I have returned from my short trip to Bahrain, safe and sound. Despite the fact that I was going on business and not pleasure, I really enjoyed the visit. Sadly one night is not long enough to get a true sense of a place but I liked it nonetheless. Bahrain, or to be very correct, the Kingdom of Bahrain, is an island in the Persian Gulf, joined via a 25km bridge to Saudi Arabia in the west, and a planned fixed-link (which will be the longest in the world) will link it to Qatar in the south. It’s a a mere 55mins by air from Dubai, not counting all the unavoidable “hurry up and wait” time at the airport of course. I was warmly welcomed by my airport transfer guy, which was gracious of him considering that the flight had been delayed by an hour and he had been waiting for me a good while by the time I arrived. The first thing I noticed on leaving the airport was the weather, definitely cooler and more temperate than Dubai. Happily the trip to the hotel took all of 15 minutes, there is certainly less traffic in Bahrain, and nothing seems very far away. The chaps in the local office told me they even pop home at lunch time, it is that quiet and that close. The hotel I was booked into was on the beach once but as they have reclaimed some land in front of it now you get to look into a construction site. You can still see the sea in the distance but that part wasn’t great. We had a good meeting with our customer, well I think we did, and then we went to the mall for lunch. I stumbled across a local fast food spot called the Yum Yum Tree. Almost like a deli concept, large dishes of ready made meals on display and they serve you a portion of what is displayed. I didn’t know what was what so pointed at something that looked good and seemed popular with the locals. From the receipt I can now tell you that the dish is called goozi. Yes sounds weird but its very nice, rice with lamb, raw peppers and raisins. I had mine with a Greek salad. Very yummy.
One thing that I have really been missing since I left South Africa is bookclub, a monthly meeting of 10 or so like-minded ladies for gossip, wine, snacks, oh and of course swapping the odd book. Stu suggested I look at starting something along similar lines here, and so last week Wednesday we had our inaugural meeting at my place. Sadly only 4 of us were in attendance this time, but we have at least 11 in total that have expressed an interest so the next one should be up to full strength. However I think the 4 of us had fun nonetheless. I was on the tail end of my detox so couldn’t enjoy any wine or anything, I will be sure to make up for it next time round.
Yes I know this post is a couple of days later than normal, I do apologise I just haven’t been feeling all that inspired this week and didn’t want to bore you more than normal, call it a case of writer’s block, or maybe I should say blogger’s block, not sure my rambling counts as proper writing.
Last week we had the pleasure of welcoming another good friend to Dubai. That makes two people that have visited us now. So nice to see our friends, when are the rest of you visiting huh? Garth was here on business for Gitex Technology Week (which was massive apparently), and we had the pleasure of his company for dinner. Twice! The first evening we took him to Tagine and happily it was just as good as the first time, and of course I had to have the very best dessert in the world, Kenaffa (hope that is spelt right), which is a phyllo pastry creation from heaven. He made us even happier by treating us to dinner that night. Of course we HAD to reciprocate (any excuse for another meal I say), so on Thursday we headed down to a restaurant Stu had spotted in the first couple of weeks he was here on his meanders with Bevan, and didn’t try at the time being a little shell-shocked as he was still converting prices into rands.
This Eid I had big plans. I was going to go to Ikea and have a wander round, I was going to have my car properly washed (inside and out), I was going to have my wheels balanced (yes this is important) and go to Pilates at least once, I even booked a session. Sadly it seems the universe decided I should spend 3 days flat on my back with a nasty tummy bug, so that is what I did Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I was even feeling too bad to watch TV the first day, how tragic! Happily though by Friday I was much improved and so Stuart, his nightingale skills stretched to breaking point, suggested we take a drive to Al Ain and find the Oasis there, which is very old and apparently worth a visit. I agreed.
Now when I think of an oasis the first thing that comes to mind is an island of green in the middle of an ocean of sand, seen through a shimmering heat mirage in the distance. On closer inspection you find a whole lot of palm trees, some quiet still pools of water, a few camels or goats scattered around and right in the shadiest, quietest part in the centre there are some large cushions scattered around where people are relaxing and having a glass of mint tea. Well let me tell you the reality is nothing like that.
Dubai City twinkled below the plane like a be-jewelled Persian carpet, clearly load shedding is not a problem here. The flight was good, but 8 hours is just not quite long enough for a good nights sleep (well the economy class seat is probably more of a factor here) and not short enough to stay conscious throughout. At least I did manage to watch “Elizabeth: the golden age” which I enjoyed, certainly showed an unexpected perspective of the Queen.
Despite the masses of people who seem to converge on Dubai International Airport the journey through passport control was painless, this is probably more a function of a British passport than any unexpected efficiency of the airport itself, but it was nice to be greeted by a smiling immigration official for a change. 60 days stamped in my passport and I’m ready to go! Of course I loaded up with irish whiskey in duty free before collecting my bag. And that was pretty quick too, so happy days all round.