Now there are two routes that go to Sharma. One is the normal one that goes from South of Tabuk and is about 150 kms. The other one is quite longer, almost 400 kms, goes from the North (towards Jordan) and is actually for Haql village. We decided to leave early morning at 7 AM and take the longer route and cover other places on the way, and come back from the shorter one, since we wanted to see as much as we could in two days.
There are no words to describe the beauty of the roads in Tabuk region. This is one place where I can truly say that the journey was more beautiful than the destination. Oh! The colorful mountains to the changing sands to the roads all to ourselves. The beauty of the sight was ethereal. Since it was still morning when we were there, there was a bit of fog on the mountains which made it all eerily beautiful. We couldn’t take our eyes off the road!
The sand dunes in between the mountains were so high and the sand so soft, that some dune bashing would have been perfect. In one of the stretches, there was a vast plateau like land, with vibrant red sand and mountains on both ends, which could easily have been a perfect location setting for “The Martian”.
One of the limitations that we faced, however, was very limited mobile signal, and also, we were just two people – a couple. So, one thing to bear in mind while exploring off the track places in Saudi, or any place for that matter, is that it should be done in groups. Or it can get quite risky. If you are stuck in the middle of nowhere, with no network, and no knowledge of the local language, there is obviously a big risk. For that reason, we had to miss out on a lot of places on the highway.
After driving for around 2.5 hours, we reached Haql village. The view of the Gulf of Aqaba was a welcome sight after driving in the mountains for so long. The azul serene waters were so beautiful that I had to remind T to watch the road every couple of seconds! (Makes me thankful that I don’t have to drive :P)
After driving around in Haql city, we decided to skip the beaches and go straight to our resort, since we had a beach resort itself. So that would be taken care of. Again, there was another drive of almost 2 hours back through the mountains to the resort in Sharma Village (187 kms South of Haql).
When we reached the resort, we were lucky enough to be upgraded our sea-view room :D! And don’t judge me, but I love the words ‘free’ and ‘upgrades’ joined together. The guy behind the counter let us know later that we were just the third Indian family to come there since the resort had opened, sadly. Asserts my belief that Indians should shed their fears and come out and explore this beautiful country.
The resort was fabulous! And the weather, even more so. However, there was still a “Saudi-esque” feel about the place. You had to wear an abaya, naturally. Also, I had taken my swim suit (a fully covered one, D-uh!) with me so I could go in the beautiful infinity pool if I felt like it. But unfortunately, the women’s pool was under construction. (Yes, gender segregation is for real.)
True to our natures, later we went on a walk in the resort, exploring every nook and cranny and clicking picture from every angle. There wasn’t much else to do there, so we basically lazed around all day long and took in the beautiful views. The sunset that evening was one of the most spectacular ones I have ever seen in my life! (Check out the main picture at the top and you will see what I am talking about!)
To continue reading about what we did the next day, click here