Has anyone ordered fitness supplements online with Aramex? Did you have any difficulties with customs or was a complicated mess?
Has anyone ordered fitness supplements online with Aramex? Did you have any difficulties with customs or was a complicated mess?
I have a huge wall in my apartment I needed to fill and wasn’t sure how. I figured I might either get some shelves or possibly a painting but I also didn’t want to pay a ridiculous amount of money for it. Originally I was looking for a specific Andy Warhol Camouflage print but after having a difficult time procuring one I decided to give up on that dream. In the end I went with a super large black and white photo from a website called Sonic Editions.
I originally found out about Sonic Editions because they had a Dave Grohl photo reenacting the old Maxell blown away guy (pictured above). All their photos are limited to just 495 prints and after flipping through hundreds of photos I finally fell in love with one, Al Pacino on the set of the movie ‘Serpico‘ in New York in 1973. The only issue was the largest size they had the photo available on the website was 60x75cm and I needed one much larger. So I emailed them and asked if they could customize a size for me, one that was 80×100 (100x120cm with the frame) and they said yes they could. They also would ship directly to Kuwait at a fairly reasonable price of around KD55.
I placed the order and around 20 days later I received the print framed. Everything about it exceeded my expectations. First the package was huge and barely fit sideways in my FJ Cruiser. Any larger and I would have needed a pickup truck probably. The frame was packaged extremely well and when I finally got all the packaging out of the way I was very impressed with the quality of the photo print as well as the quality of the frame. The workmanship was top notch and there was even a patch on the back of the frame with details of the photo including the photographers name, where it was shot, the date and the limited edition number. I was blown away at how easy it was to order and ship the photography to Kuwait and I’m now looking for another one to order for a different room.
So if you’re looking to purchase an artwork for your wall, check these guys out www.soniceditions.com
This is a little bit off topic from my usual posts but I need two things:
So recently I started playing badminton with a friend with IBAK (Indian Badminton Association – Kuwait) and I’m not that great. So I’m looking for a private trainer, if anyone knows of one let me know.
I also recently fell in love with a skateboard (pictured on top) and I bought it. I’ve been wanting to skateboard ever since I was a kid but never got the chance to so if any skateboarder here is willing to give me some private lessons as well, let me know.
This past weekend Harley Davidson sent me to Lebanon for a bike ride as part of a media trip. They took care of my airline ticket and I hadn’t noticed until the very last minute that they had booked Kuwait Airways for me. If I had noticed earlier I would have obviously requested to change my flight to MEA but it was too late to change the ticket and I was stuck flying Kuwait Airways.
While checking in at the airport I asked if I was flying a new plane and turns out I was. I still wasn’t too thrilled about flying on the new planes because based on the photos Kuwait Airways had published in their instagram account (here and here), the new planes looked outdated, ugly and gloomy. Not sure why Kuwait Airways posted those horrible pictures but turns out they’re misleading and not an accurate representation of how the planes actually look like.
When I got onboard the new plane I was completely taken a back by how nice and bright the interior was. In the photos on the Kuwait Airways instagram account, the chairs looked dark and the walls and ceiling had a dull grey tone but in reality, the blues were vibrant and the walls and ceiling were bright and light colored. I sat down in my seat and noticed I had really good legroom as well, so far I was really impressed. I started flipping through the media center checking it out while the passenger next to me plugged in a USB stick with movies and started watching something. This is a completely new Kuwait Airways and I was liking it.
I flew both ways with the new Kuwait Airways plane and honestly I think the planes are better than the MEA ones which I normally fly with to Lebanon. There was even internet onboard the Kuwait Airways plane which I tried out on the way back ($10 for 30mins, $20 for 1 hour and $40 for 3 hours). Even the food wasn’t too bad at all and because no one flies Kuwait Airways, the plane wasn’t very packed making the experience even more enjoyable.
I did have an issue though and it was with the flight attendants. When I headed to the bathroom at the back of the plane while we were flying, I noticed one of the flight attendants was sitting in a passenger seat with the headphones on watching a movie. I thought that was pretty unprofessional. Another incident which also showed a lack of professionalism, when we landed and the plane was still on the runway heading towards our parking spot, a passenger got up from his seat and started getting his bag from the overhead compartment. Instead of the Kuwait Airways flight attendant telling the man to sit back down she got up and walked over to him and helped him carry his bag down from the overhead compartment. Then other people started getting up to get their overhead bags while the plane was still moving. Total chaos and I though it was ridiculous that the flight attendants weren’t telling the passengers to stay seated until the plane stopped. But then again this was Kuwait Airways. Although everything does look new, modern and up to date, end of the day this is still the same airline and the flight attendants are a reminder of that.
Putting aside my issue with the flight attendants I actually had a great experience with Kuwait Airways. In fact I would choose Kuwait Airways over MEA in a heart beat if the Kuwait Airways flight wasn’t an hour longer (they don’t fly over Syria, Jordan or Israel so they take a big detour). I thought the in-flight entertainment system had more than enough entertainment for the 3 hour flight, I found the seats comfortable, the legroom was great and my overall experience was very positive. The only thing I would say though is that they can update all their planes as much as they want, they can get the new A380s even and have onboard showers but that’s not going to be enough to move the airline forward unless the employees get retrained and their professionalism reestablished. And I’m not talking about just the onboard flight attendants but every employee you interact with from the minute you checkin to the last Kuwait Airways employee you see should reflect this new and improved Kuwait Airways. Other than that they’re off to a pretty good start.
Exactly ten years ago today I launched 248AM as a side project for my other blog at the time, miskan.com. I didn’t have a plan and I definitely wasn’t expecting it to turn into what it is today, I just had a lot to say and so I created this space as an outlet.
A lot has happened to me since the blog started, I’m ten years older for one thing and I’m a lot more mature as a result. My style of writing has changed, the things I post about, the topics and definitely my language has all changed. The only thing that hasn’t changed is my aim which is to entertain you.
I don’t know how long I will be doing this for, I just know that I really love doing it and I’ll keep doing it as long as you keep coming back here to read what I have to say.
Thank you everyone for being the best readers a blogger could hope for.
My primary bank is NBK but due to various issues, mainly this one time when their ATM network was down and I wasn’t able to withdraw money before traveling, I decided to open a secondary bank account with Burgan Bank as a backup. I chose Burgan Bank primarily because they were located in the building adjacent to my apartment building and I liked how the branch looked like. As I found out recently though, turns out for traveling, Burgan Bank was the wrong bank to go with.
Last month while in Cape Town the owner of the bed & breakfast I was staying in asked me if I could pay him in cash since that way he wouldn’t have to pay the credit card transaction fee. So I went to an ATM to withdraw money using my Burgan Bank card. The ATM had a limit on how much I could withdraw at once so I had to withdraw the amount in two parts. After withdrawing the first half I tried to withdraw the second half and got an error. I then received a message on my phone from Burgan Bank saying my card had been declined and I needed to contact them. So I called Burgan Bank up using roaming and after getting a hold of an employee I was told that due to security reasons, Burgan Bank has placed a limit on South Africa and that I could only withdraw a maximum of KD25 a day. I went apeshit over the phone. I told the employee I’m on vacation and they have no right to limit my spending to just KD25. I told him KD25 wouldn’t be enough for me to spend per day and I also needed to pay for my accommodation now and I couldn’t because of this stupid limit. He told me he would put in a request to increase my spending limit temporarily. I was like I needed the limit lifted now so he put me on hold for a few minutes before letting me know my limit was lifted.
I came back to Kuwait and basically forgot about the whole incident until this past weekend while I was in Bahrain I ran into another issue. On the day I arrived to Bahrain I tried to use my Burgan Bank ATM card but it got declined. I thought it might have been something with the sellers machine and decided to use my NBK card for the purchase instead. I didn’t use my card for the rest of the trip since I was using my NBK credit card. When I landed in Kuwait Saturday night I headed to the Burgan Bank ATM machine at the airport to withdraw money to pay for parking but I got a declined error again and a message on my phone saying the bank declined my card and I should contact them. So I called Burgan Bank and ask their customer support why they’re declining my transactions and the employee told me it was due to security reasons. I was like what?! He was like when someone uses the ATM card in two different countries in the same day they automatically block my card and I need to call the bank to unblock it. I went apeshit again. I told the employee I had breakfast at the airport and then traveled to Bahrain and wanted to use my card there, are you telling me I am not allowed to do that? Are you saying that if I have breakfast at the airport I am not allowed to use my card again until 24 hours later after arriving to my destination? He was like it’s their policy. I was like I can’t be the only Burgan Bank customer that has complained about this. I was literally yelling at this point and asked him if Burgan Bank customers ever travel??? I told him this was the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard and that IF they were to block my card it should be when someone tries to withdraw a large amount like a KD1,000 or KD5,000 but not KD10! I told him I was fed up with them and that I hated being put in awkward situations because of them. I told him they have no right to keep blocking my card like that because they have no idea what situation I could be in while abroad and needed money but because of their incompetence I would end up being screwed. I told the employee to unblock my card and to put a note to never ever block it again. I told him even if five different people in five different countries try to withdraw money from my card at the same time to let them. Even if someone in Nigeria is trying to withdraw all the money on the card to let them. I just couldn’t handle it anymore, I hate being treated like a child by my bank. If they’re concerned about any transaction on my card they should call me and check on it like NBK does. But to block my card without warning is ridiculous.
So in the next few days when I have some free time I’m going to sadly be closing my account with Burgan Bank. I say sadly because I actually love the branch near my house and have had a pretty good experience with them. Even though both their app and online banking sucks I liked passing by their branch and their bank employees are actually really friendly. But their security policies have completely killed it for me. The whole point of opening an account with them was so that I have a backup system to use when I travel and the one thing I wanted them for they’ve failed in miserably. Now I need to find another bank instead so if anyone has any recommendations let me know below.
Update: Burgan Bank ended up calling me regarding my post and according to them they’ve reengineered some of the processes so that people don’t end up having these issues again. This is the email they sent me:
Thank you for raising your customer experience with us in regards to recent issues on your debit cards, firstly we regret the inconvenience caused to you. Due to the recent spate of frauds in card related transactions across the region each bank including ourselves had put in parameters in order to protect & safe guard our customers. Our endeavor has always been to protect our customers assets & ensure better customer experience.
We can reassure you that based on your experience and feedback we have relooked at our processes & reengineered them to ensure better customer experience and we will monitor and review the same on ongoing basis.
Anytime I need to get any paperwork from the government I cringe. In the past month I had two papers I needed to get sorted and in both cases things didn’t go so smoothly. I hate how I have to approach all the employees in a way where it’s like I am asking them for a favor.
The first paper is related to a business I’m launching. To setup a company I need a paper from my sponsor giving me permission to start a company. I got that paper from him and went to Government Mall (located under the Liberation Tower) to get it notarized. When I presented the document the government employee took a look at it and told me the format was all wrong, he wrote down the proper format, I went downstairs got it typed and came back to show him. He told me it was fine and I now needed to get it signed by my sponsor. So I left and came back two weeks later with the document signed. I went back to the same employee and handed him the signed document, he looked at it and was like what is this? I explained to him what it was and he once again told me it was in the wrong format. I was like what do you mean its the wrong format? You wrote it for me, I got it typed and approved by you and all you said I needed to do was get it signed which I did! He was like no this is the wrong format. I asked him if he could write down what I needed to change, he told me he won’t write anything and then shooed me away. I’m now getting someone to get this document sorted for me since I can’t deal with that crap again.
The second paper I needed to get was permission from the police to replace my damaged bumper. I headed to the Salmiya police station and walked up to the information desk and told them what paper I needed. They instructed me to go into the first office on the left. I went to the first office on the left and the police officer there told me to go upstairs. I went upstairs and there were three rooms but only one was occupied. So I walked in and waited until the two police there finished their conversation before I asked the cop seated at a desk about the paper. The cop told me to go to the office next door. I told him I did but there was nobody there. He then got agitated and told me obviously there isn’t anybody there since its his office and he can’t be in two places at once. As if I was somehow supposed to have know that was his office. So I go wait in his office for a few minutes and then he walks in. He’s like I need you to get me a photocopy of your license, car registration booklet and your civil ID. I thought to myself why couldn’t you have told me that earlier instead of making me wait here. So I leave the police station and drive to the nearest photocopy shop and then come back with the copies. I go upstairs again and this time the same cop is sitting at a desk in the third room. In my head I thought that was hilarious because it felt like the police station had only one employee who changes offices and pretends to be a different person every time. He ends up filling up the papers and then sends me down to the Salmiya area commander for one last signature.
How I hate this. I know a lot of people (mostly Kuwaitis) would disagree with me on this but I would rather they replaced all the ministry employees with expats. When was the last time you walked into McDonalds and was greeted by a grumpy employee who made you feel like he was doing you a favor?
I was on my way to the gym earlier tonight when I noticed a dazzling new light show being tested out on one of the towers. It looks really cool especially as you’re driving by it on the Gulf Road. I was going to say it’s probably for Hala February thinking it starts next month but then I remembered Hala February is actually Hala January since it started last week. While we are on the subject of Hala January, why isn’t there an English version of the website? [YouTube]
I love this car, I’ve loved it ever since I first laid my eyes on it. Last year I took the F-Type roadster out for a day and my biggest issue with it other than the super tiny trunk was the fact it was a soft top convertible. I’m not a fan of soft tops so when Jaguar revealed the F-Type Coupe I knew this is the car I wanted to get.
The Jaguar F-Type Coupe is one of the best looking cars on the roads right now and in my opinion, it also has one of the hottest looking rear ends. The model Jaguar lent me was the V6 340hp although they had a 380hp version available to test drive as well (maybe I could take that for a spin next time Jaguar?). When I first picked up the car I wasn’t too sure about the color, but by the end of the day it had grown on me. It’s such a beautiful car that even the white looks great on it, actually white might be my favorite color on the Coupe.
The F-Type Coupe isn’t a big car, it doesn’t have any rear seats nor any kind of room behind the seats. It’s compact but never feels claustrophobic. I picked up the car in the morning and went about my day. I had a bunch of errands to run followed by lunch with a friend and like the F-Type roadster, this is a great everyday car. It’s easy to drive in traffic and the suspension is soft enough to handle bumpy old roads. The trunk in the Coupe is fairly large as well so if you want to drop a friend off at the airport you can, that was something I wasn’t able to do with the roadster due to the fact that trunk couldn’t fit a medium sized bag.
After lunch I drove up north to my favorite isolated road to take my photos. It’s a 50 minute drive each way so it gives me a lot of good quality time with the car. One thing this model I drove missed over the previous roadster I had taken out was the optional sport exhaust system. Although the car had an aggressive growl and popped a lot, I did miss having the optional exhaust switch which would kick the sound up a notch. Speaking of sounds, the sound system in the review car was also the standard 6-speaker one and not the 12-speaker Meridian system I had previously tried out in the roadster. It still sounded impressive, but just not as good as the Meridian.
One thing I really appreciated on the car this time around were the brakes. Based on the spec sheet I received, the Coupe I drove was fitted with the standard brakes but they were extremely responsive and very powerful. I’m by nature a late-braker but with the F-Type I became a very-late-braker because I had so much confidence in the brakes. Makes me wonder how much better the optional super performance braking system would be.
Like the F-Type roadster, one of the best things about the Coupe is the starting price. The Jaguar F-Type Coupe starts at just KD19,500 and the one I was driving with all the options sells for around KD24,000. If I didn’t know how much the F-Types cost I would have easily guessed over KD30,000 just by the looks alone. Is there anything I didn’t like in the car? Not really, I mean this is the car I was actually considering getting a few months ago when I was car shopping. It’s got great looks, incredible performance and just feels fantastic on the road.
If you’re interested in test driving the car yourself you can pass by the Jaguar dealer in Al-Rai (Al-Zayani) and check it out there.
I’m at the Cape Town airport right now waiting for my flight back to Kuwait and I figured this would be the best time to write about one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited.
I booked my flight to Cape Town on impulse and not by doing a lot of research. I was at the Foo Fighters website checking out their tshirts when I decided to check and see where they were touring. I noticed they were going to be in Cape Town in December so I figured why not go watch them there. I booked the concert tickets and then messaged my friend in Cape Town telling her I would be visiting. I then booked my airline ticket and that was pretty much it. Around two weeks before leaving to Cape Town I started doing some research trying to see what else there is to do there. First thing popped up was the Sonar electronic music festival, it was taking place on the last two days I would be in Cape Town so I purchased tickets to that as well. I then kept researching and came up with a pretty long list of things I wanted to do in Cape Town and that included:
Hot Air Balloon Ride
Once I got to Cape Town I started planning my schedule.
Where I stayed
Because December is peak season in Cape Town and I was booking everything last minute I couldn’t find a good hotel to stay in so I ended up staying in a beautiful bed and breakfast called Radium Hall. The website and photos really don’t do it any justice and 6 nights stay cost me just KD160. Insanely great value and I’m so glad I ended up staying there instead of a hotel. The view from the balcony wow… I loved coming back home just for the view.
How I got around
While in Cape Town I was using the Uber cab service the whole time and I found it incredibly cheap and practical. 80% of my trips were costing me on average KD1 and my most expensive trips were to the airport and those cost me KD4. All the cab drivers were super friendly and they even have Uber Chopper in Cape Town where you can order a chopper and an Uber black car picks you up and takes you to a helicopter which will then give you a tour of Cape Town.
What I did
So I had a pretty long list of things to do but I decided to prioritize and ended up doing the following:
The first day I got there I did the Foo Fighters concert. It was being held in the Cape Town Stadium and I arrived five hours early hoping to be first in line only to find a fairly large queue already waiting. I still managed to end up center stage though and forth row standing which is super close. It was a great show and three hours long, they played all their greatest hits since back in 1995. I loved it.
I’ve been wanting to skydive for such a long time and even though I could have done it in Dubai I really wasn’t interested in jumping over a dessert/city. I wanted to jump out of a plane over a beautiful landscape and I’m glad I ended up doing it in Cape Town. I did the jump with Skydive Cape Town, it cost around KD80 including pick up and drop off. We were three jumpers at the same time (tandem of course) and we squeezed into the back of a super tiny plane that looked like it was 50 years old. Super freaky but that was part of the experience. It took us around 20 minutes to get to the right jumping height and then one by one we jumped out of the plane. I wasn’t the slightest bit scared I was just really curious to see how I would react when we first jumped out and my reaction turned out to be just pure excitement. They recorded a video of the jump and basically for the first 30 seconds while we were free falling all you could hear me scream was “fuuuuccccck yesssss!!”. I loved it. The company I jumped with seemed a bit old fashioned though when it came to documenting the jump. They took photos and videos from a camera that my skydive instructor wore on his wrist while in Dubai for example, based on the photos I’ve seen, they actually have another jumper jump with you to take photos of you. Also they gave me the video on DVD.. in DVD format so even though they shot the video with a GoPro in HD, the video I got was low res. Plus who still has a DVD player?
The second activity I did was bungee jumping. This turned out to be a complicated activity to perform just because of the planning it involved. The highest bungee jumping bridge in the world is at Bloukrans Bridge which is a whopping 8 hours drive from Cape Town. I was planning of renting a car and driving there but then I found a quicker way to get there. I ended up flying out from Cape Town to an area called George and then renting a car from the airport and driving around two and a half hours to Nature’s Valley which is just 10 minutes away from the Bloukrans Bridge. I booked a room at the Tranquility Lodge for the night and they helped me book my bungee jump for the same day.
This whole two day trip was a beautiful experience. First of all the jump was insane. Like the skydive I wasn’t scared at all before the jump, in fact I was pretty numb. I had a bunch of things on my mind and so was too preoccupied to be scared. I was actually worried I might get scared while standing at the edge but even that didn’t bother me. But, as soon as I jumped the first second or two I was fine but because the jump is soo high (216 meters) it just felt like I wouldn’t stop and I was thinking what the fuck when will the bungee cord snap back up. It was exhilarating. The company running the bungee jumping was also extremely extremely professional. I mean every step of the way from booking till the end they were very organized. They also took some great photos and shot an amazing video of the jump which I later purchased from them on a memory card. Definitely worth the experience and the jump cost just KD20 (not including around KD60 for the flight, KD30 for the car rental and KD15 for the room).
The rest of the day I ended up spending it on the Nature’s Valley beach. I didn’t even know my lodge was located next to the beach but I heard a sound of a waterfall behind a large green bushy area so I went to explore and ended up finding myself on a large fairly secluded beach with waves splashing constantly. It was beautiful and that alone would have been worth the trip.
Ever since I was a kid I’ve wanted to surf, probably because all the cool people used to be surfers on tv shows and I just wanted to be cool like them as a kid growing up. Cape Town is a surf town so it wasn’t very difficult finding a surfing school. I ended up booking a private session with one of the best and most expensive surfing schools in Cape Town called Stoked School of Surf. The private two hour lesson cost me around KD40 which isn’t really expensive just expensive compared to other options available.
This experience turned out to be wayyyyy more fun than I ever imagined. Not only that but by half way through my lesson I was already standing on the board and surfing to the beach. The whole team behind Stoked were very professional and they had two dedicated photographers covering the private and group lessons, one guy in the water with a GoPro while the other on the shore with a DSLR.
Sonar Cape Town
I was pretty surprised to find out the Sonar music festival was coming to Cape Town. Even though the event was being held over two days I ended up just buying a ticket for the second day since there were two musicians I REALLY wanted to see, Jon Hopkins and Ten Walls. Both turned out to be the last acts of the night so I kept popping in and out of the festival all day long until I was back there at 1AM to watch Jon Hopkins and then Ten Walls at 3AM.
I have mixed feelings about Sonar, Cape Town definitely isn’t a partying city in the same way Barcelona is where I was back in May for the Sonar festival there. When I first popped in at 4PM there were literally like 5-10 people there only watching one of the performances (pic above). It looked like a really bad high school prom. Then later on during the day it started getting more packed but for example when Jon Hopkins was going to come on I don’t think anybody knew who he was except me, a friend and another couple who were there standing in front of the stage with us waiting for Jon to come on. Turns out the other couple were from the same town at Jon hence why they knew who he was. Both Jon Hopkins and Ten Wall were ridiculous and I’m so glad I watched them live.
Why Cape Town is amazing
Cape Town is a bit like Lebanon, LA and Miami all combined into one. I travel a lot and I’ve been to a lot of great cities but Cape Town is the first one I actually want to move to. I feel there are a ton of business opportunities here and I really really can’t describe how beautiful the city is. I loved the fact that if you want to go camping in the middle of nowhere or go to a beautiful private secluded beach, you can and they’re just 30 minutes drive away. The beaches! I went beach hopping one day and every beach we ended up at was nicer than the beach before it. The sand is snow white and the water a clean and sparkling blue. You have the huge table mountain right behind you as well so it’s such a pretty sight wherever you go. And the food… I literally just had sea food while I was here and everywhere I ate was just delicious. My favorite places were probably Beluga, Haiku and Willoughby & Co. I didn’t drink any wine while I was here but I didn’t have to since Cape Town beer is some of the best I’ve ever had as well. I was introduced to Castle Lite by the owner of the bed and breakfast I was staying in on the very first day I arrived and I was constantly drinking that for the rest of the trip. Oh and for those of you who don’t think Cape Town is safe, I found it as safe as New York. I was out past midnight in some dodgy neighborhoods without feat but I was also “mugging ready” meaning like in New York or any other city for that matter which I travel to, I always am prepared in case I get mugged. I always have a backup credit card and debit card in my hotel and I make sure I don’t wear my expensive watches or carry expensive electronics other than my phone.
I’m on the plane now about to take off so have to quickly end this post. In conclusion, Cape Town is a must visit city and it’s easy to get to, just one stop away with Qatar Airways or Emirates. Cape Town is where I am going to retire in.
If you have anything you think would be interesting to share on this blog