The world's hardest to find major tourist attraction

Tree of Life Travel Blog

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Me


On the first day, Lorna, Lucy and I woke up to rain.  Really, rain.  I go to a desert, and it rains.  Golly, golly gosh.  So we decided to go and look for the Tree of Life, one of the few things in Bahrain I knew about before I went.  We were, of course, warned about how hard it is to find.  And the tourist map of the island was less than detailed, and, as it turns out, mostly imaginary.  But off we set anyway.

 

After we had driven by a number of winter camps, where people go to relax and light barbecues next to the oil pipelines, we passed the oil museum.  It was shut.  Apparently it has been shut every time they have ever driven past it.

The Tree of Life
  This was a shame, because my dad worked in the oil industry and I would have been interested to go to an oil museum.  I don’t think there is one in the UK, although I guess logically it would be in Aberdeen, and that is a very long way from Swindon.  This is where we first realised the map was imaginary.  We drove by the highest point in Bahrain ��" a rocky outcrop studded with antenna ��" and through the desert.  It soon became apparent that the road stopped at a checkpoint guarded by two bored blokes with large guns.  We stopped, and we must have looked extremely lost and puzzled because the bored guards let us turn the car around in their guard post and tried to tell us the way.

 

We tried another road, and another when that one stopped abruptly at an oil pipeline.

A camel
  And another, when that happened again.  Eventually, with the rain drizzling on the car and hysteria setting in, we came to a camel farm.  We stopped for directions again.

 

Lovely Camel Farming Bloke, or LCFB from now on, looked at the map and sniggered a bit.  Obviously, he had a more realistic view of the map than us.  Lorna asked if he minded if we patted his camels, and after a bit of sign language ��" his English was not great, and none of us spoke Arabic, so on balance he definitely gets to win ��" we realised that he didn’t mind at all.  In fact, he was very proud of the camels, which he said belonged to a sheik (or possibly not ��" there really was a lot of a language barrier and he also might have been teasing!).  The camels were surprisingly friendly.  He then said he had baby camels, and would we like to pat them too?

 

Of course we wanted to pat baby camels.

Me and some camels
 Baby camels would be great.  They were only a month old, very cute, and three inches taller than me.  The mother camels were bigger than almost everything I have ever seen, and I have to say, I was not happy about turning my back on them so that the LCFB could take a group shot.  But he was insistent that we should, so we did. 

 

After a short trip off road and through a village with a dead goat, we found the Tree of Life.  The Tree is quite a nice tree, except for the vast amount of graffiti marring its branches.  Unlike any other tourist attraction I have ever been to, there is no information at all.  Not even a sign.  I only recognised it from its pictures on the internet.  There is a sign, but it says that you must not go any further or you will be shot.

The scary scary bus
 This is definitely a trip where the journey is as much about the travelling as the arriving, especially as the journey involved patting baby camels.  

 

On the way back, the rain had worsened to the level of ��" oh, a softish shower.  Unfortunately, even a soft shower on dusty, oily roads makes them into a skating rink.  And so the locals react to rain the way a Southern Brit does to snow, by either ignoring it and skidding all over the place or driving at half an inch an hour.  The picture shows a bus that came over the hill, waltzed straight sideways to the road and landed on the desert verge.  Another couple of metres forward and this would be a much, much shorter blog!  Luckily, everyone stopped.  Whilst we were catching our breath, a lorry came round us, round the bus, honked and carried on ��" traffic really is ��" um ��" interesting here!  

hauteboy says:
haha.. yeah the Tree is definitely hard to find! We drove through a rock quarry and almost onto a military base trying to find it.
Posted on: Jun 16, 2010
goezi says:
Missed an opportunity there!
Posted on: Apr 09, 2009
sarahelaine says:
I didn't think of that!
Posted on: Apr 09, 2009
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Me
Me
The Tree of Life
The Tree of Life
A camel
A camel
Me and some camels
Me and some camels
The scary scary bus
The scary scary bus
Baby Camels
Baby Camels
Tree of Life Sights & Attractions review
More of a journey than a destination
The Tree of Life is a sort of, kind of tourist attraction. It is a large acacia tree in the desert, with no apparent source of water, and so is a nat… read entire review
Tree of Life
photo by: sarahelaine