Friday, February 26, 2010

RIHLAH 2 [Day 2] : Asir Province – Al Habala


In the morning of our second day in Asir province have failed us in travelling with its cable car.  We hope we won’t be failed for the second time.  Now is the time to continue with our 2nd destination.

The 2nd destination of our 2nd Rihlah is Al-Habala/Al-Habalah, a unique village in Asir province about 60 km from Abha (as suggested by Mohammed Al-Shamrani, hubby office colleague which he told me was a powerful member of Abha tribe ;-)).

"The Hanging Village of Habala" gets the name from the meaning of Habala itself. The name means 'rope valley' or 'the ropes;' derived from the fact that the village located at 300m cliff was once accessible only by habal (rope ladders).
The village inhabited about 350 years ago by Khatani tribes who sought the most inaccessible location as a means of protection from the Uthmaniah (Ottoman) empire. 

The village was also originally inhabited by a tribal community known as the "flower men" because of their custom of wearing garlands of dried herbs and flowers in their hair.

It was until 1980 that all 80 families of the tribe from this village was relocated by the King Faisal Foundation, a charity organization; to a village a few miles away where each family got their own villa.  Subsequently, the government built this park and cable car down into the canyon, where the now ruined village can be viewed from near the cable car station on the rim of the escarpment.  Habalah was the site of the first cable-car system in the Kingdom.

Right after Friday prayer, we continue our search. Again, it is a great challenge as we can’t find the GPS coordinate.  Here goes our hunting again of driving around with ‘big eyes’ (well not so big specially mine ;-)) wide open.  Again, sight of a cable car banner attract our eyes.  What we did after that is follow the banner that was hang along the poles of the main road which were not that many as well. 

Alhamdulillah, our search comes to an end.  It was worth searching.  The view of the valley was breathtaking even before riding the cable car.  We need to experience riding on the cable car specially with hubby’s friend recommendation to taste ‘mandi’ down there which were superb.  Not ‘mandi’ as in malay word of taking shower but it is a type of rice in Saudi :-). 

Charges for the cable car :

Adult  - SAR40

Children (6-12 yrs)  -SAR25. But its negotiable!

We get SAR200 for the whole family (they just charged adult) which subsequently reduced further by SAR20 when Atok nicely talking to them.. ;-).  The cable car last operate at 6:30 pm.

The ride was not that long though.  Just about 4-5 minutes but can feel the thrill for the ‘soft-hearted’ people as it is very steep…more than 45 degree down to the village.  Looking down from the top station can make you feel dizzy as well..again..for ‘soft-hearted’ people.

Our parents at first resist to ride as they can felt or imagine the twitch of  the journey down below but as usual we said ‘It’s once in a lifetime experience!  Don’t waste the chance!”.

Habala we come!


For those who loves challenge, grab the chance!  Can feel how the Khatani tribe did it for 350 years.


New hanging village of Habala as seen from the approaching cable car. Note: The cable car in Habala Village is the steepest cable car we ever ride. Its short, like 5 minutes rides.. but its ‘really’ scary. Not for faint hearted.


Down at the village…fresh air.


Spot the baboons? Arabian baboons (Papio hamadryas) or also known as 'sacred baboons' may be the only originals inhabitants (besides the cactus/plants) of the village. We see a lot a baboons along our way from Abha to here.


Had our kapsa for SR45.  As usual..too much even for 9 people.  Great view for enjoying late lunch.


Another view from eating area.  Twitch your stomach when the kids stand/sit closed to the fence.


Easily can find mosque, one great thing here in Saudi. Up to you wanna pray or not..


See the rope?  Someone said that the rope was used by the tribe to transport people, goods and frightened livestock in and out of the village...


Up view from the hanging village. Imagining the villagers looking up at the Ottoman army that couldn't reached them..


Magnificent view..


Kakak and abang with Ma in front of cable car

Another day to appreciate the nature.  Masyaallah..prove of Allah Greatness.  Time to go back to Abha for our stay of the night.  Tomorrow, we’ll be heading to another province..Jizan.

Jizan…here we come. - tw


Anonymous said...

Nicely done. Very personable and interesting. Thank you. I hope to go this weekend.

Dan said...

Best bit of information I could find on the place, thank you for posting. I just visited a couple days ago and was pleasantly amazed by the scenery. Breathtaking!