Bahrain – Muharraq & Manama

Even though we had PCR covid test results within 48 hours of entering Bahrain, we were still forced to take another one at the border (free, courtesy of the Bahrain government). None of us were supposed to leave the hotel until the test results came back and were posted in the contact tracing app, “Be Aware Bahrain”. However, once we found out that our Saudi app, Tawakkalna, would suffice instead, we left the hotel to catch up with Jamaal, an old friend from our contracting days. On our first full day of sightseeing in Bahrain, we made a beeline to Muharraq Island, which was the center of Bahrain’s glorious pearl diving era. In the 1930s, there were over 30,000 pearl divers and their base was Muharraq. The demise of pearling was two fold – the discovery of oil in 1932 and Japan developing cultured pearls in the 1930s. However, the impact of pearling can still be seen in historic old Muharraq which earned UNESCO world heritage status as a result. We wandered on the Pearling Path, visiting wealthy pearl merchant’s houses and museums. After spending the morning in Muharraq, we walked back over to the Manama side of town to check out the National Museum as well as sign up for a free tour of the Bahrain Grand  Mosque. In the afternoon, we got lost in the Manama souq area which was fun for a few hours. Since we had so much fun with Jamaal last night, we decided to link up at Bahrain’s restaurant district, Block 338, again for another night on the town. Eating and drinking in Bahrain is not cheap by any means but we did have a fun time. On our second day in Bahrain, we got up early to visit the central fruit and vegetable market as well as the nearby meat and fish markets. It was a colorful, chaotic and pungent affair, and we made it back to our hotel in time for PCR tests to enter into Kuwait, our next destination. After the test, we walked over to the old Portuguese Fort (Bahrain Fort), which is Bahrain’s second UNESCO world heritage site. In the late afternoon, while most of our truck buddies were heading out for an “all you could eat and drink” Christmas eve extravaganza, we joined Hugo, Tim, Dan and Renee at Yasmine, a Lebanese restaurant that whipped up a tasty Christmas eve meal. Tomorrow will be an exhaustive day as we will be exiting Bahrain, entering Saudi Arabia, driving up towards Kuwait, exiting Saudi Arabia and trying to enter Kuwait before midnight. This self imposed deadline is due to Kuwait changing its entry rules due to the omicron variant. Apparently, anyone entering after midnight on Christmas day has to quarantine for 10 days, regardless of covid test or vaccination status. Wish us luck that we can get to Kuwait before midnight tomorrow!

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