29th of April 2019 until arrived
Currently traveling
  • Day686

    Difficult times

    March 11, 2021 in the United Arab Emirates ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    End of January we were told to leave Saudi ASAP. All borders still being closed, the only country we could leave to was UAE. Still unsure, to ignore the request and remain in Saudi, or to exit to the Emirates and hope for the Omani border to open, we decided to make it across the border.
    The border crossing was a story for itself, about which I will write another time.
    Since then we are in the UAE. Still no borders opening. Iran cannot be hoped for as the Corona figures are on the rise again, the Oman has tightened its borders as well, so there is no escape.
    Now I am totally stuck: the summer is approaching fast, already the temperatures are rising above 30o C. I am feeling discouraged, not being done with my travels, but knowing, I cannot stand another summer cooped up in an apartment, not having anything to do, not being able to walk Rexelby, with dog restrictions everywhere in this state. These long and many months of not knowing where to go, the uncertainty, missing friends and family really cost me lots of strength and positivity. As long I was in Saudi, I kind of felt at home, I had friends I could turn to, who I know would support and help me if needed; there was a lot to see and explore, but this is different here in tiny UAE. I am starting from scratch. I am tired of traveling without purpose and goal! Some clever mind once said something like: “A journey is not the destination, but the way!” I suppose this person didn’t travel in times of Corona. Or perhaps talking about the journey to finding yourself? Well, I thought I have found a lot of myself on this trip so far, but now I am in danger of losing it (pardon the pun). Before this happens, I have to get out of here!!!
    But where to!!??
    Turkey: I could ship the car and fly in with Rex, but how can I then move on? At the moment you can leave turkey through Bulgaria, but this can change any day. And then? And when the visa expires? Turkey might be better now than UAE, as not as hot, but summer there doesn’t tickle my fancy neither.
    Back to Saudi? Not possible, borders closed, they don’t issue any visa at all at the moment.
    Home to Australia? Not possible. I cannot enter the country with Rexelby due to quarantine restrictions.
    OK, Germany it is: I’m getting all exited: About to book a shipment for my car, I send an enquiry off to the German consulate asking if I am allowed to import my dog. In their response they don’t even relate to my enquiry: I am considered a tourist. Touristic travels into Germany are not allowed at this point in time and therefore they send me a big NO. Now I am getting quite desperate, longing to recuperate in the embrace of family and friends. I need to find a way! There is only one option I have, letigimate, and close to my heart avenue, however this has still the possibility that I get rejected at the airport and sent back. Tough bikkies! The problem is only Rex: he would then be in Germany and myself I don’t know where. I know there will be some generous friends that will take care of him should I need to leave him behind.
    I decided to leave Lola here, I just need to find a place where she can wait for us, in the shade, until some borders open. Then, at a later point, I can continue my journey maybe not as planned, but anyway.
    Who would have thought that things become so very difficult, particularly on an emotional level.
     
    Read more

    Traveler

    Ich wünsche dir viel Glück mit deiner Weitereise. hoffentlich sind irgendwelche Grenzen bald offen. Wer hätte das gedacht das es so lange dauern könnte. Ich habe deinen Reisebericht sehr genossen. Alles gute!

    3/15/21Reply
    Traveler

    Oh Elisabeth you are in my thoughts and prayers for a solution for you and your lovely Rex xx

    3/18/21Reply
    Traveler

    thanks Michelle! I need that!!🥰

    3/18/21Reply
    5 more comments
     
  • Day665

    Chance Encounters

    February 18, 2021 in the United Arab Emirates ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    It can be quite astounding where some encounters can lead to.
    Already in Saudi a few weeks back I ran out of gas an nobody could refill my cylinder. The guys in Al Ahsa tried, but didn't get too much in. As you might remember, this lead to a chain reaction of events.
    So soon after I ran out of gas again, and the same pursuit for gas repeated itself . Always the same response. Sorry, can't do it.
    In Dubai I finally contacted a supplier who wanted to know what I use the gas for, kitchen or BBQ..., and he promised he would meet me at the hotel between 9 and 10pm.
    When he arrived he had brought a friend along who is a professional photographer interested in travel and my story. So this started a chain of events, in the end resulting in the video, to which I have attached a link below. Not made by the photographer, but an Indian team of travel bloggers. The video by the photographer is still to follow.
    To watch the video on YouTube, just search for travelista_by_santos and you will find it.
    Be patient, I'll make an appearance after about 5 minutes, but until then you get some footage of Lola and Rex.
    ...and just in case you wonder...my gas problems are resolved...for now
    Read more

  • Day662

    I Need a Break!!!

    February 15, 2021 in the United Arab Emirates ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    I need a break from my van and my dog for a few days, so I decided to book myself into a hotel in Dubai.
    Being able to just go to bed, without pulling out boards to extend my bed, rearranging mattresses, making the bed, and in the morning the reverse...
    Just turning on the tap for a shower whenever I want to, without heating up water, pulling out my doggy bath, cleaning up the mess afterwards...
    After showering, drying myself with a cotton towel instead microfibre. Bliss!!!
    Just lifting up the lid of the toilet without preparations...
    Turning on the tap, without the thought of saving water...
    Taking it slow in the morning, no Rexdog looking at me, expectantly, waiting for his walk, and the same in the evening... (the poor critter is in a kennel).
    No pulling in your head when moving around the van, and still knocking it now and then...
    No fear of being woken up by police or some ranger, because you cannot stay here for the night...
    No dirty dog bringing in sand and mud...
    Sorting out all things internet without interruptions or low speed...
    Just having space to move, upright, behind closed doors...
    And the best: strolling through the city, for hours, days, without feeling bad, because the Rexelby is locked in the car...
    To sum it all up: probably just having a normal life for a few days.
    ...more pics to follow
    Read more

    Traveler

    Enjoy

    2/15/21Reply
    Traveler

    Thanks Kim! And then, the journey can continue!

    2/15/21Reply
     
  • Day652

    Dune Bashing

    February 5, 2021 in the United Arab Emirates ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    After a gruelling  11hrs overnighter border crossing from Saudi to the UAE and two restful days on the beach we drove deep into the desert Rub Al-Chali to watch those crazy guys driving  n the 120m high dune, which is named “ the “Terrible Hill". This hill is set just outside of the Liwa oasis, a semicircle of approximately 50 oasis located very close together smack in the middle of this huge desert.
    Soon we got to know some young men who asked me, if I would like a ride. Do I like a ride!!??? YESSS! PLEASE!!! We just had to wait for Rasheed with his Jeep and off we went. We didn’t go the shortest way up. This would have been boring compared to the way Rasheed took me and his friend. The backway was plastered with steep dunes, which made for a far more exciting ride than any Rollercoaster. Rasheed, you are a dune artist.! This ride was quite a thrill!!
    Another two things I find quite fascinating:
    Rasheed told me he drove 40kms to the dunes not on the road but through the desert. When asked he said he did not use any navigating System, he just knows how to get to where he needs in the desert, after all he’d been living in the desert for 30 years. Considering, that for me the dunes don’t look too different from one another, and in addition they change shape and move I find this astonishing.
    The other thing is: here he is driving through the desert, in his open car, and I am sure, sand squirting all around him, as he has no responsibility for a passenger, and his Thoub and Shamagh (my Emirati friends, please correct me if you call your clothes differently) his robe and head dress, are the brightest of white. No speck of dust to be seen. His friends also. How do you do this guys? You always look so smart and clean and I, with my travel clothes always feel like Ashenputtel beside you.
    I tried to record the ride, but I had to watch where we are going and so the film contains more dashboard than dune. Unfortunately. So I only attach the downhill ride which was quite uneventful compared to the ascent
    Read more

    Traveler

    it's amazing how quick you find friends to experience that country and people .l think the whole journey gives you the roundup or satisfaction in or of your life . have a good homecoming (but not yet , hey ?!)

    2/6/21Reply
    Traveler

    A homecoming is not in sight as yet. Our friend Corona does not allow for easy solutions.

    2/8/21Reply
    Traveler

    hey Aschenputtel , don't loose your shoe in one of these sanddunes .........

    2/6/21Reply
    Traveler

    😀😀

    2/8/21Reply
     
  • Day649

    Crossing the Border to UAE

    February 2, 2021 in Saudi Arabia ⋅ ☁️ 4 °C

    I was at Al Uquair beach when we received the message the borders are open again and I had to leave Saudi as the visa had long expired. After getting the PCR test done in Al Khobar/Dammam we left Al Uquair separately in the morning. As I drove down the road along to coast, the traffic got scarcer and scarcer, a sign told me the road would end soon. Well, that’s no news with a highway, the map indicated a road…, the four-laned highway turned into a two-laned road, which after a while turned into a one-laned road, which lead into a track and then I was in the middle of a road-building project, driving in between excavators, huge trucks and anything else that is needed to construct a highway. I quickly turned off the safety advisor voice in my head, telling me I cannot possibly think, I could drive through there, and continued on, asking construction workers for the way, if there was a choice of more than one track. I tried to get in touch with the Boeggers, who had warned me about this mud bit, but hadn’t heard from them since. And somewhat muddy it got, and slippery, but not so bad that it would justify a warning I thought. After a while, following my GPS I found out through this maze of construction tracks. This was another occasion, where a 80km track turns out to take several hours to complete.
    But no trace of my friends. I left them a message that I had made it to the road and sent them my location and then I just waited for them. And I waited and waited. It was already getting late when they finally arrived. Totally exhausted. They had gotten lost in the maze of construction tracks, gotten stuck in deep mud, where they only could be rescued by some excavation machine, then in deep and soft sand…. But in the end, they made it. I was very relieved that we hadn’t travelled in convoy.
    We arrived at the border at 1900hrs. I would normally avoid border crossings during the night at any cost, but we ran the risk of the border closing again, so we decided to pass.
    And at the Saudi custom’s gate already a problem: the number plate of Boeger’s car was not recognized and it took about ½ hour to get to the bottom of the issue. I passed this one without a hitch.
    Next stop passport control: Oh, the visa has expired nine months ago? We explain the issue, that due to corona the borders were closed and our visas extended without any formal documentation. I showed the conversations we had via email with “Visit Saudi”, the department for tourism. The friendly Customs Officer (CO in the following) tried to find information about our situation, without success. By now it was 2100hrs and nobody knew what to do. Finally, I had the far-fetched idea to call that Officer at “Visit Saudi”, knowing by now, Saudis work the strangest hours, and low and behold, somebody answered the phone. I don’t know what they discussed, we just waited and waited and 2 hours later we heard the chuck-a-chuck of six stamps and we were ready to go.
    Getting to the arrival gate on the UAE side we were greeted by a huge queue of truck drivers waiting in line to get the arrival stamp. After queuing a short time with all the kids in tow, a CO approaches us and takes us into a special office, where we were processed quite quickly.
    Off we went, to the customs gate. Knowing that the Emirates charge a fortune for the import of dogs, €400, I wanted to smuggle him in unseen. I had given Rexelby some sleeping pills, and hid him under a blanket on my bed. The customs officers were checking my paperwork, and the VIN number, which is under the dog’s front seat. Everything fine here I thought when one of the COs wanted to look into the van. He checks it quickly but then unfortunately lifts the blanket I had covered Rex with. Bugger!!! No stamp for me! I have to go to the veterinary.
    Still in Saudi, I went to get a document completed, as required for entry into UAE. The officer there had told me he wouldn’t know the form I had downloaded from the appropriate UAE internet site, but told me, they would issue me with one they normally use for this purpose.
    So, after a 10min criss-crossing the Border area, the vet at the UAE side told me, this document was not valid and made me complete another online form, which I now have to get signed off by a Saudi Veterinarian. On the Saudi side. In the middle of the night? I was sure, he had gone home by now? No! He just had a falcon coming through his office, just signed off by the Saudi Vet. I have to go there!
    So back I go, to the customs guys. Telling them, I had to go back to Saudi, to get the form signed off. Oh no, I need a letter from the vet, confirming I had to pass. So, all the way back to the Vet, who issues me with a small handwritten note. On the way back, I think this whole thing turns out to be ridiculous; a solution has to be found.
    At the customs area, the main customs guy is awaiting me with 3 other officers. They ask me again, why I need to get across, and I tell them, to get the documents for my dog checked. “And all of that, even though I don’t have a dog” but they had seen a dog before!? “no, you must be mistaken. Take a look by yourselves!” I open the door and show Rex to them, who is still sleeping. “Do you see a dog n here?” I ask them. “No, I don’t see a dog!” the three officers say. The Main CO says: “but I see a dog! You have to get your form signed of.” grrrhhhh “Any signature will do?” “Yes, just come back with a signature.”
    So off I go. Again, to the passport officer, past all the waiting Pakistanis, then into the Saudi side. Here I am stopped by another officer who saw me passing a few hours back and of course wonders, what I was doing there again. I show him the Vet’s paper, but of course, he does not recognize a paper like this. He has to ring a superior about what to do with me. After 10 minutes he lets me pass.
    Finally, I get to the Saudi border. What do I want? I need to see the vet. He makes me sit in the waiting room. After an hour I go to see him again, asking what the problem was. He cannot find a Vet. Please sit down and wait. Another hour goes by. No Veterinarian.
    On the other side of the office, I see a long queue of people getting documents stamped. Didn’t the CO say, any stamp will do? Now I line up, my document in hand. When it is my turn, I ask him to put a stamp on the document. No! he cannot do that! I explain my situation, but still, it is a No. In my desperation I make him an offer: He goes to the loo, leaves the stamp sitting on his desk, and when he comes back, the deed will be done, he doesn’t know anything, he has never seen me. He must have thought there was less risk involved in putting the stamp on my doc than being accused to leave the stamp unattended, open for misuse, but which way ever, he set the stamp on my document.
    With my stamped document in hand, I drive back to the UAE, past the waiting Pakistanis I get another entry stamp into my passport, and make my way to the CO. Triumphantly I show him my document. He studies it, and says, he has never seen a stamp like this before. Where did I get this from? I just shrug my shoulders, don’t know? But you told me to just get the document stamped…. No, you still have to go back to the vet.
    So back into the car, I drive around the customs building and back to the Vet. But just there, where I would have needed to turn left to get to the vet, there was a sign saying, EXIT. So, thinking “Bugger that!!” I swung my steering wheel around and drove towards the exit. There was another stop, for the insurance. I did all the official stuff and was just about to pay when I felt somebody tapping my shoulder, and a very gentle voice saying: “The Veterinarian is the other way! Let me guide you there!” on the way to the vet, the under CO profusely apologized, he was ordered by his superior, to catch me; he knew, that I was trying to get through the border for 6 hours now, he was so sorry for the inconvenience.
    The ordeal was not finished as yet, another 1 hour at the vet. He of course did not recognize the stamp. Where did I get THIS stamp from? Who has given me the stamp? I don’t know, he did not tell me the name. The nice CO: just give her the stamp…. But no, he needed to do it all properly inclusive the 400€. But finally, eventually, I made it.
    All in all, it took me 11hours to get from one side of the border to the other. At 7 am I was through. Totally exhausted I just stopped somewhere and fell asleep.
    The border closed again, later that day. We just had made it through.
    Read more

    Traveler

    A day of visits: after my stay in Al-Uquair beach was posted on Snapchat, people were coming from all directions to see and welcome me to Saudi and to bring me presents. Here I was given an abaya and a coffee set.

    1/17/22Reply
    Traveler

    I was honoured in Al-Uqair Beach by the Al-Ahsa Municipality with this plaque.

    1/17/22Reply
    Traveler

    That’s amazing! Good on you!

    1/18/22Reply
     
  • Day648

    Last Day in Saudi

    February 1, 2021 in Saudi Arabia ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    The end of my exceptional Saudi Experience came too sudden.
    Another highlight, this time of the architectural kind, the Ithra Building in Dhahran. I find this building absolutely sensational! Inspired by rock formations in the desert.Read more

  • Day645

    Falcons, Camels, Goats and Sheep

    January 29, 2021 in Saudi Arabia ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Going hunting with a falcon. The view of the pigeon needs to be manipulared with some tape so she flies upwards. Once it is released and has gained some ground, the falcon is being sent off. We jump into the cars, the chase is on. The falcon is after the pigeon, we after the falcon. A sandstorm makes it quite hard for falcon, so, to my big surprised he loses the flattering pigeon. But now we have to catch the falcon, so in high speed we race through the sand, through ditches, over dunes, past some camels, across a highway... until the falcon is tired and lands on some structure from where the hungry bird can be lured with some chicken leg.
    After that I am brought to the women's camp, not without a short camel ride on the way.
    And then the women's camp. What can you say, the women generous warm hearted, always ready to laugh, to party, to sing. Always making you feel welcome and at home and part of the family
    Late at night a desert spring mouse came for a visit. I am sure it got some scraps of the bread, prepared just there and eaten like our crepes.
    Read more

  • Day641

    Thank You!

    January 25, 2021 in Saudi Arabia ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    After seven unsuccessful attempts crisscrossing all of Al Hofuf and all the surrounding towns to refill my gas bottle, the heaven sent me some very helpful guys. They took me to their farm and after a few tries and modifications they connected my empty to their full bottle and squeezed some Gas into mine. Good that I don't need to worry about my career as Safety Advisor any longer!!!
    Then some friends appeared and they decided to make me even happier by taking me to their workshop and giving my car a service and a good wash. But first we had to have lunch. Off we went to quite a fancy restaurant. After the main course, the owner or employee gave me a guided tour and a long photo session with interview and many more photos with guests and other people ensued.
    Finally we were released and returned to our table where I was surprised to find our tea and coffee to still be warm. We continued on to the workshop, where they did the service and the car wash for free!!! And they threw in a spare oil filter for the next oil change on top! Thank you guys from the Lube Masters! You really rock!!!
    Read more

  • Day639

    Al- Ahsa Province

    January 23, 2021 in Saudi Arabia ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Visiting Rashed and his huge family in Al-Ahsa and enjoying again the boundless Saudi hospitality. Another dream coming true: riding a horse in the desert. Doing it without saddle is quite a challenge and I loved it.
    Visit in the Jawatha heritage park
    And a simple but delicious dinner at home. I thank you so much for your hospitality! You all made me feel at home.
    Read more