7 things about Kuwait

So I’ve been here a little over two weeks and have noticed a few things and thought I’d point out seven that stood out for me. (In no particular order)

1. Their bread is big. At least that which I’ve run across so far. Their bagels are huge and their Ethiopian bread even bigger.

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2. Everyone has a very clean bottom… I presume. Every bathroom I’ve been in so far has one of these hoses next to the toilet. I believe it’s like a hand-use bidet.

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3. Hospitality is a well-known trait of Middle Eastern cultures, and here they take it very seriously. I have not seen so much food at events in … ever. And restaurant meals are HUGE with appetizers and complimentary bread and hummus. So far dessert doesn’t seem to be a big part. While it may be tacky Western, I’ve been bringing home a doggie bag because I can’t deal with just tossing away another meal’s worth of food. It’s all delicious too. It’s certainly cutting down on my food bills. 🙂

This is not one of my meals, but is indicative of a medium sized meal. Some I've received are bigger. *keels over dead*

This is not one of my meals, but is indicative of a medium-sized meal. Some I’ve received are bigger. *keels over dead*

4. Mocktails/juice. Kuwait is a dry country. Yes, as diplomats we have access to a certain amount of alcohol for use on our premises but while out at restaurants no alcohol is available. However, they have all kinds of interesting juice combinations in place of the usual long cocktail or wine list. I have had some really tasty combinations and it’s fun to explore. They are also far less expensive that a traditional cocktail back home. I’ve also discovered strawberry juice which is very popular here. It’s delicious and when you mix it with lemonade, even better.

14177736-tequila-sunrise-blue-lagoon-rum-runner-et-bahama-mama-cocktails-sur-fond-noir-sur-la-surface-de-reflThe strawberry juice is thicker (hence it’s nice with lemonade if you aren’t used to the texture). It’s not strained and clear like cranberry juice, it’s more like tossing strawberries directly in the blender with some sugar and then straining out the seeds. I love it.

strawberry-juice

5. Camels. Or lack-thereof. Unsurprisingly, I have not seen any camels in the city. I did read in some statistics that there are over 10,000 camels in Kuwait (domestic if you will) and I’m trying to find out what they do with them exactly. Everyone kind of shrugs. Maybe meat, maybe milk. They’re not sure, but there are some who can sell for over a million dollars because they are “an ideal camel”. I was promised that most diplomats are invited to a ranch out in the desert in February and that I will get a chance to see a camel up close and personal.

CAMEL

6 Space. While Kuwait is a relatively small country and Kuwait City looks small on the map, it’s much bigger than you suspect. In part because nearly all the population lives in the city or the extended city, and because there is so much space, there is often a lot of open space between buildings or complexes. Sure my residential neighborhood is pretty tight, but out on the highways, there is a lot of open space and not many tall buildings except in the core. So sometimes on the map it doesn’t look that far, but then when I check it will be 20km. It can be deceiving until you get used to it I suppose. I’m not sure how old this picture is below, but you still see large open areas/lots like that when you are driving.

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7. The heat. Yes, Kuwait is hot. Every day the weather has been pretty much exactly the same, sunny and 42C (107F). However the humidity has been usually around 10% or lower. The definition of a dry heat.  I missed the August humidity and I have to say, while I’m not going out for a walk in the heat or standing in the sun, sometimes it’s not bad and it’s all relative. The other morning I went out to the cab to go to work around 7:30 and I was “It’s a beautiful morning today. Nice and cool.” His response was “Yes, ma’am. It’s very nice, 36 degrees.” I can tell you, if it was 36C (96F) in Ottawa, I’d be whining and bitching. 🙂 We’ll see what I have to say when it hits 50C (122F)in July. But I have to say, I thought it would be worse and I really think it IS the humidity which is the bitch.

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There you have it. My first impressions of Kuwait. So far, so good. I can certainly get anything here I could get in Europe or North America, probably more. 🙂 The people have all been super friendly and patient when I’ve completely forgotten who they are after meeting them in a crowd. The last of my things arrives tomorrow or Wed. so I’ll be able to put up pictures and decorate some. Right now it’s bare-wall-beige chic. It will feel more like home and less like I’m just squatting.

I will keep an eye out for camels. I was told the caught a lion out on the 7th Ring Road (I live between 3rd & 4th – but remember the distance) as apparently wild animals as pets, (that you can no longer look after so get away) are common here, especially cheetahs. Go figure.

If things keep going the way they are, I’m really going to enjoy it here. Although I’m sure once I start driving I’ll be able to do a whole post on idiot drivers. 🙂

14 thoughts on “7 things about Kuwait

  1. Kassa says:

    I imagine moving to such a foreign country would be complete culture shock but it’s nice to see that while different, it’s not the kind of crazy that has you wanting to go soon as soon as possible. How long are you there?

    It’s amazing that you work in a field with such opportunities! Watch out with the camels. I hear they spit.

    • Tam says:

      I’m actually a bit disappointed it’s so Western. (I may appreciate it more in a year or so.) I didn’t move all the way to the Middle East to buy Ragu spaghetti sauce at the store and eat at Applebees. LOL I will be here at least 3 years, possible 4, it depends.

      • Kassa says:

        Seriously Applebees? Ok that’s disappointing. I would be somewhat dismayed to see those Westernized things in such a seemingly exotic place.
        How close are you to other countries to travel? I’m sure going to the mall will get pretty boring after a week or so. Are there outdoor activities? Hiking? Biking? Anything like that? Obviously not in the incredibly hot weather of summer but perhaps fall? Is there winter weather ?

        *so curious*

        • Tam says:

          Cheesecake Factory, (I’m kind of looking forward to that), any chain and franchise you can imagine.

          Yeah, the mall gets boring. There’s not much else to do here. As for outdoor activities. Biking is a death wish. There is no such thing as cyclists except for a few risk-taking workers who have no transportation. Hiking? Well, there’s just desert. People do go desert camping in the winter. But it’s 90F and above from about April to November. Doesn’t give you much time to enjoy winter. There is some swimming pools that have women’s hours, the ice-skating rink is pretty popular, but there’s not a lot. They have an Imax. 🙂

          It’s about an hour to Dubai (oh yay, more malls), Oman is supposed to be beautiful, a couple of hours, there is Qatar, nothing really to do there. Jordan is a few hours away. We went to go to Petra and Aqaba at Christmas when it’s cooler. It’s pretty cheap to fly to India and not that far. It’s a 5.5 hour direct flight to London, there are flights to Istanbul, Frankfurt, Rome. So you can get out pretty easily if you are in the mood for more vacationing.

  2. Chris says:

    Are you going through lots of lotion and moisturizer? That’s what I always remember when visiting someplace hot and dry like that.

    • Tam says:

      I’m not really. So far I haven’t dried out. We’ll see how a few more months goes. Or maybe I’m just an oily person. 🙂

  3. So glad to hear you’re settling in and enjoying yourself. Love the sound of the mocktails. Thick peach juice is one of my faves 🙂

    • Tam says:

      Yes. I also like apricot. There are really a lot of different fruit juices that you don’t get in Canada. It’s fun to try new things.

  4. helenajust says:

    Mmm, strawberry juice. I’m glad you’re comfortable. Do you get enough free time, or are you busy with official functions? And how free is the free time — i.e. are there certain things it’s OK to do but not others?

    • Tam says:

      I’m not very busy in the evenings. I’m more of a homebody. And weekends are mine. You can go to the mall by yourself and … okay, there is nothing to do here but go to the mall. LOL You do have to be careful in a sense, but nothing is against the rules exactly. No wearing a bathing suit on a public beach, those kind of common sense rules for the Middle East. Otherwise life is pretty much the same.

  5. ingrid2009 says:

    The serving does indeed look huge. I could not eat all that.
    The juices look very good as well. I like citrus flavoured things.

    The Netherlands are small too but I don’t think it if as spacious as you describe Kuwait city is.

    • Tam says:

      They are huge. Food, food, everywhere food.

      There are only 3 million people or so in Kuwait, you have 5x more. 🙂 It’s just a very “low” city. Not a lot of high rises and with so much desert it’s easy for people to simply move further way in order to have more space around them.

  6. Polt says:

    I LOVE Strawberry juice…on the few occasions I’ve had it. Nice and thick just like your pic showed. And I don’t think you can get EVERYTHING there you can in West. Tell me how easy it would be to get a ham and bacon sandwich with a cold beer on the side served to you by a male prostitute. 😀

    HUGS….

    • Tam says:

      a) Hello dear Cdn military colleagues b) the beer is in my fridge c) rentboy.com It’s a viable thing. LOL Where there’s a will there’s a way my friend, a will and a way. 🙂 They have pretend ham.

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