Tony is now in the Middle East, visiting the Gulf countries. Starting on 9th November, he headed to Kuwait and spent six days exploring this small Gulf state. Tony stayed with a lovely kind Canadian lady for three days before couchsurfing with a nice guy from the US.
Although Kuwait does have public buses, it is much easier and effective to take taxis as they are reasonably inexpensive. Tony attempted to visit the Grand Mosque, thinking he could get a tour and gain some history and information. However, the security guard took him into the main mosque to pray! He even gave Tony a chair to sit on, after several minutes of contemplation Tony departed and exited the mosque. He tried to walk in the city but people told him it was dangerous and tried to get him to take a taxi. Tony caught a ride from a local guy to the historical area and had a brief walk to try to find some buildings of interest. Another local man helped him to the National Museum but it was closed. When Tony visited the museum on another occasion it was also closed. On another day Tony took a two hour long ferry ride to Failaka Island and planned to walk around for an hour or so and return to Kuwait City, however upon boarding, an elderly gentleman asked where he was staying, Tony replied “I’m just going for the day”. The man invited Tony to stay the night as his guest and together along with several elderly locals Tony experienced real Arabic culture, using a toilet as a hole in the ground and squatting, eating food off a plate whilst sitting on the carpet. Rice and lamb with spices for lunch, fish and rice for dinner. Failaka is a peaceful abandoned island with few cars, an old mosque, Heritage Hotel and a camel farm and also ghosts and beaches.
Tony also experienced local culture of a different kind one other evening when he met up with local couchsurfer Abdulwahab and some of his friends. They met in a local park and heard travel stories by other Kuwaiti people. Afterwards, Tony accompanied his new friend for pizza Kuwaiti style in a nearby noisy pizzeria. It was fun talking with young Kuwaiti ladies who spoke English with an American accent!
After Kuwait, Tony flew to Bahrain for six more days of interesting adventures. He mostly travelled Bahrain by local bus; asking people he met on the street for directions as he travelled. Tony visited Bahrain’s lovely Grand mosque: where a kind and helpful lady from Egypt gave Tony an enlightening and informative tour informing him about the positive aspects of Islam. Tony was invited to talk with her students and share some of his life stories.
Tony also visited by foot Qal’at al-Bahrain, Bahrain Fort, rebuilt several times. First constructed by the Dilmun Civilisation, (Circa 2300 BC) and later rebuilt and strengthened by first Persians and later, in the 15th century, by the Portuguese. The present structure dates from (C 600 AD). It was meant to defend the island from the sea, but eventually ended up trying to contain uprisings from the locals. By the 16th century it was almost obsolete! An excellent audio guide provides information on the various parts of the large area, which contains a Tel as well as palace remains, fortification walls, guard/watch towers and a moat amongst other structures of importance.
Now Tony is in country 105, the United Arab Emirates. He has already visited Dubai, full of skyscrapers, gold, shopping malls of huge size. He’s been up the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. He’s also witnessed the World’s largest dancing/musical fountain, which performs nightly from 6-10 pm. Tony is now in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE. He next goes to Sharja and Ajman, UAE, before heading into Oman.