Uber or Easy taxi in Jeddah, my choice?

 

My recent trip to Los Angeles had introduced me to Uber app. My son said,” you have to learn how to use google map and use Uber to take a ride mom!”  Yes my dear, I will! With his busy schedule, he tried hard to take me anywhere but I have to take a few trips here and there with Uber. I found it very easy and dependable. When I came back from holiday, to my amusement I found the apps working in Jeddah too!

Huh? since when? through my research Uber had become operational last April 2014 in Riyadh and expanded recently to Jeddah and Dammam. It attracts many woman passengers the most.Why? Women are not allowed to drive in the Kingdom. We are dependent to company driver, taxi and relatives to take us to work and to other places. In addition, women are not allowed to travel alone with a male driver who is not closely related, like he should be your husband,brother or close relatives. Imagine the difficulties expatriates ,women in particular are facing everyday!

photo taken from my iPhone screen shot
photo taken from my iPhone screen shot

 

My brother used to take me to work everyday and now that he is on holiday , I have to take a taxi to go to work and shopping.:-) My co-worker at first recommends “Easy Taxi”, I tried and I found nothing special about it. It’s the same taxi you find on the street, you’re lucky to find a clean car but as usual there’s a bonus of smell..yes! I’ve been in the Kingdom for so long (29 yrs) and there’s only a few rides (a lucky day, i guess) that the driver has no smell. My first experience was not really good, the driver charged me 15SR which usually a 10SR trip. I rated him with a one star for dishonesty because I got my Easy Taxi receipt for only 10SR. He called me after the ride and why should I take the call? I don’t want to hear what he gonna say. Why should I use an Easy Taxi if I can find a lot of taxi on the road? Probably a bit cheaper and you can haggle with the fare? Maybe!

 

And so, I tried Uber!

photo credit: iPhone screen shot from the web
photo credit: iPhone screen shot from the web

My first trip: I wrote my address in the app , but the research didn’t turn out well, so I used a different spelling and wallah it works! huh! arabic names is so confusing. I can see from the map that the driver is only a minute away but I can’t see him or can’t contact him so I waited and after 5 minutes, he cancelled my trip! What?

Suddenly, the car (Hyundai Tucson) was right infront of me, the driver was waving his hand, I look at the car and plate number, oh this is it! So I went in..so neat and no smell, good 🙂

Uber driver :”Es hada madame? ana tassel marah, mafi kalam” (What happened madame, I called you many times and you’re not answering)

Me: huh? really? The phone is in my hand.

Uber Driver: mafi kalam English.

Me: (to make my story short, I will translate the conversation in English 🙂 ) Just take me please to Thalia, I can’t find the address on the map.

I reached my work place in 18 minutes and I was charged twice 15SR and 17SR, what?? you are a thief ! more than Easy Taxi. So I was murmuring, I gonna write an email to the company and before I can do it, I received an email from Uber with a subj: Receipt for cancelled trip 🙂

“When a trip is cancelled more than five minutes after a driver accepts, or if the driver has to cancel after waiting more than five minutes at the pick up location, a Sr15 cancellation fee is charged.”

OMG! so it’s my mistake that the driver can’t find me?

” If you think this was mistake, please visit help.uber.com or tap HELP in the menu panel of the Uber app and we’ll make it right.”

and so when I tapped the menu, suddenly I remembered what the driver said .. I called many times..OMG ! I didn’t change my phone number, It’s my USA number 🙂 my mistake!

2nd trip: after changing my USA number to KSA number.

again, Hyundai, Santa Fe, clean car and driver (speaking English) with water and tissue at the back 🙂 This time I was charged 11Sr.

After riding 5 more trips, I choose Uber than Easy taxi. Though it’s a bit expensive than a normal taxi, I am happy I can sit quietly in the car without covering my nose and mouth 🙂

Ladies, this is not the only available rides connecting you to a driver on app, there are more i.e.. Mondo ride, Careem and Taxi Pixi. I haven’t tried yet, maybe soon. For now, I am satisfied with the Uber service. I choose to pay by credit card, although there are three choices: cash,master card and visa card.

TIPS:

  • better drop a pin on location, copy the address and save it!
  • check  the correct spelling of the street before searching
  • use “estimate the fare”
  • Uber does not mandate a tip and driver do not drive expecting a tip, but you can 🙂

Good luck! Have a safe and happy ride.

Cheers,

Jamilamimi

 

Scared of MERS -I travelled via Etihad Airways on Pearl Business Class

A week or two before his birthday, my father had suffered a mild stroke. I immediately decided to visit him. Before the announcement of an outbreak of MERS in Saudi Arabia, I already purchased an economy ticket going to Philippines via Etihad Airways.

MERS – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is a viral respiratory illness caused by Coronavirus. It was first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia.It has been said that it likely came from animal sources like camel in Qatar and a bat in Saudi Arabia.It can be spread from one infected person to another person.

April 7, 2014 my flight From Jeddah to Abu Dhabi (Economy Class) and From Abu Dhabi to Manila (Business Class). For all OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) who have had experienced travelling in economy class, with different nationalities, different cultures, different hygiene practice…people who spit in public, sneeze /cough with gusto without covering their mouth without even considering they can spread the microbes (bacteria) to other people, this in particular is the menace of travelling.

To make the story short, I had the chance to experience travelling in business class when they offered me(via e-mail) to bid on the seat. It was a relief  not to hassle, to wait in VIP lounge, a choice of complimentary delectable cuisine and even a free 15 minutes massage is available.

6 ft 1 inch Flat bed
6 ft 1 inch Flat bed

I apologize for the not so clear pictures but one thing I can surely say, the pictures in their websites and its functions are all true.

 

I had the same opportunity in coming back, scared of the MERS cases escalating in Saudi Arabia,I braced myself of some precautions because I was already feeling tired from travelling, my body were aching and just to have a comfortable flight will add some relaxation and will at least minimise my contacts to other passengers.

So after 12 hours and the plane had touchdown in Jeddah,Saudi Arabia, I noticed redness and warmness in my face and neck. I also have difficulty of swallowing due to sore throat. After I reached home, I immediately freshened and concluded that I might be having allergy so I took antihistamine tablet. I felt asleep for maybe an hour and when I woke up, the redness and swelling were more than usual, my eyes were puffy and half closed. I went to Emergency room(ER) , history was taken while taking the vital signs and Allerfin intramuscular injection STAT!

no diarrhoea, no difficulty of breathing and slightly elevated body temperature (37.9 C) definitely no MERS!!

I went home but after 12 hours I am back again in the ER, this time my whole body, extremities were all red, my face and neck were more swollen and red, so another injection was given, CBC (complete blood count) and antibiotic treatment was started right away.

Tentative diagnosis: Viral Exanthem?/ Scarlet fever

After 4 days, the rashes and swelling started to disappear, my sore throat is less and I started to enjoy my meal. The CBC result is with in normal limits and I am back to work. 🙂

Thank you Lord, it wasn’t MERS!

Did the business class seat helps? I guess it minimises the contact to other passengers, did I mentioned Sarah Geronimo (popular Filipina singer) and her mother was a just a seat away? 🙂 If I was in the economy seat, with my low resistance to infection, it might have been worse.

Overall, the upgraded seat, the additional cost is worth having. Thank you Etihad Airways!

Cheers!

Jamilamimi

 

 

 

 

 

Photoblog: Jeddah Fish market

A friday soaring hot morning in Jeddah Fish Market will surely make your day, fish monger are all smiling and willingly pose with their fish on hand. Some of our kababayan (overseas Filipino workers) also wave their hand and willingly smile. Even the fish (tilapia) jumps with joy, spinning and caught me offhanded ;-).