I arrived in Bahrain on Saturday morning and have been really enjoying it here. I didn’t know what to expect at first, my previous trips to this part of the world were to Dubai and Egypt and I figured it would be somewhat similar and there are definitely a lot of similarities between the countries, but many differences too.
Bahrain is a tiny island smack in the centre of the Middle East, between Iran and Iraq and joins Saudi Arabia via a causeway. I initially and somewhat naively thought we could pop over to Saudi for a day trip, but tourists aren’t allowed to visit.
Bahrain is just 60 kilometres in length, but there has been and continues to be major construction occurring on reclaimed land, so it’s expanding over time. Bahrain is comprised of 48 villages, and the capital city of Manama is ever expanding and full of large high rise buildings that vary greatly in design and architecture.
The villages are a combination of old and new, with shops mixed in amongst residences and affluence next to poverty, mixed with outdoor lounges and sitting areas in random places for night time tea drinking and shisha smoking after the heat of the day has passed. At about 4pm the villages come to life after being quiet during the afternoon, with fruit sellers and traders setting up stalls and shops opening for the evening trade. The villages remind me a little of the villages behind the pyramids in Egypt, and have the same kind of character and “time stood still” feel that I love. The buildings are all made of concrete with flat roofs and it makes for a startling contrast against the desert sand and blue skies with palm trees around the place adding touches of green.
When I told friends and family I was coming here they were concerned for my safety, after all our only knowledge of this part of the world is what we see on the news, which is usually filled with negative stories and fear mongering. My friend has lived here for 11 years and I’m staying with her and her lovely family in their home in a compound in the village of Saar. It is safe as I expected it would be. Mind you my friends and family are used to my regular travels and movements and some had fears when I told them I was moving to West Africa in 2010 only a few months after meeting my husband. I’m sure they wonder about me sometimes and a friend commented on Facebook the other day after I landed here, that I continue to “puzzle and inspire her – and what next?”.
Life is short, I believe it is to be enjoyed and lived to the fullest, and travel is one of my greatest pleasures in life. We choose to live simply which affords us the ability to travel regularly. I’ve done the whole mortgage thing in the past and for now I would prefer to have a passport and a plane ticket mixed with a whole bunch of spontaneity than the title to a house. This might change in time, but for now I love locking my doors and heading off on adventures as they present.
Anyway back to Bahrain….
I’ve been relaxing with my friend the last few days and yesterday did some girly pampering stuff, as an aside treatments here are affordable and incredible!
Today we went out for breakfast to a local cafe called Emmawash for local food and let me tell you, it was bloody delicious!
These guys made the most amazing flat bread – it was so good!
We ordered dahl, flatbread, tea and the most delicious little sweets sort of like mini donuts called qayat. Oh em gee it was all so good and I look forward to going back for more.
The decor was simple but effective and people are encouraged to write names and draw pictures on the walls, so I made my mark there too.
After looking around a bit more, this afternoon I was fortunate to visit a lovely lady who lives here and does cranio-sacral therapy. I had about 2 hours of bliss at the gentle touch of her hands and floated off her table back to my friends place where we are relaxing for the evening. Thank you Anna, it was amazing!
I’m here until the end of next week and I’m really looking forward to more sights, sounds, tastes and beauty in this fascinating, multifaceted and multicultural country.
Until next time!