There’s a place I’ve been itching to go to in Bahrain for the longest time. Once you find out what this place is, you’re going to be questioning why I was itching to go to it. I don’t actually know. Maybe just weird curiosity. Maybe because exploring the random little places of Bahrain is what I class as fun.
Last year it was Chakazoolu, this year it’s Salmaniya Water Garden – a park/old amusement park with some incredibly dodgy rides and one of the weirdest vibe you’ll find in Bahrain.
Saturday evening, some friends and I walk into Salmaniya Water Garden. There’s a kids playground on the left and ahead of us what can only be described as a ghetto theme park. Sounds of a rollercoaster echo around the park. Kids laughing and playing. The occasional quack from a duck. But nothing else.
It’s a little unfair, I guess, to compare the Water Garden to a full-fledged amusement/theme park. It’s more like a permanently settled fair. With rides that are equally, if not more dodgy, than those at the travelling fair. That didn’t stop us from riding one, two… maybe even three of those rides. But with ride names like Super Train (a rollercoaster with a stag’s head mounted at the front) and Baloons (that’s not a typo) it’s hard to resist.
The rollercoaster aka Super Train was terrifying. Terrifying because at every turn I was sure the train was going to fly off the track and throw me into the sludge of a pond below me. The ride reciprocated its feelings towards me on the final turn when it dealt me a fantastic bruise with a ridiculously fast and tight turn into the station.
Baloons is perhaps the most depressing ferris wheel I have ever been on. As you slowly go around and around, without stopping, you’re met with the sounds of the slow creak and grind of metal on metal. Compound that with the near quiet of the rest of the park… this is some horror film shit.
The third ride remains unnamed. It probably has a name, but I didn’t see one. It was like a budget Samurai. Only increase the amount of fear of death to the power of 10. Apparently that also means I start laughing uncontrollably a whole lot more.
All around the park there are people just sitting and chilling. Many guys who I presume are ride owners/runners. And there’s food! All the corn you can eat – in a cup or on the cob! Just FYI, if you’re getting it in the cup tell them to dial back the lemon and add some chilli powder, or else it tastes like you’re eating washing detergent.
It’s sad. Sad that the Water Garden weren’t maintained. Perhaps it was a bit ambitious. After all, during the summer months I bet this place has even fewer visitors. And the rides can’t be cheap to maintain with the humidity and heat. It’s a little bit bizarre to really. Why was this place even created? The park I can understand, but the rides? Even then, the park itself is fairly rundown, with the saddest duck pond and grass that could do with a perk up.
Ahh, Bahrain, you have some treasures to offer. Feel like the Water Garden is a monument of a different time in this country. One I wouldn’t mind visiting again. During the day. Just to see more of the ageing charm. But not to ride on any of the rides.