It was my last day in Riyadh and of course it rained. The locals told me when I arrived that Riyadh rarely received rain however it has occurred four times during stay. I guess I’m either very good luck or very bad luck. They probably need the water, but with no drainage system the rain plays havoc with the transport network.
My driver took me home through a heavy downpour. Actually with the amount of dust in the atmosphere it was almost raining mud! The rain stopped shortly after we arrived at my apartment. I went in to do a final pack and change whilst he made the curious decision to wash the car. I thought it was a rather pointless decision as his next task was to drive me across the city to the airport. With no stormwater drainage system the car was filthy by the time we reach the international terminal. He managed to successfully drop me off at the wrong terminal (there are four) so a had a quick walk in the rain.
The next problem was to find the Gulf Air check-in counter. Whilst that wasn’t particularly difficult of the four manned counters only one was accepting passengers. The other three staff members just waved passengers away. Now all these would-be passengers were from the Indian sub-continent and they passively accept being at the bottom of the hierarchy. Whilst they forlornly stood around with their taped and bound large cardboard boxes containing their worldly possessions (one had a large cardboard box with “toothbrushes” printed on it) I marched up to one of the bored looking check-in officers and requested he complete my check-in. He was halfway through telling me his computer wasn’t working when another more senior Gulf Air rep requested my travel documents and processed my boarding cards. The incident made me feel quite guilty!
There was a long queue at security because the x-ray machine operator was also checking the contents of suspicious hand luggage. He had a colleague but obviously the second man didn’t feel the need to assist. The problem was a Filipino woman who was carrying a child’s toy set which contained a plastic pistol. She didn’t want to forfeit it and the security official wouldn’t allow her to carry it onto the aircraft. A long discussion occurred whilst the queue got longer.
After that was sorted I went to find my gate. The boarding card stated boarding with start at 8.50pm and departure was at 9.30pm and; as requested; I had arrived two hours prior to check-in. At 8.50 there was no sign of the arriving aircraft. At 9.30 the aircraft still hadn’t arrived. By 10.00pm the Indians, Pakistani’s and Bangladeshi's were starting to get restless. By 10.30 I was starting to get restless! At 10.45 I cornered one of the nearby Gulf Air ground staff and asked if I was going to make my connection in Bahrain. He told me “You can’t!” “What!” says me. “I won’t make my connection!” He replies”You can’t!” I seek clarification. Apparently he is telling me I can make the connection! Heart rate slows.
The aircraft arrives at 11.00 and we depart 20 minutes later. The aircraft captain gives us some cock and bull story about bad weather in the Gulf causing the delay. We have one of the smoothest flights you could imagine between Riyadh & Bahrain.
Our aircraft arrives at the same time my onward flight is due to depart. It’s a sprint through transit and then to the opposite end of the terminal where my aircraft and other passengers are waiting. After arriving in a sweat I spend the next 40 minutes waiting for more passengers from other delayed Gulf Air flights.
The aircraft is an Airbus 320-200. I have a window seat. Not a good move on an Airbus because the leg room on Airbus window seats is obstructed by a steel box under the seat in front. We depart 90 minutes late and my problems compound when a large fruitbat decides to change her seat and occupy the window seat in front of me. She promptly puts back her seat almost smacking me in the face. I decide not to make an issue of it because she looks like she has probably previously played in the All Black front row! I decide to recline my own seatback only to find the chair is broken. There isn’t going to be much sleep for me on this flight! But it gets worse; she has a hacking cough and also grunts in her sleep.
But what do I care. Sleep or no sleep I’m heading home.
So if you arrived at this blog from my other blog you will know where to go to follow the story.
This will be the last post on Sandy Tales.