Jeddah, Monday 6-5-95, 2300 local (Z+3)
C.J., remember the time we wound up in the Presidential Suite at the Universal Sheraton in L.A.? Well, somewhat the same thing has happened to us here. We got to the hotel after an eleven plus block time due to troubles starting one of the engines only to find the hotel full. However, since the hotel has a contract to put us up, they hauled us over to a compound of villas they rent for, get this, 18,000 riyals per night. That's about $5000 per night (exchange rate is 3.6 riyals per dollar). The place is fantastic. It includes 6 bedrooms (each of course with its own bathroom), at least 3 sitting rooms, 2 full kitchens (one of them really huge), a laundry room, a formal dining room with a long table for at least 20, an office, a living room for the men (huge), a living room for the women (not so huge), and of course, separate entrances for men and women. The master bedroom is unbelievable. It has a separate mini-kitchen, living room, the largest tub I have personally seen, and the largest mirror I've ever seen in one piece - easily 7 feet tall by about 8 feet wide. Also, you can lay in bed and raise and lower all the window shades via remote control.
The place is 3 stories high, with an atrium in the middle - big glass roof over the atrium. Sliding glass doors on the 3rd floor lead to sun decks over portions of the 2 lower floors. Bedrooms and sitting/living rooms are deeply carpeted. All else is floored with marble. There's a couple of mirrors in my room that are about 11 feet high (high ceilings throughout) though only a couple of feet wide.
C.J., remember the TCNs (Third Country Nationals). They're crawling all over the place outside tending the landscaping. As I walked to the hotel and back for breakfast, I saw a few construction workers completely covered up against the heat (a la the Koreans at Ras Tanura). The theory is that the clothing may be hot but it's better than letting the sun get to you. They cover the face completely except for an eye slit.
We're in Villa 12. I would guess there to be about 20 in the compound - guard at the gate. Actually, this one is perhaps one of the less expensive ones in that it doesn't have it's own swimming pool. Others we are told, do. To a Saudi Arab renter, of course, a swimming pool would be meaningless.
The flight over was relatively mundane compared to the place we're staying. I thought it was getting off to a bad start when the captain asked me which leg I wanted. I replied truthfully that I really didn't care, whereupon he repeated the question, adding "You have to start making decisions some time." I replied that it was my policy to defer to the captain, but if the captain really didn't care, I'd be happy to choose, and then said I'd take the 1st leg. He, of course, didn't know me or what my background/experience was at that point.
Then we went through an hour of troubles after pushing back trying to get the number 3 engine started, so by the time we were airborne we all were a little frustrated. The actual flight went well except that at the end the controller in Jeddah held us too high too long and then turned us in too close to the ILS. It was a great opportunity to play in that I could have made the turn and dished out a lot of altitude if I banked 45-60 degrees (no passengers on board, we're empty going to Jeddah). It was tempting, but I figured I didn't want to get the reputation of being too quick to violate standard procedures, so I limited bank to about 35 degrees, went through the localizer (the radio aid that lays out a course aligned with the runway centerline), and then came back to it. In hind sight, I don't think this guy would have minded my doing what I wanted to do. Oh, well.
Actually, he was quite reasonable as a captain in that once he gave me the airplane for takeoff, he didn't touch the controls or the power levers for the entire rest of the flight. That was my policy when I was a captain and it was the f.o.'s leg.
Anyway, once here I ran in the heat, showered and am now headed for bed, hopefully to sleep until departure time tomorrow afternoon except for the time required to get up and go to the hotel for the free breakfast.
This won't get sent until I'm back in Jakarta.