Hi all! It’s been a while since my last post and a lot has happened! I’ve since moved into town and now have my own place! I’ve been here now since the beginning of February. I love having an apartment all to myself, especially one so close to work. I also bought a bike, which cuts my commute to work down to only about 7 minutes and is a refreshing bit of exercise in the morning before teaching! It’s nice to be able to wake up a bit later too; on the compound I would have to catch the bus at 7:10am for a 25 minute ride to work, but now, living in town, I sometimes don’t even wake up until 7:30am!
I’ve really enjoyed furnishing my new apartment and creating my own comfortable space, where I can both relax and study. Fortunately where I live happens to be near several large furniture stores, which has come in handy. For the first couple weeks or so after moving in I cycled down almost everyday to these stores. Exploring, hunting for furniture and haggling quickly became my new hobby as I finished work on my living room/study space. Here are some photos of the whole process…
The feeling of independence living in town is tremendous. Before I would have to work around the compound schedule. The compound bus would take 25 minutes to get into town and then only stay for an hour before rushing us back home. Now I can go into town whenever I like and for however long I want! Sometimes I just jump on my bike and go exploring for the evening, discovering new shops and restaurants and bumping into interesting characters. The whole city is bustling from about 8:30pm onwards, after the final evening prayer. Streets are packed, horns honking, shops open till midnight at least and both men and women can be seen going about their business. The other day I discovered a great little Indian restaurant, just a 3 minute bike ride up the road. Food over here is so cheap. It costs only 12 Saudi Riyal for a meal at the Indian place – really for all you can eat. That’s only about 2 British Pounds, not bad at all!
So, as you can probably tell – I am enjoying my new place! I figured there was no point in half-measures when it came to furnishing my apartment as I knew I would be here for a good while longer. For the time being my plan is to renew my contract with Al-Khaleej in September, but I will renew it on a monthly basis instead of another full year, continuing on until at least the end of November. In this way I can make myself available for work elsewhere starting January 2013, as well as make myself free to come home this Christmas. I haven’t been home for Christmas in two years after all! Before that of course is this coming summer, when I look forward to coming home for my sister’s wedding in June! It’s gonna be a lot of fun – can’t wait!