Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Thomas Barger was one of the early pioneers who came to Arabia in 1937 to explore for oil. He retired 32 years later as CEO of Aramco. I remember first reading about him in an article appearing in ArabNews that talked about a book published by his son. It is a collection of letters he wrote to his wife while living in Arabia some 67 years ago. Being fascinated with such material, I went right ahead to Jarir bookstore in AlKhobar to buy the book. I had to wait for several weeks before getting the book …. I was very pleased with what I got. You see .. I have this .. passion for material relating to the recent history of this land. It developed over the last several years.

So much for that .. I will talk more about the book later, but for now I will mention that there was a picture Barger took for the town of Marat in 1939. Here is an excerpt of what he had to say about it:

“The sand in the backcountry is the reddest I've ever seen; it practically glows in the red down. There are high, bold hills with real cliffs on them rising six to eight hundred feet above the plains on the westward faces. We did not pass through many towns, but one, Marat, was as picturesque as you could wish. The earth is a reddish clay, and just outside the town is a high jabal that we climbed. We took pictures of the town spread out below us with its red-turreted walls, green gardens scattered over the plain, and the great pool in which they gather rainwater by a system of ditches."

I wanted to go to the place and see if I could recognize the surroundings. Armed with the picture, I headed with my partner, Hamad, to the town of Marat to see if we could find the jabal from which the picture was taken. The mountain range in the background was our reference point.

To our pleasant surprise, not only we were able to find the jabal but also recognize many of the features in the picture which are still standing today. The pool mentioned in the manuscript is still visible today as it was 67 years ago (lower left portion). Remains of the watchtower can be seen in the center right portion. In front of the watch tower (adjacent to the pool) is an empty ground that is still empty today. If you look closely, you could even see one of the ditches –encircled- ( no, we didn't hide the cache there but it was tempting and worth looking into).

The mountain was referred to as Jabal Marat by Barger and is the famous Jabal Kumait. The view from the top is superb and is a good family fun – If you have the original picture, bring with you & try playing "Find the differences". I stashed the cache in one of the old mud buildings appearing in the picture .. we were glad to see the ruins still standing and I wish the municipality restore them and keep them maintained.

Here is an article I wrote for the Today's Cacher on the subject.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ok .. I must admit, I don’t like writing. I’m kind of .. lazy. Yeepp, I’m already feeling tired. But I still like to talk about this hobby of mine called geocaching. It is the sport where You are the search engine.

So far, I found 60 caches and hidden 24. Each cache has a story of its own. To talk about these stories and a little more, I created this blog. I will start with the most recent caches and work my way backward in time.


I have heard and read about the cannibals or Solou cave near the little village of Barrah but never knew where it lies till I came across a post in Mekshat. It gave the coordinates of the cave and so I planned the trip with my partner and cousin Hamad. The story is interesting and and will work great for a Hollywood horror movie .. something like the Texas Chain saw massacre. It is spelled out in my cache listing.

As part of our normal routine, I checked out the general area and entered the coordinates in my new GPS unit that I bought recently. Thanks to google earth, I can now study the cache area and plan my route before jumping into my car. Since it was summer time, we head for our target in the afternoon after passing by Azizyyah store on Takhassisi road to stock on food, basically two salads and lots of cold beverages.

The cave is about 1hour drive from Riyadh heading north west. Driving was mainly on paved road except for the last 8km or so. The cave lies in the Aried mountain which stands out of the flat plains between Barrah/Raghabah on the east and Marat on the west. After some off road driving, we parked our car and walked for about 15minutes to reach the cave. It is hidden from the view and so I stashed my cache and left just in time before the cannibals return. :)

Naturally, we were not in the mood to eat but since meat was not on the menu, we decided to have our salads anyway. We finished our trip by enjoying the sunset over the red dunes to the west .. the atmosphere was absolutely beautiful .. the night was clear and calm, we spent the next 3 hours on the wadi floor, gazing at the stars and listening to the filtered voice of Fairouz and her music.