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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

My weekend was effectively the weekend that wasn’t really a weekend.  Here, let me explain.

1) Flew down to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

First up was a really early flight that had me up and getting ready to go to the airport at about 5:45AM on Saturday to catch my first flight to Frankfurt.

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I should note for those folks following along on Twitter as well, that I managed to fix my suitcase issue.  For those not familiar, my suitcase decided to have its handle fall off last week on a trip.  I had completely forgotten about said problem until post-packing and heading out the door.  Thus, I grabbed a roll of tape and went to town at the airport.

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Yup, winner:

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Then from there it was a direct flight to Jeddah.

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I awoke somewhere over Egypt and the Nile river.  While I’ve flown over both a number of times in the past, it’s always interesting to me how truly green it really is around the river.  Growing up I’d remember in geography class talking about how the area around the Nile was lush green, and then back to desert.  But to see it first-hand is a key reminder.

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Then, it was back to desert.

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And ultimately, the Red Sea as we made our approach into Jeddah:

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There’s good diving in that sea, which I’ve done on the Egyptian side with my brother in the past.  A few minutes later we zipped past a pile of older 747’s slowly turning into sand buckets, and landed in Jeddah.

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While I got off of the airplane quickly, that did not mean I got through customs quickly.  All in it took about 90 minutes, 30 minutes of which was due to my arrival coinciding with one of the daily prayer breaks, which the customs officers departed for.  In general, I made more progress in the customs line not because people were successfully getting through, but because people in front of me were getting rejected for various reasons.  Once I finally got to the front, I was through in under a minute and on my way 30 minutes to the hotel….where I pretty much promptly went to sleep.

2) Went to work…on a Sunday.

As I noted at the beginning, this was the weekend that wasn’t really a weekend.  With travelling the full daylight hours of Saturday, that day was a loss.  Since I had arrived into Saudi though, they do weekend’s on Friday/Saturday (like many other Middle Eastern countries), thus my meeting was on Sunday.

I don’t have any photos of said meeting, but, it was reasonably efficient – so that was good.  And about 4 hours after I arrived, I headed back to the hotel.

3) Went for a really darn hot run

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Now back at the hotel late-afternoon on Sunday, I decided to head out for a run.  But rather than re-hash what I already wrote – I’ll let you read about that in my ‘Jeddah Runaround’ post.

As noted…it was really hot (that’s the temperature – 100°F – above), and in general, likely a poor time to run.  But, I count without running into any trouble – so that’s my barometer for success in this case.

4) Flew to Bahrain

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With my run over I spent about an hour cooling back down again.  Approximately 58 minutes more time than I really wanted to spend.

Post-cool-down though I grabbed dinner at the hotel and then headed off to the airport, almost precisely 24 hours after I had arrived there.

From here I’d be flying the approximately 2 hours to Bahrain, essentially crossing the full width of Saudi Arabia:

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Upon arrival into Bahrain I went to my favorite place in the Bahrain airport: Dairy Queen.  Cinnabon was also a leading contender for my credit card.  But I had my mind set on Dairy Queen since about half-way through that hideously hot run many hours before.  Plus, it’d give me a bit of sugar to stay awake for the 2hr drive so I could get work done.

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For those wondering about my suitcase, it was doing quite well up until this moment.  Then one side of the tape separated.  I think I’ll have to repair it again later tonight.  The driver was very insistent on taking my suitcase, despite it’s very clear flaws.

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I have a bad feeling it won’t make it through the other 5-6 legs/flights/trains of this trip though.  Not looking good.

5) And then I drove back to Saudi Arabia

After my DQ pickup, a driver whisked me out of the city and back towards Saudi Arabia.  Ultimately, the fastest way for me to get between Jeddah (where I was for Sunday), and my meetings on Monday/Tuesday in Al Khobar, was via exiting the country and coming back in.

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The drive takes about two hours, depending on customs, which tonight was so-so on the backup front.  At around 1:45AM I arrived into my hotel, ahead of more meetings starting at 8AM on Monday.  It’s gonna be a long day…

I’ll do the whole thing in reverse on Tuesday night, ultimately making three flights before landing into the tiny little airport virtually attached to Eurobike at 9AM on Wednesday.

Hope everyone has a great week ahead!  Lots of cool cycling-focused news coming up this week!

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23 Comments

  1. Happy Runner

    Y Class? When I imagine your travels in my mind’s eye, you are always in the front of the plane.

    • matt

      i checked as well. you’d think with all those miles they would bump him to the front every time!

    • Tyler R

      Unless I am forgetting, Gulf Air isn’t apart of any Alliance or codeshare with an airline Ray likely frequents. I’d wonder where he sat on the Lufthansa flight ;)

  2. SteveT

    Ray,

    Hope you have a pool handy, by 10p.m. the water/air combo is perfect.

    ST

  3. BillM

    Safer to sit at the back of the plane unless the tail gets ripped off on impact as per Asiana airlines crash in San Francisco and you fall out and get run over by the fire trucks. That said, if I was able to afford 1st class and sit up front on long haul flights it would be hard to resist.

  4. Jakub

    Hi Ray,
    So how come such a returned large interest in Fenix? I see it in most of your new posts.

    • Mostly just a coincidence. I knew the weather would be hot and that the FR620 doesn’t record temperature, so I figured the Fenix2 and Ambit3 would be more interesting (used both).

      Outside of that, I’ve just been testing some stuff on the Fenix2 recently. I suspect by next week or so I’ll be back to the FR620.

  5. Milt MacFarlane

    G’day Ray seeing your up to probably buying a new suitcase soon, would it be possible for you to do an assessment on the one you buy, to include what I intend to do next year, is bring over a foldable bike and tow the Suitcase around behind the bike for 6 months…hope you can help HooRoo from Australia

    This is the one that pricked me to buy and to do it myself
    link to kogan.com

    Or this one already built, but adds another set of wheels to the equation
    link to wicycle.com

  6. One random thing I did this weekend? Drank a tequila shot in my wedding dress! I got married!

  7. morey000

    There’s probably a guy somewhere that does detailed technical blogging of travel luggage. :)

  8. Brad

    Wow, that’s hot.

    Any issues with customs / immigration? A family friend went to Saudi Arabia recently for a conference. The guy he paid to arrange his visa listed the wrong dates, but he couldn’t tell (visa was in Arabic). Upon arrival they put him in a room and left him there for 14 hours with virtually no explanation. Only when he started reading an English copy of the Koran he found in the room did they let him make some phone calls to get things sorted out. The officials gave him a copy of the Koran to take home with him. His lesson: always carry a Koran when traveling to the middle east.

    • No problems with visas for me. In the case of both of my Saudi Visas, they both specify the duration and the start date (though, no end date), in English.

      There were certainly many people milling about in visa no-mans-land. Some of them looked like they were there due to self-inflicted mistakes (like just showing up altogether with nothing), and others looked like they were genuinely confused.

      I normally handle all my own visas myself, but for the Saudi ones I use a visa person in Paris that handles it all from a pickup/delivery standpoint. I still have to do all the legwork in terms of rounding up official letters from both the Saudi and French organizations, but that’s all relatively easy when someone is asking/telling you to be there.

  9. Jackson

    Ray – saw your twitter post on so many services down…and not only did Garmin forums have a problem…Garmin connect is hosed up. Send it activities…and they wont post. Search for “Garmin Connect” on twitter and hear the anguished voices through the universe screaming for help.

  10. Neil Carrington

    “For those wandering about my suitcase…” Ray- It’s “wondering”. But you do a lot of wandering on your adventures, so I guess the mistake is understandable. And speaking of hot, I did the Louisville Ironman yesterday, 93F 80% humidity. DNF rate in my age group (male 40-44) was 22%. That’s nuts. I was one of the DNF’ers. My Garmin Edge 500, which I just bought last week, measured the 112 mile bike course as 111.99. Not too bad.

  11. Jonas S.

    Ray, you might want to hide/obscure hide ticket number and barcode if you take photos of your boarding pass. ;)

  12. Fill-er up

    100 isn’t so bad. It was 101 here in South Carolina last week. Just drink plenty of fluids and you can do any workout you want.

  13. Kevin

    My favorite part of the Bahrain airport is the Duty Free between getting off the plane and customs. It’s significantly cheaper than US/Euro duty free and saves you from hauling bottles on the plane.

    Ray, don’t try driving to Khobar on a Saturday night. Bahrain is Tijuana for the Saudis. The come across the bridge on Thursday to drink/movies/shop/etc in a much more relaxed environment, and all head back on Saturday. I once asked about why it was ok to do the “bad stuff” in Bahrain and he told me “Allah cannot see across the water.” I think he was kidding a bit, but also some truth. What happens in Bahrain stays in Bahrain. Or something.

    • Yeah, it’s funny – I spent 6 weeks in Bahrain a few years back for work, always interesting what happens every weekend there with the ‘migration’ of sorts.