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Q8 UPDATE

I’m at the airport in Bahrain. Nice airport. Every 20 minutes or so a message is broadcast alerting passengers that smoking is only allowed at a special area near the Gate 12 entrance; this doesn’t cut much ice with the crowd already smoking at their own rebel special area near the Gate 17 entrance. Which, by the way, kills that slum at Gate 12 by virtue of serving excellent coffee.

About 18 hours to get here, via Singapore. Then another seven hours waiting for the connecting flight to Kuwait, which is seven times as long as the flight itself. No earlier flights are scheduled, so I went looking for a car to hire (the drive is about three hours). Bad idea, said everybody I consulted. One security guard told me it was the stupidest idea he’d heard all week. I’ve only been here for a few hours, and already I’m making an impression!

So, no car, no drive, long delay. Guess there’s nothing else to do but find a bar and drink away the remaining time until boarding. Or at least to imagine that scenario, in a creative exercise involving a range of hypothetical fun situations in which I am not trapped at Bahrain airport.

Gulf Air is a fine airline. Friendly staff.

More soon from Gulf land.

UPDATE! Turns out there ish a bar here! It’s down opposite the Gate 14 boarding zone. Expect fewer updates post this discovery.

Posted by Tim B. on 04/30/2005 at 05:45 AM
  1. am i the first to post ... yippee ... i remember getting the cheapest flight to europe several years ago and it took 27 hours ... stopped at abu dhabi ... now that was a swinging place ... now don’t bring drugs back, especially if you transit bali ...

    Posted by on 04/30 at 06:14 AM • permalink

  2. I imagine Gulf Air is a fine airline - as long as you’re not Jewish.

    Posted by on 04/30 at 06:31 AM • permalink

  3. Driving from Bahrain to Kuwait is a very bad idea!  Enjoy the coffee, Tim.

    Posted by on 04/30 at 06:46 AM • permalink

  4. i notice the current newsweek magazine has pope benedict on the cover ... are you on a crusade ... good luck ...

    Posted by on 04/30 at 06:56 AM • permalink

  5. I can suggest all manner of Internet diversions if need be.

    Posted by on 04/30 at 07:01 AM • permalink

  6. I’ve only been here for a few hours, and already I’m making an impression!
    They used to say that travel was very broadening.
    If nothing else I guess it will make you appreciate home!
    Best wishes Tim.

    Posted by on 04/30 at 07:19 AM • permalink

  7. Mmmmmm, don’t you love airlines, particularly international ones?  Carefully limited competition, so they get to treat their customers like total crap, unless you pay five times the economy fare.  And airports love to hold you incommunicado for seven hours so you’ve nothing to do except shop.  And they blame most of this on “security” though the chance of falling victim to a terrorist attack is well under one in a million.

    Sorry about the rant, but airports and airlines are really terrible.

    Posted by on 04/30 at 07:47 AM • permalink

  8. Ah, heavily drunk is the only way to travel anywhere by plane! I imagine if I ever did decide to fly from Orlando to Australia I’d end up needing a liver transplant once I landed.

    Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 04/30 at 08:08 AM • permalink

  9. Andrea ... how would you rate against Australia’s best ... cricketers ... I’m sure Tim has warned you about Dougie Walters, Rod Marsh or Kerry O’Keefe ... if anyone has done better, please post ...

    Posted by on 04/30 at 08:44 AM • permalink

  10. so I went looking for a car to hire (the drive is about three hours). Bad idea, said everybody I consulted. One security guard told me it was the stupidest idea he’d heard all week.

    I’m pretty sure Bahrain is an island. That might have something to do with it.

    Posted by on 04/30 at 09:03 AM • permalink

  11. Where’s the Guinness World Records ... I’m hitting the fart sack and going to sleep ... cheers ...

    Posted by on 04/30 at 09:22 AM • permalink

  12. It is an island...connected to Saudia Arabia by causeway.
    Driving to Kuwait from Bahrain is suicide.

    Posted by on 04/30 at 10:28 AM • permalink

  13. Is Tim Blair going to Iraq to fight the insurgency?

    Posted by on 04/30 at 10:42 AM • permalink

  14. Mark Stein woulda drove.  Sissy.

    Posted by on 04/30 at 10:58 AM • permalink

  15. the drive is about three hours

    No way is it 400 miles from Bahrain to Kuwait.

    Posted by on 04/30 at 11:03 AM • permalink

  16. Someone want to clue me in as to why driving from Kuwait to Bahrain is such a bad idea? Poor roads? Having to drive through Saudi Arabia? Lack of parking on the island?

    Posted by E. Nough on 04/30 at 11:24 AM • permalink

  17. Having just left bahrain, I’d have to say it’s a bad idea to drive to KU because you have to transit Saudi, which I don’t think you can go through w/out a visa.  Also, it’s at least 400 miles - it’s about 1 hour in an C-130 between KU Intl and Bahrain. 

    Parking in BAH isn’t really an issue.

    Yes, there is a bridge to Saudi, but I had a taxi driver tell me he’d only been there once - he was Bahraini and had nothing good to say about his neighbors. 

    The Bahrain airport is nicer than Kuwait’s.  Bahrain in general is nicer than Kuwait - if only because you can get a drink there.  Both countries have Starbucks, so that’s somewhat redeeming.  Kuwait’s airport has 2 24/7 Starbucks which is surprising considering how small it is. 

    Unless the rules have changed in the last 2 years, you can smoke anywhere in the KU airport except the immigration/customs section.

    Tim, there’s an HMAS ship doing important work at the north end of the gulf.  It would be a good story if you could get out to the ship and also the things it’s protecting.

    Do they still have all the F1 swag in the duty free area?

    Posted by Kevin on 04/30 at 12:48 PM • permalink

  18. Someone want to clue me in as to why driving from Kuwait to Bahrain is such a bad idea? Poor roads? Having to drive through Saudi Arabia? Lack of parking on the island?

    Let’s see.....desert, bandits, greedy customs officials, bandits, maybe terrorists (remember Iraq, just north of Kuwait?).  And it’s not a short drive, more like a full day or two.  I’m not sure about the logistics, but I expect that paying for a car, gas, and customs fees would cost more than an airplane ticket, given the relative lack of infrastructure here in the Middle East.  I’d do it in an organized convoy, but alone?  Nope.

    Posted by on 04/30 at 01:53 PM • permalink

  19. Enjoy the Sheikhdoms of Araby, Tim.  While they last.

    Posted by on 04/30 at 02:20 PM • permalink

  20. Thanks, The_Real_JeffS.

    Posted by on 04/30 at 03:29 PM • permalink

  21. I think Tim was merely suggesting he hire a car to drive around Bahrain to see the sites, such as they are, and kill some time.

    Posted by on 04/30 at 03:29 PM • permalink

  22. Andrew:

    I don’t think so. He referred to “the drive”:

    No earlier flights are scheduled, so I went looking for a car to hire (the drive is about three hours).

    in comparison with the 7-hour flight delay.

    Posted by on 04/30 at 03:34 PM • permalink

  23. ... and in comparison with the 1-hour flight BAH-KU.

    Posted by on 04/30 at 03:35 PM • permalink

  24. Well, Tim did go through one of the few Middle Eastern nations to allow alcoholic drinks within their borders.  I’m sure that he took great comfort in that fact.  ;)

    Posted by on 04/30 at 03:47 PM • permalink

  25. Have fun, but take care, Tim.  None of those Paul Bowles A Distant Episode shenanigans, por favor. 

    Blood oranges, a copper buys you ten
    Come and see the dancing white clown
    who lives with the Blue men.

    Posted by on 04/30 at 05:14 PM • permalink

  26. The man found an alcohol oasis in an Islamic desert? Brilliant!!!

    If I ever go to the Middle East, I’m taking a trusty Ozzie guide.

    I’ll call him ‘Gargle Din’....

    Posted by on 04/30 at 06:39 PM • permalink

  27. Tim,

    This may be a silly thing to point out, but if you are flying business class on Gulf Air you can ask for a pair of pyjamas and the stewards will give them to you (the bag the pyjamas come in is better than the pyjamas - but my son has been wearing the pyjamas for 18 months and he still likes them).

    Emirates leaves Gulf Air for dead, just as Dubai airport make Bahrain’s for dead.

    Posted by Russell on 04/30 at 07:13 PM • permalink

  28. Tim ... you don’t hire cars there, you hire ships of the desert ... camels ... grab yourself a tea-towl and you can become “Tim of Arabia” for a few hours ...

    Posted by on 04/30 at 08:47 PM • permalink

  29. My then-fiance and I had a brief stopover in Bahrain in the days when Qantas stopped there en-route to Heathrow. She was unsettled how every pair of Arab eyes followed her around the concourse (she is blonde)- and the other female passengers as well.  They obviously didn’t see many Western women. She couldn’t wait to get out of the place.

    Posted by on 05/01 at 12:15 AM • permalink

  30. Another problem in the desert is the notorious vision-impaired terrorists:

    CAIRO (Reuters) - Two veiled women opened fire on a tourist bus in southern Cairo on Saturday but missed, Cairo Security Director Nabil el-Azabi said.

    Security officers at the scene said one of the attackers then shot dead the other, before shooting and wounding herself.

    I guess wearing the veil of oppression makes it difficult to aim those weapons.

    Posted by Evil Pundit on 05/01 at 12:30 AM • permalink

  31. #29 walterplinge
    ahhh ... being blonde has its advantages & disadvantages ... my aunty travelled to china when it first opened up to tourists about 20 years ago, or maybe a smidgen later ... she is strikingly blonde and she became the centre of attraction wherever she went in the china of the day ... she felt very embarrassed ... stevo

    Posted by on 05/01 at 06:49 AM • permalink

  32. #30 - they ended up hitting the right targets as far as I’m concerned.

    Posted by Razor on 05/01 at 08:14 AM • permalink

  33. Kevin and JeffS, thanks for the education.

    Posted by E. Nough on 05/01 at 09:51 AM • permalink

  34. How do you miss a bus with an AK-47?  It’s designed for badly trained goons to use…

    Posted by on 05/01 at 04:43 PM • permalink

  35. no surprises about getting an alcoholic drink in Bahrain. bahrain is where devout Saudi muslims go for a weekend of alcohol, gambling and hookers.

    Posted by on 05/02 at 06:24 AM • permalink

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