This is part of the eleventh section of our around the
Complete Trip Overview & Map
Coming from Kuwait
11/10/05 The plane landed after dark and with no airport busses I caught a taxi directly to the Harley-Davidson shop to await the motorcycle. Abu Ali was, like an expectant father, following its progress from Kuwait by phone and relaying the details to me via the H-D dealer here, open during Ramadan from 4 pm till midnight. The bike had easily passed into Saudi but Customs closes at the Bahrain border at 11.00 pm. It just sneaked through and was here for a great welcoming and photo shoot just before the shops closing time. A hotel had been booked for me and nearing 1 am I was escorted there by a few bikers, ready for a rest.
12/10/05 Monther, the owner of the H-D shop, and Lisa, the manager had last night welcomed me warmly, and offered a place for the motorcycle to stay whilst I return to Australia for two months. This afternoon on my return to the shop they had arranged a magnificent place for me to stay for the next week. The director of the HOG club, Khalid al Sharfa, provided me his "cottage", "the farm", situated near the Harley dealers. On a hectare of land, with a high wall for privacy encircling a comfortable home with swimming pool, airconditioning, and all the luxuries you would expect in this region. I had the place to myself, except for the gateman who maintains the gardens and pool. Many jokes abounded as to where I would pitch the tent, whether I would be comfortable enough in such a setting. Needless to say I had no trouble settling into the most magnificent accommodation I have enjoyed on the trip. There were two interviews in the afternoon, the local paper and a motoring magazine, a relaxed dinner in Lisa's house with her children, introductions to many of the local Harley riders, and the cou-de-ta, Khalid had contacts in Saudi that could arrange to get me a visa to visit the country on our return in two months time. I had been told how competitive the Gulf States were and after having comented to Lisa what wonderful hospitality I had received in Kuwait, she just smiled and said we will have to see about that, and she did.
13/10/05 I am still having difficulty adjusting to the Ramadan hours of the region. Not having been to bed before 1 am the last few nights, and unable to sleep in after daylight, I have been slowly running down. I lay in front of the cable TV and listened to the music system, a swim in the pool and an afternoon sleep before going to the Harley shop mid afternoon, refreshed. The newspaper article had attracted a number of visitors to the shop, expats, locals and a sheikh and his wife, both motorcycle riders, although they would ride dressed differently from the traditional way that I had seen them dressed. The newly opened Arabian Motors Cafe had 10 or more riders parked outside while we enjoying drinks and a meal inside after the evening ride. The night ended sadly, with what all motorcyclists dread, the death of a Harley rider in an accident. The first since either of the shops opened in Saudi or Bahrain eight years ago. A young American on a demonstration bike, riding alone, in heavy traffic.
14/10/05 Bahrain is distinctly different from Kuwait. It was the first country to discover oil in the Gulf, in 1932, and developed early, however the oil has pretty much run out. A more religiously and politically open country than its neighbours, women having the vote, the first in the region, although only recently received, and alcohol is available for non Muslims. The country has turned to tourism, mostly regional, with the recent opening of a Formula 1 circuit, and visitors from Saudi Arabia looking for less restrictions are ariving. Fawaz, a local HD rider, escorted me around the island this morning, a surprising 170 km's, we visited most of the local attractions before the days heat and humidity arrived. He managed to get us into the Formula 1 grounds for a couple of photos, the tree of life standing alone in the desert, a look at the remaining oil and gas fields and a ride along the coast. There was little traffic, it being a Friday holiday and morning, with most people still sleeping off last nights late Ramadan time schedule. There are also few overseas or Saudi visitors venturing here during Ramadan. Not being able to stop for a coffee or drink we progressed quite quickly. Bahrain has a more natural appeal and is less clipped than Kuwait. I went into the city for the evening, alone, visiting an outdoor shisha (smoked water pipe) and tea shop where the locals relaxed playing fast games of domino's.
15/10/05 - 18/10/05 Spent the last few days thinking of
going home and meeting up with the family, packing up the bike for its storage
and our return in late December. Somehow the mind thinks ahead automatically
and even though I try to capture the current moment the tomorrow planning
can still sneak in to have me not fully appreciating the now. One of my favourite
sayings is from a John Lennon song, "Life is what happens to us whilst we
are making other plans", how true it is. Flew home to Australia via Dubai.
Story and photos copyright ©
Peter and Kay Forwood,