I know I left you all in the lurch with our camping trip at the end of the year. It has been a busy few months. I wrote a post about our trip and then when I read the blog back it sounded like a “When we” type of letter. You know what I mean, slightly boastful of all our adventures and not necessarily helpful apart from to make you all jealous of the fabulous places we have visited over the last couple of months.
The kind of camping that we have been doing is “wild” which means for those uninitiated, no home comforts unless you bring them yourself. In fact all the camping you will do in this part of the world is ‘wild’. You won’t find a “hook-up”, water or washrooms. To get down to the nitty gritty, it also means planning your “bathroom breaks” (to use an american euphemism) or you are going to end up with chronic constipation. I thought I would write about this to give everyone the heads up. This alone can put some people off camping at all.
Most our trips have involved a lot of driving, to get from Riyadh, to wherever we have been going. Saudi petrol stations almost all have a mosque attached. It is generally behind the mosque, where you will find the ladies prayer room and conveniences.
If men have been planning the trip the stop will not be based on the standard of the facilities, it will come down to good logistics. i.e. refill your tank when half full and then you will always be able to get back to the last place you filled up. This makes very good sense, but I think it would be good to be able to give gas stations loo ratings. Most Saudi public loo’s are not great, (understatement?) and almost all are squat versions and virtually none have paper, so you need to be prepared.
I think on the blog, it would be good to have a rating system, so we know the best service stations to stop at. So please if you are in Saudi Arabia post co-ordinates and ratings for facilities that you have sampled.
4 stars = Sparkling clean loo, with flushing system, no flies, no smell and locking door. Wash basins with running water and soap. Clean floors and proper, emptied trash cans.
3 stars = Lighted, reasonably clean loo, running water with hose, some smell, locking door. Washroom area with handbasin not overflowing with trash.
2 stars = Semi clean loo with window but possibly dark, a water tap somewhere, a few flies, nearly bearable smell and locking door.
1 star = Loo, no locking door, a smell that you can bear if you hold your breath, and an outside tap and possibly a bucket.
Unrated = One look at named facility and you run out retching, knowing that any bush is better.
The other reasonable option is behind the nearest rock, bush or dune. These locations have their own hazards, what can seem like the ideal location in darkness, by day can end up overlooked by camel herders. This can give you performance anxiety, which can mean an uncomfortable day if unable to pee in a hurry.
You can see the camel appearing in the photo, causing a very quick haul up operation for me.
Also, you need to take a shovel and paper with you. On the good side, unlike Africa, you are not worrying about lions, elephants and hippos. There is some wildlife to contend with, bats, camel spiders, snakes and scorpions to name a few, and not forgetting the ubiquitous mosquito, which undoubtedly has done the worse damage to my derriere than anything else on these trips.
But when all is said and done, there is nothing quite like contemplating the beautiful view and the sun rising or setting while doing ones business.