Trip to Bahrain
Trip to Bahrain
Bahrain was an interesting addition to my trip around the Arabian Peninsula. On my way there I didn’t expect that it would be so interesting and it would have so much to offer. In this small area I saw old and modern cities, ancient forts, several nice beaches, exotic nature, spectacular fishing boats, a camel farm and many other interesting places. For this reason I’ve decided to call Bahrain ‘a little treasure’.
Bahrain – an introduction to travel
Bahrain is another little-known country on the list of travellers and is most often visited as a transfer base. Tourists flying to the Orient drop off in Bahrain for a day or two and think they got to know the country. While in Saudi Arabia I met Indians living in Bahrain who said: ‘Bahrain is a very small country. Two days will be enough for you.’ Well, I found out that a small territory doesn’t mean how long you have to stay in a country to get to know it well. I stayed in Bahrain for 12 days. Of course no one has to travel through Bahrain as thoroughly as I did, but thanks to that I have a fuller picture of the country, I saw a lot of places and I had contact with interesting people who shared with me their life stories.
Traveling around Bahrain definitely enriched my travel experience, even though I must have been to 50 countries and I travelled through them for months. Still however, I’m always able to see something new. Besides, whilst making my trip around the Arabian Peninsula I knew that the centre of my expedition would be Saudi Arabia but I also didn’t want it to be only Saudi Arabia. Bahrain, despite the fact that its total territory is more than 2.5 times smaller than Riyadh took me a long time and enriched my worldview.
In Saudi Arabia however they were right that the mentality of people in the Gulf countries is a little different. Saudi and Bahraini people are a little different. For example in Bahrain I didn’t see women with their faces covered and I didn’t hear loud prayers from megaphones placed in mosques. Non-Muslim women do not cover their hair at all. In Bahrain people can also drink alcohol and they can dance, while in Saudi it is ‘haram’ – forbidden. From a moral point of view Bahrain is more liberated than Saudia, although still conservative. The level of English in Bahrain was also incomparably better than in Saudi.
Bahrain – a few valuable places
The purpose of this subchapter is not an accurate description of Bahrain, because this is what the travel journals are for. This article is just my attempt to encourage people to travel around Bahrain, and that’s why I’m going to write about a few interesting and attractive places. At the very beginning I want to clarify two basic things: although Bahrain is indeed very small, I strongly disagree that it should be a country for two or three days. Let’s consider whether we want to get to know Bahrain, have time for a moment of reflection and thorough exploration or we go there for a race.
In a few previous articles I wrote about ‘exotic visa collectors’. I once knew an American who boasted that he knew China because he had a transfer in Shanghai. I suspect Bahrain is the same? The second thing is that due to its size Bahrain is actually much easier than Saudia or Arab Emirates and with own transport one can see a lot in less time than I did. I hitchhiked a few times although taxis are reasonably priced. Well, Arabs have cheap oil.
I got to Bahrain in probably the most interesting and adventurous way. I hitchhiked through the King Fahad Causeway. It is a 25 km series of bridges, small islands and stone causeways connecting Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia with Al Jasra in Bahrain. On the Saudi side there was of course a mosque. For the visa I paid 5 Bahraini dinars, which is exactly 50 Saudi riyals. Those two currencies have the same conversion rate and that’s why in Bahrain I also sometimes paid with Saudi ryals.
I stayed in Manama, a few kilometers from the Manama bus station and close to the historic Bab Al Bahrain and the traditional Arabian bazaar. As always in Arab cities, whetheer Jeddah, Dubai or Kuwait City, the traditional bazaar is a great place to get to know the character of the country and its people. I think that the whole area, within a radius of 3 km from the Manama bus station should be on the must-see list of everyone who visits Bahrain. I had interesting conversations there with immigrants from Pakistan and Afghanistan and I bought a few souvenirs.
Across the street was a seaside promenade called the King Faisal Corniche. There were several impressive buildings, palm trees by the sea and wooden fishing boats, which I think that despite the modernity wonderfully refer to the history of Bahrain. From this promenade one can see one of the symbols of Bahrain, the sharp twin skyscraper called Bahrain WTC. King Faisal Corniche is a very pleasant place at any time of day or night, it is close by, and Arabs have picnics there under the palm trees. and if they are with children. If someone is with children, they also open carousels and a playground in the evenings.
Bahrain has many attractive desert-coloured forts but if you have little time you should definitely see the Bahrain Fort, which is the largest. Qal’at al-Bahrain is a 16th-century Portuguese fort which is the oldest military structure in the Kingdom of Bahrain and today it’s also an archaeological center. This grand fort has a square shape, four fortified towers in each corner, impressive gates, arches made of high-quality stones, holes for shooting arrows, high walls and a trench all around. From one of the towers there is a view of the nearby body of water with numerous birds, a very interesting museum, and further on the horizon also a view of the skyscrapers in the financial center of Manama.
Near the fort, behind the museum there is also an unattractive and littered Karbabad beach. This beach comes to life after sunset, when it’s cool enough to be there. That’s when bars with food and drink open and Arab families roll out carpets and spend time on picnics. Getting from Manama to Bahrain Fort is easy, though there is no bus service.
Other large forts that I visited and which I highly recommend are Sheikh Salman bin Ahmed Fort, also called Riffa Fort because it is located in the small town of Riffa. Another time I also took the trouble to see Arad Fort. Attention !!! Arad Fort is located near the airport, that’s why I advise to see it right after landing, before going to Manama. Sometimes it is also the case that on the way to Thailand one will have a long stop over in Bahrain. I advise to get out for a few hours and see the Arad fortress and if time permits also Muharraq. On the way back from the Orient one can get off again for a few hours and see for example Manama and the traditional bazaar.
Near Manama, behind the bridge, is the former capital of Bahrain Muharraq, but there are many other valuable places in that area too. Fortunately there is a bus connection between Manama and Muharraq. The first place I visited was Beit Al Quran, where for the first time since my trip to Persia I again saw decorated copies of Korans from over the centuries. I think that Muslim calligraphy is definitely worth attention and that’s why I recommend this museum. I understand that many in Europe feel tired of the intrusive Islamization of our once white continent but this does not mean that we should go to war with the calligraphy museum in Bahrain. It was a valuable art worthy of attention.
I feel exactly the same about Al Fateh, the largest mosque in Bahrain. I believe that it is an architecturally and culturally attractive place. I made good contact with the Muslims there and watched them pray. I liked both the mosque, its minarets, skillfully made arches and patterns. Isn’t it a beautiful thing that this wonderful mosque is in Bahrain and not in London??? I consider the Al Fateh Mosque to be a must-see when traveling around Bahrain. People tried to talk me.
On the way to Muharraq tourist can’t miss the Bahrain National Museum, where I think the most interesting was the exhibition about how people of that land lived many centuries ago. Their houses, shops, fishing boats and some archaeological remains were shown. The exhibition about the nature around the Kingdom of Bahrain, photos of sharks and sea turtles was also interesting. I reminded myself of the exhibition ‘Life Beneath Oil Wells’ which I saw in the Sultanate of Brunei. The museum building itself and its location were also attractive, with many spectacular monuments and a view of Muharrraq on the other side of the bridge. One day I also took a boat trip from the museum to the small Bu Maher fort.
On the other side of the bridge is the very small former capital of Bahrain: Muharraq. There is of course an Arabian bazaar, Arabian sweets shops, and one can also drink sugar cane juice, as before in Saudi. There are also several historical buildings in Muharaq but unfortunately there was a renovation and people spoke little English. I also really enjoyed the time spent on the coast where whiilst sitting under the palm trees I watched fishermen and fishing ships against the background of Manama’s skyscrapers.
When it comes to beaches I think that the undisputed winner is Al Jazair beach. It is well-kept and prepared for tourists, there are also several places with food and nice palm trees. Close to Al Jazair beach there is a Formula 1 race track. I think it’s worth it even though access is very limited. I saw the racetrack and I was in the Formula 1 store. In the same area there is also the Al Arin Nature Park which I highly recommend to all nature lovers. I advise to see these three places on one trip from Manama, although due to the fact that I didn’t have my own transport this trip took me two days because I slept in a tent in the desert between palm trees.
I believe that travellers should also visit the Tree of Life, which is located in the oil fields of Bahrain and which despite many studies is still a mystery to scientists. No one is able to answer the question where this tree sitting on oil gets its life. I made that trip in a great but poor style. I hitchhiked there, lighted fire, I set up my tent and stayed the night. When the fire went out, the night in the desert was cold.
(Exceptionally I have to praise the Negro who worked there because he helped the white man to collect fire wood. I like when a black man treats me like a human being and not like a descendant of slave traders and colonizers. Unfortunately the anti-white government in England continues to promote white guilt, and black people are inspired by this propaganda as if they were the only slaves in the history of the world.)
I’ve also been to Budaiya beach twice. I liked both the beach and the town very much. It was fun and the food was great too. Budaiya has a direct bus connection from Manama, so You will definitely get there too, and probably more than once!
I also saw many other places in Bahrain and I have a lot more to say about the places mentioned above, but these are only travel news, not a full travel journal.
Things that bothered me in Bahrain
Well, nothing is ever perfect. There is a lot of garbage in Bahrain everywhere. It is true that not as much as in Saudi Arabia but this problem is visible and takes away the charm of the country. For example, I divide Budaiya beach into two parts: clean and dirty. It’s the same in all other places. Are the Arabs and mainly immigrants from the Indian Subcontinent and the Philippines unable to use trash bins ? ? ?
Public transport has the advantage that it exists but leaves a lot to desire. Unfortunately buses do not reach many places and those that do exist are very slow and they drive around.
I was stopped by the police twice. Once because I took a picture of an embassy that looked like an old castle. It was just an attractive building and I didn’t even know whose embassy it was. The police checked me for a long time. Another time I took a picture of a castle which belonged the royal family of Bahrain. It was an impressive building but the policeman didn’t like that I took a picture of it. The services in Bahrain are watching, although in this kingdom they were at least nice. In Eastern Turkey, on my way to Iraq the police pulled me off the road with machine guns, but that is another story.
In Bahrain, but also in other countries of the Gulf where I’ve been there are a lot of amateur fishermen who after the fall of extreme heat are able to stand by the sea for hours and pull everything that moves out of the water. I think it’s irresponsible and should end. Most often they pull very small fish from the sea, thereby destroying the populations of the species. In Arab countries they should introduce a law against poaching, although Arabs don’t see it that way. Lack of education and callousness are therefore a problem there.
Just like Saudi Arabia, I recommend Bahrain to white travellers only in winter. Besides, Bahrain is not a cheap country but still not as expensive as Kuwait.
Summary of Bahrain
I never expected that Bahrain, a country that is over 2.5 times smaller than Riyadh or almost 4.5 times smaller than Muscat would be so attractive to tourists. I’m happy that I took the trouble to explore this ‘very little gem of the Persian Gulf’.