a world away

I’ve been so wrapped up with excitement over our joining Je in SA that I quite forgot just how much I’m going to miss home once I’m back there.

You’d think by now I’d have gotten used to living in Saudi Arabia since I worked there in 2001-2003 and was there again in late 2006 to mid-2007. But I don’t think there’s any way of really getting used to it especially if you’ve lived all your life in a free and open country where women are accorded the same rights as men… even if we do get sexually discriminated sometimes.

Anyway, here are a few tidbits on what living in SA is like:

• The climate is extreme: very cold in the winter and sizzling hot in the summer. I swear you could actually fry an egg on the sidewalk. And there’s no humidity (unless you’re situated in an area near the sea like Jeddah) so before your sweat even has time to drop, it’s already dried up.

• The week begins on Saturday and Friday is like our Sunday. And their calendar is about 600 years younger than ours. Right now it’s only the year 1429 there.

• People write from left to right except when they’re writing down numbers which are written from right to left. Talk about confusing.

• Everything is censored: newspapers, TV, magazines and even the internet. For people who enjoy looking for porn on the net, this place is not for you. :o) You can also hardly find mannequins with boobs because they resemble the female form. There was a time even Barbie dolls weren’t sold in stores because Barbie’s too damn sexy.

• Single men and women are not allowed to mingle. Only married couples have the right to be seen together. Still a lot of daring single souls continue to see each other. For Pinoys, “Where there’s a will, there’s always a way!” but at your own risk. If caught, you’ll find yourself spending time in jail until your sponsor gets you out.

• There are no cinemas in SA. :o(

• You’ll be hard pressed to find men and women holding hands in SA (even married ones) but you can see men holding hands everywhere.

• Women have to wear abayas (black shrouds) over their normal clothes and keep their heads and hair covered with black veils. Majority of Saudi women also have their faces, hands and feet covered.

• Women are not allowed to drive, sign for anything (only her husband, father, brother or son can do this for her) or go out alone.

• Gasoline is cheaper than water.

• If you want to get a discount at the jewelry store, you should allow the man behind the counter the “liberty” of brushing his hand lightly against your palm while he’s handing you the jewelry you asked to see, hehe!

• Alcohol, pork and gambling are absolute no-no’s. But we sometimes manage to buy bootlegged Black Label, pork and even bet on Thai lotto.

• Don’t make the mistake of speaking Tagalog in front of a local thinking he can’t understand you. A lot of Saudis have managed to pick up the language.

• Sale season in SA is the best. Prices get slashed up to 80%!

There are still a lot of things I’ve left out. Maybe I’ll do a sequel for this post later. In closing, I guess even if SA is a world apart from where and how I’ve grown up, it’s not so bad. It’s not the place that makes a home; it’s the people you’re with.


  1. Gosh what an adventure! I've never been to the middle east so I admire your courage. I do bet there are great waxing facilities there! ;)

    Will you wear an abaya while you live there?

  2. Yup! That they do. :o) And yes, I'll be wearing an abaya and a black veil. At least I don't have to cover my face, too (though they're prety helpful in a sandstorm!).

  3. wow, that's a great life experience.

    Thinking of you! :)

  4. What a different world! I don't know if I could handle not going outside without hubby or not driving or not being able to take a photograph!

    GOodluck on the move!

  5. what we do for the ones we love! :o)


Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this post. Have a wonderful day!