Bahrain

I was leaving from Bali Indonesia and heading to Bahrain and needed to fly with 2 different companies to get here. As I arrived at the airport in Denpasar I saw that my flight to Kuala Lumpur with Air Asia was cancelled. This was a nightmare as the flights were separate so I would not be covered if I missed the second flight. So I need to be in Kuala Lumpur by 15:00 and Air Asia offered to put me on another flight, but this would not get me in until 19:00. I was not sure what to do, I saw that the same company (Sri Lankan Airlines), who I was meant to fly with to Bahrain was also flying from Singapore at 15:00, and Air Asia had a flight leaving from Bali that would get into Singapore by 11:30. So my thought was like this, I would take the flight to Singapore to see if we could change the flight.

I got into Singapore and after a bit of running around the airport, I went to the Sri Lankan airlines desk to see if they could help and put me on this flight to Bahrain. They agreed but I would be charged $750 for the change of the flight. This, of course, was ridiculous as a new ticket was only $250, so I just had to buy a new ticket which I did and flew that night. The new flight was with Oman Air and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of service and the plane itself. The flight was really smooth, staff were great and even without requesting in advance a vegan mail was available as one of the ‘normal’ options, so this is a big thumbs up from me. For sure I will use them again.

Me by the Manama Waterfront

Because of the change of flight, I was due to arrive at 21:00, but I did not get in until 03:00 in the morning the next day. Getting through immigration was simple and they seemed very keen that tourist were coming to the country. Before heading to the hotel I stopped to pick up a Sim Card, which just made my time here even easier. Taxies are your best option here and at this time Uber is running without drama. So having a SIm Card just makes that hurdle a little easier. By the time I arrived at my hotel, it was almost 5 in the morning, so I just hit the sack and slept as much as I could.

Later in the afternoon, I woke up about 10 am and headed down for the breakfast. I always worry how this is going to be and what vegan options will be available. One of the staff asked if I would like some eggs, I explained I was vegan and he seemed to take this as a challenge for what he could create for me. After a few minutes, he came back with two types of beans and some kind of crispy fried potatoes. Wow, additional to this I had a bunch of pita bread and a ton of hummus.

I had really filled my boots at breakfast and I was glad for this, because we were here during Ramadan time and this is enforced in law, meaning that there was not one café or place to eat open until after 18:00, so I had a full belly and was good for the day.

If I am honest there seems to be little to do in Bahrain and Manama (the capital). Like some of the other Gulf countries I have been in the general recommendation is to go to some of the malls. To my luck, the largest mall in the country was across the road from where I was staying. I thought as it is close I would walk despite it being +40 degrees C. As I went to cross the street there was a massive fence that stopped you crossing the road, so I had to walk down to the end of a small highway and go all the way around. It was only about 20 mins, but in the heat it was something.

Manama’s busy highways

The mall called City Centre was quite big, but nothing special in today’s standards and especially if I compare it to the Dubai Mall. After an hour or two of walking around the mall and wondering what I was doing here, I popped into Carefore, picked up some juice and snacks and headed back to the apartment.

At the apartment, I had a little look at my Happy Cow app to see what was on offer. I could see two places, the one that looked the most appealing was called Plant Café but was about 15 mins away on the other side of the island, but why not. I called an Uber which was about £10 to take me there. The place was very small, but I could see they were making a real effort to make it quite fancy. There seem to be quite a few options on the menu so I decided to take one of their burgers which was made from beets and potato. As nice as the presentation was, the food was not great which was a real shame, but they did have some Matcha ice cream for dessert and this was delicious.

The café was in a small mall with very few shops around and seemed a bit dead, there was also nothing around the mall either, so there was nothing left to do but to go back. After a long drama of trying to get an Uber back, I finally arrived back at the apartment.

Bahrain Trade Centre

The next day I was having a quick search on Trip Adviser to see what were some of the points of interest. I know I wanted to see the world trade centre, just to get a picture, and then to see a bit of the waterfront. So It was a quick breakfast and then off to see some sites. I jumped in an Uber again and headed to Moda Mall where the Trade Centre is, but from here it was hard to get a picture of the building. I asked where is the best place to photograph the building, and was advised from across the street where the waterfront is. Again like the city mall it was a bit of a mission to cross the street and took me about 20 mins walking by the highway. Getting to the waterfront it seemed quite pleasant, but as it was so hot there was no one around and nothing to do. It was kind of nice in one way that I felt I had the place to myself. After getting my snap of the building I headed back to Moda Mall. The Mall was really dead and nothing to see other than fancy shops, so boring. Ok, so what more to do I thought, it seemed that another point of interest was the Bahrain museum, so I headed there.

Bahrain Museum

Getting to the museum it had 15 mins until it closed, damn, but the guy on the door let me in for free and I just took a quick run around to see what was there. I’m not really a big museum person, it seemed fine, but not much to write home about. After this I thought I am out of options, so thought stuff it, and headed back to the hotel to grab my stuff and then on to the airport.

My general impression was that it seemed like a very practical place to live. Like the countries around there are loads of malls with cinemas and other types of indoor entertainment, but as a tourist for me, it was kind of boring. As you try and collect more countries you end up in some obscure places that are pleasant, but not really having much for tourists. Pretty much everything is expensive, and like the countries around their currency is really high, at this time 1 Bahrain Dinar was 2 British Pounds, they even had ½ Dinar note, I had never seen a ½ note before, so this was interesting. I would say if you are looking at a job here, or Kuwait, Qatar etc, come and do it. If you can get on with the culture and make good money the standard of living is great and as 50% of the population are immigrants from India or the Philippines, pretty much everyone speaks English. Also, local Bahrainis are really friendly and seem genuinely happy to have you in their country, this makes a real difference for me.

My only frustrating feeling is that I would have like to have stayed with, or spent time with a local family to really understand the people and the culture better. I later also learned that I know 2 people living there, so note to self, post on FB to see if you know someone in the country before you go.