have a man-made lake in the middle where thedancing and well-lit fountains can be seen at night. However, the main draws of this park are still the grass areas where families can have picnics and the trail around it that can be used for walking, jogging, and running if you’re keeping fit after all those iftars and suhoors you indulged in. It is also home to some flower carpets adorning the concrete islands and lamp posts. Entrance fee for adults is SR 10 while it’s SR 5 for kids. It will be crowded during the eid because it’s a good viewing area to see the fireworks at night but if you can elbow your way in, then go for it. Haha!
Alternatives: Salam Park [MAP] is also a good park because it’s one of the biggest in the city. Apart from the picnic grounds, it also has a boating area where you can take your family and friends. For us Filipinos, this will remind us of Burnham Park in Baguio. Just less colorful boats and greens and of course, no cold weather for now. The park behind King Fahd National Library in Olaya [MAP] is also a good place to enjoy the time with your loved ones. It’s not as crowded but there are no special activities apart from you walking or jogging. It does give you a nice view of Riyadh’s popular skyscrapers though. If your kids want to bike around and have a huge space to run, then Al Kindi Plaza in the Diplomatic Quarters is also a good venue.
3. Stay in hotels/chalet/isteraha.
A few of our friends are doing this right now. They checked in in hotels in Riyadh and why not? It feels like you’re in vacation too, just minus the sceneries of Europe or the food of the United States. Haha! But living in a hotel for a night or two will also relax you and you’ll feel rejuvenated afterwards because you had a change of scenery and your body will acknowledge that change so when you go back to work, it’s as if you really went on vacation outside your comfort zone. Some friends went for The Ritz Carlton [MAP] and others went to Burj Rafal Hotel Kempinski [MAP]. If you find them expensive (because heck they are!), then there are other 3- or 4-star hotels you can choose from. There are also chalets and isterahas with small pools that you can rent for SR 500 up! Check out @riyadh_chalets in Instagram. It features a lot of other villas, chalets and isterahas and one account will lead to another until you find what you’re looking for. The thing with these places though is you need to have a good grasp of the Arabic language to negotiate. Anyway, it’s up to you. Whatever your budget or preferences are the choices are endless.
Alternatives: Luxury apartments can also give you that “vacation” mode, especially those that gives you the feel of your own home sweet home. Try the Marriott Executive Apartments [MAP]. We were there before we flew to their neighboring Residence Inn by Marriott in Bahrain and we forgot to update you guys but if there’s one apartment that you and your family will enjoy, it’s the Marriott Executive Apartments because of the amenities that are open for you. Check out their lounge and swimming pool areas! For ladies who want to stay in a ladies only hotel then try Luthan Hotel and Spa [MAP] and the ladies floor of Four Seasons Hotel [MAP].
4. Go geocaching!
Now this is not a place that you can go to per se. It’s an activity! Also, it’s an app that you can download on your phones and will let you go on a “treasure hunt” in the city. The app will tell you where some “cache” is hidden. It can be a small one or a large one, it can also just be virtual. The important thing is you find it with the help of the app. It will guide you by giving you the coordinates and also clues from fellow geocachers. It works like a treasure hunt, you guys. There are caches that you need to find in some points or location and yes, you will look ridiculous while you’re looking for it at the oddest places but that’s why I’m suggesting you do this during eid because there will be fewer people in Riyadh. However, you should also look out because people might think that something’s wrong with you or that you’re up to no good when looking at the cache in public places. Once you find a cache, you open it and just write your name as an evidence that you found it. Also, don’t forget to share your experience in the app.
It’s only just a few weeks that I downloaded the app in my phone. I’ve been to one location and sadly, I didn’t find the cache. It’s probably because I was too shy to go around that particular spot and look for the item that was described as a “small cache”. Even my husband and older brother were already searching with me, haha! But when they found out there’s really no prize to this, then they just told me to go home. Haha! Yes, there’s really no prize, just bragging rights on the app that you found it.
Alternative: Make your own Amazing Race or Treasure Hunt games with your friends. Especially if you’re living in compounds, villages, and hospital/company housings.
5. Watch “books that turned to movies” movies.
You are so boring Janelle! This might probably be running in your mind right now. But seriously guys, this is what I intended to do this Ramadan. I found out that there were a lot of books that turned into movies that I already missed and so I came up with a list and I vowed to watch them over the eid holidays. However, I know that I am probably setting myself up for disappointment because no movie that came from a book was ever as good as the book (except probably for Gone Girl wherein the movie totally smashed the book) but I’m pretty much lenient on these adaptations. I know that you can’t possibly take a thousand pages from a book and it cram it into a 2-hour movie. Of course there will be details and scenes that will be cut in the way but that’s just what it is. I just revel on the fact that the story came to life. So here’s some suggestions for you:
The 5th Wave (released January 15) – Chloë Grace Moretz stars on this film and right off the bat I don’t like her for this role. Haha! This is an “alien-invades-earth” story that has 2 more parts to follow, if the movie producers pick up Book 2 and 3.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (released March 4) – This is the movie adaptation of the book “The Taliban SHuffle” which I was reading last month. It’s the story of journalist Kim Baker who got stationed in Kabul. I loved this movie (because you know me, I like Middle Eastern novels… especially when they turn to movies [hello The Kite Runner!])
Allegiant (released June 3) – You might want to refresh your minds and watch the first 2 installments of this series: Divergent and Insurgent. This is uspposed to be the last book because there are only 3 books in this apocalyptic novels but they decided to cut the last book Allegiant into two movies. Therefor, we need to wait for the last installment titled Ascendant showing in 2017 to come to terms with the ending of this series.
Me Before You (released June 3) – A hit now because of the love story which is not really a love story. I couldn’t stand the book so I haven’t really watched this movie. I’m only suggesting this movie to you because I want us to discuss the issue of assisted suicide.
Alternative: Read the books that are about to be shown as movies this second half of 2016 like Nerve (showing July 27), The Light Between Oceans (September 2), Queen Of Katwe (September 23), The Girl on the Train (October 7), Inferno (October 14), Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (November 18), and Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children (December 25).
Let me know how you are spending your eid in our lovely Riyadh. Haha! Eid Mubarak, Riyadhizens! I hope you all enjoy your eid break and whatever you do, please take care.