Posts Tagged With: Old Souk

Kuwaitaminute! The Best Of The Country In One Week.

Happy April! I can barely believe we have only 8 weeks left here in Kuwait.

From a teacher’s perspective, spring break is over, and we only have a few more lessons to plan, papers to grade, and, sadly, smiling faces to greet. Why is teaching so fantastic, you ask? Because every year is a living organism. Unique in its own way, inevitably different from the last. There is a birth, growth, and renewal every nine months unlike any other profession.

From an expat’s perspective, there’s a lot I need to cram in before saying “Masalama” to this country for the last time. Luckily, my mother came to visit in March, and I had to chance to highlight the best of Kuwait over the course of one week. Together we ate at my favorite restaurants, saw my favorite sights, and laughed at my favorite enigmas. Please enjoy the photo journey as I give you, “The Best of Kuwait in One Week”.

IMG_4785My lovely mother in front of the Kuwait Towers. We unfortunately couldn’t go into the towers themselves because they were under construction (for how long? who knows…) so we relaxed outside for a while, taking in the distinct smell of Kuwait ocean air. We snapped a few photos and then walked to one of my favorite shisha/smoothie cafes on the Gulf, Fresh Mango.

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Another highlight of our trip was the new addition at The Avenues. They’ve added an entire “Souk” section that I had never seen before. We spent hours wandering the passageways, peering into “traditional” shops. In the above photo my mother is trying Arabic coffee for the first time. If I recall, she said she preferred American.

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The impressive new addition at The Avenues.

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It’s not a trip to Kuwait without visiting the Friday Market. My mom was a bit overwhelmed with the crowds and the size of it all, but we had fun looking at the strange knick-knacks.

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I couldn’t believe they were selling Sea Monkeys at the Friday Market! I haven’t seen these since I was a kid. I had to restrain myself from pulling out my wallet and buying one (or three).

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My mom pointed this out, otherwise I would have walked right by. We also had this when I was a kid; it’s a triops. We actually had this same kit, and “grew” the same triops. To be honest, it’s a bit disgusting in hindsight. If you currently live in Kuwait, these would make a great gift for the scientist in your family!

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As always, we had to stop and stare at the shiny things : )

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This is my favorite restaurant in Kuwait, Banana Leaf. I have blogged about it before, but here is a photo of my all-time favorite dish, the thali. It’s a traditional Indian lunch platter, with the most delicious assortment of vegetarian curries, sauces, and sautes. I can never get enough! (And it’s all for 1 KD!)

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Sean and my mother at the Old Souk (Souk Mubarikiya) in Kuwait City. We were just about to load up on some baklava.

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At the Old Souk, Sean tells a gripping narrative of Kuwaiti history.

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I finally found the Sri Lankan restaurant in Kuwait City! While I loved it, my mom was fanning flames out of her mouth. It’s right across from the McDonald’s/bus stop area. I can’t wait to go back!

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We also spent an afternoon at the Old Souk with some shisha and storytelling. This area is also a new addition to the Old Souk; I love the architecture.
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For the first time, I stumbled upon an actual garden within the Old Souk!

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Spending a relaxing afternoon at Souq Sharq.

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My mom would live very happily in the Middle East; she loves all things pickled and pureed!

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We had a great time gawking at the fish in the fish market. I never buy anything, and always wish I had the knowledge and gumption to do so…
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Business taking place at the Souq Sharq fish market.

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An evening stroll along the Gulf…

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Oh, my maritime husband…

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I liked this photo because it shows a nicely manicured street near the Parliament. Kuwait has its spots of beauty, you just have to hunt it down : )

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The Grand Mosque.

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One of my mom’s favorite restaurants was Zaatar W Zeit, at Marina Mall. She loves flatbread and spices!

IMG_4670Just another beautiful mosque in Salmiya.

There you have it, folks. Hopefully I have done Kuwait justice. I love this time of year, when the air is crisp and the sun is warm. We had a great time together, and I can’t wait to see my family back in Wisconsin in one 57 days…  not that I’m counting.

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Categories: Kuwait | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“His car exploded. The man must have had bad luck with money.”

Today’s tales are for the adventurer in you. Kuwait, this tame country of shopping malls and family picnics, has burst out of it’s hum-drum shell to offer me quite the blogging treat this month.

Two, seemingly-to-be-average, trips into Kuwait City and Salmiya ended up showcasing crowds of people with wide eyes and slack jaws. One was for a festival held in the street, and one was for an exploded car.

That’s right. A car exploded. Don’t ask me how. Let’s start at the beginning…

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My friends and I board the public bus to get to the Old Souk (Mubarakiya) in Kuwait City. When the buses are crowded we sit in the “Ladies Seats.” When I ride the bus alone (which is often, it’s really safe!), I also sit in the ladies seats. They’re the six or so seats up near the bus driver. If you ever board the bus and it’s over-crowded, men will stand and ensure the ladies get their “Ladies Seats”. To be honest, it’s pleasantly convenient to know I’ve got a nice spot to watch traffic : )

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When we arrived at the souk, we stuffed our faces at our favorite restaurant. What a feast it was! We dined on hummus, salad, rice, chicken, pomegranate and cucumbers, beans, and endless flat bread. It was delectable.

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After dinner, as usual, we strolled past the shops selling all sorts of sweets and treats. This guy was making Nutella pastries. I had to take a picture of the menu to believe it.


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If you look at the last item on the menu, “Pie nutella chocolate” is where it’s at. For just the equivalent of $5, you get a 10″ pizza-sized pastry baked in an oven and filled with Nutella. Pair that fact with the lack of sidewalks in Kuwait and you’ve got a recipe for a heart attack.


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Ahhhhh, the strange items at the souk. Portable sauna, anyone? I think you sit inside and your head pops out the top. “Deep cleansing of the body through perspiration”. Yum.

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This was where our night took a strange turn. We left the souk with the intent to wander the surrounding area, when we came across caution tape and a crowd of people. We nervously inched closer and saw they were all gawking at a car in the middle of the parking lot. Not just any car, a torched car.

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A car that had completely exploded. Everything inside it was torched. Never to be repaired. Ready for the landfill.

We had absolutely no idea how this happened, so I asked the nearest guy standing next to me. The guy spins quite the yarn saying, “Well, his car exploded, and there was 20,000 KD inside of it.”

Stop right there.

20,000 KD is $70,000 USD. The man’s car spontaneously combusts and he has seventy grand inside? Yeah, right.

No, the man insists, “His car exploded. The man must have had bad luck with money.”

And that was it. Everyone was standing around, looking like, “Eh, an exploded car. Weird, but not too weird. Unlucky man.” They continued to tell me that the car caught on fire and burnt with all the money inside of it.

What are the odds, that in the middle of a parking lot, a car just goes up in flames? Not only does it go up in flames, but it continues to burn to complete, melted, irreparable cinders? NOT ONLY does it become decimated, but it does so with $70,000 inside of it?

I smell something fishy in the Persian Gulf.

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Since this date I have been scouring the internet for any follow up news article, and haven’t found a single one. This was, hands down, one of the strangest things I’d ever seen in my two years in Kuwait.

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Regardless, we soldiered on through the souk, and Abby and Kyle popped into a perfumery to contemplate some fine scents.

Thus concludes the evening of the exploding car. Not to leave a sour taste in your mouth, I thought I’d finish with a cute story of a street festival I found a few days later. Everybody loves a carnival!

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It was a sunny Saturday afternoon, and I decided to take a walk. I just had to snap a picture of this… “Medical Laboratory” I found in Salmiya. Suffice to say, I didn’t stick around. They sure have different medical licensing issues here than in the States!


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When I got to the main shopping area, I was surprised to see the street completely blocked off. There were balloons, music, dancers, food, and happy families.

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Grimace even made a guest appearance!


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I took this picture not only to show the crowd, but to show you the conglomeration of restaurants on this street! They stretch on as far as the eye can see. (And if you can’t make it out, there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts right after the Subway.)

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As if the mascot Grimace wasn’t enough, McDonald’s even had their own break-dancers  It was a happenin’ place. These guys were pretty talented! I wish they danced like that while they made my McFlurries.

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At the Wisconsin State Fair we have corn on the cob, in Kuwait they have kebab stands.

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Just like every state fair in America, the police had a cautionary and informational booth. This guy was to demonstrate the dangers of alcohol consumption… (Remember, this is a dry country, so they take it pretty seriously…)

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I hung out with the police for a while and learned how they dust for fingerprints at a crime scene.


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I’m not a big missile person, so I didn’t ask any questions here. Maybe you weaponry buffs can identify some of them?

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Lastly, like every event in Kuwait. There are fancy cars. There are always fancy cars.

Overall, it was quite the eventful weekend. I sure had a lot to write home about!

I’ve got quite a few more blogs on Kuwait up my sleeve, so stay tuned!

Categories: Kuwait | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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