Bubyan Road Trip

The other day I was told about a new road that takes you to Bubyan Island so I thought to just drive over there, just get into the car and drive. I looked on Google maps and all I had to take was 6th ring road all the way, and I forgot that directions in Kuwait now works, a few roads off here and there but overall it works. 117 KM to Bubyan Bridge, I honestly want to cross to see whats on that Island, its huge and I never heard anything about it so I thought to check it out, never knew why I didn’t before.

Saturday early morning we got into the car, filled it up with gas and took a few bottles water and pass Starbucks on the way. The drive is about 2 hours to the location we had in mind and I think I got caught by two speeding cameras on the way but I’m not sure of what speed it registered since I was going around 135 and they don’t usually snap at that speed. After passing Jahra it turns into an empty road and I get very surprised there is a new stretch of road that has just been finished.

Next to the new stretch of road is the Sheikh Sabah Nature Reserve, and I don’t know what exactly is in it but there were a few interesting sights. Because of these roads and odd shaped exits I felt as if I was in Abu Dhabi, every 5 to 10 Kilometers there is an upper level round about that you could exit and go back around to go in the other direction and honestly its very cool, reminded me of roads in Spain or Italy.

We just kept on going until we hit the construction area and we hit a few major bumps but luckily I was in the land cruiser and it did an amazing job of taking those bumps. We ended up in the middle of no where and we found the bridge entrance as I was approaching a bunch of guys in military uniform step out of the shed only to tell me that we can’t cross the bridge, I thought to try my luck any even though I knew that nobody was really paying attention, I could have probably crossed if I drove through, but I didn’t want to risk getting shot for crossing a bridge. I hope that when its done it will be open to the public because it looks like it will be a lot of fun to drive over.


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Tire Change @ Hunter

Friday I had a little vibration as I was speeding above 80 kph in the Landcruiser, usually the car is pretty smooth so I wasn’t sure what was going on. Friday night I didn’t enough time to check out the balance and alignment. I’m 100% sure that the alignment is off since I have been a little rough with the car, and any bump or hole is fair game when I’m driving in the Landcruiser.

So I decided to pass by Hunter to check my alignment and wheel balance, since they are the best at it in the market. They took off the tires on the right side and my front tire had this little bump coming out of the side, seems like I hit something a little too hard. He saw my front tires and said I drive aggressively since my front tires had very little tread left and my rear tires still had some life. After about 38’800 Kms I decided to change all four tires, but I thought I would do it at a later stage but to my surprise he had the tires that I love. Recently Michelin/BF Goodrich have brought in the BF Goodrich All-Terrains which are the best all rounds tires I have ever used, thats what I used while in the states. And they have just started bring them in, in different sizes to Kuwait not just for the H2.

My Yokohama Geolanders lasted a very long time, they are good tires overall, more street oriented and for overall use. But they weren’t too goo on wet surfaces or for use in the desert or dirt roads. Now the BF Goodrich All-Terrains are fantastic in the rain, have an aggressive looking tread but is very quiet, its great in the dirt, and fantastic traction. My original tires were 265/65/R17 but I went for the larger BF Goodrich 275/70/R16 which a bit wider and taller, and it fit snugly in the Landcruiser’s wheel well. With the difference in size there isn’t too much of an effect except that when reading the speedometer your probably going a little slower then what is stated, but other then that the car is perfect. I drove about 120 Kms today without it rubbing in any situations and I was a bit aggressive with them today, and I was happy with the extra traction, and I especially love the aggressive look in comparison to the older tires. After the tires were installed I no longer had the vibration issue and all is well, but I still need to an alignment which I will do later. Got each tire for 60 KD for a total of 240 KD, and an alignment with the Hunter computer will cost an extra 20 KD which I will do at a later stage. I love these new tires.


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Turn and Hit

Monday night I was driving to see some family around 7pm heading to Shamiya on Airport Road (50), at the light its two lane wide and I’m on the right lane. We are all going to make a left, nothing much to it simply going forward and making a left. As we turn to straighten, I’m in the middle lane of the 2nd ring road which is a 3 lane wide road. This car on my right being driven by a female (wearing a hijab) and she is having a conversation with the gentlemen on her right, her car gets a little too close to mine and I move a bit to the left when she laughs and pulls left to hit my car. Her side view mirror flew off, I heard a thud and I was very annoyed, any further left and I would have hit the car on my left. I really didn’t want to stop and head to a police station, she freaked out, I stopped and took a picture of her license plate. I told her I’m not going to the police station since its your fault and I don’t want to bother waiting for paperwork. I think she was afraid I would start shouting but I was pissed and left. I honestly don’t know why my luck is like this, statistically speaking 90% of all my accidents and close calls involve women with hijabs, seriously this is just driving me nuts, no attention to the road, and not paying attention the cars on the roads but maybe its just my luck. I thought she dented my door, but she dented my fender just under the light. I was lucky it wasn’t a hit to the light, so it was a dent but on the protection where I head my Huper Optic protection.

Now for the interesting part, the Huper Optik protection did its job, it protected the paint from getting damaged and its only one dent albeit a sizable dent but still manageable. And the black line is the plastic which rubbed onto my car, it comes off with some elbow grease. One of my friends said that since there is no paint damage that I can take it to DentXpress and they could take it out easily, so I’m going to try my luck and hopefully they can get it clear out.


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Windshield Cracks

WindshieldCrack

As a lady was driving in front of me the other day, she drove on to the emergency lane to get in front of traffic, at that very moment a nice round rock went flying at my windshield. It hit the bottom right corner exactly which produced a nice juicy crack across my windshield. I want to scream from my car and throw something at her, but by then she was already a long way down the emergency lane.

The crack was right in the middle of my line of site, it even refracted light at a strange angle. I knew I would have to change it, so I went to insurance, they said to change it at Al Mailam, which costs 30-40 KD. I refused and argued with them to have them accept the cost of changing at Toyota for 270 KD.

One of the few parts which is expensive at Toyota is the windshield, even the bumper is 45 KD. The reason for that is the quality of the glass and how it protects the occupants from flying objects and how it reacts.

People would personally just pay for the 40 KD windshield thinking its the same, but its not. I have tried them before and quality isn’t even half as good. Its not he same thickness, doesn’t fit 100%, rust can enter the area around the windshield since its not the same fit even with silicon meant to hold it in place and when its hit by an object, it definitely doesn’t protect in the same manner. The risk factor is your safety versus cost, and in my mind thats a no brainer.

Woman and Driving

I’m usually not the type of person to generalize but its hard not to feel there something very wrong when my car always gets hit by a woman, specifically muhajabah (Those who wear scarfs on their head), or they try to kill me while I’m on the motorcycle. I honestly don’t think any female has an intent to kill any person while on the road, and oddly enough its always a muhajabah who takes me out or hits me. This time it was the most annoying accident I have ever had, I’m happy it wasn’t a bad one but I was pissed as hell when my car was hit.

I’m in the left lane by the main Mishref Co-op and the right lane isn’t moving because a car is waiting for another car to exit. I’m moving about 5 kph per hour, snails pace and stopping when they stop when I hear I thump and painful metal screech. I moved and heard my car screech from the rear, I got out to find that a woman in a gold Jaguar four door hit my right rear passenger door. I pulled forward away from traffic and told her to stop behind me. I was pissed, very pissed, how in the hell could she hit me, I wasn’t moving and neither was her side. Her front left fender was bent and front left light was broken, while my door and rear right wheel well has a nasty dent. I spoke to her and she automatically said that I was moving too fast and she didn’t see me, I answered saying that I wasn’t moving and the car in front of me wasn’t moving and you hit me in the rear so if we go to the police station you would automatically at fault. She then said she is sorry because she was turning left when she was looking right so she won’t hit the car in front of her so instead she hit me, I tried to calm down because I saw she had a child in the car with her. I asked to speak to her husband and I will sort it out with him, I told her the damage is minimal on both cars please pay attention next time, then I spoke to her husband. I told him what happened and to check on his wife but everything is fine except for the damage, I asked him to come to the police station with me to state that I wasn’t at fault and I wouldn’t want anything from them except the police report as my insurance would cover it. I told her to go home and not to worry about anything, I calmed down but I was still really annoyed, its annoying that she wasn’t paying attention and tried to blame me right away but what calmed me down quickly is seeing the child with her and didn’t want to make the kid upset so I told her to go everything will be fine. Went to the police station three days later with the husband and sorted it out, we had to wait an hour for the accident investigator which is a short time from my experience, he was apologizing and asking to fix the car, I thanked him and said this is more then enough, I’m lucky that he was a good man because I know that being nice and letting the lady go I could have been screwed but I wouldn’t do it any other way. Still its very annoying, why don’t women pay attention, that is what freaks me out the most when driving people who don’t pay attention to the rode.

Dhana – 5Days/4Nights

Three weeks of planning, 30 Kilograms of meat, 7 kilograms of chicken, 8 boxes of water, 4 boxes of soda, 1 Landcruiser, 2 FJ Cruisers, and 7 guys. That is what it took to make an adventure of a lifetime. The perfect group of people to take a nomad trip to the most beautiful desert in Saudi, sleeping outside in the night sky is amazing, the sky is so clear you don’t need lights at night, the moon lights up the whole area its fantastic. You feel your chest clearing up from all the fresh air coming in, no telephone signal in the areas we were in. First night we came in and found our main camp site, and for each night we had a different camp site going in deeper and deeper into the desert. We had the Garmin 276c with the updated Saudi Desert maps, so we can coordinate our locations, walkie talkies are a must for these trips, and all the fighting takes place across the radio waves.

Took us about 5-6 hours to get to the first camp site, we started the fire to get some tea going, the smartest thing we did was have dinner before heading out to Saudi. You need a certain list of equipment for the cars, cooking, sleeping, precautions, and emergencies. I had an Iridium Satellite phone which was only to be used during emergencies, it looked like something out of 24 to call those bomber planes in the air. Then there was the air pump, jump start cables, battery charge unit, and tow cables. The tow cables I got were rated at 30’000 lbs with huge hooks at the end, they look menacing and we had to use it once because of an incident but I won’t mention that. Then there was a case that I was facing a flat tire in the rear tire, but we kept pumping up the tire and it would last the whole day so I decided not to change the tire, but when we got to Kuwait I found that the tire had two screws and one piece of would in it, those Yokomahas are tough tires, not the best but they did a fantastic job.

There were stretches of sand that we were flying over 100 kph per hour as if we are in a Dakar Rally, it was insane and my blood was pumping to an extreme point, it feels like you are floating on clouds when you are going over the soft sand. Then there was the amazing white and black camels all around, so many different kinds in all the dunes area, these camels didn’t care about us what so ever. These are some majestic dunes, they are at least 7 to 10 stories tall with dune up dune, with deep basin’s inside of them, even with pictures they don’t do reality justice, and the sand is so clean and orange, its amazing. There was even some dunes at about 20 stories high but I would have probably flipped the car backwards trying to climb it.

We had a three part day, morning for breakfast then we had out, then we find another location for afternoon break, then we head out in search for another location to find the best sleeping place. There was one point where we picked a location which was slightly slanted, and in the morning I woke up with one guy’s knee in my back and the other guy’s foot in my chest, luckily everyone was in a sleeping back. The most amazing thing was seeing the clear sky it was beautiful, you can see all the stars, you can see clearly until the horizon, it was a sight to wake up to in the morning as well. We got some rain the first night, it was a continuous light drizzle but the fire lit up and we slept perfectly fine, a little water didn’t hurt. The best part of the afternoon and evening stops was playing Risk, we played strategically making our alliances, and playing unexpectedly, I was more a Kamikaze during that game then trying to win, my goals were offense oriented, I tried killing off certain people with nothing else in mind. People were shouting, treaties were made, and troops were decimated, it was fantastic and the best time to play that board game.

The best part about it is how hungry we got, or pretty much how hungry I got and at night I would devour the food. Some of us would pass out right after, and I woke up few times at night, and I would feel some ice on top of my sleeping back but my morning it would all be gone. Some nights it got really cold but overall the weather was fantastic and I loved every moment. This was probably one of the funnest trips I had in a long time, I want to do it again, and I have a few ideas in mind for the next trip.


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Back From The Desert

Back from an adventure for new years, we have been planning this trip for some time and I got back Sunday after having so much fun in the desert. We drove over 6 hours to get there, and almost 1400 Kms of driving in total over a four day period from Kuwait and back. This adventure was nothing short of a Toyota advertisement with two FJ Cruisers and one Landcruiser, the way we were driving was probably the best advertisement Toyota could get. With 300+ photos of the whole trip I will be posting a lot up later but for now this is just a few pics for now. We moved every few hours, right after breakfast we would find another location in the dunes of Dhana, a nomad style of camping which was organized and everyone had their task at every point.


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Out Of Commission!

SandDesert

Taking a nice break for a few days, about 5 days I think in total, the logistics aren’t completely worked out. We are heading out to a location in the Saudi Desert for some fun in the sand. Something different to do for New Years, I wanted to take a break, and this is the best possible break. No forms of communication in any direction, its a risk but really worth taking and I’m going to enjoy every moment of it. I think we will be traveling 800 to 1200 kilometers to get to our destination but it is a beautiful location that we went to in 2007 so I’m looking forward to it, and I get to test the new Landcruiser in the desert.

I hope everyone has a great new years!

Lexus ♥ iPod

LexusApple

The one annoying thing about the 2008/09 Lexus LX 570 & Toyota Landcruiser is that they can’t integrate with the iPod. You have to buy an aftermarket adapter to integrate into the system, and in my case I found a perfect solution which worked for me but you would expect a car as expensive as that to be able to integrate without issues. It seems Toyota heard people’s complaints, with the 2010 Landcruiser / Lexus LX 570 all you have to do is plug into the iPod into the USB slot next to the gear handle and it integrates right into your audio system with all files, playlists, and other details showing up on the screen. I have a 2009 Landcruiser so I got my solution which works for me, and my friend just purchased a 2010 LX 570 and that suv connects right away without any issues. Toyota always does this, they release a few options year after year, and if you bought the model year before then tough luck you can’t upgrade that option in your car even though its just a software thing, its good they keep upgrading but it’s annoying when it was something as simple as iPod integration, well good for all those who will be buying a new LX 570 or Landcruiser.

Landcruiser Gone

After several months now I have at last sold my car, the odd thing is that I never put it up on Q8Car, I wanted to but never got around to it. I tried selling it through one of those dealers in Sharq, but he pretty much tossed my car in the back of the lot for a while, he was even asking 200 KD for the sale if it happened, and he said that since it has been on his lot for so long that he had to be paid 100 KD which I refused since he didn’t bother trying to sell the car after all these months.

I took the car to a friend a couple of weeks back and said he probably has a few interested buyers. And true to his word the car was sold in a couple of weeks, wish I did that before instead of going to those sharq shops. I got a very nice price for it too, so I’m happy about the sale. We went last night to a insurance transfer company, to get the transfer papers, any one of those places by the Ministry of Interior in Kuwait City. After getting that done for 4.5 KD we headed to Ministry of Interior Personal Services in De’eyah. We took a ticket, and waited, there were lots of people getting civil ID paper work, car transfers like us, updating other paper work. There were lots of women working behind the counters, they were mostly scary cone heads as I like to call them. They had a ticker system where you wait to be called your turn, but that system only works when the women behind the counter click the button to go to the next number and a lot of them weren’t clicking it. There was one woman who really wasn’t doing anything at all but sitting there, right in front of us, she would act like she is doing something but she wasn’t for at least 15 minutes, I noticed her clicking the same buttons on the keyboard several times over 15 minutes. I felt like I was studying newly discovered creatures from behind a glass, you don’t want to make direct eye contact with them or it might be fatal. Luckily one guy was working there knew my friend so we managed to get that done quickly and so the new car registration was completed with a 5 KD stamp from the vending machine by the door.

It was strange seeing the Landcruiser and know it isn’t mine anymore, but at least I know the owner will take good care of the car.