| GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)|
The Kingdom of Bahrain is an Unitary parliamentary
constitutional monarchy, covering 765 square kilometres in- the Persian
Gulf. It is the home of around 1.380.000 citizens, of which 70,3% are
Muslims, 14,5% Christians, 9,8% Hindi and 2,5% Buddhists.
The currency are Bahraini dinar, worth 16,70 Danish Krone and €2,24. The GDP
is US$34.,310 billion.
Bahrain features an arid climate. Bahrain has two seasons: An extremely hot
summer and a relatively mild winter, which I aim for.
With only 17 species of mammals as well as 14 species of reptile, the
birdlife with 340 species are the main fauna. Hare are a few Golden jackal,
Canis aureus, Arabian oryx, Oryx leucoryx and Goitered
gazelle, Gazella subgutturosa.
195 species of higher plant have been recorded on the islands. The soils on
the coast are home to salt-tolerant plants, many of which can secrete salt
from glands on their surfaces. One of the commonest of these is the dwarf
shrub Zygophyllum qatarense, which has many adaptations to suit the
harsh environment. Further inland, perennial plants adapt to arid conditions
by being dwarf or prostrate, being deciduous, having deep root systems,
reducing their leaf surface area, and having thorns and hairs. Annual plants
appear when rain falls, and pass through an accelerated life cycle to flower
and set seed in a few weeks. I will not be looking for any in particular,
but the biomer in general.
Despite I had a nice hotel in
Dubai, I failed to
sleep. In the airport, they spot my tiny bits, and
confiscate them as "tools". I manages to hold on to my customise Mac-bit and
the special short handle. My half litre of water and scissors passes right through.
Catch-up with office-work while waiting - and breakfast.
After one hour in the air, and 25 minutes on the ground, I have visa, local
cash and a car. It is a slightly older car, and it have small scratches all
over: My kind of car! Within long, it get two big dents on the driver's door
from something picked up by another car. I drive through the capital;
Manama, which is significantly less
pling than any Emirates. That said, it
is quit modern, and many real fancy towers are scatted around.
The first sight is the Barber Temple, which roughly speaking
is a a gathering of square boulders and four big holes in the ground. What
make them interesting is, they were made around 2100 BC, but none know why?
I do a tour around without meeting anyone.
Money here is a bit strange: You draw 100.000 (one
hundred), worth around €225.
you pay 25.00 (twenty five), worth €5,60. At first, I thought everything was extremely
expensive, but removing a digit helped considerably.
I find the Farmer's
Market, which should be next to the Botanical Garden. Accordantly to the
guard, it is within the market, which is only open Saturday and Sundays.
The next sight; Al Jasra Handicrafts Centre is closed as well. Not only is
it Friday in a Muslim country, it is also a national holyday.
But some have goods to sell. I passes line of sheets, selling plants and
related stuff. We exchange photos (somehow, they insist on making selfies
with me), and I head on.
A big, wall-less hall is Waqif Central Market.
Within are open stalls and
shops with clothing, fruits and bikes. Out in the back, all kind of birds
are found. Lovebirds, turkeys - you name it!
While driving further on westwards, I see a truck with
people in the back. Other places, people are just hanging around. You will
never see that in the Emirates! I reach Aali Burial Mounds, dating back to
the Dilmun era; 3200 to 330 BC. They are just piles of the gravel found on
the ancient limestone, and here are quite some trash. On the bright side;
the aria is fenced, and the herbs are not goat-hazarded. Here are five
different succulent herbs, and I do a extensively hike in the area.
It is still not lunch time, and I'm half way my four-day
sight list! But I'm so close to King Fahd Causeway; the 26 kilometre bridge
to Saudi Arabia. Somehow, I get to drive it, and have to turn around at the
border. It passes several islands, and long parts are dams.
A bit south, Bahrain International Circuit is found. I missed the Emirates
F1 track, but now, I got the time. It turn out to be closed, but by
exchanging a selfie, I get to walk (not drive) around by my self. A bit tame
without the racers, but you can't get it all.
Outside the area are some unspoiled nature,
and I botanises - without
finding anything new, except a grasshopper. On the way back, I spot some low limestone
formations in the else so flat landscape, and I have to investigate. Later,
I learn is is the Mountain of Smoke (Jabal ad Dukhan), Bahrain's highest
peak; 134 metres. Then I pass some oil-pumps in a else so barren desert. Well, strangely enough,
the local (Indians and Pakistani along with other Asians mainly) sit in the
middle of nowhere and barbeque.
Along most bigger roads, police cars, armoured hummers
and Wolfs are found behind yellow concrete blocks, sometime with 200 metres
in-between. At least, they just sit here and sleep. Speed-control is done
automatically - and frequently.
I have to save some sights for the next three days, and I decide to head to
the hotel, hoping there are some shopping nearby. I had forgotten; it is a
hostel, and I have a dorm for the four nights. It is right next to a huge
stadium - and nothing else at all!
On the bright side: It is brand new, and it seem like I get a four-man room
to my self. I change the temperature from 19 to 27C, do a bit of work, but
freezes. Nothing else to do, but crack-open yet another sight: Muharrhaq
Island. It seems like all the older, small shops are closed, so are the
fish- and mead market. I find a few open malls, but head on to the capital.
Here, the small shops are open, and I sears for replacement tools -
fruitless. It is mainly cloths and cell phones in this area, along with
quite some restaurants and alike. The sun vanish at half pass four, but the
shops don't close. At six, I have found supper, and head home to work - unto
way too late.
Photos from the first day.
2. A good night's sleep in completely
and silence, and I'm ready for new experiences. The Farmer's Market should
be open, and with it; the botanical garden in Budaiya. The market is
popular, and here are way more Arabs, both customers and vendors, than I
have seen before. In average, I see around 90% Pakistanis, eight % Asians
and then a few Arabs. (Here should be 20% Bahrainis workers in general),
accordantly to their national statistics). Unfortunately, they never ask
for selfies. They have too much dignity - in a good way.
The market have numerous stands, and shopping cars are used. It seems like
the entire market is fund within the former botanical garden, which only
have a few, neglected areas left. Newer the less, the market is interesting,
and I do several loops. Not only to see the plants, herbs and vegetables,
but also the natives.
In the far end is a food court, and it is popular. I bit early for me, and I
doubt leaving food in the steaming car is a good idea.
I do a stop and a walk in Budaiya town. It is not fancy
in any way, but quite cosy. I manages to find some bits to replace the
confiscated ones with. Then a cup of milk-tea. It is one of the advantages
with the Pakistanis: Tea is available everywhere, along with vegetarian food!
My next sight is the Tree of Life, a bit further south. On the way, the road
leads through some huge oilfields. The rusty tubs leads
through the sand,
the pumps are working and many refinements are found in the sandy desert.
Despite all the activity, the remaining nature appears quite clean. I do
some stops, but beside from the ancient coral reef, only a few species of
plant make it here. And I can't blame the goats; here are none.
Then I reach a huge area with large tents. To judge from the lack of
activity in the area, it must be the temporarily home for the Pakistani
construction workers. It can't be refugees - I don't think they have any,
and here would be people to see. It covers several square kilometres.
It is a bit windy, and
occasionally, small sandstorms passes the area. Must
be a tough place to live - summer or winter!
I reach a waste wall, surounding the area with The Tree
of Life. It is a ten meter tall, and rather wide mesquite tree; Prosopis
cineraria, around 4-500 years old. Not only is it the only natural tree
here, it sits on the top of a hill! The sun disappears behind some light
clouds, and I botanises, while I wait for its return.
I don't find any new plants, but here are some old pottery scatted around. I
start following the round wall, and here are signs, pointing out iconic
trees from around the world, with the exact direction and distance. I had
expected a bit more of a
natural experience (and less tents).
In an effort to visit the different vegetations, I head
further down south. It seems like here are only one road, and it is a
highway. The military have occupied most of the southern half of the island,
it seems, and they do not appear to be as hospitable as the rest of the
I spot a rather dead but large tree way out on a plain, and start walking
there. It is in a desert containing a bit of sand, covering ancient corals.
Here are some yellow flint, which have been polished by the sand through
times. Then I spot some a herd of Goitered
gazelle, Gazella subgutturosa / marica, next to the tree. No chance I
can get close enough for a descent photo, but it is great to see them.
Next to the tree is an old concrete construction. It is a well and a camel
watering trunk. I look into the well, and it is scary deep. I can't see the
bottom, but a rock I accidentally push in continues till I can't hear it. 30
of 50 metres?
Inside the well lies a Hardwicke's rat snake; Coluber ventromaculatus.
Must be great to have a retreat like this!
As I continues south, military enclosures alien the road
on both sides. The highway ends, and I have a hard time finding the trail I
had planed. Every time I think I find a path, a 4WD is parked next to it,
and I'm kindly asked to turn back.
The first turn-of is to Durrat Al Bahrain, a group of artificial atolls,
occupied by rich people. I need an invitation to enter, and a selfie won't
do it. Never mind, it look just like the isolated desert settlements: To
floors, tine houses in endless lines. No room in-between the buildings, no gardens.
I pass some industrial areas along the eastern coast, as
I follow the coastal road. The first place I can actually make it to the
coast is in Al-Dur and next to it; Jau. They are not made for the wealthy,
but look all right. I find a Pakistani diner in Jau, and get some delicious
vegetable with long rice.
Then I made it to the beach - and disappointed I am. It is flat, almost
swampy. A few oyster shells and some herons along with a single cormorant. A
bit further up north, and slightly better beach is found, and then I spot
flamingos. It is Greater flamingo, Phoenicopterus roseus, and again,
I could do with a 500 mm lens.
More and more industry appears, but one area is too
swampy, and I get to see the plants. At one point, a few drops hit the
wind-shield: This months rain? The road continues up to Manama over some
islands, and the traffic intensifies. I stop in one of the suburbs to see
the fruit stands and while I'm at it; get the weekly shave.
Then I drive to the old souqs in Manama, and enjoy the narrow streets,
spices, fake Rolex and way more. Here are around five percent natives, but
everyone is so friendly. I try to get more pictures of them, than they get
of me. Some try to sell me fake Rolexs, which pale guys like me apparently
are interested in. I find out the fastest way to stop that discussion is to
say: "I got three genuine, why would I want a fake". Besides from them,
only the ones wanting a selfie are approaching me.
Just before dark, I get a
milk-tea, and then the mosques start praying. A
single large fig tree is the home for numerous sparrows, while the many
pigeons prefer buildings. It is getting a bit nippy this evening, and I
should have brought my fleece jacket. I glad my room is left on 26C.
I have seen so many small restaurants, but now when I need one, they are
gone? End up at a mall I parked at, and get a so-and-so pizza. Back at the
hostel, I start on the photos and diary. It have been yet another great and
adventurous day, but I am running out of sights.
Photos of the day.
3. Realising I only have managed to
sixteen of the 100 dinars, I pay the last two days at the hostel in cash.
And the car need petrol! Despite I constantly see oil-pumps and drive along
half a meter thick pipelines, I have a unprecedented problem, finding a gas
station! I saw one yesterday, but at a service-road I had passed the
entrance to. The warning lamp stop flashing, the needle stop mowing, and I
start to panic. Then, finally, there is a station on the other side of the
boulevard. I make it back, but it is closed and filled with most of the
Well, there must be one in the town where I'm going to find the now open Al Jasra Handicrafts Centre. It is some crescent-shaped, new building with
Pottery, model ships, viewing, metalwork and a few other
things. I spend around one minute seeing it. Then I ask for a gas station.
Third guy think I can find one five kilometres away, but the
directions are way too blurry for me. My GPS know one ten kilometres away,
which turn out to be fifteen after failing finding the first one. Anyway, the
car make it, and I manages to spend 3.700 dinars on a full tank: 0,125 dinar/l
(2 DKK/l - €0,28). Not that useful, spending my cash on! No wonder none
bothers to sell it!
As I have too much time on my hand, I go for a drive down
the western coast. On the way, I pass some black houses. The
clean, but one of the massive pipelines right next to the house must have
had a leak in the past! And yes; the oil is black.
A single road leads south, and only branches out to private lots. Most of
the coastal side is behind tall walls while de desert to the inland-side
have fences. I find a few places I can explore, but the vegetation bring
nothing new. Before I reach the end of the road, it is closed for private
On the way back, I find an area with more vegetation. It seems like it is a
dry salty swamp, and the ground is covered in small sea-snails in some
areas. I find a much used canine-trail,
which could be the one from the
Canis aureus - or a domesticated dog, although I haven't seen any.
A bit back the road, and a village give me access to the water. I see the
beach, made up by mainly the tine sea-snails - and trash. Some boats seems
to be used by fishermen, and I find a group in the shadow, making a new net.
I find a line of "restaurants", who only serve take-away, and nothing
without meat. I order a milk-tea, but get a Orio-smoothie. Not exactly
lunch, but it taste good.
As I head back up north, I get to an area with huge and
numerous trees along the road. Someone is surely using a lot of water! I am
heading for another bonus sight; Riffa or Shakh Salman Bin Ahmed Alfateh
Fort from 1812. It look exactly like it should, being a desert fort. There
are not much inside, but it have just the right balance between restored and
Behind is the old part of Riffa, and I start walking the narrow, crocked
alleys. I find the old main-street, where around half the shops are Sunday
open. I finally find a restaurant, not lunch-closed, and get some delicious
vegetables in gravy with fried rice.
It is only three, and I have to entertain myself for some
more hours. On the northern shore is the 1600 Portuguese Fort, and I give it
a go. It is actually quite impressive. Just the deep mould surounding it,
not to mention the walls! Around it is excavations of older fortresses,
dating back to 2200 BC. Inside the walls, remains of other buildings are
found too. Again, there are no entrance fee nor souvenir shop. They just
don't have tourists?
I head home through the intense traffic, and can't be bothered with finding
supper. I have some bisques, and that will do.
Photos from the day.
4. It is
Monday, and I hope the en gross marked in Manama will be open. It is, and a
huge area is designated to fruits, vegetables and alike. Here are even some
of the locals, although not more than ten percent or so. Next to it, I find
the fish market. It is in a big hall, and surprisingly enough; completely
As with the vegetables, everything are so fresh. Some of the shrimps
are still kicking, while some fish are gasping. I get some photos, although
the light is not good. Next door is another huge hall, this one with meat.
No live animals, but everything just as fresh. As no surprise, most in these
three markets are imported.
Not fare from the market is the
fort from around 1500. Several rulers have used it, thinking it would
protect them better than the one, they conquered it from. Again, it look just
as it should.
Next to it is the huge Seef Mall, and I give it a go. It seems like this is
where the native go shopping for original merchandise. Not my cup of tea.
Muharrhaq island, on the other hand, should be one big souq, and I head for the narrow, crooked alleys. Here are still a few,
original buildings left, and a lot of small shops. A new, fancy library
but I try to find the old souq - if there is one?
Despite I don't see many natives, I find a tea house with a group of
Bahamian men in front. I ask for permission to make a photo, and only one ask me to delete it.
Where the Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshis are like photoing rocks, the
native Bahamian are like gazelles - in the night - or at least shadow. Well,
Then I am approached by three guys in long robes, warring
other kind of headwear. They are Omanis, who want selfies. Some goes for a
group of Bangladeshis,
playing their traditional game of Bob.
I see a lot of shops, but fail to find a true souq. On the way out, I passes
a house, covered in a vertical garden. A bid odd to see here!
I find my way back to Manama souq, which offered some great motives the
other day. It still does, and I find some new corners, like the second-hand
market. I stop for tea and lunch - several times, and at four, I head home.
Photos of the day.
5. Early up and into the airport. There are no
traffic, and the car is still full. I get plenty of time for breakfast and
boring while waiting for my Oman flight.
Bahrain have been interesting, although I had hoped for
way more desert adventures. In a matter of fact, I could have done with only two
or three days, as it is a small island, and the military have so much of the
south, for them self. I have driven 511 kilometres and taken 599 photos. The
THE HIGHLIGHTS of Bahrain. At
least, it have been a really cheep experience:
Next stop: Oman