This letter from Saudi Arabia brought back some memories.
Abdullah asked me where I spent the Eid.
"I stayed here."
"You stayed here? For the entire Eid?" he asked incredulously. "What'd you do?"
"I brought back some books from vacation. They ate up a lot of the time," I said.
"Books?" Abdullah said, a look of benign horror spreading across his face. I might as well have said I spent the week eating spiders.
"When Ramadan is over, everyone runs from Riyadh," Abdullah said. "Everyone runs to Bahrain. You should run with them."
Bahrain is very close to where my family lives in Saudi Arabia. We've been to Bahrain multiple times for boring vacations. The first time for me was in 1998. And yes, I brought two books to read because I'm the geek/nerd in my family. I remember one of them was a Brave New World. I finished it in two days. Mercifully, I was only in Bahrain for a few more days after that since I was leaving for America (FUCK YEAH) to continue my education.
The last time we went to Bahrain, the price of the Bahraini visa was 50 Saudi Riyals or 5 Bahraini Dinars. The exchange rate between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain is fixed at 10:1 and everyone accepts Saudi Riyals in Bahrain. For some obscure reason, the Bahraini Dinar has 1000 cents instead of the usual 100. Bahrain should just adopt the Saudi currency rather than waste money printing it's own useless one. Anyway, the Bahraini visa is valid for a week and one can easily get further visas while in Bahrain. It's a nice way for the Bahraini government to milk the Saudis at the border. The rich Saudis race in their Mercs or BMWs during the weekends to get hammered in Bahrain. Of course, some go to Bahrain for other, ahem, activities as well (nudge nudge, wink wink). But don't you dare question their piety.
It took us about 3 hours to complete the trip from our place, through useless customs, to the place in Bahrain. We rented an apartment for a few weeks and did practically nothing. Most goods in Bahrain are quite expensive. We were shocked by the cost of a regular haircut in Bahrain since it was actually lower than Saudi Arabia's. Your average haircut cost in Saudi Arabia is 10 riyals whereas the cost in Bahrain is 5 riyals (approx. US$1.50). My family didn't do much in Bahrain, other than watch non-stop TV. We receive 3 or 4 TV channels in Saudi Arabia but in Bahrain we get over 10. Yippee.