Thai version

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Saudi Prison

We are awaken by the passing out of the landing card for us to fill out for our arrival in Jeddah. The landing card seems really strange as they are made for the Arab culture not the western culture which I come from. Also the cards are in both Arabic and in English. The English is read from left to right and the Arabic is read from right to left except for their numbers which is read from left to right, seems confusing to a first timer like me. I get my new 200 year centennial passport and get the needed information from it that is needed for the landing card and complete filling out the card.

There is a rush of the young Saudi girls to put on their black habra to cover up the fancy cloths that they have on and cover their faces before we land. Also the veil will hide their faces and makeup they have used on them. This is all completed before that we near Jeddah.

Not long after I completed the landing card the plane begins it decent into Jeddah. It makes a large turn which shows the street lights as we move from over the Red Sea to over the city. The plane is soon on its landing path into the airport. Soon we feel the wheels touch down onto the Jeddah runway. Then we feel the brakes and the forward thrust of the engines to slow our speed as we move down the runway. It is 10:00 in the evening local time. Finally at taxing speed we move off of the runway and onto the taxi way that will take us to the airport. The company I work for J. A. Jones is to have a representive meet me at the airport so my transition will be easier. I will start looking for him as soon as I get into the airport.

The plane is guided into were that the plane will be docked for the unloading. Soon the wheels are locked and there is a mass movement of people waiting for the door to be opened and access to the airport. A stairway is moved to the planes door and secured by the ground personnel before that the plane door is opened. The opening of the plane door allows the hot moist air to enter the plane startling the passengers. Then with all the carry on luggage the two columns of passengers move toward the open doorway and are funneled into one column as they descend the stairway. Then they move down the stairway and onto the asphalt at the taxi way were they are guided to the lines at the immigration section in the airport building. The passengers pile up behind the immigration counters lines. I wait in line till it is my turn to present my passport and visa along with the immigration card to the immigration officer. The immigration officers have a quick look at all of the papers then he proceeds with the rubber stamp doing its work to mark all of the paper work. Finished with the rubber stamps I have my passport returned to me. Then I can then proceed to get my luggage and go through customs.

I follow the flow of traffic to a hanger were our luggage is to be retrieved. The back wall of the hanger is very high and has suitcases stacked from the floor to the ceiling, lost luggage I presume. I wonder how that they stacked them that high but I am afraid to ask. The luggage is moved from the plane and is hand carried from someplace out side of the hanger to the floor of the hanger to allow the owners to retrieve their luggage before moving onto customs. I find my suitcases. Then I help a lady with three small children collect all of hers before that I move on to customs. I wait in line behind the others till it is my turn to have my luggage checked. I already know that no alcoholic drinks are allowed in kingdom. I unlock my suitcases and place them on the counter. The inspector turns over my suitcase and empties all of the contents out onto the counter and then goes through the contents, and then he does the same to my other suitcase and to my carry on luggage also. Then with an alright wave from the inspector I can proceed and I struggle to repack all of my belongings back into the crowed suitcases. The others behind me wait for me to clear my items from the counter and so they can have their suitcases checked. I struggle and finally get everything back into my suitcases and get my suitcases closed so I can move on. I still have not seen the company representive which was suppose to be there to help me.

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