Day 510: Singin’ In The Bahrain

25.05.10: Oh yes, I’m back ON THE ROAD!  After saying my final farewell to the delectable Kassie I bundled myself on the 9am bus to Bahrain via Dammam in Saudi Arabia.  Panicking over all the horror stories I’ve been told about Saudi customs, I wiped all the TV shows and Hollywood movies off my hard drives (lest they contain kisses, witchcraft or a picture of a cross) and made sure I didn’t have a single used videotape on me (remembering Iran and Congo). In the event, they didn’t even open my bag.  Hilarious. I had my photo taken and my fingerprints scanned and that was it.  Easy as pie.  I arrived in the wholly unremarkable town of Dammam in the early afternoon and it wasn’t long before I was excitedly crossing the MASSIVE causeway to Nation 156, Bahrain – the Las Vegas of the Middle East.…

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Day 509: The Last Lost

24.05.10: I could tell you I got up bright and early and rang the bus company only to discover that there was no bus to Bahrain today (there wasn’t), but to be honest, even if there had of been a bus, I would have missed it on purpose.  I had bigger fish to fry.  A fish called Lost. Last January, Mandy and I made a pact to watch the last episode of Lost together, just like we watched the first episode together back in January 2005.  She was planning to fly out to meet me in India or China or wherever I was.  Well my enforced sojourn in Kuwait threw that idea out of the window.  Plus there’s the fact that we haven’t got enough money left to fly Mandy to Bali, never mind Bahrain.  So we did what we always do and muddled through –…

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Day 508: Deliverance

23.05.10: Tracking numbers are so cool.  I got to watch online as my passport arrived in Bahrain yesterday and then arrived here just after 8am today.  The DHL guys even called me and explained where I had to go to pick up my maroon booklet of doom.  As always, Andrea was on hand to help me out.  She picked me up and we grabbed the passport.  I checked it over and all was good. I had my ticket to ride. After picking Eric up from work, we headed into town to visit Andrea’s mate who fed us the yummiest sausage salad (chicken sausage of course, but whatchagonnado?) before Eric and I braved the bus station to find out times of buses to Bahrain.  Oh dear.  You would think that given all it’s immense riches Kuwait could afford a bus station that wouldn’t have looked fitting in…

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Days 501-507: What Happened, Happened

16.05.10-22.05.10: 500 days on the road and a good 200 of them have been wasted waiting for either visas or boats.  In situations like this you can’t help but acquiesce and go with the flow.  The other plans you could have gone for – maybe a new visa for Iran would have been quicker (and cheaper) – will only serve to taunt you.  I’ve made my bed and one way or another I’ll have to lie in it.  The maddening thing is that I know once I reach the UAE and Oman I’m going to be stuck there, perhaps for a comparable time, waiting for a way to get to Eritrea. On Thursday this week my dad returned to London for a third time.  The visa was ready.  We looked into getting my Eritrea and Indian visas, but they would both take too long to come…

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Days 494-500: No Dice

09.05.10-15.05.10: Well then, it should all be over, shouldn’t it?  First thing Sunday morning I hurried down to the copy place to pick up my shiny happy visa, only for the guy to pull it out of the drawer with a despondent look on his face. You need to get the visa in London. I took a deep breath, nodded, smiled, exited and screamed an obscenity to the sky that would have woken Rip Van Winkle. No visa.  No dice.  What now? I rang Eric who has become my unofficial Kuwaiti Yoda, he said he could get my passport DHLed back in the UK for just a fiver through his company.  Thus began my week of visa madness. On the Monday morning I was invited back to the British Embassy to see if they could musta some ‘wusta’, the word for influence around these parts (and…

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Days 487-493: Quiz Night

02.05.10-08.05.10: On Sunday morning came the news I was waiting for – my Saudi invitation was in the bag!  Within just a few days I’d be finally buzzing through to Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE.  I headed like a bonanza bongo bang bang buckaroo over to the Saudi embassy.  Only I found myself stopping along the way in a copy shop to get the letter of invitation printed out.  But this wasn’t just any old copy shop – this was the copy shop that Eric was talking about the other night!  I could get the visa here!  Of all the copy shops in all the Kuwait Cities…  Awesome.  I printed out my letter of invitation (which was all in Arabic) but it was up to Captain Hugh back in the UK to rush back to his office in Liverpool and write me a letter of introduction…

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Days 480-486: Boiling Point

25.04.10–01.05.10: This week I’ve been staying with a guy from Austria called Martin.  His flat is spanking – it’s in a brand new apartment complex and the apartment is so neat and tidy just my mere presence is enough to destabilise the Xi.  It’s warming up here in Kuwait – the rains of last week are but a distant memory and it’s hard not to be enchanted by the thought of running from one air-conditioned building to another. There was still no sign of my Saudi Letter of Invitation coming through and so I cracked on with website updates.  On Friday I met with Ruban and we crashed a rooftop party held by a cool British guy called Wes.  There I met a ton of tip-top people.  First up, there was Kassie from Australia, who offered me a place to crash now that I was in…

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Days 473-479: Kuwaiting For Godot

18.04.10-24.04.10: My second week in Kuwait was a little more sedate than the first.  I managed to pull some awesome shapes on the website… check out all the new features – GPS, playlists, passport photos, updated heroes, new forum, at-a-glance diaries, a checklist and a brand new forum.  Phew. Kuwait is… well, how can I put this…?  Not the most Graham Hughes of cities. There’s no old stuff, the buildings are ALL concrete (as if there was a build-one-get-several-hundred-free offer on), there’s no booze (legally at any rate), you can’t kiss/dance/hold hands with the opposite sex (you can do all three with the same sex, that’s fine and not a bit gay in the slightest) and it seems that the only god worshipped around these parts is mammon – hanging around the shopping malls are literally the ONLY thing to do. Ah, well, no – there…

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Days 466-472: A Dead End

11.04.10 - 17.04.10: So there’s always plan B, right? Well, it all seemed simple enough. According to the Lonely Planet I could get a transit visa for Saudi as long as I had a Bahraini visa and a valid ticket from the bus station. So first thing I was up and at ‘em heading over to the Bahrain embassy. The weekend here runs Friday and Saturday, so it was open and pretty soon I had my visa and was heading over to the Saudi visa agents to try and get that transit visa. I was a bit worried it would take a few days, but the awful truth was that it wouldn’t take any time at all – they only give out transit visas for residents. As I’m not a resident, I can’t get one. I had painted myself into a corner. The next day I…

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Trapped In Kuwait!

Our favourite ginger man is trapped in Kuwait! Graham is stuck and he needs YOUR help. My next country is (hopefully) going to be Bahrain, but there is a problem. The predicament/dilemma I'm in is that I came here thinking that 1. There was a ferry from Kuwait to Bahrain 2. Failing that, uou could get a Saudi transit visa here Both of these things are sadly not true!! The boats stopped 2 years ago and you can only get a transit visa if you're a resident here. The only ways to get to Bahrain are: on a boat down the Gulf, transiting through Saudi or transiting back through Iran. Iran and Saudi - the two hardest visas to get in the world!! So I've applied for a Saudi visa in London (which could take WEEKS to come through!) and while I'm waiting for that I'm…

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