Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bah, Bah, Bah, Bah, Bah, Bahrain

(The title is supposed to be sung to the tune of "Barbara Ann" by the Beach Boys)

Because of my job, I had to be part of the President's delegation when she visited Bahrain. Here's my account of the trip:


DAY 1

Flight was really early in the morning, 1:15 AM early. The waiting area was full already so I had to stand until boarding time.

In the plane, throughout the 9 hour trip to Abu Dhabi, I basically watched one-half of "Wall-E", slept, and woke up to watch the other half, occasionally waking up when its time to chow down.

The plane landed in Abu Dhabi and I expected to be stuck in the terminal with thousands of people waiting for their connecting flight. Lo and behold, I was met by the Consul General of the Embassy there and escorted to the VIP lounge. Okay, so I was travelling with my boss who should be given the privilege, but heck, I benefit. I enjoy the freebies and the VIP car to my next flight.

The flight to Manama was less than an hour, which means I had to watch a clip show of stupid people in stupid videos (a la America's Funniest Home Videos) for the same amount of time since that was the only thing on screen.

By the way, from the moment I landed in Abu Dhabi, my ears were so beaten up by the air pressure that I couldn't hear well for the rest of the day. This flight just added to my ears' misery.

When I reached Manama, me and my boss were received in the VIP lounge by our Consul General there and people from the King's protocol office.

We are driven in a stylish Mercedes Benz to our hotel for that day.



The room I got was an apartment with my own kitchen, lounge, and a gigantic bathroom. Heck, the whole apartment was almost as big as my house.



The hotel was surrounded by malls, but the prices in Bahrain are really expensive for this 3rd world Foreign Service Officer.





Here's the view from my room, by the way:



We were invited by the Philippine Ambassador to have lunch in the Embassy. My concern that I wouldn't be able to eat pork during my trip was assuaged when there was pork served as one of the main courses.

On the way back to the hotel, I took some snapshots. I noticed most of the houses and buildings here have the same monochromatic hue, which you will notice in the pictures, and which is in stark contrast to the colorful, festive mood of Metro Manila.






And yes, everywhere you go, you will realize that this is the Middle East with its windswept deserts.


Back in the hotel, I was approached by an old man who told me he would be my driver and pointed out the Mercedes Benz that I could use anytime I wanted to during my stay in the Kingdom. Upon further inquiry with the authorities, I confirmed the veracity of the old man's words. I was surprised like heck. Back at home, I rode the jeepney to work, or to anywhere for that matter. Here, I have my own car and driver. In the words of Bill and Ted, "totally excellent, dude!"

So after a quick rest, I went to the shopping mall. Expensive stores lined up the mall's floors. Nothing there I couldn't find in Manila at a way cheaper price.


After dinner at the hotel, I went to sleep. Hey, it was literally a long day, 5 hours longer than usual to be precise.


DAY 2

After another visit to the Embassy early in the morning, I had lunch in the hotel and packed up my stuff to transfer to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Ritz-Calton, baby.

I've been in Bahrain for almost two whole days at this point in time but I have yet to speak in English with anyone (except my driver) since the airport, hotels, and shopping malls had so many Filipinos working in them. (Flash fact: there are approximately 40, 040 Filipinos in Bahrain)

I watched TV in my hotel room and prepared for the coming of the President to the Kingdom.

I headed to the hotel where the President will meet with the Filipino Community. The reception area was so full of Filipinos that it was standing room only when I got there. Of course, there was a chair waiting for me in the front row. I confess that I felt really good when I was addressed as Vice Consul by some people. Back at home, people in the office just refer to me as sir, Director, or (my name). Here are some pictures of the event:




After the event, I went back to the hotel and had a small powwow with the bosses during dinner. In my room, I finish the Jack of Fables volumes that I brought along for the trip before I got some sleep.


DAY 3

I had another meeting with the bosses during breakfast in preparation for the President's meeting with the King and the Prime Minister, and then my job there was over.

I packed my stuff for the flight back home. It was decided that I would take the Presidential plane (think Air Force One) back to Manila, minus the President who had to fly to Washington, D.C.

On my trip to the airport, I took some more pictures of the city.







I waited at the VIP lounge until the President was already in flight.



The plane had only a few passengers so the whole thing was spacious. In this situation, the economy seats beat the business class ones. The business class only lets you stretch so much while the economy seats let you lie down in 4 consecutive seats once you pull up the dividing armrests.

This being the Presidential plane, the crew was extra caring and courteous.



DAY 4

When I woke up in the middle of the night, I realized that some of the big bosses got wise to the advantage of sleeping in the economy area and decided to do the same.

Touchdown. The plane finally lands in Manila and once again, I'm back in my beautiful homeland. I can't wait to get my hands of the DC comics that shipped while I was out of the country and check how my dogs are doing. (Oh, and see the missus again.)

2 comments:

  1. nice photos, PB! where's the lubong? :)

    s. spree

    ReplyDelete
  2. Got caught up in all the work there. Consider this an I.O.U.

    ReplyDelete