BAHRAIN Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
We departed from the Doha international Airport, just after lunch. As it turns out, Gulf Air is the Bahrainian National Airline and we are flying with them again, now for the 3rd time.
Fortunately, there was no lost luggage this time or lost passports.
The cost of the visa upon arrival was also was painless, we just had to hand over some money. We whipped past the passport control, past the customs and landed in the arrival room right in front of an ATM. What luck. After obtaining some of the local currency (Dinars) we proceeded outside to the taxi terminal. Here we haggled a bit over the price, but it is set.
The drive from the airport to the Al Jaberiya hotel took about 15 minutes.
What I observed immediately was the absence of tall building. Just in the financial district were there a few sky scrapers. The streets also were not as clean as they were in the other countries.
Our hotel was fine and not in a bad location. Al and I went out on a familiarization walk then attended to some business. He would go and get some laundry done and I would work on the blog and photos. At 7 pm we went out for dinner. After that we stayed in for the night
Wednesday, Feb 2nd.
After having a couple of cups of coffee in the room we went out for breakfast, as it is not included in this restaurant. Once done we went back to the room, took out the map and made our walking plans for the day.
This would include walking to the Old Palace. Once there we were told twice that photos could not be taken, so that was a waste. Now to carry on to the gardens to admire the beautiful flowers, most of which had not yet been planted. Oh well just the walk was worth the time of the day. Then I noticed a mosque (surprise!!) and wanted to take a picture of it, only to be persuaded to go into the DQ instead and have an ice cream to cool off, why not.
Next, on to some towers of in to the distance, As we approached the waterfront there was this huge statue with a pearl on the very top. Believe it or not, it was called the Pearl Monument. Now it was time to take a picture. First we had to run to get into the centre of the round about that was surrounded by four lanes of traffic and pedestrians are frowned upon. With a hop, skip and bounce we were set and I got the photos. Now to get off this round about.
We carried on walking along the waterfront to once again witness the derelict boats and finally on to the financial district. Now we saw the sky scrapers we had seen yesterday as well as a fair amount of new construction.
At this point we crossed the 8 lane hgwy, using an overpass and carried on to the diplomatic area of Manama, Bahrain.
But I am getting ahead of myself. We walked passed two towers mirrored of themselves with a fair space between them. In this space were three huge wind turbines so the towers could power themselves, what an idea.
As we walked passed a number of embassies I noticed that there was a Canadian on as well. Let’s see if we are getting our monies worth re; the building we are paying for. As I walked up the stairs this guy in a green suit comes out of this little house and he has a rifle in his hands. Mmmm I say, what is this all about? He tells me not to take a photo (today was not a good day to take photos) as this is the Saudi Embassy. I agree and carried on up the stairs to take a photo. He says NO, and I say, I only want to photograph the Canadian Embassy. He tells me that from where I was standing I would have a part of the Saudi Arabia one in the photo and that is not allowed. I agreed and finally walked around that building to photograph ours. Here too, two security personel came out to tell me no, but after I told them that I owned part of it, with the proper I.D. they allowed me three pictures.
Now to head back to the hotel. We had left at 10 am and now it was getting on to 3pm. Al being the old man that he is (much younger than me) said he required his afternoon snooze, so I obliged. After our fiesta we had a bite to eat at the nearest Gyro stand, walked the street a bit, then headed back to the hotel with a couple of 0/0 alcohol beer for our evening entertainment on the Arabic only, T.V.
I got back onto Google Earth and started to plan tomorrow. How close can we get to Saudi Arabia without crossing the border??
Thursday, Feb 3rd
The best place to get to the Saudi-Bahrain border would be the King Fahd causeway. First conceived in 1968 it was finally started in 1982. The joint project was completed in 1986, at a cost of $ 1.2 Billion.
One of the major contractors was Ballast Nedam, a Dutch based company.
The causeway is 25 km long and 23 mtrs wide. On average it carries 45,000 cars on weekdays and 60,000 vehicles on weekends.
Now pay close attention to the following. This has been told to us by a number of Bahrainians and we have both seen and heard the results.
The liquor laws in Bahrain are much more relaxed (although still almost non-existent) than those of the Saudis, as they are not allowed any liquor at all (the Muslims that is) So on their weekends they drive to Bahrain, their sin city, and have a great weekend. This includes all the liquor they can consume and all the women they can handle or try to handle. This business has really increased since the opening of the causeway. The weekend in this area consists of Thurs. and Frid. Therefore on Wed. evening we didn’t sleep much due to all the noise and commotion in our hotel. This morning as well as we walked the streets, almost every vehicle we saw was either Kuwaitin or from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I kid you not. Bussiness must be great, praise Allah.
I digress. At 10am on Thursday morning the driver that I hired the night before is waiting for us. I told him we wanted him for 3 hrs and where we would like t go. We drive down the freeway (8 lanes) till we get to the causeway (4 lanes) and continue to drive as far as we are allowed to go without crossing the border.
Somewhere at the centre of the causeway is the border. Here they created what looks like a figure 8 piece of land, one part is Saudi Arabia the other is Bahrain. This is where you clear customs. Both sides have an observation tower that are identical, so not to discriminate and both sides have a Mc Donald’s believe it or not.
After leaving here we carried on to the King’s camelry, for the sake of a better word. It is nice to have more money than you know what to do with. Beautiful open air bldgs with sun roofs to keep the camels cool. There were a minimum of a couple of 100 camels here. I guess he likes camels for racing and breeding.
Then we carried on to the largest mosque in the country. It is capable of holding just over 7000 worshippers. That’s just peanuts, as the one we visited in Abu Dhabi held over 17,000. In this mosque you required a guide to show you around. We got a bald headed Frenchman around 40 yrs of age (did I show prejudice). We got many statistics from him and eventually I asked him a question that did not get answered when we visited a mosque in Penang, Malaysia. Lenora and I were interrupted there.
The question was, why do you kill in the name of Mohammed? Out comes the defense and all the scriptures that you can think of to justify their beliefs. I told him that these scriptures were thousands of years old and maybe are not accurate. After all, we didn’t have pencil or paper so everything we know today had to be told by someone and eventually be written.
I guess we were both set in our beliefs and since we were the guests in his Holy place I decided to bid him farewell as our taxi was waiting. Boy oh boy, religion can be what ever you want it to be as long as you believe, that’s called faith.
Back to the hote