Daily vlogger and blogger, popularly known as ‘Hels on Wheels’ across social media platforms, is a full-time Global Hobo cyclist who travels the world on her cycle and shares her experience through photos and youtube vlogs.
‘Hels on Wheels’ shares her cycling journey to unknown small towns along with the number of kilometres she cycled through her everyday vlogs.
Hels on Wheels, while sharing her experience with Saudi Arabia on her Facebook handle, shared:-
Emerging from the comfy dark store room where I’d slept, I felt a level of trepidation and optimism about the day ahead.
In the Pakistani restaurant, I held out the last of my Dirhams (not counting the D1000 note!) to ask what it would buy. I received a paratha, omelette and chai but couldn’t stomach it. Instead, I wrapped up the remainder and set off for the last 20 km to the border.
Dressed already in my Iranian cycling gear, I dumped my empty wine box, added a baggy T-shirt and switched into baggy trousers. The dress code for Saudi Arabia is shoulders and knees covered in loose-fitting clothing.
Hijab is not compulsory, but I added one for the border crossing.
On the UAE side, at the first row of immigration booths, I was told the border could not be crossed by bicycle!! WHAT?! They shrugged, suggesting I try but would be turned back. But after this and my concerns about the lack of an inward UAE stamp, I left the country without issue.
On the Saudi side, I entered a bustling but orderly room resembling an embassy’s visa office. A coach-load of people charged in and were summarily marched back out by security. Again, I have directed to the front, and a man with kind eyes beckoned me, took my fingerprints and photograph, and without any fuss, stamped my passport! I was in!! I couldn’t believe how easy it was! But then, at the next checkpoint, I was directed inside a waiting room, where I remained for about an hour.
I was given coffee, but no explanation for the delay. My intentions in Saudi were questioned, my Qatari Hayya card checked, and my bags rummaged through – was I carrying any jewellery, vapes or other smoking paraphernalia? – water bottles sniffed, and I was set free in Saudi Arabia!
Almost immediately – not even 5kms later – I was stopped by traffic police who took my passport for checking. I found the wait excruciating after the delays at the border; there was still 100 km to ride today. But again, I was let go.
At a service station, I was delighted to find a hotel that kindly allowed me to use their wifi and here, ANOTHER traffic policeman found me (how did he find me?!), checked my plans and told me I would be escorted to the Qatari border. My security detail switched twice over the next 60kms, but there was no wriggling out.
“Saudi drivers are crazy,” they told me. “But I’ve cycled from London! Through Italy and Turkey and Iran!” There was no negotiation; “captains orders”.
I love the landscape here; the dunes roll into the highway, engulfing the ‘WARNING Sand Dunes’ signs.
At a later servo break, this pair wanted to hurry me while also requesting video me for their social media. Of course, I could not film them back. Is escorting me down the highway at 20 km/hr a fun, easy assignment for them or a complete drag?
I should’ve stocked up on food here, as it turns out the following service station where I camped is nothing more than the shell of a previous Shell. No food, no water, no nothing except for a couple of Bangladeshi lads working the one pump. My security detail checked I was ok, what time I’d be leaving, and if I had food, which I did not.
Later, to my utter delight, the Bangladeshi lads brought me pre-packaged pastries and drinks and stayed for a chat. It all feels quite intense, but I cannot say I’ve not been looked after in Saudi Arabia!