Saturday, July 23, 2011

Manama, Bahrain

Dear Bahrain,

There's no use having a 3000 sq ft of duty free stores if you don't have any ATM machines.

Mr. Too Cool To Carry Cash

Last week we were frolicking at the beach in the south of France when someone broke into my friend's apartment where I was crashing, and stole a whole bunch of stuff including my perfume (so if you see some scruffy, barely literate person walking around the south of France smelling so good, you know you've found the thief). So now I'm walking around unscented and have the smell of 9 hours on an airplane on me. That's when I thought I should buy a new perfume. So I asked the guy at the airport info point where the nearest ATM machine was. His infuriating answer was, "We used to have 4 machines. Now we have none."

It was as if someone told me Starbucks stopped selling coffee. It makes zero sense.

"So how are people supposed to purchase stuff from your humongous duty free store?" I asked, annoyed.

"They go to the money changer and get themselves all the dinars they need," he said with a smirk.

This is one of the drawbacks of relying too much on your credit card. When you're in a foreign country where ATM machines are scarce (even at the airport WTF??) and stores don't accept credit cards, you don't know what to do. I scraped my bag for every piece of euro notes and coins that I had, and in the end I managed to get the money changer to give me 7 Bahrain dinars which is just enough to get me 2 hot dogs, a Sprite and fries at JASMI'S, the local fast food chain.

Bahrain is an oven. I've been to Dubai, Qatar and Jordan and I know how hot it is on this side of the world. But that doesn't mean I'm used to it. We're in the middle of summer but it was still 15°-20° in Paris when I left France, so I'm not really used to practically having the sun breathing on my back. Taxi drivers here (like taxi drivers everywhere) are big cheats. The trick of the trade is to appear nonchalant when hailing a taxi, and act like you know Manama (the capital city) like the back of your hand. That's what I did, and I was charged 4 dinars to get to the city centre.

Okay need to look for power source for my computer.

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