In the sunny morning of April 26 that fell on a Thursday, the clingy bullies left the Green House in Dammam at exactly 8:00 AM and drove to Bahrain.
The sights along the way never seize to amaze us in spite of the fact that we have been seeing the same in the area. However on that day, what got our optical organs were the humongous stones along Dhahran’s Ring Road that is actually the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture.
I have been dying to capture that uniquely designed building—which I had already seen during my fourth visit to Dammam. I only got the chance to frame it though by then. Thank you to the bullies who made sure the car slowed down as soon as they noticed me aiming the lens to it on a 120 km highway and while we were all marveling at it. You are the best!
We have reached the Bahrain Border Control Area by 9:30 AM and spent approximately 30 minutes to get past Immigration and Custom’s check. We proceeded to a fast-food restaurant for a light meal upon obtaining the travel clearance.
It always feels necessary doing the obligatory selfies if you are a first timer in a country except, of course, Jun and Arriel who—have been frequenting Bahrain and—had to bear with us. That is definitely the exception for me when it comes to that.
We left the border control area at around 10:30 AM and cruised over to Manama for our first stop.
The Kingdom of Bahrain (KOB) is a small island country in the Persian Gulf. It is the smallest of the Arabian states and is only an hour and a half drive from Dammam. According to what I read, this country receives more than 2 million tourists a year and it has an American Naval Base in it.
The Kingdom is also one of the most “open” countries in the Gulf region thereby making it a perfect destination for non-Muslim visitors who are unfamiliar with the customs, traditions, and religion of the Middle East. Two of the most interesting things about it are the hopping nightlife and … the freedom to buy and drink alcoholic beverages.
We arrived at the Bab Al Bahrain after approximately 25 minutes.
The Bab Al Bahrain is a historical building located at the Customs Square in Manama’s former central business district. It currently serves as a threshold to Manama souq that sell traditional handicrafts of the region.
There is also a beautiful mall in the area called “The Mall”, which also sells local merchandise from spices, clothing, and jewelry to electronics and a whole heap more.
Above all, the entrance of this building is where the “I Love Bahrain tourism logo” stands. This is really where travelers or visitors must take photos of themselves.
The best part of the souq though is that street outside with variety of small stalls barking an array of local knick knacks; it is where you can haggle.
The visual appeal of the colorful decorative objects is a bonus. We concluded our stopping of at this place by taking another batch of group photos using the IG worthy sights of the area.
The same goes for our stopover at Moda Mall.
The MODA Mall is, beyond question, the most iconic among its contemporaries and rivals.
It is located on Bahrain World Trade Center’s ground floor and serves as a shopping and dining experience.
Having the largest world luxury brand portfolio, it certainly is one of the best shopping malls in KOB and number one when it comes to jewelry stores as it houses over 50 fine bijouterie outlets—the largest attainable in one venue in the entire Kingdom can offer.
MODA Mall’s elegant atmosphere, world-class architecture, cool marble interior, glass domes, and wide corridors make shopping and dining a pleasurable experience. And with a leasable area spanning “16,500 square meters, the mall offers 1,700 car parking spaces shared with Bahrain World Trade Centre” (modabahrain.com).
The Bahrain World Trade Center (also called BWTC) is the very skyscraper we see in the picture as Moda Mall only occupies the ground floor. It comprised two towers with an imposing 240-meter-high, 50-floor complex located in the capital City. These towers were built in 2008 by the multi-national architectural firm, Atkins. It brags the reputation of being the first skyscraper in the world to integrate wind turbines into its design—which were developed, built, and installed by Norwin A/S—based on what I read.
Too bad we only got to frame the twin towers’ side view; nevertheless, we are grateful to our enthusiastic photographer for making sure we made the most of our visit to this iconic landmark.
Following in time was driving to where the fun really starts for every trip to Bahrain: “Gulf Brands”. We all became suddenly dry and thirsty the moment we saw those sparkling bottles. There is something in them that make one feel that way where and when they are the only panacea.
It goes without saying you were never in Bahrain if you did not set foot on this establishment and crack a bottle.
It was already quarter past midday when we felt the need to recharge. Swan Lake, which was supposed to be where we will have lunch at was closed by that time.
We ended up at Hot Pot, a Filipino & Chinese Restaurant, instead because it is very near to Gulf Brands.
Everyone was excited about that meat but me on our way to the restaurant. Thank God, I found taho by chance upon browsing the menu. I thought it will only be Buds Jeth, Mah Fren Ronald, Bes Jun, and Bok Arriel who will partake in that evanescent, native jollification. Most of the foods that I wanted were not available though so it felt like I won the lottery the moment I learned taho is available. I ordered three (3) large glasses of it while the bullies had three (3) orders of crispy pata.
We described that gustatory experience as heaven on a table—feasting on our respective comfort foods.
At about 1:30 PM, we proceeded to Al Jazeera Supermarket for the intended grocery items. Our rented accommodations—Oryx Tower, which is by the way located in Juffair Residential area—provides kitchenettes.
We bought these and that especially the ones we could not have back to base. It is noteworthy that there was one particular view in the supermarket that we all luxuriated in. A sight we can never see back home: the flat and exquisitely fair plateau in a silky, transparent fabric. Stunning…and the world stop!
We checked in our accommodations at exactly 2:50 PM. Strolling around the city for hours took its toll so when we got inside the room, every one crashed to the sofa.
An hour passed and we started preparing dinner. Jun found out later that we forgot to buy soy sauce. Jeth and I volunteered to accompany Arriel at the nearby Juffair Mall, the biggest in the region with a hypermarket “Lulu”, pharmacy, food court, cinemas, and other useful department stores.
For me, the unforgettable moment that came out of that was I got to witness the sun set falling into the Bahraini horizon. That was very special for me because it was my last one with Ronald.
Dinner was finally served at 7:00 PM. I never saw me and the bullies that happy upon looking at the viands on the table oozing with irresistible aroma. The foods were just mouth-watering. Thanks a million to our resident cook. He really knows how to make our sacs growl.
We took a shower after that joyous-almost-boodle fight and prepped for our window shopping at the City Centre Bahrain. This shopping centre opened in 2008 and it flaunts 340 retail outlets, including the first Carrefour Hypermarket in KOB, as well as 60 dining outlets according to what I read. Undoubtedly, it is the largest of its kind in the Kingdom.
Well, the idea was supposed to be window shopping but we all ended up purchasing … more than one item. I will always remember this shopping centre each time I wear that Nike shorts, football socks, or whenever I pull that wallet out from my pocket.
We capped the night off by a chitchat over a cup of coffee at the mall.
And a little bit later, a pitcher of Svedka, a pint of barley pop, and a bottle of fermented agave mash.
The eldest of the bullies was the one who surrendered first, while the rest were able to keep up with each other—the younger ones (insert peace sign here). We, of course, saved the best for last as we were just on our penultimate, once in a blue moon libation.
10 Things You Experience If You Live in Bahrain (expatwoman.com)
The Best Non-Touristy Experiences in Bahrain (theculturetrip.com)
Top 5 Things To Do In Manama (wowtravelme.com)
Things to do in Bahrain (whatsupbahrain.com)
Entertainment in Bahrain | Fun Things to Do (citycentrebahrain.com)
9 Awesome Things to Do in Bahrain (thecutlerychronicles.com)
Why is Manama in Bahrain the best place in the world for expats? (irishtimes.com)