Nadagdagan ang magaganda sa Jeddah.
For three days that is. 😉
I had a very generous sponsor who booked me a room at the Radisson SAS (along Medina Rd) and had me fly business class via Saudia Airlines. That setup alone set the tone of my trip: Posh in Jeddah. And how posh the trip was! Devouring smoked salmon and prawns for lunch at the Intercon, joyriding through the boutiques of Tahlia St. and dining aboard a (mini)ship while cruising Jeddah waters at Mashar Al-Aham, Obhur–were just some of the “posh” things I did while I was there.
Aboard the mini-ship that took us around Obhur Creek
(eastern side of the Red Sea, I’m told)
Of course, I did not miss King Fahad Fountain, Jollibee and Al-Baik! Thanks to the friendly kabayans who offered to show me around these places. Special shoutout to Ms. Arlene Luna and Mr. Ador Javier! You guys rock!! My Jeddah visit would not have been as complete if not for your sincere kindness.
Suffice to say, I was mixing (a lot of needed) pleasure with business. Being eyecandy is hard work but I’m not complaining. I just felt renewed at the opportunity to have been able to smile all day and meet new people from all walks of life. And of course, promoting our journal. 🙂 The symposium had over 1,200 participants, so clearly, the surroundings had a stark difference from my regular days of sitting in front of the computer as my only form of “social life”.
Other than that, I found Jeddah to be relaxed and pleasant. What struck me above all was the attitudes of the people, especially the Saudi folks. I never thought I’d meet a decent Saudi guy in my entire life (maybe because they’re all in Jeddah! *haha*) But I did, perhaps three or five of them. I found our conversations equally platonic with no malice/seduction intended which is such a relief coming from a place that deems eye-contact as a form of flirtation already.
Jeddah was almost “normal”. For me it was friendly, fun and refreshing. The trip may as well have been a blessing in disguise. Prior the 23rd, I was reaching new heights of haggardness. Now, I can’t even remember what I was fussing about. That trip did me goooood.
However, I still consider Riyadh as my home and Jeddah…well, Jeddah was the next great escape.