Saturday, February 20, 2016

Night Clubbing?

So I've had a few nights on the town...and it is strange to have waited so long to be of legal drinking age in New Zealand, only to move to a country where the age is 21 years. However, apparently no one bothers to ID minors (particularly white female minors, like myself) and if a bouncer or bartender asks your age, as long as you tell them you are 21, you are believed. It is madness I tell you! But oooh those cocktails were good. In hindsight, it is quite a different feeling going to bars/clubs when you are in a foreign country, underage and with family and other-people-that-they-know-but-you-don't-know, compared to with friends and you are legal in your own country. All part of the experience I suppose.

I go back to work tomorrow, and while I'm not excited about resuming the 6am starts, I am happy to get back into some kind of routine. Also, boringly, I'm keen to set up a Bahrain bank account so I can begin to transfer my savings and see some tangible money-making, as opposed to wads of cash.

This feels like quite a bland blog post, but I guess the mundane will be interesting to at least my parents. Better short and sweet than long and...not sweet?

If you're interested, please check out my channel where I'm trying to upload vlogs frequently. As they say, a picture paints a thousand words, so a video must paint a million pictures, right? Below is my most recent vlog: a short lil tour of the mosque I visited.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

It's Raining Free Money?!

As the saying goes, money doesn't grow on trees...but as I discovered today, on occasion it does fall from trees. And observation towers. 

Today we went to visit the Bahrain fort, which I'd been to once before a few years ago, and it was fascinating. Getting to walk through and observe the over 1600 year old fort is a breath-taking experience. (Not to mention windy and a bit cold, in the winter months.) 

Top level of Bahrain fort

A well with Arabic inscriptions, inside one of the lower rooms
Then we went to Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Park (lengthy title, I know.) This place was so beautiful and scenic. It also had lots of things to see and do, like paddle boats, bike hire, concerts, cafes, playgrounds, and a conservation tower.

Prince Khalifa Observation Tower and Play Area (not my image)

The most bizarre thing I think I have witnessed since arriving in Bahrain was the sight of people dropping little parachutes of cash from the top of the observation tower. It honestly took my brain a few minutes to try to understand why anyone would give away free cash. I watched people frantically scrambled to catch the bundles as the wind steered them slowly down to the ground. Initially it was quite an exciting event - and I am told that the bundles contained between $30-50BD each, which is $120-200NZD. However, I soon felt sick. Little kids were getting trampled and shoved out of the way as butch men and teenage boys practically wrestled for the cash. I witness one 8 or 9 year old boy sprinting, his eyes so locked on the falling bundle that he tripped and smacked his face into the side of the pavement. Meanwhile adults were screaming and jumping with excitement, and snatching cash out of each others hands. One bundle even got caught in a date tree and sent a construction worker climbing up the trunk to snap off the huge leaf that the package was snagged in. It was a REALLY high climb (maybe one and a half storeys?), and he could have really hurt himself - especially as date tree trunks are like palm trees and have no branches to rest on.

I failed to catch any free money, but I honestly think that if I had managed to grab a bundle I would have had it snatched from me, simply because I'm weak and small in comparison to the men who were winning the lots. Perhaps the most dehumanising part was that there were several cameramen set up to capture all the madness, I imagine to broadcast it for people's entertainment. The whole event was actually kind of terrifying, because it showed just how primal people can be, even in 2016.

Or maybe I'm getting too philosophical, I don't know.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Hitting the 1 month milestone

Today marks exactly 4 weeks since I departed Wellington, and in this time I have done a lot of firsts. In particular, it has the longest amount of time I have been away from home. I thought this post would be well spent in reflection, to kind of digest the month past and the things to follow. There are a lot of things I already miss about New Zealand, but also, many things I am embracing about Bahrain. In writing this, I don't mean to sound ignorant or ungrateful of the opportunity I have been presented this year, because I am so so lucky - I just see it as important to document my experiences honestly and openly.

Okay, formal disclaimer over. Sorry guys. In a nutshell, the things I am missing are:
  1. the ability to connect with friends and family in the same way (though to be honest, I think pretty much all my friends will be dealing with this sooner or later, if they aren't already)
  2. public transport, like buses, trains, and even walking - really, just the independence of being able to get myself places without relying on another person. That really hasn't been possible here, because there is no public transport, very little pedestrian access to anything, and Amwaj is fairly isolated from everything else.
  3. having relationships with people my own age (asdfghjklweytuiosjf)
  4. anything and everything that relates to sustainability: the ability to recycle, op-shops and second hand purchases etc.
  5. 7.30am starts - honestly, that sounds like a dream now. I didn't appreciate them last year, but little did I know being up at 6am every weekday would become my reality. I feel like a toddler, going to bed at 8pm every night.
  6. singing in a choir
  7. JJ! I'm so scared she won't remember me when I return :(
And on the other side of the coin, the new experiences and things that I love and am embracing are:
  1. Supporting myself financially (minus the free accommodation). I actually really enjoy grocery shopping for myself and being able to go out and buy things that I desire. At the same time, I'm taking it fairly seriously, because I'm tracking my spending and setting myself saving goals to achieve every month.
  2. Meeting people of all different cultures, backgrounds, religions and walks of life. I'm so willing to learn all I can about other people and the ways in which they view the world. Incomprehensible accents and cultural misunderstandings are often hilarious, but always fascinating.
  3. Spending time getting to know my dad's side of the family - who up until now, I only saw sporadically, for a few weeks once or twice a year. Now I see them all the time, and it's great! It feels like Harrison has become my cheeky little brother.
  4. the backyard entrance to the beach. So gorgeous. I can't wait until it heats up a bit.
  5. Exploring a foreign land, so to speak. Learning the ways that other cultures live, and discovering the differences between New Zealand and other parts of the world.
  6. living independently from my parents. I love my mum and dad, but it really does feel so good to have this new freedom, where I'm making all the choices for myself.
  7. my ensuite bathroom. Lol, how superficial - but it is truly supercalifregilisticexpialidocious.
That's the extent of my thoughts for now, and it is hard to believe it has been a month. In a lot of ways, it feels like it has gone by quite quickly, but in others, I feel the gaps of what I can no longer do while I am here (as mentioned above). Having said that, I am so excited for what is to come, and I feel so thankful for this experience!

Thanks for reading. 
Also, it's الجمعة, الجمعة, gotta get down on الجمعة.