I’m on the plane coming back from a quick 6 days in Saudi Arabia.

It’s been an interesting and fun time, and very busy.

I left home nearly two weeks ago, heading first to Brisbane for two days, then on to Melbourne for another two days before heading to Riyadh via Abu Dhabi at 11:30 last Thursday evening.

In Brisbane I had dinner with Melody at Sake restaurant – very designer Japanese, tasty food in lots of small bites, and scary prices, the credit card whimpered when it came time to pay. The next night I dined alone at the Bavarian Beer Cafe, hearty and wholesome German food and beer, as you can see from the photo:

In Melbourne Scott & Tracey picked me up after the class on Thursday and we went out to dinner before they dropped me at the airport. A very pleasant evening at a very authentic Japanese restaurant (Akita). It was great to catch up with them.

At the airport I checked in on Etihad airlines for the first time. They are partners with Virgin Australia, so I got to use the Air NZ Lounge on the way out, then on to a 14 hour flight to Abu Dhabi. I watched a movie (the Three Musketeers) and managed to get some sleep. We arrived on schedule, to discover that the flight to Riyadh was delayed due to a dust storm over Saudi Arabia. Instead of leaving at 09:00 we eventually departed at 16:00. Fortunately I was able to rest in the lounge, and catch up on some emails and reading.

We landed at 17:00 local time Friday afternoon, and queued for an hour and a half at immigration. I finally got to the hotel at 19:00, and discovered that the course schedule had changed – instead of having Saturday to recover, I was scheduled to start teaching on Saturday morning. I went to bed early and caught up on some sleep.

The four days of teaching went well, with quiet evenings as I was still tired.

On Tuesday evening after the last class of the trip was finished Tariq took me for a sight-seeing trip outside Riyadh, we visited a farming and recreation area about 30 mins away from the city – it’s amazing how densely date palms grow.

Back in Riyadh we went to a restaurant that serves local Saudi food in traditional style. We had a delicious feast, and a very enjoyable dinner together.

 On Wednesday we had appointments with potential customers and I delivered the “what and why of Agile” talk to interested audiences. After the work was we went to Tariq’s home to swap vehicles, pick up his wife’s 4X4 and a Quadbike, past a butcher to get meat for a BBQ and we headed to the deep desert at Sa’ad. Five of us spent the late afternoon & evening enjoying the desert.

I would never have imagined that one day I would be sand surfing on a boogie-board towed behind a Quadbike in the Arabian desert in the rain! It was great fun.

After the adrenalin rush we settled down to enjoy the quiet of the desert, and prepare a BBQ. The meat was Australian lamb which was prepared as Kofta, Kebobs and cutlets – export Aussie lamb is really nice, especially when cooked over a charcoal fire in the desert. We had some token greens as well, but the focus of the meal was a delight to my carnivores heart (and stomach).

After the food was eaten we sat on the carpet next to the file telling stories until it was time to pack up and head back to the city.

Good food, good company and an all-round good day!

I got back to the hotel at 23:00, just enough time to Skype with home, finish packing my bags and have a shower before heading to the airport at 01:00 for the 4:20 flight to Abu Dhabi. Wednesday was the beginning of a school holiday break, and the airport was chaotic! Both times that I’ve flown out of Riyadh have been at the beginning of a break – thousands of people milling around, many of them with LOTS of luggage.

The trip was long – Riyadh to Abu Dhabi, then 141/2 hour leg from Abu Dhabi to Sydney where I spent all day Friday in meetings, then on to Wellington, where the plane landed at 23:30.

I had a really interesting time, and it’s great to be home again.