Saturday, May 27, 2023

[DAMMAM] The Extended Dammam Stopover

I guess Dammam has always been in the cards. After all, it is one of three destinations in Saudi Arabia that has direct air links to Manila. I’ve always known, though, that this will be done in tandem with Bahrain because of the proximity of the two. Since flights from the UAE were cheap for either Manama or Dammam, I chose to play it safe and land in Saudi Arabia instead to take advantage of my ME Saudi Arabia visa. From there, Manama is just a bus ride away.

I already prepared myself for a costly Uber ride from the airport. Dammam’s airport is considered as the largest airport in the world in terms of size, even though the airport itself is not the busiest in the kingdom. Luckily, I saw a bus park while thinking whether I should book an Uber or not. The guy in charge of collecting fares was asking for a special transport card that only residents have. In the end, he allowed me to get in after paying with a credit card. The bus is called G7, costs SAR3.45 (~PHP50) and drops you off at Marina Mall after 45 minutes.

Marina Mall is a modern mall right across the corniche. With my wheelie in tow, I entered the mall since it was still too early to check in at my hotel. The mall was surprisingly empty for lunch time and the few options upstairs for food stalls were mostly closed. Is it a holiday? I have no idea. I just wanted to eat something so I settled for Cinnabon since it was the familiar option. After filling my tummy with food, I called an Uber to get me to the hotel which took no more than 10 minutes.

As expected, some of the crew at the hotel were Filipinos. How I wish the receptionist also was because I just felt some slight racist attitude coming from her. She didn’t want to check me in despite being there at check-in time. I don’t know. Attitude much? Maybe they are not used to serving Filipinos because it’s mostly the other way around? In any case, the experience left a bad taste in the mouth. Most hotels I’ve booked here in Saudi Arabia, so far, have been ok in terms of price but obviously old, and it shows.

As for sightseeing options, there wasn’t much on my to-do list. After all, the real reason I am here is because of the Bahrain day trip I already planned. Since the weather was unforgiving anyway, I spent the entire Saturday resting and catching on sleep with some work also in the program. Luckily, the hotel has its own Chinese themed resto and the manager is Pinoy. At least I got to indulge in some fried rice prior to hibernation. The whole Sunday was spent in Bahrain. Only Monday was left for Dammam.

I hailed a Careem taxi to go to the Heritage Village. Yes, Uber is also available here but I advise that you have both apps on your phone so you can compare prices and also have more options because sometimes these cars and taxis are scarce. After all, most Careem drivers here are also on Uber anyway. The Heritage Village looks good not just on the outside but also inside. What welcomes you is a resto with typical Muslim architecture design inside.

I did not eat at that restaurant. Instead, I went straight up to the museum. The admission fee for the Heritage Village is SAR20 (~PHP300) which already includes access to the museum. The museum has various souvenir shops, a cafe or two as well as dioramas depicting various cities in Saudi Arabia. There are also some artifacts as well as vintage items on display. This museum is small so you wouldn’t be spending much time here.

And that was Dammam for me. I guess when some of my father’s friends from his Middle East OFW days curiously asked my parents what I was planning to do in Dammam, because there obviously wasn’t anything to do here, I should’ve paid attention. But hey, it was a good stop. Outdoor sauna weather aside, it was all good.

[DAMMAM] The Extended Dammam Stopover

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