So it seems I spend more time traveling than blogging because I just can’t seem write all the various blogs I plan about a place I have traveled to. In fact I have hardly blogged abt my Bahrain + Dubai trip that happened in Oct 2012. I guess that is awesome though as long as I get to travel its all cool 🙂

So here is photos + monologue = “photologue” on thoughts about Bahrain….


Bahrain is small. Really small. Driving from one side to other takes about 1.5 hours.

Bahrain is also not a tourist spot. We cannot apply for visas, someone within the country needs to invite us.

After leaving Dubai (more posts on Dubai coming soon) we landed at the Bahrain airport and it was boxy. Its the best word to describe, because after the a la grand ambience in Dubai.. I just found it small and lack lustre. It is ok though considering that the gov is not promoting it as a tourist spot! It also provided us a transit before landing in Mumbai which would have been a strong culture shock after Dubai!

From the airport we all loaded ourselves into cars and drove off to the area we were staying in… we passed through the capital city Manama. Manama has a beautiful skyline too.

Urban Ambience

Overall the urban area of Bahrain is a real mix. Some areas just feel like I am back in India. The lanes are small, cars are parked here n there without any order, there is random graphiti on the walls. Certain areas a lot of obnoxious messages for the governments have been written but are painted over by authorities. Its all clean though.. no big heaps of garbage like we find here!

Other areas of Bahrain are very posh! The grand mosque, certain highways and malls are all very international standard posh.

Public Transport

It is very poor. Apparently no buses, trains or any such facilities to commute. Again highlights the fact that it is not a place for tourism. Everyone needs to have their own private vehicles. It is possible to hire taxis or rent car with drivers but that is expensive and needs pre-booking! So for me from India I found it suffocating. I guess there is an innate freedom we Indians have of just being able to find decent public transport where ever we may be – metro cities or smaller villages! Kudos to Indian gov on that!

Currency

This is funny. One of those countries with a fractional currency… basically you get stuff for 0.8 Dirhams or 0.15 Dirhams. 1 Dirham is about 150 INR or around 3 Dollars. Too confusing… since I went with family didn’t have to figure too much of the currency stuff out. Apart from the numericals.. the cost of stuff is normal like we find here in India. In fact some of their markets like LuLu Hypermarket provide some real cheap deals.

Indian Expats

Happening Indian expat population here. There are women from India who have started food business. They provide totally authentic Indian food stuffs for reasonable money! So quite unbelievably I was having traditional Indian food there which I don’t even have here in Mumbai! Such is expat community! 🙂

Places to See

Quite a few places to see here, we couldn’t see all of it due to time constraints, but will be putting up a few blogs later…

Bahrain-Saudi Border, Mesquite- Tree of Life, Man-made islands, Al Fateh – Grand mosque are some of the places to visit.

Pretty sea.. on our way to Saudi border. Would be good to lounge, if they had a beach! Not sure whether they do! 🙂


This Dubai- Bahrain trip I found myself woefully unprepared. Firstly there wasn’t much time before the trip what with work and usual life activities… Secondly, I didn’t appreciate the many factors that would crop up in international trips, because I am well prepared for domestic ones. So decided to make this list for readers and also for myself to keep in mind for next such trips!

Currency
Understand currency conversion well! Keep a bit of paper with conversion values like,
10AED = xx INR
30AED = xx INR
50AED = xx INR
so its easy to understand pricing with a quick look. Shopping tags will usually have very odd numbers like 186AED which is just very confusing to do mentally and on spur of moment as is needed!
It would be good to carry a calculator or use mobile calculator if possible! This leads to the next problem…

Socket Converters
Completely unprepared for the different socket type in Dubai. As a result my mobile ended up being off most of the times. This turned out to be a major pain point also because even my camera was discharged often! So do the research and carry couple of socket converters!!

Local Sim / Phone Connectivity
For about 800 INR we used to get a local Dubai Sim but I thought it was not necessary. A mistake. Its not just about actually making calls but just about feeling connected which makes a lot of difference! Don’t under estimate how addicted we are to connectivity! Also research how to use local payphones and have the necessary card or change with you at all times!
By the end of trip I started using my India SIM with international roaming!! It probably cost me 800 INR or more….

Time Difference
This didn’t affect me that much, just left me mildly confused. There is a difference of only couple of hours in Dubai – Bahrain – Mumbai. Bahrain 7pm was like 11pm here… So its not about just the actual time but also how the time looks. In India there is twilight at a particular time but conditions are very different in other zones in the world at that time! I believe the time zones would play greater havoc when the conditions are more dissimilar!

Public Transport
Research this! Ideally if we can know the ticketing system and routes beforehand, much better! For eg: in Dubai we need to buy a card before boarding the bus, unlike the system in India. so people in my group actually boarded planning to pay onboard with cash and then had to get down. Thankfully they weren’t fined…
Dubai has great public transport but Bahrain doesn’t! I had no idea about Bahrain… So the fact that I couldn’t just stand on a street and catch some transport left me feeling even more confused and helpless like!

Internet Connectivity – A big puzzle!
All the above I could have researched on the spur if only I had good internet connectivity. International internet connectivity is however, a puzzle to crack! Few solutions I have in mind,
1. Buy local Sim with internet connectivity. Hopefully it costs reasonable!
2. Free wi-fi zones. I had counted on these but was disappointed in Dubai! Paid were too expensive so I didn’t buy, probably another mistake!

What could be other solutions to these problems? And have you faced other problems… When you go on that rare international trip?

Flickr credit: Crosset Library Bennington College

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