I Heart Arabica

Post by Mark

arabica1

I’m a tea guy, anybody who knows me or anybody who’s been reading my blog for awhile would know that, but recently that changed and I think I am now a coffee guy. I’m still trying to get a grasp on how this is possible since I used to really hate coffee. This all started when Arabica got in touch with me for a quick meeting around a month ago.

Arabica are opening two new locations and wanted to fill me in on them in case I’d be interested to post about them. So I met up with them and during the meeting they asked me why I didn’t drink coffee. I responded telling them I loved the smell of coffee I just couldn’t stand the flavor to which I was then asked when was the last time I had tried coffee? I couldn’t remember, I figured I must have when I was a kid or something. They told me they wanted to turn me into a coffee drinker and the next time we would meet it would be at the Arabica branch for a little tasting. I didn’t think that would be possible but I told them ok since I didn’t want to seem impolite. So a few days later I end up at Arabica trying a bunch of their different coffees and I strangely found myself attracted to their Spanish Latte which is a regular latte but with their secret sweet syrup. I think I liked it the most because it didn’t taste like coffee, it’s what I now call coffee for beginners since its what got me started on coffee.

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A couple of days later I popped back in and ordered another Spanish Latte, then I came back again and started ordering their regular latte, then again the day after. I’m now passing by once or twice a day for my fix. Not only that but wherever I go now I order a latte just so I can taste the difference and try to understand the different flavor profiles. I’m still on lattes, haven’t really “leveled up” to straight up coffees yet but thats because I’ve just been enjoying lattes so much. So much so that I’ve started researching bean to cup coffee machines (got my eye on you DeLonghi XS) so I could just start buying beans from Arabica and making my own lattes at home.

Another thing I’m enjoying is social coffee drinking. Previously I used to tag along with friends to Vol.1 and Richards Coffee all the time and just watch them drink their coffees while I sip on my water. But now I can finally go to these places and have coffee like everybody else. What I find super odd though is that since I started drinking coffee I’ve completely stopped drinking tea. I used to average around 6 to 8 cups of tea a day but since I’ve started drinking coffee a month ago, I’ve had just 2 cups. I’ve just lost all interest.

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Brands are always trying to connect with me but it rarely ever works. This is one of the very few times where a brand not only has managed to grab my attention, but they’ve turned me into a huge fan and even a self proclaimed brand ambassador. I’ve been dragging friends to Arabica with me and telling everyone how great I think their coffee is. As I’m sitting in Arabica typing this my brother who I introduced to Arabica recently walked in to get coffee for himself and his office. And now I just ordered my second latte and need to end this post so I can head to work. If you haven’t tried Arabica yet you should, they’re located in Kuwait City [Google Maps] and you can find them on instagram @arabicakw


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Johnny Rockets 1995

Post by Mark

johnnyrockets

It was around 5AM and I was sitting at Johnny Rockets Salmiya waiting for my meal when it suddenly hit me, the place hadn’t changed one tiny bit since it first opened back in 1995. I quickly snapped a few pictures and decided to send it to my high school crush who I used to frequent Johnny Rockets with all the time. A minute later she responds… Memories!!!!

Back in 1995/1996, during my senior year in high school, Fuddruckers was the place to go. I mean there weren’t that many options anyway, none of the restaurants you see on the Gulf Road today existed back then, we didn’t have any malls like we do today except for Laila Gallery, Zahra Complex and Salhiya. So as teenagers we spent most of our time either hanging out at each others homes or the ice skating rink which was honestly pretty cool back then with Snap and Soul II Soul being blasted loudly by the DJ while we played with the arcade machines and watched people skate. So when Fuddruckers opened everyone in Kuwait was there on the weekends. It used to be super crowded and such a fun place to just chill and meet up with teens from other schools. Then Johnny Rockets opened and everyone started going there.

We were around 5 in my group, 2 girls and 3 guys and we started going to Johnny Rockets instead of Fuddruckers like most other teens. I lived on Salem Mubarek Street so my friends would just get dropped off at my place and we’d hang out in my room for a bit before walking down to Johnny. We usually headed to the Video Club first which was across the street from Johnny so we could check out the latest music tapes and CDs. We’d then visit the bookshop next door and flip through the magazines before heading over to Johnny. By the time we’d get to Johnny we would all have spent whatever little money we had on music tapes or magazines so we’d put whatever change we had together and order one cup of tea. I only ever ate there a handful of times as a teenager, and the first time was on a date with my high school crush. Our love affair with Johnny Rockets didn’t last very long though. Since the place was small and Johnny became the “it” place to be, it used to get overcrowded and mostly with teenagers like us who would only order a couple of drinks and then sit there. Forever. So, Johnny Rockets started implementing a minimum order, I think it was KD1.750 per person, so we couldn’t afford hanging out there anymore. Instead we started chilling outside Johnny Rockets, on the sidewalk until a short while later McDonalds opened up above it and it became our hangout spot.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that sometimes we don’t appreciate things until they’re gone, but I want to take this moment and appreciate Johnny Rockets while it’s still here. Thank you Johnny Rockets for not changing and still being here.


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What Interests Me

Post by Mark

fire

On my way to lunch I spotted a building under construction on fire in Salmiya. I didn’t head towards it or even take a photo, I was just so disinterested. Around an hour later a friend of mine sent me a video of the fire and I started to question if this is possibly an interesting post for the blog that I am missing out on. I was leaving lunch by then so I headed back towards the burning building. There were a ton of fire trucks, a guy on a stretcher being lifted into an ambulance and a crowd gathered watching. Most of the roads around the building which is on Salem Mubarek Street were also blocked off and yet I still wasn’t interested. I snapped my one picture and drove home.

8 years ago I’d be all over this fire so I could post about it on the blog. I would have parked me car, gone down and tried to take as many interesting photos as possible, maybe ask someone how the fire started.. you know like a wannabe reporter. But now I just don’t think a fire in a random building is interesting content anymore. Accident photos, fires, its more kuwaituptodate style of posts than mine, not unless it’s some important structure burning like the airport or something. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve gotten too picky with what I post and if thats a bad thing for the blog. I don’t think it is.

I’m thinking out loud here so bear with me. The blog has always been about curated content, actually maybe that’s not entirely accurate but it has evolved to being about curated content and the curation process has always revolved around me. It’s what I think is interesting at this very moment and usually related to my personal life experiences. So today I’m interested in Matcha, so I’ll post about Matcha, tomorrow I might be interested in I don’t know, staplers, so I’ll post about staplers. If a fire in a building doesn’t interest me then I think it’s fine I don’t post about it. It’s not like in the old days, I don’t feel the need anymore to post everything since there are tons of other places to get content today. I think what makes my blog content unique to other sources is the utter randomness of the topics, all of which in one way or another relate to me.

So there you have it, I think I needed to write this down for me more than for you. But basically I’m going to continue just posting about stuff that matters to me and not what I think might matter to other people. Like it’s always been.


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Power Cuts and Hotel Stays

Post by Mark

power

Over the weekend I experienced 3 power cuts within a 24 hour period. The first two lasted for just over an hour but the third power cut lasted from 8PM to 4AM. There are now around 7 large power generators spread out in my neighborhood (Block 9, Salmiya) and it doesn’t seem like it’s just my area. I was talking to a friend who lives in Rumaithiya and they’ve had power generators installed on their street for a few weeks now. I don’t know what’s the purpose of all the generators in my area, the power cut was due to a burned cable but that was already fixed.

When I posted about the power cut on twitter a follower suggested I spend a night in the hotel. Did you guys know that the majority of hotels won’t accept single men with local residency? I found that out when I was getting my divorce. I needed to spend a few nights in a hotel and I couldn’t find a hotel that would let me stay. In the end I found a hotel in the city that let me stay a few nights but only because I think the receptionist took pity on me.


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Shuwaikh to Salmiya on Foot

Post by Mark

map

Yesterday afternoon I dropped my Datsun to Omid’s Garage in Shuwaikh to have a few things worked on, mostly installing an AC system as well as replacing all the car’s bushings among other things. After dropping the car off I walked to the main road to find a cab and then not sure what got into my head but I tweeted that maybe I should just walk home since I was already in gym gear. I wasn’t planning to go to the gym, but since my car didn’t have AC and I was expecting the weather to be warm, I figured I would wear my gym gear since I wouldn’t mind sweating in it. I opened up google maps just to get an idea if it was actually doable and it gave an estimated time of around 2 hours and 44 minutes. It was around 6PM then and I was invited to an Audemars Piguet event at 7PM, but other than that didn’t really have any plans for the evening. So I was like fuck it, I’ll ditch the event and walk home. A friend on twitter replied to me saying it would take me three hours, I replied back that I would make it in 2 and a half and so the challenge was on.

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I left the garage at 6:06PM with just a small bottle of water, my wallet, my keys and my phone. The garage is located in the Shuwaikh Industrial area which is the area across from Al Rai and on the other side of highway 60. I started walking towards Canada Dry street cuz I decided I’d take the 3rd Ring Road down towards the Gulf Road and then take the 35 towards Salmiya. Although Canada Dry Street takes just a few seconds to get from the start to the end by car, it took me 20 minutes to walk. I thought that was just too slow of a pace so when I was done from Canada Dry and crossed into Khaldia where I spotted a walking/running track, I decided I would try to run back home. Although I was in my gym gear I didn’t have running shoes on, I had my crossfit ones (Nike Metcon 1) which barely have any padding and are terrible for running. But I’d figure I’d give it a shot since walking was just going to be too slow for me.

40

I hadn’t really gone running in over two years and I’ve barely been doing any cardio but I just wanted to get home in under 2 and a half hours. I had already run out of water but luckily kept finding public water fountains to keep refilling my bottle (I didn’t get sick!). By the time I got to road 35 in Hawally, I realized there was a big chance I could make it home in under 2 hours so I pressed on. Mentally I was strong but physically I was just starting to break down. Half way down the stretch of the 35 my right foot and right knee were in pain. I wasn’t out of breath even though I was tired but my legs were just not prepared for this. By the time I got to the end of the 35 and crossed into Maidan Hawalli I could barely run and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get home in under 2 hours. It was demoralizing but then I just went back to my original plan of trying to get there in under 2 and a half hours. I tried to run but by the time I got to Salmiya I was limping, my right leg was in so much pain. But once I saw my building I somehow managed to sprint the last 20 meters or so. I ended up making it home in 2 hours and 14 minutes. A total distance of 14KM. Kinda disappointing since I ran a 10K once in 57 minutes, but I did train for that. On the other hand I did get a better time compared to when I walked home from my work in Kuwait City.

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I still don’t know why I decided to do that yesterday, this morning I can barely walk up and down stairs due to how sore my legs are. The weather was great yesterday which might have been what pushed me but in any case I did it and I’ve got a few observations I want to highlight.

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Kuwait isn’t really a pedestrian friendly place but I was pretty surprised at how the route I took was fairly pedestrian friendly. From the start of the 3rd Ring Road till highway 40 there are proper walking/running paths all along the main road. The only issue is the fact these paths aren’t connected to other paths in adjacent areas. Meaning to cross from Khaldiya to Adailiya wasn’t easy. Not only aren’t the walking/running paths connected, but the normal sidewalks aren’t even connected. In some areas I had to walk over greenery or climb over barriers, and then when there were paths like the one pictured above, they led to the middle of the road instead of the other sidewalk. Each area is isolated from the adjacent ones which is pretty annoying. Then once you pass the 40th into Hawalli, the paths start disappearing. By the time I got to Salmiya I was basically running in the streets trying to avoid cars. Such a contrast to how my run started, even the public water fountains disappeared after the 40.

Still, I was expecting it to be a lot more difficult to make it back to Salmiya on foot so I was actually impressed by the experience. I just wish Kuwait was more pedestrian or bike friendly, I’m sure there are a lot of people who wouldn’t mind walking to places if the weather was good.


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Extreme Detailing My Datsun 240z

Post by Mark

protech1

I first heard of ProTech Monte-Carlo just over a year ago when they left a comment under one of my photos on instagram inviting me to pass by them. I checked out their instagram account and did a bit of research on them and they turned out to be a pretty legit car detailing setup with different branches around the world. I didn’t really have a reason to pass by at that time but months later when I wanted to detail my FJ I called them up for a quote and quickly realized their services were out of my FJ’s league.

Then last month I purchased my 1973 Datsun 240z. The car was over 40 years old, still in pretty much stock condition but had been parked outdoors for the past 11 years in Kuwait and probably even longer in the States where it was originally imported from. The paint had clearly lost its shine, it has lots of scratches, the plastics and rubbers around the car looked dry and the interior was also faded and looked old. I had already given the car a pretty good wash but it clearly wasn’t enough. Thats when I considered passing by ProTech and getting a quote from them. I was already aware that they had worked on a number of vintage cars before including ones that were worth a whole lot more than mine so I knew I could trust them detailing my Datsun properly. They gave me a quote which I honestly thought was too much since the car really isn’t worth a lot. But, I was still curious to see what they would be able to do to a car like mine, it seemed like the perfect project for them. So I got in touch with the owner and offered him a barter deal where I’d give him a banner on the blog for a couple of months in return they’d detail my car. Two days later not he got back to me, not only did he accept my deal but he also went out and purchased a 240z himself (same color as mine even, it’s pictured in the back of the photo above). I’m telling you guys the Z is such a ridiculously fun car to get.

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I dropped off my car on a Monday, spent around two hours with the owner discussing and comparing our Z’s and then left and came back the following Sunday to pick up the car. Usually they take 3 to 4 days for their extreme detailing package but because of the age of my car and the work it needed they took a couple more days than usual. When I picked up the car again, fuck was I impressed. The pictures really don’t do the job any justice.

There are a number of stages to the whole detailing process. When you first drop the car they first give it a proper wash. Once they’re done washing the car they go over it inch by inch with a clay bar which would pick up any small speckle of dirt that was still left on the car Once they’re done with that they start the detailing process. Depending on which package you go for there are different things involved here but in my case we went all out. So first thing they do is polish the exterior of the car. Before they start they mark off 8 different spots on the car so they could test out how aggressive their polish will be. They want to be the least aggressive so they start off on the lowest setting and polish the first spot and see if they can still see scratches. If the scratches are still there they move over to the second spot they’ve marked off and increase the intensity. They keep doing this from spot to spot until they get to a level of intensity that clears out the scratches without damaging the paint.

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Once the external polishing of the car is complete they then apply a special treatment to the rubbers and plastics that will moisturize them and bring them back to life. The best example of how successful this treatment was is with the front spoiler of my car which you can see the before and after shots above. Before the detailing I was contemplating getting the spoiler painted black but now it looks brand new.

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After the exterior they move to the interior where they once again spend a lot of time cleaning and applying special treatment to the various materials inside the car. My dashboard had faded and dried because of it being parked outdoors but like with the external plastics, they managed to bring my dashboard back to life. Even all the interior black leather that covers my car now looks factory new. It’s just insane how new my really old car now looks. They didn’t only clean my carpets for example, but they removed my carpets, the insulation underneath it and then cleaned the whole tub of the car before putting everything back again.

Once they were done with the cleaning they moved to the final stage which is applying protection. It’s basically a protective clear coat that lasts anywhere between one to two years. This clear coat protects all the detailing work so that any minor scratches will be superficial and not affect the paint. After everything is done they give you a box (a KD45 value usually) containing a bunch of their cleaning products and various types of cloths and sponges so that you could take care of the car properly. If you have a driver that washes your car you could bring him in and they’ll teach him how to properly clean your car.

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The cost of this full detailing job? A whopping KD425. Obviously when a car costs as little as mine this really isn’t very feasible of course which is why I did the barter deal with them. You also don’t have to take the full extreme detailing package which I did. Their prices actually start under KD100 but if you’ve paid I don’t know, KD85,000 for a Mercedes 4X4 Squared for example then you clearly want the best fucking shit for your car and this is it. Personally I can’t believe what a huge difference it made to my car. It’s brought the paint job back to life, it’s shinny, it’s vibrant and because of the protective layer it feels so smooth (like super smooth). And the interior? She doesn’t look 43 at all, she looks like she’s in her 20s.

Now just to be clear this is not an ad and this post wasn’t part of the deal. I wanted to write this post because (a) I always need content but (b) because they really did bring my car back to life. I really need to install AC in the car since there is no way I’m going to leave her parked all summer long. Anyway, check them out, here is their instagram page [Link]


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10 Years of Choowy Goowy

Post by Mark

choowygoowyclassic

Damn does time fly by fast… Choowy Goowy are celebrating their 10 year anniversary this year. It feels like it was just yesterday when I was sitting on my couch, overweight, munching down jar after jar of their cookies while watching the latest episode of Prison Break. I’m also personally celebrating 10 years of friendship since the owner and I ended up becoming close friends after that back and forth collaboration on the blog. For those of you who weren’t in Kuwait at that time, Choowy Goowy basically started the whole home business and cupcake craze (even though they were never a home business or made any cupcakes). Since then they’ve expanded around the region and opened a number of local outlets including their latest one which they’ll be opening this Wednesday next month in Promenade. I told them they should temporarily sell their cookies with their old original branding (pictured above) just for nostalgia’s sake.

I’ve been contemplating for the past few minutes if I should or shouldn’t include a link to my original post and review of Choowy Goowy from back in 2006. I tend to really dislike reading my old posts since it’s kinda like looking through old photos and thinking what the fuck was I wearing?! I ended up deciding that I’d link to the post but just not read it myself. Hopefully it’s not as bad as I imagine it being. Check it out over [Here]

Update: Turns out I misunderstood, their Promenade location isn’t opening this Wednesday but in fact opening next month. But to celebrate their 10 year anniversary, Choowy Goowy are holding an event at their soon to open Promenade location this Wednesday from 6PM to 9PM. Everyone is invited.


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My Datsun 240Z

Post by Mark

240z-1

Over the past few months I’ve been on a rigorous search for the perfect classic Datsun Z. By perfect I mean one that fit into my budget, had an original and intact interior and one that required some work but not too much. Finding an original series Z was not an easy task since there were so few of them popping up for sale and those that did either had been modified heavily or were in terrible condition. Then last Monday while jumping from one instagram account to another, I found a small car collector who had a beautiful orange 240Z in his possession. I decided to leave him a comment randomly asking if it was for sale and to my surprise, the next morning I woke up to find a reply that if I was serious to give him a call. So I did and after I was done with work I headed over to his place to check the car out.

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The car had one owner for the past 11 years, the exterior was in great shape and the interior was all there, even the original tape player. After taking the car for a small drive around the block I knew this was the one for me. The asking price wasn’t very far off from what I thought was reasonable for a 240Z in this condition and after negotiating with the owner for a little bit, he agreed to drop down the price and take my offer with the stipulation that if I was ever to sell the car to let him know in case he wanted to buy it back. And so just like that, next day we got the paperwork done and I was a proud owner of a 1973 Datsun 240Z.

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The car is mostly stock except for the engine and gearbox which are from the newer 280z, a common modification since engine and gearbox parts for the 280z are more readily available. For such a physically small car, the interior is actually spacious. I’m 6’1 and don’t feel squeezed in the car at all, in fact its pretty comfortable. I’ve been driving the car non stop since Wednesday and it’s just a ton of fun on the road. As a pretty OCD this car should in fact be driving me insane since there are a ton of rattles and so many imperfections all ovre. It’s like utter chaos but I think thats why I’m loving the experience so much, it’s the opposite of what I usually am.


[YouTube]

Right now I’m not planning any major work on the car, I’m just going to drive it the way it is until the weather gets too hot for it and then will start working on it. I don’t have any plans yet but I did get inspired a lot last night after watching the video above. Come summer I’ll probably do an engine rebuild, replace all the bushings, install an aftermarket AC system and also get a new suspension. I managed to make a deal with ProTech Monte-Carlo and I’ll be dropping the car off to them tomorrow for some extreme detailing. I’m really curious to see how the car comes out after that since it should look factory new especially the interior.

240z-dad

My dad used to have a similar 240Z back in 1973, it was the first car he purchased when he moved to Kuwait and I just recently heard the story on how he got it. My dad’s an interior designer and was working on the interior of one of the properties for Abdulaziz Al Babtain. Al Babtain were the dealers of Datsun and so most of his meetings would take place at the dealership. One day while walking into the dealership he saw them rolling in a 240Z onto the showroom floor. My dad asked Abdulaziz what that car was and he told him it was the new 240Z. He then asked my dad if he liked it and wanted the car. My dad told him it was beautiful but he had just moved to Kuwait and couldn’t afford to buy one right now. Abdulaziz then called the sales manager over and told him to take my dad’s ID and register the car in his name. He told my dad to pay for it whenever he could which my dad ended up doing over time with small installments. The picture above was taken back in 1973 on Plajat street in Salmiya and my dad wants me to reshoot him now in the same spot but with my car. That should be fun.

I hope the weather stays like this for just a little bit more so I can enjoy the car as much as I can. If you see an orange 240Z zooming down the Gulf Road, that is probably me.


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Posta Plus vs Aramex’s Shop & Ship

Post by Mark

postaplus

I tend to be very loyal to the brands I use and like, and Aramex Shop & Ship is no exception. I’ve had a Shop & Ship account with them since 2001 (thats 15 years!) and although I use other similar US mailbox forwarding services (like MyUS.com) for some packages, Aramex has always been the service I use for the majority of my items.

But recently I’ve started disliking Aramex since they weren’t being honest and transparent with me. Packages from my Shop & Ship mailbox used to take around 7 days to get to me once they shipped but with my last three packages it took twice as long. In fact, they’ve been spending around 7 days just to get from Bahrain (their regional hub) to Kuwait! I kept pressing them for a reason, I just wanted to know why suddenly things were taking twice as long and nobody would give me an answer. I harassed them on twitter, I harassed them over the phone and using their live chat service yet nobody would tell me. They just acted like it was business as usual when it clearly wasn’t. So I posted about my frustration on the blog and thats when the guys at Posta Plus contacted me and asked me to try their service. At first I replied back thanking them for emailing me but that I was loyal to Aramex. But then I thought to myself, why the loyalty? I’ve spent thousands and thousands of dinars with Aramex, I’ve been a customer for over 15 years, I was one of their first Shop & Ship customers in Kuwait and yet I have the same benefits of a customer that would sign up today. So if I’m not important enough a client for Aramex, why should I be loyal to them? So I decided to sign up to the Posta Plus US mail forwarding service called MyBox and give them a shot.

Other than a few quibbles which I’ll discuss below, I’ve decided that I will be using Posta Plus from now on instead of Aramex for a number of reasons.

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The Good Stuff

– Posta Plus is considerably cheaper as you can see in the shipping cost comparison above.

– You can get a hold of their customer support instantly. Their hotline is very simple, you call, it asks you what language you prefer and then you’re connected to the support person who in my case picked up the phone instantly as soon as I pressed “2” for English. If you’ve ever tried calling Aramex for support you know how difficult and how long it takes to get a hold of someone.

– Like Aramex, Posta Plus also charge KD1 custom clearance fee. But, unlike Aramex, if you have a number of packages arriving at the same time, you have the option to consolidate them during the customs process and that way you’ll pay KD1 custom clearance fee for all the packages combined.

– In case you don’t want a package to be delivered, you have the option to “Hold” that package one package from within your Posta Plus dashboard so you could go pick it up yourself.

– Their delivery guys contact you before they head over to deliver the package to make sure you’re home.

– Their delivery speed is much faster than Aramex. So far the two packages that I shipped using Posta Plus, the first one was delivered 4 days after it left the States while the second one took 5 days. Thats 3x faster than my last few shipments with Aramex!

As I mentioned earlier, I did have a few issues with Posta Plus, none were deal breakers to me but I’ll mention them anyway.

The Not So Good Stuff

– I ran into an issue when signing up to their service. I went through the sign up process to setup an account but when it came time to pay my card got declined. I then couldn’t try again with another card since there was no try again option. So, I went through the processes of setting up the account again but it told me I couldn’t because the email was already in use. I tried logging into my account but their website told me the account didn’t exist. So I was stuck not being able to create and account because their system thought I had an account which in fact didn’t exist. I had to contact support to fix this.

– Right now you can’t pay for your packages online (it’s cash on delivery), but they’ll be offering this service soon. I really prefer paying for my stuff online with Knet.

packagedeliveries

– You can only track your Posta Plus packages via their website. I usually track all my packages with the “Deliveries” app on my iPhone and Mac (pictured above) but the app doesn’t recognize Posta Plus tracking numbers. It recognizes Aramex on the other hand.

– This next one could be a plus for some people but was a negative for me. They notify you constantly by email and SMS on the status of your packages. You get an email and SMS when your package arrives to your mailbox, and then an email and SMS when it ships from your mailbox, when it goes to clearance you get an email and then when its out for delivery an email and SMS. The issue I had is there is no way to turn on or off the notifications and it was annoying to get an email and an SMS telling me the exact same thing. What made things worst in my case was I was getting two or three duplicate emails from their server by mistake. After complaining to them about it I think I don’t get any notification at all now which is also not something I want.

– Every time I log into their dashboard I get a pop up informing me they now have Canada as a mailbox location. I got it the first time, I don’t need to keep seeing the pop up every single time I want to log in to my account. Pop ups are really annoying.

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In Conclusion

Before Posta Plus I was using Shop & Ship for packages I wasn’t in a hurry to get and MyUS for packages I wanted ASAP. I was using Shop & Ship because they were cheaper than MyUS and since I didn’t need every item ASAP, the amount I was saving was worth it. But now I’m going to stop using both Shop & Ship and MyUS since Posta Plus is a much cheaper alternative to Aramex and nearly as fast as MyUS (+1/-1 day). Posta Plus is also a local brand and I like support local brands that are actually good. They kinda feel like Aramex in the early days which is a very good thing. They do have a bunch of issues they need to get sorted and so far they seem to be very accepting of my criticism and willing to improve things.

So if you’re frustrated with Aramex and are looking for an alternative thats cheaper and faster, Posta Plus is the way to go. The sign up fee is KD8 and here is a link to their [Website]

Note: The rate calculator on the Posta Plus website is completely in accurate.


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A Day On The USS Harry S. Truman Aircraft Carrier

Post by Mark

flightdeck2

Last week I got an email from the US Embassy asking me if I would be interested in a very exclusive one-day trip onboard a U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman. The occasion? In celebration of Kuwait’s 25th Liberation Anniversary. I replied super excited right away saying yes and then spent the whole weekend snowboarding nervously hoping I wouldn’t fall and end up breaking anything so I wouldn’t miss out on this once in a life time opportunity.

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Yesterday morning I woke up at 6:30AM and got all my stuff ready so I could be at the embassy before 8:15AM which was our departure time. I originally was planning on taking my big proper camera with a few lenses but last minute decided not to. Last year I decided I was going to spend less time worrying about capturing perfect shots and instead truly take in and enjoy whatever I was experiencing without having to share it with the world. So I decided to pack my small Sony RX1 (which is a legit camera anyway), my Kindle, a battery pack for my phone, motion sickness pills and a small bottle of water.

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Once everyone had arrived to the embassy we took off to the military airbase located next to Sheikh Saad Terminal. After a quick safety briefing we headed onto the runway and got ready to board the Navy C-2 Aircraft that was waiting for us on the tarmac. We put on our lifejackets, helmets, ear protectors and goggles and then started boarding the super tiny plane. We were around 10 people in total including the US Ambassador, some members from the ministry of defence and ministry of interior, as well as a few civilians which included myself. We took off from the airbase and headed towards the aircraft carrier which was located somewhere in the Gulf between Kuwait and Qatar. It took us around 35 minutes to get to it and before we landed we were told to brace ourselves because the plane would hook onto the runway we would go from 240km/h to 0 in just two seconds. Thankfully the motion sickness pills worked and the landing wasn’t too dramatic.

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Once onboard the aircraft carrier thats when everything became surreal. I grew up watching Top Gun and Hot Shots and wanting to be an air force pilot. I even wore my vintage Porsche Design watch for this trip, the same watch Tom Cruise wore in Top Gun. So walking on the flight deck being saluted by the sailors as we headed into the ship felt like I was on the set of a movie.

We were greeted inside by the commander and commanding officer of the carrier along with other members of the Navy. After a bit of mingling we were geared up again and taken back to the flight deck where we would watch fighter jets take off and land from up close. What a ridiculous experience that was, I was all over the place, I wanted to snapchat, shoot video, take photos and enjoy the moment all at the same time. I was on a flight deck of a US Navy aircraft carrier watching fighter jets take off right in front of me and I wanted that moment to stay with me forever. I don’t think I’ve even taken it all in yet and its been more than 24 hours already.

After watching planes take off and land and then walk around the flight deck a bit we were taken on a tour of the bridge, command center and the hanger bay. The carrier is obviously ginormous with over 5000 people onboard and everyone always referring to it as a floating city which it really is. I usually get sea sick on boats but because the carrier is so huge it doesn’t sway in the water at all, it’s pretty much like being on island. We were pretty much allowed to walk around all the spaces we were in pretty freely without any restrictions. I was told I could take as many photos as I wanted of anything I wanted without having to worry about anything. They were extremely professional so if there were screens with any classified information on them they would just swap them with non classified information before we walked in.

During the tour I tried my best to listen to all the interesting information that was being shared to us but honestly I spent most of the time just aimlessly walking around in awe or just starring out of the window watching fighter jets take off and land or watching the rainbow warriors (aka Skittles) work on the flight deck. It was all so mesmerizing.

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For the final leg of the tour we were taken to the hanger bay which is basically their underground parking and garage for the jets. I was actually really looking forward to this part of the tour since I had never seen the hanger bay neither in pictures nor on TV.

You really get an idea of how freakin’ huge this ship is when you’re in the hanger bay, not only is it large enough to park plans on the flight deck, but it’s so large that it can park planes and helicopters below deck as well. Crazy shit.

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Once our tour was over we were given some souvenirs to keep and then geared up again to fly back to Kuwait. The takeoff was horrifying, crazy fucking shit and holly fuck all at the same time. Because the aircraft carrier runway is so short, all planes use a catapult system to help them hit 0 to 270km/h in just 2 seconds. To give you an idea of how crazy fucking fast that is, the rollercoaster at Ferrari World which I thought was ridiculously fast hits 240km/h in 4.9 seconds. So I’m not even sure how to describe to you the feeling of being blasted off the carrier at a beyond insane speed while sitting on seats that face the back of the plane. I was wearing earplugs as well as an over the ear hearing protector but once the catapult launches it just sounds like a rocket taking off. For the couple of seconds in which you are accelerating at full speed you’re basically in complete shock at how anything could be so violently fast. And then you hit euphoria. There is a moment when you reach the end of the runway and fly off the edge, everything suddenly goes quiet and you feel like you’re floating in your seat. I swear this must be exactly how astronauts feel when they leave earths atmosphere and reach space. What a ride, it’s killed rollercoasters for me for the rest of my life.

skittles

You know, I blog for fun and for I blog a living, and because I’ve been doing it daily and for such a long time, I don’t really appreciate the blog sometimes. It’s just something I do. Then something big like this happens and it reminds me that what I do is somewhat meaningful and it reenergizes me all over again. Over the past 11 years I’ve experienced some ridiculous shit that I wouldn’t have ever dreamed of experiencing if it wasn’t for this blog. I got to spend a day on an aircraft carrier, thats just unreal. Friday is my blogs 11 year anniversary so this was an amazing way to celebrate. Definitely a big thank you to everyone at the US Embassy for hooking me up.


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