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Middle East » Bahrain » Manama
December 13th 2009
Published: December 13th 2009
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Seasons Greetings Friends and Family

We have just 3 sleeps left til we skidaddle off to Thailand for 18 days or so, - Jude can’t wait! - and I'm also looking forward to a change of scene, some more warmth (22C here - and 30C there) - and hopefully some riding…..

Bahrain is really quite small - maybe 40 km’s long and skinny, so when hols come around, most people take the opportunity to take off. With some new air routes being added by various airlines, there are some bargains to be had - for example, a return flight to Dubai for $NZ85! Evidently Hotel prices there are cheap also given their wee ‘crash’ recently.

We have been doing some exploring on the weekends and amusing ourselves while the temps are conducive to outdoor activities. We took a trip down to the bottom of the island - beautiful 2 and 3 lane expressways in both directions - but they lead to bugger all - the high walled prison which is on the waters edge(!!) and adjacent to a huge Police Academy - then further on a giant power plant and water desalination project, and at the very bottom is a beautiful collection of manmade islands called Durrat al Bahrain.

Have a look at http://www.durratbahrain.com/en/category/explore/ - very amazing - it is all empty at this stage, but virtually finished - something 1400 condo’s over 15 islands - we wonder who will be living there, as it is so far away from the city and with so many apartment buildings still going up in Manama….who knows - but very impressive.

We went for a wander in to the Sales Office, with the two Staff behind the counter ignoring us, while the Indian waiters raced over with nibbles and soft drinks!

We did see some cool Flamingo’s on the coast, along with some traditional fishing boats on the way down - worth the trip alone! They grill up quite well apparently and go well with chardonnay lol

On the way back we detoured to a local area called Awali - this is where BapCo - the national petroleum company is based with beautiful irrigated gardens and lawns adorning the employee’s residential area - and along the way saw a phenomenon we had only heard of - and not seen until now - the national ‘winter’ pastime of going camping - “but not as we know it” lol.

It’s like camping in an industrial site, oil pipes everywhere, carpeted tents, the wide screen TV inside and the Chevy parked outside! The locals go quite skittery, with driving being even more random, as evidenced by a young Guy wheel-standing his trail bike thru the lights without a helmet as we drove thru! Once again - that’s what not drinking does to ya Folks.
We also had a look at the Saudi Causeway - this is a 24 km expressway joining Bahrain with Saudi, and you are able to go as far as the halfway service area where there is a McDonalds, a mosque, a lookout Tower and a very sifty buffet restaurant. Being a long weekend/public holiday, the place was swarming with expat labourers (Indian) out for a day trip obviously - nice people I’m sure but not when 22 of them try to get into the lift at the same time as us! LOL -probably the closest they’d been to a blonde Lady in their lives!

So some quick snaps, and we were off, been there, done that - and as close to Saudi Arabia as we intend to get!

Jude’s Garden: Jude is so proud of her garden, featuring not one, not one and a half, but….(drum roll)…..TWO petunia’s! I am instructed to talk to them during the day (they like that evidently) - and they have benefited by a couple of days of recent rain - yes, I know what you are saying “Rain in Bah-Rain?” It is a very rare occurrence with Jude’s students so excited they wanted to go outside and play in it! Anyhow, back to the Garden. It has quickly grown from one flower to several, - proof in itself that I do talk to them. Sometimes when Jude is at work (She doesn’t know this) it becomes a Beer Garden - far more blokey, and I don’t feel nearly as weird talking to them. And maybe the Burt Munro style watering helps too.

Anyway, back to the rain, - yes indeed, a good time to stay off the roads, as the local version of driving carefully in the rain, is to go the same speed, but with the hazard lights flashing - makes things far safer apparently. So I have no idea why there were 200 accidents
Durrat al Bahrain - aerial Durrat al Bahrain - aerial Durrat al Bahrain - aerial

- one of the 15 man-made islands
reported in 14 hours during the rain, no idea at all. The rain didn’t deter the dozens of pizza delivery bikes which zip around the town - though I did observe some winterisation measures being added to their bikes to reduce exposure to the elements.

A favourite grin is seeing the Thobe’d Men dashing along the footpath to avoid being splashed by passing cars hitting the massive puddles, lol - no spouting or drainage here Folks - why would you with just a few days of rain a year! The rain has kept the Car Washing Boys very busy, as the road slush cannot be avoided. These Guys are amazing, using a single large bucket of water to clean the whole car, no hoses, just plenty of elbow grease and a good rag. It is quite common to be approached when parking to be approached for a car wash, or ‘guided’ in to a car park so the can earn a 1 or 2 dinar while you do your shopping or banking etc. They are a real part of the local scene.

Our ‘Hood: Less than 10 minutes walk from home, is “Carpet Alley” so named due to
Durrat al BahrainDurrat al BahrainDurrat al Bahrain

Luxury living on man made islands....
the plethora (word of the day) of Carpet Shops selling traditional rugs, with the shopkeepers sitting outside their shops beckoning you in as you pass. It is also sometimes called Shwarma Alley, as there are also a group of food shops selling a variety of local delicacies, but must popularly, Shwarmas. Dine in or pull up and toot and one of the army of Bell Boys will zip over to your car and take an order, delivering your food back in minutes. (Actually Bahraini’s pull up to Cold Stores (Dairies) and toot also - and the diligent Indian shop keeper trots out to take an order for a pack of smokes etc )
Anyway, back to the Shwarmas - they consist a kebab style meat - beef or chicken, salad and spicey mayo wrapped in a pita type bread. Two shwarmas will set you back 600 fils - or $2.40, a cheap meal. Add a bottle of drinking water for 200 fils - or choose from a range of amazing fresh juices made on the spot - peach is a favourite! Great value 

I had the car serviced recently………..what a drama ………not the car part, that was OK,
Durrat al BahrainDurrat al BahrainDurrat al Bahrain

Each condo has it's own pool, with untold palms yet to be planted
but the recommended mechanic was out in Tubli - about a 15 minute drive, so when I got dropped off to pick up the car, I was a couple of hours early and had just finished building furniture with Wayne, so was in shorts and T shirt, looking scruffy, covered in sawdust etc. So I got them to drop me off at the local Mall, to have some lunch and enjoy the air cond, but it turns out this Mall, opened only a few days earlier, didn’t have any food outlets, just a supermarket, huge clothes store and furniture.

Being new, there were people flooding in, and all absolutely staring at the Honky in shorts which are disrespectful in some settings. Oh well, if you can’t beat them, join them, so I took advantage of the sales and bought a thobe, and sandals - no more stares! Quite nice and cool too with a nice breeze down below! I then proceeded to a nearby McDonalds for a McArabian Combo - as you do!

We had another great Book Club night, with about 15 attending to return/grab some books to keep them going over Christmas. We do really get
Durrat al BahrainDurrat al BahrainDurrat al Bahrain

The Condo's went on and on like an ex wife
a neat group turn up, all nice and relaxed, having a good chat and a few drinks - and this month a special wee visitor from NZ, Bella, visiting her Grand Mum, Robyn. Bella is a real little Honey and was most fussed over, and had a ball playing with a 2 dinar spinning top, which performed flawlessly on the tiled floors! The Girls playing :


Jude has just finished booking our return flights for next August - halfway thru our stint here - taking advantage of a super fare deal to Melbourne, where we will be catching up with the Connolly Boys (Lower Hutt Tribe) and hopefully watching the All Blacks trounce the Aussies, before jetting home shortly thereafter. It’s months away yet, but a nice feeling to have that in place.

That’s all Folks - the next episode with be Thailand Tales, so in the meantime, we wish you all a Very Merry Christmas!

Cheers
Pete and Jude



Additional photos below
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Note the hard working Car Wash Dude


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