24.12.04

Bahrain (II)

So after a good night's sleep, we all met for breakfast at the hotel dinig room at 10:00, to regain forces for the new day. Four of us decided to take a short walk to the beach, just to find out (as I warned the others before) that there was no beach but only some rocks and rather shallow waters (low tide) with patches of sand sticking out here and there.

At 12:00 we were all checked out of the hotel, and ready to go for some tourism in Bahrain. First stop was the very first Oil Well in the Gulf region, still producing a couple of barrels a day, and the small oil museum right next to it, with some interesting geological and technical displays, and even the very first oil concession granted by the then Emir/Sheikh of Bahrain.

Next stop was the Formula One circuit. Unfortunately the visitors' centre is closed on Fridays, and no offers of bribe or kindness to the security guards in charge could get us on the premises, so all we took were a couple of pictures.

This almost brought us up to lunch time, so we headed back to Manama for the Seef Mall, a shopping centre worthy of any western capital, and then we had lunch at the nearby "Chili's" Tex-Mex restaurant, where much too large dishes were devoured by us to strenghten us for the upcoming trip back to Saudi Arabia.

The border crossing was quite uneventful, except for two of us who had to take their passports to the saudi immigration office, where some official checked something on his computer, said that everything was in perfect order, and sent us back to the booth where we got our passports stamped, and off we went. Customs didn't seem to think we looked like alcohol smugglers, so we didn't even have to open the trunk or our suitcases and bags. I'm sure that the day I dare smuggling something, I'll be caught, and according to verbal accounts, it's a month of jail plus 20 lashes for a bottle. I also heard they drop the lashes for foreigners, and are happy with the prison term followed by deportation from the country.

After refueling having passed the border, we had two bizarre appearances: The first one was a car just besides us lose his left right wheel (complete, with the alloy and everything). The person driving our car was just uttering "Look, he's got a wide..." and in this very moment we saw his wheel unattach from the car, hapilly rolling behind him, and the brake drum start screeching over the motorway, with the corresponding display of sparks.

Some miles later, a couple of hundred meters in fron of us, we saw a vehicle cross the motorway in a 90ยบ angle. In the middle of nowhere, not on an overpass or the like. He just crossed our lane, and possibly the other one as well.

After a (now) uneventful trip we made it back to Riyadh, deciding we'd skip dinner and headed straight off to bed. b

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