Saturday, December 13, 2008

Souqs and Driving

Only two more days in Bahrain. While I'm not anxious to leave my husband I am looking forward to being home with my familiar things surrounding me. Perhaps it's sensory overload...

I made it to the souqs on Thursday and both parking lots were full so I tried to get to a parking garage I used to use when we lived here ten years ago. The only problem was that my memory on how to get inside was fuzzy (I could see it, but just couldn't get to it) and there are too many one way streets in that part of the city. Eventually (20 minutes of aggressive driving later) I found my way inside.

I wandered all the back alleyways of the souq this time looking for something really unusual. Unfortunately I really didn't see anything I hadn't seen before. It seemed like every other vendor was trying to get me to buy genuine fake rolex watches, mosque clocks and singing camels. Not exactly what I was looking for. Despite the dingy potholed areas I was walking alone I never felt nervous, perhaps because I've lived here and it is more familiar to me.

I managed to find 2 interesting pieces of 100% cotton Indonesian batik. Most shops carry the Indonesian batiks, but they are almost all partially polyester now. Although there were some very prettily colored ones I did not buy any. There was just too much polyester in them (you have to be able to tell by feel since nothing is marked) for good piecing.

Driving over here is a rare treat, LOL. Pierre rented a car for the time I'm here and it's a tinny rattle trap that would fold in a second in an accident. Not only that, but it has no airbags. You have to drive a fine line somewhere between agressive and defensive. Watch out for the other guy constantly (blinkers are rarely used and it's common to turn from a middle lane that's marked straight only), but if you give way too much you'll never get anywhere. Honking seems part of the driving process and you constantly hear toots of the horn. If you're not going fast enough I know someone who was literally pushed into the median by a Saudi driver going about 100 km/hour.

One of the cool things they have here which are different: when you're sitting at a red light the red AND yellow lights come on together just before the light turns green. I guess it means you can start, but with caution as there may be someone running the red light. That doesn't happen any more often than at home because so many of the lights have cameras.

The other cool thing here for drivers are the roundabouts. I know many people don't like them, but it's only because they don't know how to use them. Here it is common to have a 2 or 3 lane roundabout with 5 or 6 roads leading into it. You yield when entering. Which lane you enter in depends on how far around you are going. If you think about where you're entering as 6:00 and you want to get off at 3:00 you should enter using the right lane. If you want to go all the way around (as in a U turn) or to 9:00 you are in the left lane. It sounds like chaos, but it actually works very well and you spend less time waiting at traffic lights. I've seen a few accidents while here, but none in roundabouts.


Post a Comment

<< Home