Your Time Is Not Your Own

Recently I have been obsessed with Diablo 3, I feel like the kid back in 1997 who just would get of his machine, nonstop leveling and building characters. I want to enjoy this game that I planned ahead and took this past Thursday off over a month ago. The plan was simple, from Wednesday onwards don’t do anything but play this game, not eat or sleep, pretty much nothing, just nonstop clicking.

I even planned to leave work early so I can even enjoy a half day plus the weekend of gaming. But sometimes all my planning goes out the window. I always think about just taking a week off work and spend it finishing all my errands that I have to do but I wonder how much I would get done.

I ended getting called to the bank for work and heading into work twice on Thursday which very much interrupted my gaming time. Saturday I had to go into work from about 7 in the morning until 12 and then I was family and other mandatory social events so my whole Saturday was gone. So even the thought of taking a vacation while in Kuwait you end up doing things that never popped into your mind and people think your free so they end up calling and you end up with more things to do. I only managed to zone out for a solid 5 hours of nonstop gaming on one day and thoroughly ignored my phone, I loved it.

Next time I’m just gonna tell people that I am out of town and record a strange ring tone to my voicemail, makes people think that I am out of town.

Food & More Good Food

I love food, there is no question about that, and I thought about all the most memorable places to eat in the region that I would want to eat again. So this list came together as I was getting hungry at night, and I think I want to visit them sooner rather then later. This is why I have a problem dieting, I love food too much to stop eating.

UAE

  • Zuma – It’s in Dubai and its going to open in 2012 in Beirut, and I’m a big fan of their amazing food
  • Hakkassan – Just opened in Emirates Towers
  • Caramel – DIFC really tasty and great selection
  • ToroToro – South American Steak Dining
  • Le Petite Maison – Always good food
  • Meat Co – Always a good place to eat
  • Cippriani – Abu Dhabi – Amazing food, seriously delicious
  • The IVY – Just like London

Kuwait

  • OFK – Can’t get enough of their food!
  • Slider Station – Those sliders hit the spot
  • Prime & Toast – Large Menu & its Open 24 hours
  • Q Cafe – Really Tasty Food
  • UpperCrust Pizza – Damn good thin pizza

Beirut

  • Zinc – Very good steak & always a buzzing place
  • Le Stay – Trendy French Cuisine
  • Momo’s – Fusion Morrocan Cuisine, love the place
  • Muneer – The best Lebanese restaurant, really damn good food

Are We That Disliked?

I know that there are certain general stereotypes of every different country in the Arab region and certain countries dislike some people more then the others but I always had the delusional thought that we were more on the liked scale like Bahrainis or Emaratis, but turns out I was very wrong. We were in Dubai for the weekend for MEFCC or simply Dubai Comic Con which was a lot of fun and I will be posting pics later. We also went out with some friends to a few places and for dinner a few times, and they all live in Dubai and one of the questions we asked them is who they disliked the most from the Gulf Nations, and surprisingly Kuwait was the first to spring up. Even after several questions it seems that Kuwait is first then Saudis second which shocked me. I always thought Saudi were first, then Qatari, then us, but turns out I was completely wrong. There seems to be general dislike for Kuwaitis in Dubai which I didn’t think was even there, never even thought about it, they say we are snobbish and think we are better then everyone else in the Gulf, and that we are very rude. Even the receptionist asked my friend where he is from when he was checking out he said he is Kuwaiti, she said that is surprising, he asked why and she said that usually Kuwaitis are angry and rude to her, she was from an Eastern European country. One note Omanis are one of the most liked in the whole region as they are very polite and nice to everyone and I have to agree they are very nice people.

Are we really that bad, is our whole population that rude to the rest of the world that we develop that sort of reputation. I always thought that we were liked and we treated people well to a degree. Some of ours friends say Dubai is great because everything is fine and you can have fun nobody would bother you as long as you don’t get into an altercation with a local, but Kuwaitis don’t leave people alone and we are rude. I was honestly very embarrassed to hear all that, and they said it to us in the nicest way, this is some of our good friends and a few people we met for the first time.

Link: Flickr

In & Out Of London

London is one of those places I really enjoy going to, there is always something to do, and this time around I didn’t have enough time at all to do what I want. The weather couldn’t be any better, very cold and sunny the whole time I was there, four days is just not enough to have fun in London and I always want to stay there longer when I get there.

My Usual Simple To Do List:

  • Waterstones Bookstore
  • Phoenix Palace Off Baker Street (Chinese Food)
  • Harrods Pizzeria
  • Movie @ Apollos
  • Movie @ Vue Cinemas West End
  • Bike Store To Check Out Some Gear
  • Harrods
  • Walk In Regent Park
  • Forbidden Planet

Forbidden Planet is one of my favorite stops in London and I tend to spend hours there roaming about. I literally can’t help but stay there for hours, they have a fantastic comic book and science fiction section in the basement which you can really get lost in. As usual at the end of my trip I ended up eating at the Caviar House, it really hits the spot and for about a decade it was always my last bite to eat while in the airport. For some reason I like taking my time at the airport, gives me time to check out the books in WHSmith.


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One Huge Swing

I think we have all had our fare share of large swings, but this one tops em all. Tying a rope across this ridge and swing through looks like an insane amount of fun, I keep wondering if anyone would hit the other side but everyone seems to make it through fine. I love how it was shot, the music fits perfectly, their might be other swings out there but this one is especially heart-stopping because it’s right up against the canyon. I have absolutely no idea how everyone isn’t in a hospital bed, but the Go-Pro footage makes me want to get out there and try it myself.

Amsterdam – A Short Visit

Just before GulfRun I had a quick business trip that came up and had to take off to Amsterdam for 42 hours, two longs meetings and heading back to Kuwait. Luckily we had some time to spend sight seeing and walking around, and the first thing you notice is that everyone is on scooters and bicycles in Amsterdam, they even have their own roads.

I was surprised how much they speed but being neighbors with Germany I should have kept it in mind, they were flying down the highways and our taxi was flying which I honestly enjoyed, they knew how to drive. One thing to keep in mind, always use official taxis and not the mini-cabs which are random cars just to be safe. We checked into our hotel which was very nice and luxurious, the rooms were a bit small but the atmosphere was amazing. We went walking right away since our meeting was the next morning in The Hague which is about 25 to 45 minutes away depending on traffic.

We started walking from 3 pm until 12 am, you literally can’t help but enjoy walking in such a cozy city. We kept walking from alley to alley and walking around these canals. To my surprise a lot of shops close early in Amsterdam, most of them close by 7 pm which is rather early so after that we would go somewhere to eat and there were a lot of very nice places to check out.

The flower section was amazing, it was honestly beautiful seeing so many kinds of flowers and I know that a lot of flower shops in Kuwait import their flowers from Holland which have huge flower farms and it is a beautiful view. Then there is the cheese and they do love their cheese, lots of cheese shops all around. The one thing that surprised me is all these french fries shops and mayo, thats all they sell and their are people waiting in long lines for them.

What I found surprising are the Dutch themselves, I just had a mental image that they would be the same as the Germans, but I was very wrong. The first time me and my colleague held out a map someone came over and ask if we were lost or looking for something. They really wanted to help us when we were just looking at the map to get our bearing and to figure out where we are going next. The whole city is beautiful and I honestly really liked it and thought about coming back again to really check it out. There were so many bicycles and scoots around it was ridiculous, they rang their bicycles bells and honk their scooters, and they expect you to jump out of the way, it was hilarious.

I knew that illegal substances were legal in Amsterdam but it was very different knowing it and seeing it, specifically smelling it. You can smell the Marijuana a mile away, you get a whiff of it every once in a while and sometimes in front of cages that you don’t expect, you would think they would be dingy places but they turned out to be very nice cafes with people smiling and blood shot eyes which looked hilarious. Then there were the stores they were right on the main street, I thought it was a jewelry shop only into turned out to be designer store which sold drugs, it was hilarious they had so many different names and presented in nice lighting.

It reached a point where I had to double check if I was buying a normal muffin or if it was laced with something, maybe just a little bit too paranoid but I didn’t want to eat something I shouldn’t. Then of course there is the red light district that you could see a mile away. They are open about their rules and regulations about where these places are, and you can see people walking around. As expected the Dutch don’t care too much for these entertainment drugs as much as people would think, its mostly tourists who are smoked up and chilling in the cafes.

It is a very interesting city and there is a lot to it that I didn’t have a chance to see, and I really loved their highways, people were speeding normally and the police weren’t harrassing them. Turns out in Holland the policy is very anti police, so they aren’t as abusive as police officers in the US who have a lot of power so people seem to be more relaxed around them and speed a little. And I want to rent a scooter next time around and zip around town.

(Check Out The Pictures Below! There are ALOT)
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Catching Up

GRBahrain

This whole past week I have been at GulfRun enjoying every moment on the track and in Bahrain. And before that I was traveling and a lot of other things that piled up. I came back a few days ago but its like I’m playing catch up with everything thats going on. First I’m catching up with my offline life then I will catch up with my online life.

It was such an active week last week that I was barely online and I didn’t have much time to check out my work emails. Even three days off work and I got 221 Emails piled up which I had to reply to not including the normal emails. When we drove back from Bahrain it was a lot of cars who attended GulfRun which was a lot of fun seeing people you know on a four hour road trip, but we were subjected to an extensive search of our car and items as they suspected us of carrying alcohol into Saudi, just took some time and the guy was a bit cold but it didn’t take long before we were at McDs grabbing some sandwiches for our drive. The best part is to be eating those fries on that long drive, it does hit the spot in the afternoon. Now go to settle down and catch up with everything, I want a vacation that I don’t have anything to do but the things I want to do while staying in Kuwait. I would get a lot done!

56 Hours Of Traveling

This has been one very hectic week with a lot going on with work, family, and other activities. Recently I had to take a quick trip to Amsterdam which is the first time for me. There was an urgent meeting that I had to attend and so we took off a few days later after confirming our meeting. I didn’t know what to expect from Holland but I was looking forward to it.

Traveling for work doesn’t always gives you the chance to look around much. But for a frist time visit I am sure I am going to repeat it as I have found the Dutch to be very nice and always helpful when I open a map and have no clue where I am. I haven’t seen so many scooters and bicycles in my life, it was -1 outside and everyone was on a bicycle or scooter, and I was wrapped up in as much clothing as I had but I loved walking outside in the cold. This city just felt so cozy walking around, we literally walked around for over 5 hours in every direction getting lost and find our way, I have a lot of posts coming up but when I sort out the pictures since I took a lot of pictures.

Designated War Zone

WarZone

Over the last year I have noticed a lot of items increase in price, and some drastically like plane tickets. Increase of fuel prices have one part of it, then there are a lot of other factors and one that I never knew of. We are considered a War Zone which causes the cost of items coming to Kuwait to increase in price. One of the main factors is insurance, to insure items coming to Kuwait including the planes flying here have increased three fold. Thats is why shipping costs have increased drastically over the last few years. I bought four tires for my car and it cost 620 KWD when the same tires cost about 480 KWD the same time last year which is a drastic increase, and one of those increases sited was shipping as well as the shortage of rubber.

The List:

  • Egypt
  • Syria
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait
  • UAE
  • Bahrain
  • Yemen
  • Iraq
  • Iran

Surprisingly Qatar is not on the list, and I do not know why some countries like Kuwait and UAE are on that list. With the way things are going we will never be off that list and some costs seem to keep going up instead of down. With all the floods and earthquakes asia has been facing there has been increases in pricing from cars & rubber to hard drives & electronics. I was wondering how countries get on this list and how to get off of it.

Traveling In Two Directions

New Years is around the corner and its not really hitting me because I have a lot of work to do I’m trying to make sure that I get it all done. So it doesn’t feel like a huge vacation to me, but a lot of people took time off during this time and are making the best of it. To my surprise everyone is heading to one of two directions, UAE or Beirut, and the flights are packed. The schedule for Christmas & New Years is crazy there are so many flights and they are still fully booked on most flights in each day. Beirut is booked up to 105% and Dubai is booked up to 100%, the occupancy rate on these places have gone through the roof. And the thing that Beirut and Dubai are doing is that they have a minimum 4 Day booking for New Years, so you can’t just come and go stay a night and come back. Its these crappy marketing ploy that they kept pulling in Dubai back a few years ago that drove me nuts.

Bierut

  • 5 MEA Flights
  • 2 Kuwait Airways Flights
  • 2 Jazeera Flights

Total: 9 Flights

UAE

  • 4 Emirates Flights
  • 2 Jazeera
  • 2 Kuwait Airways
  • 5 Fly Dubai
  • 3 Etihad
  • 2 Air Arabia

Total: 18 Flights