of places featured in Spy for Hire
His eyes fixed on what was going on just outside of the Soviet-era hospital building across the street...Every so often, orderlies would drag out the frayed, red-striped, futon-like hospital mattresses and air them out in one of the building’s courtyards. It always depressed Mark to think that a human being, a sick human being no less, had to sleep on one of those things...
Hospital entrance, Bishkek
Watermelon vendor, Bishkek
Three men playing narde, the backgammon-like game Mark Sava is fond of. I took this photo in Azerbaijan, but you get the idea...
The Road to Balykchy
Outskirts of Balykchy, Kyrgyzstan
Chinese laborers building stone retaining wall
Some knucklehead standing near the border of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. I took pictures at the border crossing that Mark Sava passes, but the guards made me delete them.
All the roadside yurts that had been stocked with fresh apricots, blackthorn berries, and smoked trout during the summer had been taken down for the season. The tourists from Russia and Kazakhstan, crammed into cars overstuffed with beach umbrellas, towels, and inflatable rafts, had stopped coming through months ago.
Kyrgyzstan's version of the white house.
...Panfilov Park, a weedy Soviet-era amusement park located behind the White House...They’d come to a roller coaster. The electric-green metal track was rusted, and there were big patches of dirt in between stands of unmowed grass—the Kyrgyz, originally a nomadic people, rarely bothered to waste time on an endeavor as stupid as cutting grass; that’s what cows were for.
Panfilov Park, Bishkek
The US embassy was located at the southern end of Mira Avenue—a perfectly straight road lined with huge white poplar trees.
View of Manama, Bahrain
Bahrain is a small island nation in the Persian Gulf. It's also the home of the US Fifth Fleet. Although the majority of Bahrainis practice a form of Shia Islam, the country is ruled by a Sunni royal family. This has resulted in sustained protests and unrest since 2011.
Bahraini men lining up to pray outside of an overcrowded mosque.
When I was in Bahrain, the capital city of Manama was fairly calm. Partly this was because I was there in the summer, when it was 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the afternoon. It was also Ramadan, so many people were inside fasting during the day. Outside the city, however, there were nightly street battles between Shia protestors and the police. These next photos that capture some of the anger.
Brick pavers pulled up to throw at police
Riffa, Bahrain, where the royal family lives
Entrance to US Naval Support Activity Bahrain, which is what the US naval base on the southeastern tip of Manama is called
Entrance to the port of Mina Salman
US ship at Mina Salman
Mark ran across Government Avenue, then turned down a narrow street. He was in a pedestrian-only district packed with little shops; an old part of Manama.
The area that Mark ducks into is known as the Manama souk.
Riffa was on a bit of a plateau—fifty feet or so above sea level—which was high ground for Bahrain. So when they exited the city, Mark could see the bleak southern desert sprawled out below them in the hazy distance.
Heading south out of Riffa, toward the desert and oil fields.
The Royal Golf Club
The contrast between the edge of the southern desert—where little grew other than occasional patches of sad scrub brush—and the brilliant green fairways was striking...A man in Bermuda shorts was swinging a driver as his golf partner and a caddie waited behind him. It made Mark think of the band that kept playing while the Titanic was sinking.
The Royal Golf Club, Bahrain
The sky was a hazy gray and the land a dull brown. In the vast flatlands that extended out from either side of the road, enormous excavators were loading sand into dump trucks; other trucks sent trails of dust in the air as they transported the sand to an industrial complex.
Oil fields appeared. Chain-link fences encircled nodding-donkey pumps that were connected to each other by tangles of pipeline.
Flare stacks—tall chimneys that burned wasted natural gas—dotted the landscape. The fires at the tops of the towers shimmered in the midday sun. Random pieces of discarded industrial equipment lay baking in the sand.
Before Rad turned his eyes from the bright low sun, he caught a glimpse of a bleak desert landscape and a line of telephone poles that seemed to extend out into infinity.
The causeway that links Bahrain to Saudi Arabia.