Taking a solo trip has become the trend in traveling over the past few years. Who would not dare try the good reasons behind it such as it forces you to come out outside your comfort zone and tests your independence while giving you time and space to reflect (“Life Lessons From My First Solo Travel To The Most Famous Cove In Luzon”). Truth be told, it is not something to be done for a long time.
It has been three months since I got reconnected with Arrie, Jun, and Jeth last year. Good thing there are badminton tournaments and other occasions that have been paving the way for us to meet every now and then. We always wanted to get together and would always need to find a place to hang out. In Dammam, there is no better place for us than Al Khobar where the touristy Corniche sits. This place is swamped with all the Middle Eastern and Western inspired restaurants, cafes, and other hangouts. The last time I went here was in December 2013. I was with a different group where everything that took place was planned; nonetheless, it was a blast.
This time around, the travel theme was about spontaneity. There were no plans but drive around town and be ready where the wheels and our feet take us. Also, we had a new buddy, Ronald, my tournament partner, who is now an elite member of Jun’s bully team. We actually wondered how this ride turns out for him because it was his first time to visit Dammam. But before we knew it, things fell into place.
Last 15 February 2018, Ronald, Jeth, and I took the four-hour train ride from Al Batha to Dammam for the two-day One Smash 2nd Desert Smashers Open Badminton Tournament which took place on the following day at Evenlode Badminton Facility.
For starters, we only advanced to the Quarter Finals in said tournament. This meant we did not need to go back for the second day, the 17th. We ended up spending the next day for roaming around instead.
So we went home late that Friday night considering the complicated schedule of tournaments. We woke up late the following day. This was the reason we picked IKEA for the five of us (I, Ronald, Jeth, Arrie, & Jun)—to have brunch which eventually became our first stop.
It was a twenty-minute drive from the Green House. We all enjoyed the healthy food we chose from the menu plus the chitchats.
There is never a dull moment for minds that think alike, as Jun always say.
Later, we went to the bus station to book our return to Riyadh and headed straight to Al Khobar. Since the summer sun was still at its mightiest thereafter, we opted to go somewhere cozy for a coffee turned tea.
This was how we got to Naya Restaurant, a French-inspired interior in downtown Al Khobar. Jun actually recommended it.
Our eyes were once again fed with the food they really need upon entering. It is always refreshing to see a different work of art through the restaurant’s aesthetically pleasing environment.
More than anything else though, what took place here is another page in our books that will be forever etched in our memories—especially the “3, 6, 9” game. The one we played in Ras Tanura two months ago was undoubtedly fun (Serendipity on the Road and a Frolic on Ras Tanura Beach) but this one is different. It was more thrilling and mental…a lot lot crazier!
Also, the pure conversation we had for almost three hours with our phones in silent mode on the table.
Thank heavens, Ronald is a natural people person. He easily gelled with the three and I could tell by the way he effortlessly joined forces with Jun in “bullying the black”. This eventually became the primary source of entertainment
until the entire trip’s closing time at the bus station while we were on the move .
From the downtown streets of Al Khobar, we made our way to the ever busy lawn and walkways of Corniche for some buddies-worthy photos and, of course, health benefits.
It is a fact that being by the seaside is good for the health.
We took advantage of the opportunity to partake in the wonders that being by the seaside brings while taking groupies.
I could hear that sound waves putting my mind in stillness and feel the wind blowing my skin with ions when I looked at these photos. I will never get tired of undergoing thalassotherapy.
An hour later, we went to that spot in Corniche where the “I Love Al Khobar” sign stands, which is in front of Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Sea Park.
It is a trend if not obligatory to take a selfie or groupie with it nowadays.
While cruising down the highway on our way to that spot, I vividly noticed how clean, electric, and modern Al Khobar is.
That statement was highlighted by the dusk that was falling rapidly by then.
Suddenly, the remaining hours seemed to melt away so fast after that “posing moment” with the tourism sign. It must be because of the thought that we were then on the verge of returning. The separation anxiety began to stir us up upon hearing from Arrie that after taking our backpacks at the Green House, the three of us from Riyadh shall be dropped at the bus station.
Before that happened though, we went to Al Ramaniya Mall to have dinner at Chowking and surprised Ronald with an advance birthday celebration at the Green House.
Thank you Jeth, Jun, and Arrie for facilitating it. We all wanted to make Ronald’s first visit to Dammam insanely memorable. We did!
We could not deny that all of us were tired, but definitely exhilarated from this amazing weekend. There are still a lot of places to visit and sights to be seen, guaranteeing a return. Dammam is certainly a superb place to visit as a meeting point for friends and even family from across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia because it offers so many options for activities.
Nothing really strengthens a long distance friendship like exploring new places or even revisiting old places together. This is not a one-sided deal because beyond what it does for the relationship, having your buddies alongside you makes the whole travel experience much more enjoyable, memorable, and cheaper.
That weekend was truly an escape into a fantastic urban playground near the sea that was flowing over with 10 times more fun experiencing those places, gastronomic activities, and small talks. Being with these people means no itinerary needed, like you would not fear treading the unknown.
The whole experience has once again taught me that the world is ultimately a friendly place and willingness to be spontaneous can add up to the best travels.
Surely, it will not take us too long before we will get together again.
Photo Credit: Team Bullies
7 inspirational stories of travel friendships (intrepidtravel.com)
Are Best Friends also Best Travel Buddies? (theitclist.com)
Travel buddy to lifelong friend (feetdotravel.com)