I’ve just moved out the dormitory this afternoon. My new house is just some blocks away from the dom. It has two rooms and a kitchen. It’s in a building of four units for families. I still have to share the house with my QA Manager. He’s going to move to another city in one or two weeks. The new manager is coming.
He bought everything for the house so all I have to do is to pay him back because he leaves all behind. That’s good. The only things I need to purchase are kitchen wares because he doesn’t cook. I sleep in the living room on the sofa. After he’s leaving, I’m going two have my bed room with a king size bed.
It’s not a nice house looking inside and the exterior of the building seems unfinished. I don’t know why it was put on for renting. It’s in a quiet area.
Now, this is how the walls in the living room look like. It’s so weird! Ah well, I have to accept it because right now I don’t have another choice. It’s still larger and well equipped than my room in Vietnam.
The ugly face of my building
The opposite building for Arabians which I need to double my recent salary if I wanna get in there.
Right after I landed in Jeddah in Wednesday afternoon, I was brought to the Fisheries Research Center. I started the job on Thursday as a lab specialist in histopathological lab. So after exactly one week I left the old job in Vietnam, I started to work again. It’s a new old job because my duty here is just similar to that in my former company. It’s nice to do the old job in a completely new environment with new colleagues. Not to mention that the workload in new company is much lower and the salary is much higher.
There are no shops or restaurants or such things around 15-minute-drive radius from the work location. Where I stay is also a small town, it’s about one hour drive from Jeddah city center. It’s in the middle of a desert in which construction sites are everywhere. Only my videos can explain the landscape. I will upload them on YouTube and insert them here when I can or you can watch them on my Facebook timeline. I don’t have a car neither a driving license. There is no motorbike here either. Such an inconvenient situation! I have to bring breakfast and lunch with me. As I mention before, my new assistant is a man from India and I’m staying with a group of Indian expats. So he helped me at a shop near the dormitory to buy two small sandwiches (one with eggs and the other with chicken) for my meals. At 7:15 am, I joined the expat group in a minivan provided by the company to get to the workplace. The driver had to stop here and there to pick up some others. We got there at 7:30. In the former company, I didn’t have to sign and check the time for starting and ending a work day. I have to do it in the new company and do it manually.
It’s an old new job so I’m familiar with everything in the lab. The condition in the new lab is not as good as in the former one. They still use instruments in old generation. They are not well organized. As a lab specialist, I have to suggest the renovation and new investment for the lab. What I need to do now is “wait and wait”. As my assistant explained, nothing happens immediately here. When we need something, we have to wait for about 6 months or so to get what we requested. Therefore we have to think ahead everything if we want the lab function properly. It’s crazy! In Vietnam, we just make a phone call and suppliers bring all things we need immediately. It’s fine by me because he told me that there were not many samples here every month (less than one percent in comparison to my former workload). In the mean time, we can manage to do our job with what we have in hands.
It’s an eight hour work day, exactly from 7:30 to 3:30. In that amount of time, we manage ourself to do our job, having meals, coffee break and praising (for Muslims only). They have to praise five time a day from the dawn to midnight. The one in the working time is at 1pm for about 10 minutes. They gather in a mosque, just in front of the lab. It was built for Muslims who work there.
The fisheries center locates by the Red Sea. Near the end of our work day, I asked my assistant to show me the sea shore. We got there just by walking past some fish and shrimp ponds. It’s a sunny day (as always) but it’s not too hot because of the wind and fresh air from the sea. It’s a nice place.
Instead of saying TGIF, here we say Thank God It’s Thursday because Friday is the day off work, it’s weekend. So after 3:30, in the minivan, we went to the city center for our night after a hard week. So that brought me to the first time in the city. I will have an entry about it :)
Here are some photos of my first day at work.
So finally I got to Jeddah after 14 hours of flight from Tan Son Nhat International Airport to King Abdulaziz International Airport. I had to transit twice in Hongkong airport and Dubai International Airport.
at Tan Son Nhat
On my plane to Hongkong, I met three Vietnamese people, an old woman who’s flying to Vancouver to visit her dad, an old man who was also going back to Vancouver after his first trip to Vietnam since 1978 and a “tom-boy” who’s returning to USA. We sat together in a group of four, me and the man were in the row behind that of the woman and the tom-boy. I had a nice chat with the man and the woman. We separated at Hongkong airport and wished each other having a nice trip. We also hoped to meet again coincidentally. It was just a nice flight.
After waiting for nearly three hours at Hongkong airport, I took my flight to Jeddah. When I bought my ticket, I didn’t know that I had to transit in Dubai. However, it only took me one hour waiting on board for the airline to change the crew and clean the plane. It was about ten hour flight from Hongkong to Dubai. I felt tired and sleepy but I couldn’t sleep well on plane.
waiting on board in Dubai
I finally got to Jeddah and I started to feel terrible at the passport checkpoint. People were rude, they didn’t respect of waiting in line, especially the women wearing black from top to bottom. At the beginning, there were about 15 people in front of me but people who came later just cut in my line. It was very bad impression at the port of the country. I didn’t say a word to them even in English because I didn’t want to hear them to explain in Arabic. I only shook my head and sighed. Children were also annoying. After three hours, I got to see the officer, it took me only three minutes or so to get my my passport stamped.
After getting my luggage, I was hold by the officer of Ministry of Culture and Informatics. I was really scared because I brought an external hard drive which has some porno in it. Luckily, I formatted it for Mac users only therefor my hard drive contents didn’t appear on his Windows system. The officer asked me whether there are porno, I said no, there are only some music, photos of friends and family and some documents for my job. He asked me about my job as a veterinarian. I tried to say some fish names in English but he didn’t know any, even catfish or tilapia. He asked me their Arabic names. I said I don’t know a word. He returned me the hard drive. And here it comes, he asked me about my religion view. I prepared myself for that situation but I couldn’t escape his blah blah blah, blah blah blah. Lucky for me that he couldn’t speak English well. He admitted that he only knows English for his job, not for religion discourses. (Okay, I appreciate that). My courage got so high that I asked him to help me to make a phone call for the one who’s waiting to pick me up. OMG! he was so nice and so helpful to give me his mobile. He also called that person again to explain my situation. I asked for his number and wished to see him again. He gave me the name and the number of a school and encouraged me to go there if I want to know more about Muslim. He also walked me out his office to the exit and continuously talked about the goodness of the religion. It was so relieved to see the banner with my name waiting outside. Phew!
The one who picked me up at the airport is the manager of the laboratory. It was 1:30pm local time when I saw him. He said that he had to wait for me two hours. I explained him the rudeness at the passport checkpoint and the holding in the office. He understood and sympathized about all that. He’s from Tunisia, the former French colony like Vietnam. He’s white. Not all Africans is black eh? He knows a little bit of French just like me. He drove me directly from the airport to the Fisheries Research Center. He introduced me to the director and I was introduced to my workmates and toured around the center. It was a warm welcoming though. It’s so difficult to catch their English. They speak fast and enthusiastically about everything. They seem happy to see a new face.
After working hour, he drove me to the dormitory and picked up some food for me on the way. He explained that it’s near the praising time so we couldn’t stay in the restaurant. I had some roasted chicken and Indian rice for dinner. He ordered too much rice, I could only have one fifth of the portion. I have to stay in a sharing room with a workmate. He said that he’s going to give me his two room house in some days because the company relocates him to the capital city, Riyadh.
The condition at the dorm isn’t good enough as I expected. It’s okay though. My workmates are also my roommates. I’m staying with a group of Indian men. They are also Muslim. They are so friendly and so helpful. The one who is my lab assistant took me to local shops to buy a new SIM card for my phone. I felt connected to the world again.
Although I didn’t sleep very well in the first night, I felt strong enough to start my first day at work which was the next day.
I determined to free myself from the current job because it’s hopeless to work with this company. Through a recommendation of a friend, I got the job offer last year but I didn’t say to anyone except two workmates whom I trust. After a long process with lots of papers and health check, I got my visa yesterday. Today, I book my flight to Jeddah. I’m going to fly with Cathay Pacific on Tuesday. It will take me about 15 hours to get there. The company will have someone to pick me up at the airport and they also provide me accommodation. That reduces so much stress on me in term of finding an appropriate place to stay. I have asked some online friends about my salary. They assure that it’s good for me to go there. Two things shouldn’t be joked around are religion and politics. I don’t drink or smoke so that’s also a good point. You might have heard the toughness of Muslim laws, they suggest that living a low life there is also a good choice in order to avoid troubles. Absolutely! I don’t want to be kicked out the country. I just want to try my best to do the job (which is similar to what I do in Vietnam) and earn some money in that two year contract. It’s going to be the turning point of my life in terms of environment and culture. It’s a trial for my adaptive instinct. I also want to learn Arabic in my free time (weekend). I couldn’t find any course here in Vietnam. Obviously, Arabic is considered as one of the difficult and rare languages. So, I have to postpone learning Spanish here. By the way, I now can count to millions and write a long letter to describe a tourist attraction. I will write my teacher when I get to Jeddah. He’s going to be surprised :)
I was so happy when I got my passport with visa stamped in the mail yesterday.
They love playing with my iPad a lot :) The youngest one whispered in my ear that he will give all his lucky money to me for a laptop (his word). Silly boy doesn’t know how much for an iPad. I told him that he’s unable to use such thing and he has to go to school. He seems to agree :)
I’m making tortilla de patatas the first time in my life. Onions and potatoes are cooked and smell really good. I’m waiting them to cool down a bit before mixing with eggs.
Yesterday in the Spanish class, I tried a small piece of tortilla de patatas. It was served cold with a slide of bread. I think it’s a good snack so I search for a recipe. It looks easy and only need a skillet.
Tadaa! I didn’t believe that I could turn it up side down like this to make it brown at two sides. I think it’s burnt a bit in comparison with what I saw on the internet. However, this is not what I ate yesterday. It was like mash potato. There wasn’t fried egg layer out side like this. I don’t know, maybe I added more eggs than my teacher did. I’m gonna ask her tomorrow.