We've been talking about getting a break for the longest time but he hasn't been able to take a break from work. Finally a window for a one week vacation and we thought long and hard of the places we could go. At first we wanted to go to Egypt to see the pyramids, but being a puteri lilin, I didn't fancy standing out there in the desert in the summer heat. Then there was Dubai, but its peak period and it costs an arm and a leg for the airfare. Of course we could have driven to Jordan or Qatar.
But in the end it was a bit of a hassle getting the exit visa. Yes being part of the slave labour means that you need a special visa to be able to get out of the country and come back in again. We preferred the multiple entry one which meant we could come and go as we please (if and when we can get our hands on our passports that is) for the next 6 months. But The Self Assuming Powers That Be told us that we could only be given a single entry one.
He was pissed off. Just better paid slave we were really. With extra perks. But ultimately they are obsessed with control. He had to have some words with his non local superiors to sanction the multiple entry visa.
Anyhow, got the visa midweek and a plan for Bahrain. Was joined by another High Paid Slave and we took off Wednesday morning. Since he forgot to borrow the r@d@r detector, he has to obey the speed limit. But somehow we got a ticket. Apparently because the piece of paper that states that the car is yours is expired. But we figured he got flagged because he blew his horn at a lorry that was drifting into his lane as the lorry was overtaking a police car. Oh well at least it was a ticket and not more hassle.
Normally we would stop at Al-R@ashid M@all in Khob@r for breakfast, but we decided to go straight to the border this time round. Can't wait to get out and wanted to make sure we avoid the Wednesday border crossing crowd.
The first sign of difference was seen at the immigration. The guy actually said, "Have a nice day!" and smiled too! Whoah! A sure sign we're in a different country!
The sea was aquamarine and beautiful. And we were hungry. I suggested that we have lunch at the Blue Elephant. I've been wanting to try the Blue Elephant since I tried their restaurant in Dubai. We wanted to lunch there on a previous trip but somehow we couldn't find the time. So it was the first order of the day for this trip.
And the food was soooo delicious. Perhaps I just miss some home cooked food. I know its not quite Malaysian but its an excellent and very authentic Thai meal. A tad on the extravagant side but we're on holiday right? :) They even had fresh coconut juice! BHD2.10 ++. I know its too much but hey, they had to fly the thing over.
However what floored us was the cost of their water. They had special still water imported from Norway that cost BHD2.1 for 80cl. Yikes! And we needed 2 bottles for the three of us. Will have to devise ways of smuggling our own water if we’re dining there again. We even took the empty bottles home. You would if you had to pay RM21 for a bottle of water won’t you?
It was a beautiful restaurant nonetheless. They gave us a cosy table with a view of the sea. The restaurant was built in a traditional Thai wooden house. I could smell the salty sea air when we stepped out of the car. A huge change from the dry, land locked desert air.
And it was fascinating to see a group of people having a business lunch. The men were all wearing dark suits, and when a woman colleague showed up, the men all stood up and shook hands with her. Something we have not seen for a long time. Another female business associate showed up. She was wearing a scarf, full suit and beautiful make up. Both of them were gorgeous successful looking women. One carrying an LV while the other carrying a Gucci bag. Perhaps you think I am weird for admiring these women, but after so long just seeing black shadows as women, its very refreshing to see them at business lunches, dressed in colourful clothes, having a civil business interaction with their male colleagues. And its wonderful not to need to see men wearing long white dresses at the table for once. I have no problems with men wearing long white dresses, don’t get me wrong, but its just refreshing to see dark good looking suits, alongside colourful women’s clothes for a change.
Suddenly colour was back in my life. Not just an array of black and white. (With bits of red checks which they wear on their head.)
After lunch we decided to catch a movie. In fact, we caught two movies. We called the hotel to inform them that we would check in late.
We tried to smuggle in some Dairy Queen ice cream into the theatre but was caught at the door! Haha! Of course it was silly for us to try to sneak them in a plastic bag that said “Dairy Queen” on it. So we had to eat the ice cream outside the theatre. Serves us right for buying one M and one L ice-cream! But the men managed it just fine. The men took great pleasure in showing the empty cups to the ushers. But the ushers were in a genial mood and waved them into the theatre.
We had some quick peeks into Marks and Spencers, Debenhams and the Radio Shack. The boys had a quick peek in ToysRUs. These shops are available where we live but somehow the whole mood is different in this mall. The girls are so pretty, all dressed up for Wednesday night. I found it very fascinating that many chose to wear the abaya even though its not compulsory in this country. But their abayas are very beautiful and very well cut. Some are decorated with elaborate crystals, others with embroidery. Quite a few of the women wear their abayas without a head scarf, showing off thick illustrious hair. I was just so fascinated. They are beautiful and more importantly, they look happy and smiling. And better still, they do not stare! And some even smile back at you when you smile at them.
Even the men are well behaved. They don’t stare at you with that lecherous look that you often get in the city we live. Sometimes they give you a glance but they don’t stare. They quickly look away politely. And there was a bounce in the way they walk. Perhaps it’s the music in the Mall or perhaps they just look happy and jovial.
At 9:30 we decided to call it a day. We needed to check in the hotel anyways before they decide to give away our rooms. It has been a long day but we were not complaining. We were having fun.
After checking in, we decided to walk over to an Indian restaurant just at the back of the hotel. We joked about how the cost of the whole dinner was less than the 15% service charge+tip that we paid for lunch at the Blue Elephant.
After dinner, the boys walked over to the Ferrari Showroom at the corner while I browse in the Supermarket. Nothing much really just some Actimel and Laban to ease my digestion after some capati, Naan and Keema.
I remarked to the men how, after living in R!y@dh, I get very suspicious of men when they smile at me. There I was in the supermarket and was served by an Indian guy who smiled at me. And I could feel myself coiling up, building up my defences in response to his smile. My immediate reaction was, what does he want from me? Is he trying to be fresh with me. But he quickly gave me my change and I was off. None of that “How are you sister? Where are you from?” I smiled at him as I left the shop. Just over a year and my view of smiling men has changed.
I kept reminding myself that people are just more friendly here. I am back to a land where I can smile and my smile would not be misconstrued as flirting or suggesting a hanky panky. I smile because I am happy and they smile because they are happy too.
I slept smiling and contented that night.
Sorry I don't have any photos. For some reason I forgot to bring my camera along for my road trips. This will mean that I have an excuse to go again next month right? ;)