Kuwait City, Kuwait
Wiki Info Kuwait City
Wiki Info Liberation Tower
Wiki Info Kuwait Towers
Arrived in Kuwait at 3:15am...visa easy, no $$$ but then they've gotcha! We stayed in the airport at Caribou Coffee under a photo on the wall of Montana grizzlies! A blueberry muffin and large tea = $2 Kuwait dinar ($6.80 US). On second Egypt air flight we got another veggie dinner just as good as the first flight. I could get used to this, but then I'd be broke within a year, ha! Took bus (wild drivers) to downtown & Oasis Hotel where we 'negotiated' room with extra bed for $126 US! Hate to keep mentioning cost of stuff but for us these things are critical for our long term travels! Whew....
Next on our agenda was to discover how we might obtain Saudi Arabian transit visas, so we headed out by bus to the Saudi embassy. One thing stands out more than anything else is there are almost no women out and about, the two who got on the bus were not Muslem because they wore no head scarf. Also, most of the people (men) working and out on the streets looked to be ex-pats, especially Indians, there are alot of Indians here! At our hotel, Oasis Hotel just a block from main bus terminal, all the employees are from Kerela, India,Philippeans, and Nepal (Sam's been here 7 years & now w/ wife working at hotel too). Walter Remelo Quadros (he's Catholic) the fellow who helped us in the internet room and sales manager at the hotel, told us about when Iraq invaded Kuwait. No one knew what was happening at the time the invasion took place so fast, in 8 hours they took over. He had just gotten married and his wife was pregnant. The day they took over he was heading to work when he was stopped at gun point and told there was no more Kuwait! Palistinians were helping the Iraqi military and were responsible for most of the looting, especially the gold market in the old Souk! Many women were raped by Iraqi soldiers but Indians were spared due to good relations between Iraq and India, however, Pakistanis and other nationalities here working suffered and died.
Our waiter, Benedict , in the Tipu Sultan Restaurant on the top floor of the Oasis Hotel, is also from Kerela and returns home in a month for vacation AND to marry (arranged, only met her thru internet). Got alot of help getting around due to so many Indian workers speaking English, especially us drivers, ha!
Once we got to the embassy we were told we had to go to a travel agent specializing in visas, fellow who spoke no English gave us several business cards. We ended up calling them from our hotel and they all gave us the same response, not possible...only via plane can we reach Bahrain from here, not by crossing Saudi Arabia on land. Checking at several airline agencies we discover tickets will be $100 US at least. Now considering standby tickets on Saturday...hanging out at the airport.
Went to McD's for ice cream after a long walk around including the old souk at nite...amazing how many people out at night, maybe because everything is closed on Friday? The city is huge and at first glance it looks very modern with tall, modern buildings, lots of traffic, lots of dust in the air (pollution?), but looking around at ground level it is really very shoddy, streets are in poor repair, even buildings look like they could use some maintenance (paint, plaster, etc). Overall, it is not a pleasant walk about unless at night when you don't see alot of this and tall buildings are all lit up.
We thought we could bargain again since we decided to stay until Sunday but no chance...they told Mari that if it were a month they'd consider! Spent most of the day on the free (but sloooow) internet trying to book airline tickets...Mari was successful, but somehow ours got into a glitch and Bon was unable to print or even find the booking after it was authorized. We'll see what happens. Not sure whether we will be able to book a place to stay in Bahrain either...they have the F1 races and a big flap going on. It should be over by Sunday nite but who knows...there is a guy in jail from last years protests who is on the verge of dying from a hunger strike. BBC says if he dies a martyr all H... will break loose, the Shiite minority is hugely angry over their treatment at the hands of the ruling Sunni clan! So what else is new?
The breakfast buffet here is huge, easily the best so far with Indian, Continental, and Western foods...at least 8 hot dishes which include beans, scrambled eggs, bacon, chick peas, and a potato dish of some kind. In addition to regular cereal, toast, crussants, sweet rolls, they serve cooked/fried eggs to order, a whole variety of dips, cheeses, salad veggies, yogurt, friuts - watermelon, peaches -plus condiments jams, jelly, etc. Drinks include 3 types of fruit juices, coffee, and tea with both hot and cold milk. I've probably left some out but you get the gist.
We eat so much there is usually no need to eat much more the rest of the day, but have to drag our stomach laden bodies out the door. Today, a long walk to/along the coast ending at the 3 towers, symbol of Kuwait! Wiki Info Kuwait Towers Along the way we passed the Dickson House Cultural Center, a surviving example of British-Indian colonial architecture. It was used as the residence for colonial Agents from 1904 to 1959 the last being a Colonel Dickson who took to repairing and restoring it during his tenure 1929-36.
Wiki Info Dickson House
When we got to the house the door was open but the gruff fellow by the door told us it was closed. Just as we were about to walk off a young Kuwaiti fellow with his family pulled up and began talking very animatedly with the 'guard' after which this Kuwaiti, family in tow proceeded to get out of his car and motioned for us to go in! He spoke little English but was very friendly, smiling fellow (wife completely covered except her eyes which expressed smiling, friendly approach as well), told us we could look for 5 minutes and he proceeded to lead us room to room jesturing to various photos and objects obviously ones he thought important but I understood nothing of what he said of course. It was a serendipitous moment indeed! See photos.
I was beginning to flag on the way back (by now we'd been on the move for 4 hours) so not really anxious to walk much more. Bon suggested going to see a private museum somewhere in the outskirts of town which only appealed to me due to the bus travel. But then on the way back we came to an intersection where Bon & I looked back and as usual Mari was a good block behind. We waited til she was within easy sight and I motioned to her which way we were. going. I thought she saw us but gave no recognition. At that point I was tired of waiting and didn't care to stand there motioning over and over until she finally responded or simply caught up to us. Bon asked if she saw us and I think I said 'I think so' at which point I resumed walking. Bad choice! We continued our walk but next time we looked back and NO MARI! Bon:"I thought you said she saw you!" Well, what transpired next I won't go into but needless to say neither of us was happy! We continued on to the hotel and waited outside so Mari (who we thought might come from one of two possible directions) would not pass by on her way to the bus station. Luckily, Bon had to go to our room for some reason while I continued watch and there was Mari, happy as a clam!
She'd come in the BACK door of the hotel and gone to our room, fat dumb and happy! We'll skip what took place next to protect 'the innocent', but I ended up staying at the hotel while Bon & Mari took off by bus.