Manama, Bahrain

bahrain world trade centerAs I landed at the airport in Manama and turned on my cellphone I received a text from my couchsurfing host telling me that he couldn’t host me for that night. That meant that I was alone in a new country with nowhere to stay. Knowing that a hotel would be too expensive for my travel budget I figured out that I would just take a taxi into the city to take some photos of the Bahrain World Trade Center and then just head back to the airport to spend the night there. It would be sad to only see a bit of what the country had to offer, but I felt that it was the only option left.

The taxi ride to the city took about 20 minutes and I was told from the taxi driver that we had driven halfway through the country already which surprised me. The Bahrain WTC was also something I was positively surprised about. The building was beautifully lit up in the dark and was visible from far away. It was said that the three windmills in between the two towers were delivering power sufficient enough to supply 300 houses. If every sky scraper in the world also would have three windmills I guess that would have solved the worlds power problems.

While I was taking pictures of the building a car suddenly stopped right next to me and a guy in his early twenties asked me to get in. At first I was a bit hesitant, but as I had nothing better to do I decided to jump in. His Moroccan English accent was hard to understand and the first twenty minutes or so he spent on his phone talking to friends while driving. When he stopped the car I understood what he wanted to do. He wanted to bring me into the western clubs so that he and his friends were allowed in too. What a sneaky trick.

At first  it was a bit quiet when visiting a hotel bar called “Finnegans Wake”, but the pace picked up once we went over to a club called “club 360”. The Morroccan really liked to dance with his virgin coke and we stayed there until 5 o’clock in the morning. After that we also visited an Arabian disco which was an interesting cultural experience. In there the whole layout was different. The couched were all standing along the walls where everyone were sitting and smoking waterpipes. These couches were all facing a big dance floor where only a couple of people were dancing at the same time, while people around them were eager to sell them sprinklers taped to champagne bottles that they could dance around, lay that you could give to a girl and moneyshowers (one dollar bills that they would throw on the dancing couple and then pick up again). It was an interesting place and we stayed there until 9 in the morning, just in time for me to make my flight around noon. 


Arabian Adventures

Trip summary: On this trip I was country hopping through most of the Gulf States in the Arab Peninsula.

Countries visited: Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait

Click here to read about this trip

Final Thoughts on Tokyo


Tokyo has been very different from all the cities we have been to before. It is not the size of the city that leaves the biggest impression, but the people who are filling it. Every single day of the week we have spent here has been like a safari of subcultures. When sitting in a sushi bar or coffeshop we could see businessmen with suitcases, geeks fiddling around with their technological gadgets, old people reading books and gothic people giggling in a cornershop, and at the end of the day, all stripes and colors united for the train ride back to the suburbs, dozing of and waking up suddenly just as they reach their station. 


The food in Tokyo was also superb. It seems like the Tokyoites take their dining, service and fresh ingredients very seriously, making each and every meal a great experience. The best food experience was sinking our teeth into a fatty tuna nigiri at the Tsukiji fish marked, but being handcuffed and locked into a prison cell at the Alcatraz E.R theme restaurant was also an interesting “only in Japan” experience. 
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When it comes to celebrating New Years in Tokyo, we were expecting fireworks, countdowns and light shows, but were surprised not to witness any of this. Rumors went that most Japanese celebrate New Years eve in the temples with their families, but the athmosphere at Shibuya Crossing was also quite an experience. 

If you are looking for a city that has it all, Tokyo is the place to be. 

Hanahata, Kamakura and first thoughts on Japan


When we first arrived in Tokyo we were welcomed by a family friend who let us spend the first nights at her place inHanahata (A). After a pretty long journey it was great to have a couple of days to rest out properly, catch up with our friend, and eat home cooked Japanese meals. 

On our second day we went through Tokyo (B) to Kamakura (C) which is the former capital of Japan and is known for its temples, shrines and a giant Buddha made out of Bronze. The streets of Kamakura were also very welcoming with lots of shops for handcrafted things (great for souvenirs), good restaurants and concession stands for snacks: ice cream with green tea/sweet potato taste, sugar coated french fries, seaweed and dried babyfish sold by weight  were snacks interesting enough, but not too tempting for us to try. 


Other things that have fascinated us the last couple of days in Japan are:

– How popular karaoke really is (we even sung
 a few songs ourselves)                                         
– How people of all ages are using Gameboys/nintendo DS (people seem to use it for taking notes and pictures as well as playing)
– How many people are using mouth masks (we found out that it was for not spreading disease and not only about not receiving)
– How many vending machines there are on the streets (you even have to order your food through vending machines in some restaurants)
– How people fall asleep when they get on the subway and automatically wakes up to their station (maybe because of the different songs being played at each station)
– How helpful everyone is, despite little english skills (a lot of map pointing and nodding usually does the trick)

Now we are just ready to see what more Tokyo has to offer!

Vending machines of different kinds
Smart toilets with “bidet” functions