Al Baha – The Fog City

Winter has always been my favorite season of all! No oily skin, no sweaty hair, no body odor (or other petty girly stuff!) to deal with. I suppose coming from a hot and humid country does that to you.  Come winters and I feel all charged up. I start feeling all pretty and peachy and ready to take on the world in my warm, cozy sweaters.

While we were in Riyadh, I used to love the extreme winters (temperatures close to 0 deg Celsius). My nose would turn so cold, that it would be like touching an ice-cube. But still, I never liked to turn on the heaters. I would breathe the cold, chilly air for as long as my frozen nose would permit so that I wouldn’t miss doing that in the extreme summers (50 and above degrees). And then jump under the blankets and get warm again. And I can’t even get started about how heavenly it felt, standing under the warm sun in the chilly afternoons.

However, since we shifted to Jeddah, the temperature has pretty much gone boring.  You can tell it’s winter when you need the AC only on Fan mode. Ugh! This has got me craving for that special wintry feeling once again. This year, before December even started, we started checking out the various hill stations and cool places in Saudi.

Tabuk was an option for the winters (I wanted to see snowfall in Saudi :D), but what if we went there for two days expecting snowfall and there was none? I couldn’t handle that type of disappointment now, could I? So, we decided to keep Tabuk for summers (see my post on Tabuk) and looked for a closer to home option.

Now, there is a city, Taif, that is close by. It is a hill station at an altitude of almost 1700-1800 meters. But it is human nature, not to value the things closer to home and look far away. Well, we did just that and decided to drive to Al-Bahah city. It is a four-hour drive from Jeddah, located in the south and is the smallest of the thirteen provinces in Saudi. And obviously, is a mountainous region.

So, we left our usual early morning on Friday after Fajr prayers, around 6:30 AM. I am not at all a morning person, yet it is surprising, the enthusiasm with which I wake up when we have to travel somewhere.

We took the Route 5 that goes to the South of Jeddah towards Yemen. As you enter this route, you will see a lot of animal farms on both sides. We saw numerous farms, separately for goats, sheeps and camels. There is a different smell in the air altogether, even if you are driving in a car with all windows closed! As you go further south, you will pass by a couple of small villages/towns on each side. In one part, we drove so close to the sea, that we could even see the Al Shoaiba Shipwreck (separate post coming soon). Once we passed Al Shoaiba, very soon, the desert started. You could see nothing else for miles! And the dunes, Oh my! The dunes were huge with soft orange sand. If it were not for the perfectly laid highway, we thought we had entered the empty quarters (still pending on our bucket list). We drove for, close to, 200 Kms and took an exit from Al Muzaylif on to Route 246. From here on, you enter the Al Bahah Province.

Two weeks before our trip, there were horrible floods in that region. So yes, we were a bit nervous again about the weather. I did check all the weather apps before going, but you never can tell what God thinks of your best laid plans. As we took the exit, we could see the path for a huge river that would be in full form then, but now all you could see was a damp patch in the ground.

As we proceeded slowly up the mountains, we passed by so many ruins. They looked like ancient watchtowers that soldiers could keep a lookout from. However, during some research on that, I found out that there is actually an argument about whether they were watchtowers or granaries. These ruins of watchtowers/granaries are spread all across Baha region and are present even in the highest points.

Our firststop was Dhi Ayn Village.

Click here to find out what we did there.

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