Saturday, 20 June 2009

Bye Bye Bahrain

All Well that Ends Well...Oh Well...

overcast 35 °C
Billy S. the British bearded Bard said that parting is such sweet sorrow, and I have to say this goodbye was more sweet than bitter. It wasn't just the place, but it was the bad timing. When we arrived in May before the summer season started, we were greeted by 40 degrees Celsius humid heat. Waiting for the ride to the airport outside the hotel lobby reinforced this sentiment - it was about 38 degrees at 2 o'clock in the morning (it was 43 degree this afternoon). Can't wait to get into the air-cons of the airport. Good night, good night! Airport is such sweet delight!

Despite the small size of this country, one can see this place as a mini Dubai in the making. The operative word being mini ('mi' as in do-re-mi, and 'ni' as in second in Japanese). One can see that many parallel developments between these two cities - man-made island resorts, property boom, liberal attitude in lifestyle and an open economic system etc (ironically, there was a referendum that turned the democracy into a Kingdom a few years ago). Maybe in 5 years time, there would be a indoor ski to be built here that rivals the one in Dubai. Who knows?

Before I came, I knew next to nothing about Bahrain. Who does? The Gulf country I knew more about is Dubai via its head-turning mega property development projects such as the artificial islands that carved out from reclaimed lands. Who doesn't? Stood on Fraser Suite on my hotel window, I could make out a few of such man-made oases that feels like a mirage in the horizon. The one that closest to me and has yet any structures on it shaped like a giant croissant. These constructed sandy isles, along with the tangled web of construction cranes in the skyline spells or smells like Mini Dubai.

Despite its tiny local population (less than 3/4 million), its growth are fuelled mainly by (ever rising price of) oil, of course, but also externally by its 28km Causeway to Saudi Arabia and when the the 40km Qatar Bahrain Friendship Bridge is completed, Bahrain will get not one, but two umbilical cords of economic milk, carried into Bahrain by seekers of merriment, and restrained partying. It will be interesting to re-visit here in 10 years time, OK, not so fast, in 20 years time, in winter, of course!
I did look forward to fly with the Emirates, the seats were roomier than any of the major airlines I had flown with. There was only one gripe I had with the airline was that they were stickler with the luggage weights. But they have increased the allowable weights from 25 to 30 kg, which further improves their standing in my book (or potential future booking).

Back to Singapore in the morning, for the first time in Singapore that I find the weather here surprising bearable. The sky was cloudy for the next few days. There is always a silver lining on every dark clouds. And sometimes the dark cloud is the silver lining. As a Sydneysider, It's more or less a sun lover. Actually Sydneysiders worships the sun at the detriment to their health (the highest incidents of melanoma in the world). Look at the Aussie Aborigines skin tone that evolved in this harsh Aussie sun to get some clues. In Singapore, I prayed for rains and more clouds. I imagined the tropical Singaporean like the sun as much as Eskimo like snow. I have to admit that I like sun too, but not in it because the extended length of cloudy days bring some SAD symptom. Too much sun brings me hay fever. Well, I should live in a plastic bubble with an artificial environment and 24/7 nursing care. That's my ideal holiday - a break away from the capricious vacillation of weather. I guess this is a reason why I'm so keen weather understudy or study under the weather.

Locals told us that during the Singaporean dry season from June to August, there are more sunny days and hotter than the wet season during the new year. From what I can see, this summer is quite wet and cloudy, just the way I like it. I think I need to send my thank you card to La Niña. I think La Niña started last year when the worst draught in a long time in Aussie east coast was broken, the water restriction lifted, and the flooding started.

Allowable luggage weights wasn't the only things that had changed since our two months in Bahrain. The hawker centre opposite where we live have been bought out by new management. The furniture are brand new, and very nice (actually better than some food courts). A couple of our fave stores had disappeared, but we found our new replacements. One store sells those smorgasbord style of food that we like - you choose a combination of meats and veggies from about 12 to 15 variety, and it's different everyday. I would typically order 2 meats and 1 veggie with rice, and Atta would order 1 meat 1 veggie with rice. Together, we get to eat 3 meats and 2 veggies and the total damage comes to about 5 SGD/AUD for both. Not too shabby. A Big Mac would cost more.

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