30 March 2008

No Walking Here

Watching the streets of Bahrain fill up with foreigners, here for the Formula 1 race next week, gives the country a whole different feel. Driving around Manama I see random nationalities walking on the sidewalks; Americans, Europeans, Chinese, and so on. They're walking because, unlike us, they actually consider walking a reasonable means of getting around.

If you've lived in Bahrain for anything longer than a few days, however, you would understand that walking is probably the least pleasant method of moving around. First, there are hardly any decent paths for pedestrians to walk on, making the whole experience a 'try not to get hit by car as you walk on side of road' exercise. Second, the places most people want to visit are few and far in between, and coupled with very rough walking makes cars a bit of a necessity.

Still, I do see the tourists walking from place to place, walking on the edges of the roads, on half built pavement, over uneven surfaces, looking a little frustrated. I don't blame them for being frustrated; we really have made the country very inconvenient for walkers. Public transport is really lacking, so everyone has to have a car. Everyone has to have a car, so more roads are built to accomodate cars, and somehow the pedestrians are forgotten. Fine when everyone in the country is used to not walking. Not fine when you have thousands of people visiting and would like to have a decent walk around town.

I personally love walking. Besides the exercise, you get to see and take in your surroundings. You get to mingle with the people around you, see everything one step at a time. I love walking around whenever I visit a new country, to look around and discover, or just to breathe some fresh air. I tried walking in Bahrain too. I tried. Only to walk solely on half broken brick pavements on the side of nowhere, and then almost get hit by a bus.

So remember, dear Bahrain visitors; our country has a lot to offer, lots of things for you to see, and lots of places for you to go; just make sure you drive there!


Sunshine said...

u forgot to mention what happens when any almost decent looking lady walks..

im here, just been busy and having a blogger's block right now :)

Coolred38 said...

Sunshine...she doesnt have to be even half decent looking...just female. I have to be very critical of Bahraini men here and say they make a pleasant walk(when you find a reasonable place to do it) very trying...anything from horning to thrown numbers...stalking and harrassing. Something I dont understand...bro ammar maybe you can answer...all these same men no doubt would come out blazing if someone harrassed their mothers or sisters etc...yet they do not hesitate to harrass someone else's...whats the thinking behind that particular tradition?

Anyhow...Bahrain is fast becoming a concrete jungle...ugly to look at and difficult to enjoy on foot. The result being, of course, is an overweight nation with no desire to change that. Bahrain is the loser in many ways.

Zhu said...

That sounds familiar... same goes here in Canada. Walking is almost some kind of eccentric way to get from point A to point B. Jogging in a blizzard is, however, perfectly acceptable for most Canadians. I don't get it. Seriously.

rosh said...

Hmmmmm this could be a serious issue as your country grows in size - it is a small island after all. Me thinks, Bahrain needs Manhattanized pedestrian friendly infrastructure ASAP.

Nora-Cassandra said...

My dear it’s not just your country… it takes year to get the country right for tourists! Cyprus which has been a tourist destination for over 20 years still have no proper walking root and pedestrian ways… so I’m sure all the problems will be solved soon! :)

And you know what my :( is for!!!

Abid said...

zhu said: "Walking is almost some kind of eccentric way to get from point A to point B...in Canada "

If distances to ANYWHERE were less than 10 kilometers, walking might be deemed a possibility...

Also, half the year the weather is too bad to even consider walking anywhere except to your car.

Seroo said...

I hear you. Day 3 of being back and I walked from the parking lot to the office twice and felt the harsh rays sting my skin, and it's not even April yet.
Wish me luck settling in.

moon-light7 said...

Anything people see while walking, they can see when driving in Bahrain. There's isn't much veiw to enjoy anyway!
Renting cars or taxies should be most convenient for visitors. Unless they're intersted in road work!

Anonymous said...

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- Kris