Road trip to food trip: MANDI, who needs a decent food in the desert?

wondering whats cooking?

I need a decent food!!! Shout out of the day during our trip to Madaín Saleh. Decent? Civilized? Is there such a thing as civilized food? Knock me out three times but our group defines decent food as no fat, no cholesterol, and no salt, in short a “healthy food”.

We wanted to have fun so no restrictions! Diet was not in our vocab for the three days and two nights were on the trip. Carbonated drinks, chocolates, chips, nuts, hotdog, hamburger, candies, bring it on!

When we were looking for a place to stay, we came across a restaurant that  prepares “Kabsa”-an Arabic dish made of rice mixed with traditional spices, either with chicken, camel, goat or lamb.

kabsa …mandi

A popular way of preparing meat is called mandi. This is an ancient technique, whereby meat is barbecued in a deep hole in the ground that is covered while the meat cooks. Another way of preparing and serving meat for kabsa is mathbi, where seasoned meat is grilled on flat stones that are placed on top of burning embers. A third technique, madghūt, involves cooking the meat in a pressure cooker.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabsar

On our first night, we went to the place but they were too busy preparing for a big gathering, we were not able to buy the kabsa , we opted for a chicken instead of Lamb.

BIG? HUGE!
indoor picnic

The salon of the rented apartment has a flat cushions sofa, the usual way of eating Kabsa ( i heard ) is by placing the big plate   on the floor and everyone shares, so  basically we had a picnic  inside the apartment.

happy together
the on-lookers, the man is putting spices to basmati rice (long grain)

The following night, everyone agrees, we are not going back to Jeddah without trying the “Kabsa” so we went back again to the same shop and they welcome us with an open arms.The big plate with 4 kilos meat (lamb) cost Sr 500, wow! we are not big eaters! We got the medium plate with 2 kilos of meat and one whole chicken for Sr 250.

boiling meat
flame under

They boiled the meat before putting it into the deep hole with a flame underneath.

ready meat for barbecue
o la la wanna have some Camel?
boiled meat
two men, putting the rice into a boiling spiced meat stock
wow heavy!just goofing around!

Did we survive? of course we did! A well satisfied palate and a belly of happiness. Cheers!

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Al Ula mud-brick houses in black and white

October 30,2012 -After a spectacular sunset at the top of Al Ula plateau , the following morning we decided to visit the ruins of mud brick houses of Al Ula. Its so sad to think that this houses were not protected or secluded to keep its history.

Mostly of the houses are already crumbled and ready to fall.

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Slow down Camel crossing…Road trip to Madaín Saleh

Slow down Camel crossing… Road trip to Madaín Saleh

We left Jeddah at 5óclock in the morning of October 28, 2012, same month when I visited the Nabatean capital of the north –PETRA in Jordan last year. Madaín Saleh is about 800 km from Jeddah. We filled our cooler with cold drinks, foods, chips, chocolates and nuts. Hence, we couldn’t find a booking on 28thwe also packed our camping gear and gadgets.

Al ULA ARAC Hotel

Arac Al Ula Hotel arranged the permit for us. We only e-mailed our names and iqama numbers and presto! Permit is free of charge. As the sun rises up, we stop for a while for breakfast. We are 10 adults and 4 children in 3 cars. My two brothers are with me and a very good friend of mine who also packed his sense of humor which made the trip more enjoyable.

The road was straight with a little curvature at times, surrounded with Rock Mountains; we had our second stop for lunch, a picnic under the shaded trees.As we get nearer to the place, more curvatures are evident on the road with has the road sign “slow down, camel crossing” wow!  As if were passing “School zone, children crossing”. This is good, because I heard a lot of accidents happened at night when suddenly camel cross the road and bumps the car.

salt bed

Our third stop is the salt pans (salt bed),

oasis

I wonder if this is the Al hasa salt pans, so excited to get down to see the place which looks like snow in the summer, and I was not able to notice the name of the area. We filled our KIA van with gasoline twice, and I can’t help not to mention that our friend’s car is Hyundai Matrix which I didn’t see him filling it, so I said “let’s buy that kind of car tomorrow immediately “joke!

We started from Jeddah to Rabigh to Thuwal to Yanbu to Al Ula then to Madaín Saleh. Ten hours driving with 3 stops and still full of energy. Al Ula is a small town which is about 22 km away to Madaín Saleh. It‘s beautiful place surrounded by valleys, plateau, green palm trees and sandy mountains.

dates

We were advised not to camp to avoid being in trouble. So we spent a night in a furnished 3 bedroom apartment (SR600) not bad for 12 persons. The following morning we went early to Arac Hotel to get our permit, unfortunately the man –in-charged was not yet there and so we enjoyed the beautiful scenery surrounding Al Ula, blue skies, overlap valleys, red sandy mountains (red-rocks too!) with beautiful high energy friends, (am I being redundant?) huh! can’t help it, what a beautiful day!

After taking photos of the surroundings, we got our permit and arrived in Madaín Saleh only to find out there’s a big line of cars waiting outside the gate. The gate opens at 10 in the morning and closes at 6 in the evening. Those visitors who doesn’t have permit were not allowed to enter the gate.

Alas! We were able to get in, amidst of excitement and happiness, we’re all packed with high energy. Madaín Saleh featured 131 monumental rock-cut tombs spread out over a vast area (I’m not sure how big it is) we only noticed the numbers when we started taking pictures. There was no brochure or map to guide us where to start. I think they should open the gate a bit earlier for the guest to look around and appreciate the place more.

A replica of the Hijaz Railway station is a beautiful site to begin with. Followed by the Nabatean well and a different kinds of tomb.

I noticed that the outer forms are finer and decorative than the inside. We left the place around 4 pm and went to checked – in to Arac Hotel. This time we were in a hurry to catch the sunset at the biggest and highest plateau in Al Ula. The road to Al Ula plateau is narrow and soaring high, so we decided to be all together in one big car. It was a thrilling experience to chase the sun which stunningly shines reflecting the golden sandy mountains.

at the top of the plateau overlooking the town of Al ULa

To be continued….

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Sunset Rendezvous at Al Ula Plateau

The most thrilling and unforgettable Eid Al adha holiday was  reaching the top of the Al Ula plateau, a height of more than thousand meters, overlooking the town of Ula. The chill of chasing the sunset was awesome and having a group of friends who are just as lovely as the sunset, what  more can we ask?

Here’s an example of “forever lover at sunset” a story beyond aka (Richard and Dawn … I”m sorry I was not able to take the story of “Coco and Julia” as my shots are over -exposed.

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The Swans of Lake Lucerne (Luzern)

Autumn Cheers!

Raining hard when I arrived in Lucerne but it didn’t stop me from taking pictures. The Swan in the lake of Lucerne are tourist friendly.

I enjoy watching them, ignoring the rain (which goes on and off )

I keep on flashing and it seems they enjoying the attention too!

as if trying to impress the onlookers, he dives beautifully

with his head neck twisted

on triangle formation

by two’s

arching his neck again

and again

what a lovely sight!

I can’t stop clicking , I hold my umbrella on one hand, camera on the other hand. Waiting for his wings to flap and looks like sleeping or tired of showing off!

then suddenly…opens his wings

and off they go!

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Flowers of Lucerne (Luzern) – for you

Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out values all the utilities of the world – Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844.

Words have spoken …Let flowers speak for you on this special day let the world knows how happy and proud I am to be  your mother, friend and confidante. I wish you were with me in Lucerne (Luzern in German)Switzerland. It is always a pleasure to be with you, I surely miss our chit-chat, our common ground (food) hehehe and your camera, or would i say the many sessions of photo shoots!

My wish for you is good health and may your dream turns into reality.

Happy Happy birthday. WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH!

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