23 May 2024

One of the exciting aspects of this trip is that we are pioneers; in so far as we’re the first overlanders to do this route. This can also be a disadvantage. Yesterday was a case in point. We left Dammam at around 3pm and went looking for a bushcamp. I was following the route on MAPS.ME, a free offline opensource map. I could see we were heading to a piece of land protruding into the gulf. Nice spot, I thought. The Open Topo layer in MAPS.ME showed a parking space. When we got there, it was full of trucks and pickups. About turn and off to find somewhere else. About 10 mins later, a few military jeeps pulled up. This is a military area, you can’t park here, they said, but not aggressively. Onwards again. It was dark by now. Karen, the organiser, decided to ask at a local service station if we could camp over overnight. Yes, we could. Woohoo.

I was on the cook group for as soon as we arrived I helped set the kitchen up and then helped to prepare dinner. This was buffalo filet, rice and salad. I helped serve and then wash up and put the kitchen away again. Then I pitched my own tent. We were in a service station so there was no sand, just concrete. But, it was level. My tent has no guy ropes and doesn’t need pegs, as the poles tension the fabric of the tent. I went over to the service station shop and bought an ice cream and a small packet of a local knockoff of Doritos cheesey nachos. They were surprisingly tasty and really cheap.

It was now about 8:30pm and, as I would be up at 5:15am to prepare breakfast, I hit the sack. I was spark out by 9pm and slept like a log until 5am. I’m used to sleeping on a sleeping mat now and it quite comfortable. I do dream occasionally through, of soft mattresses and crisp white Egyptian cotton sheets but am OK with the camping aspect of the trip; 50% of it is bushcamping.

I’m glad I bought decent camping gear when I started overlanding a few years ago, especially my sleeping mat. I was originally going to get a cheap one. After all, you’ll be asleep so why waste money on an expensive mat. Then I had a thought. I imagined what it might be like to wake up one night in some desert or mountaintop in Kyrgyzstan, or somewhere similar, and couldn’t get back to sleep again because my mat has sprung a leak or wouldn’t stop my shoulder or hip digging into the ground below. I wondered how much I would be prepared to pay at that point. Feck the expense, I thought, I’d pay more than the most expensive mat on Amazon. So, I paid €200 on a top of the range Thermarest, the Rolls Royce of sleeping mats. I have been glad of that decision on so many occasions.

Off to Kuwaiti border at 7:30am. We were warned that this might be complicated and that they mightn’t let our bus through. We were advised to bring an overnight bag for the 3 days we would be in Kuwait. Such are the uncertainties of overlanding.

Thanks to Ric for some of photos. I was cooking at the time. Dinner, that is…

(Please click on any thumbnail above to enlarge the whole gallery for full size sliding photos)

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