Friday, February 26, 2010

Rihlah 2: Asir Province - Abha


11 Feb 2010

With our parents are here and its the school semester break, so we decided to embark in another rihlah or journey. This time covering our current resident country, Saudi Arabia.  The plan is to visit 3 provinces (out of 13 provinces) of Saudi i.e. Asir, Jizan and Makkah over 8 days journey.

Our 1st destination is Abha, main city of Asir province, about 1200km from Riyadh.
Abha, being 2,200 meters above the sea level with its mild climate all year long is one of the popular tourist destination among the Saudis and expat alike, especially during summer.  Some of the homes here are made from stones and mud which were build by hand and are over 300 years old.

Picnic as usual for ‘fueling’

Journey with 9 peoples onboard is really.. happening ;-) Started off from Riyadh at about 8am, stop for brunch at 11.30am, and a couple more stops for re-fueling and "de-fueling" ;-), we reached Abha at 8.30pm.  Getting a hotel there was not that hard.  We pay SAR150/room and get two room for all of us.  That night we just strolled around the hotel area, get us some food while enjoying the night view.  The greeneries and flowers of the side walk and the cool breeze makes you felt like being in Europe. 

Abha in the morning

One of the many colorful buildings

View of Abha from top of the mountain

12 Feb 2010

One of the main attraction in Abha besides the fresher air, greener and more colourful city is the Jabal Al-Akhder or Green Mountain. We're lucky because eventhough its still consider winter time, the weather was nice and the sky was clear. From on top of the mountain, we could see Abha city with its green and colourful scenery.  Even some of the buildings are very colourful surely attract our eyes.

We knew that there is a cable cars in Abha that can bring us to see its surroundings providing a view of the landscape. The cable car will bring us to the village of Rijaal Almaa, a 40 minute drive down the mountains to the south-west of Abha, contains 5 and six storey traditional houses dating 400–600 years old built from local stone and quartz. One of the houses has been converted to a museum, contains examples of traditional women's and men's attire, ornamentation, farm implements, household utensils, and even old jailers.

However, finding the cable car itself is challenging itself as we couldn’t find the signboard.  After driving around for sometime, we saw a banner of a cable car restaurant.  Alhamdulillah, after going round and round for a while, we manage to find the place.  Sadly, we were told by the restaurant staff who was there that the cable car was closed.  Not sure why as they don’t speak English and we do not speak Arabic.  Still, we get to savor our eyes with wonderful view of Abha from top of the mountain while the kids enjoy playing around with its nice surroundings.

Cable car which were unoperational for the time being ..donno why

At the cable car station compound.  Great view and surrounding as well.

Easily can find flowers around here.

As we fail to get on the cable car here, we will continue with our next search at another place still within Asir province around 60km form Abha.  Habalah…here we come! - tw


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