When: 26h March 2009
Where: About 140km from Riyadh
Kambing Rating: 9/10
Total Trip Time: One day
After browsing interesting places to visit on our weekends, just at a very early in the morning we decided to head for Tumayr, maybe we have our luck to see the beautiful Iris flower which is very well known for its beauty.
From the net, it was said that the flowers only blooming once in a year between Mid January till Mid March. We knew that probably the flowers are finished but our gut feeling tell us to just go. After all, at least we have another day spent together somewhere.
At around 11 am, we start driving North of Riyadh heading for Tumayr. It took us around 1 and a half hour to reach Tumayr and start going off-road into the desert. Tips: Before going off-road, you'll see a replica of a gun, If you pass this, means you need to turn back and find the place where you can make a corner to the off road.
Once we reached Tumayr, we could feel the air is more relaxing caused more greeneries view can be seen here. It is like when you go back to your hometown in suburb areas. Once we start driving into the deserts, we bypassed some purple grass trees. At first we were excited cause we thought that the purple grass trees were the iris flowers. Then, we went out from our car and take a close look at the flower. Haha..this is not it! We all were laughing but still great to see flowers in the desert.
We kept going on until we saw a dam which should be the landmark that tell us we are getting closer. We keep on going until we saw a yellow field which is pretty and attract us to get closer to it. However, the field was inside a gate. Could it be the place where someone is taking care of the Iris field? After a while, we decided to go in.
Chicken and Duck
This is the best part. Once we get into the gate, two persons came out from the house near the field. Now, we knew we are at the wrong place. This is a private property! We start to turn back to get out of the property but the two guys are getting closer. If we drive fast out, we will look like a criminal. Then, my husband decided we should meet the guys and tell them we are sorry. My husband went out from the car and approaching them.
My heart is beating fast..wondering how can my husband tell them our mistake as we for sure can't speak Arabic, while they most probably couldn't speak English. Its going to be a war between chicken and duck!!! ;-)
As I was watching the guys were exchanging smiles and shaking hands, I was very relieve. My husband headed back to the car, smiling. He told me that they invited us for tea and can perform prayer at their farm house. We are making a very bad assumption thinking we are going to be scolded! My husband told me that one of the guy who approached us just now is a Vice Dean in King Saud University. He has been in US for a few years for his PhD study. His name is Dr. Othman.
As we parked the car near their farm house and get out from the car, I was told to go into the women section with my daughter while my husband goes to the man section. I guess this has been a very special experience for me and my family. Once we enter the house, everyone was welcoming us...from grandma, the mother, nieces, their aunts and children! Wow..so many of them. I was told that they are gathering at the farm every Thursday. Funny thing is all of them can't speak English and I can't speak Arabic as well. Just a few words that I just learn from the school I went for 3 weeks which is only twice a week. So.....challenging and funny! I talk in English + Malay + Arabic...hoping some of the words matches with Arabic words.
At first they serve me with Arabic coffee. The taste is quite funny. It has some herbs taste and without sugar but they serve it together with dates. The dates is to complement the unsweetened coffee. After the coffee, I request to perform my prayer. My kids kept on following me as they were shy with so many people looking at them and trying to talk to them. Once I started my prayer, suddenly I heard a loud knock on the rooftop and outside.It was raining, but I just wondering why the sound is too loud. I continue praying though my sajadah starting to get wet caused the rooftop where I was praying got holes.
The small ice cubes are all over the ground.
What a day! Small round cube ice were everywhere. The kids and the teenagers were busy collecting the ice. You never seen ice rain and suddenly you experience it is the middle of the desert! I'm so grateful to Allah for this opportunity. I was wondering how my sons react to the rain at the other side.Ice cubes they collected.
As it was raining, we can't go anywhere so they ask us to stay for lunch. I was serve now with tea and salad. My kids were looking at me as we never had salad for our appetizers. They eat salad leaf like eating crackers! It's the big size salad leaf type. The Arabic kids were all happily eating it. I took one leaf and eat it as well though I'm not used to eat like that but not bad! The other appetizer was onion leaf. This one I can't try as I knew I can't eat it. I politely resist. They tried to entertain me and making me feel comfortable by still talking to me and asking me questions. It was so funny and we laughed many many times when we knew that we do not understand each other. I heard the other kids telling my kids "I Love You"". That's the English words they knew..haha.
Once the rain stop, they were busy preparing for lunch. It was 'kapsa'...an Arabic dish made of rice cook with ghee, onion and so on with whole chicken. 3 small boys age around 8 or 9 came to take the tray with kapsa. The smell was so good. Then, they invite me to go outside eating our lunch. It was quite cold outside with the rain just pass by but refreshing. We all sit around the tray and start eating. This is how they have meal here. No plates given..so no need to was dish after this :-). I ate with their elders in family. Beside the 'kapsa', they also had their salad which is tomato, cucumber, parsley leaf and salads mix with lemon juice. The cucumber and tomato were slice in cubes. The salad is nice. I finish 1 bowl of it. Afiq and Azim was really enjoying the kapsa. They eat more than usual. Actually, the kapsa was really nice..better than what we ate in Riyadh which I though it was the nicest kapsa I ever ate since I reached Riyadh.
I asked them the recipes but it was quite hard understanding them though I knew they are trying their best to explain and as usual we laugh when we all trying to guess the words. After a full stomach, the owner sister brought me going around their farm land. They have goats, camel and chicken beside the wheat field which attract us at the first place to enter the farm. My kids has started to become friends with the other kids. They tried to play to together.
At the Men Side
There was a guy who look after the farm everyday where the family only came to the farm once a week on every Thursday. Most of the family stay in Riyadh. It felt very short when we realized we must headed to what we were coming at the first place, the Iris flower. Dr. Othman, will bring us to where the actual Iris field is. Before heading off, the women packed us with dates, snacks and cakes. We are so honored and grateful to be treated so nice by the family. I was very touched with their hospitality. It is time to say goodbye and they make me promise to come back when I have learned Arabic. This inspires me to learn Arabic faster at school.
Went off to Iris field
As we finished saying goodbye, we headed to the Iris field by following Dr. Osman’s pick up truck. But the only thing left is the stem which is dried as what has been told by them. I tried to imagine when the Iris flower is blossoming by seeing the dried stems were a lot. My husband says his big thank to Dr before he headed back home to his farm. They also will headed back to Riyadh tonight after Isya' prayer.
The dried Iris flowers… if its blooming, it should looks like the title picture above, very beautiful.
We took pictures and enjoy the scenery there. InsyaAllah, we will surely come again next year to see the Iris flowers and come again visit the wonderful Saudi families which we just make friends.
This is what you say God will. All things that happened in your life, there must be a reason behind it. There is always 'hikmah' to Allah qada' and qadar. The unintentional and lost has given us the experience getting to know Saudi people, their life, knowing the people and most importantly their hospitality; Saudi hospitality, two words that are very rare to be found together, well at least that is the common assumptions towards Saudis, which is proven to be not true at all. We are grateful to what happened to us today. Although we didn't get to see the Iris but we get an even more 'beauty' than the flower beauty. The beauty of the heart!
Till meet again...ma ‘assalamah!