I arrived in Riyadh around 12 noon and thought about heading out to the town as I had a few hours until the bus to Dubai departed. Well I went outside the bus station and changed my mind. Town is 15km away from the bus station, it’s hot as hell (midsummer in the middle of the Arabian desert, what do you expect!) and I’ve got all my bags with me… nah. Not going to happen.
So I retreated, much in the manner of a hermit crab, back into the bus station and waited it out. When I eventually got on board the bus, I was first on (again) and again (for the third time) some chancer tried to weasel me out of my seats. Again, the bus wasn’t even nearly full so it’s not like he was going to have to sleep on the floor. This time I was having none of it. I cut off access to the back seats by sitting on the middle one with my feet firmly wedged against the backs of the seats in front, opened my laptop on my knee and stuff my iPod headphones into my ears and turned them up to max.
Damnit, if you want to lie down on the back seats you gotta be first in the queue, and I was.
He tried every which way to persuade me to move so he could take back seats, (and he was a BIG guy) but I stood (or rather sat) my ground. And I WON! He took one of the several empty seats ahead of me. But then later in the journey after I had to get off because we were crossing the border into the UAE, and when I got back on the bus I found him sitting on my seats.
This would not do.
I’m sorry mate, but you’re going to have to move. Bear in mind this guy was much bigger than me and had loads of his little Arab mates on board. But seriously, NOTHING comes between me and my kip, DAGNAMIT. He smiled.
Defying logic and breaking every rule of the playground, the guy gave up and went back to his seat. It kinda made me want to stand on the back seats and do a Tarzan wail, you know – confirm my position as the Alpha Male amongst my fellow commuters, but I doubt they would have got the joke.
I stretched out on my well-defended turf and fell asleep, happy in the knowledge that the border guy hadn’t really looked through my passport and therefore didn’t pull the old you have to wait 30 days before you can return to the UAE rule on me. It was a worry, but I’d made it through. Happy days!
So I rolled back into Dubai for the third time of asking. After a delightful chat with the Filipino women who worked in the Burger King by the Saptco bus station (she told me which bits to avoid in The Philippines) I jumped in a cab and headed off to see me auld mucka Damien.
As you may recall, Friday 2nd July 2010 was the day of the jaw-dropping Brazil-Germany and the heart-breaking Uruguay-Ghana matches, so feeling the atmos in the air, Damo and I slinked off to the Atlantis Resort on the Palm thingy (an artificial peninsular built to look like a cartoon drawing on a palm tree when viewed from Google Earth – wonderfully nutty in it’s conceit) for a World Cup Pool Party.
And yes, it was as awesome as it sounds!!
Bikinis, Booze, Brazil – over one thousand people from every single corner of the planet. Damo’s mates did their best to get me so drunk I could barely see. A group of lads recognised me off the telly (Nat Geo Adventure have been hammering the Graham’s World trailers like you wouldn’t believe) and came over for a chat to see how the journey was going. Yey! Fame at last! When you start getting recognised by random people it’s time to buck up your ideas, level up and fly straight. I mean, I guess I’m kinda like a worldwide ambassador for National Geographic now – and Lonely Planet and even the BBC. I can no longer revel in the joy of complete anonymity and must never again make a fool of myself in public.
Ahahahaha – sod that. I’ll start being sensible tomorrow.
If you want to follow The Odyssey Expedition and Graham’s World on Twitter, you can follow me using my shiny new account name – EveryCountry – by clicking on this link:
EveryCountry was available and I’ve been trying to change the name on my old Twitter account for ages, but Twitter has some nutso thing going on that has been stopping me from changing anything, so I’ve had to start from scratch. We apologise for the inconvenience