Posta Plus vs Aramex’s Shop & Ship

Post by Mark

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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.

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– 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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Game Review: The Division

Post by Patrick

thediv

The Division has been out for quite some time now and it’s taken me this long to write about it because I wanted to make sure my opinions didn’t change the longer I played the game. The game has generally been received well by critics, but as always that doesn’t reveal the extent of a games quality. If you don’t know what the Division is, it’s a cover based shooter with RPG mechanics, that’s a quasi MMO. Think of Destiny, yeah. It’s sort of like that.

The set up for the Division is simple. A lethal virus breaks out during Black Friday and spreads across New York City, ravaging the city and killing thousands. Manhattan is quarantined and the US Government activates sleeper agents known as the Division to assist emergency responders to bring stability and order to the city.

The game puts you in the shoes of an unnamed Division agent. You create your character and you’re forced into action. After a few missions you unlock your base which is split into 4 distinct sections. You have the general area where the stores and your stash are located. You have the medical, the security and a tech area. Whenever you upgrade each section you’ll see your base grow, with more personal and more people populating the base. It’s a great thing to see and very satisfying to observe. Each base upgrade also helps your character by adding perks or abilities. So you have more then one reason to upgrade your base. It also makes you think about what upgrade to choose first. Think of these three sections and the abilities they unlock as different play styles: If you focus on the medical section you should consider yourself a healer, if you focus on the tech, a rogue and if you focus on security a tank. Obviously you can mix and match, but generally this is how I thought of it.

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I enjoy enemy A.I. that is dynamic and that are smart. Bar some inconsistent moments the A.I. in this game is that. The enemies will try to outflank you so seeking cover in one place isn’t going to guarantee you safety. Your best bet is to shoot, cover and move. Staying out in the open will most likely lead to your death. The game features different groups of gangs that each offer different challenges. Within these gangs you’ll come to be familiar with the different types of enemies you’ll face. There are your melee enemies, who are probably the dumbest of all enemy types. They’ll just run up to you and try to hit you with a bat. They’re easy to kill, but if they do end up hitting you, they’ll deal a lot of damage. Then you have the other typical enemy types: a sniper, a shotgun, and regular grunt who uses automatic rifles. Depending on what gang you’re facing you’ll face more types of enemies. For example there is a gang called the Cleaners. They usually come equipped with flame-throwers and will burn anything that comes close to them. Then you have the boss-type characters who have a ton of armor and take some time to kill. Sometimes you’ll have to fight more than one and these fights can be pretty intense.

Read the rest of this entry »


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Review: Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt/Ice Cream Maker

Post by Mark

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Since summer is knocking on our doorsteps this is the perfect time to post about the Cuisinart ice cream maker I recently purchased (the Cuisinart ICE-30BC).

I’ve recently been trying out the ketogenic diet after hearing about it on one of the podcasts I listen to and the main principle of the diet is you’re not supposed to consume any sugar or any carbs but you’re supposed to have lots of fat. Avocados are one great way of introducing a lot of fat into your diet but I personally don’t like the way they taste. So I was looking for a simple keto recipe that involved avocados and I found one for an avocado chocolate chunk ice cream that sounded delicious. I had honestly been looking for an excuse to buy an ice cream maker for a while so as soon as I found the recipe I decided to get one.

I kinda already knew what I wanted a Cuisinart ice cream maker since I’m fond of the brand and I knew I had seen them in Kuwait. So I did my research and the only places that carried the ice cream maker were Lakeland, Williams-Sonoma and Tavola (the Cuisinart dealer). Williams-Sonoma only had the dual ice cream maker which I wasn’t interested in since it was too big, Lakeland had the model I wanted but they were selling it for KD42 while Tavola were selling the exact same one for KD32.350. So I ended up picking it up from Tavola and since I was already in Shuwaikh, I decided to pass by Williams-Sonoma to pick up the best ice cream scoop you can buy, the Zeroll 1020.

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The way the ice cream maker works is very simple. There are two main parts, the bowl and the main unit. You take the bowl and stick it in the freezer for 12+ hours and only take it out when you want to make ice cream. When your mixture is ready and the bowl frozen, you take the bowl from the freezer and place it in the main unit. You then pour your mixed ingredients into the bowl and let the ice cream maker churn your mixture for around 20 minutes until it turns into ice cream. Thats all there is to it.

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I have to say, my avocado chocolate chunk ice cream has been turning out really delicious. And because I am buying the ingredients, I can control how healthy my ice cream is and so I’m having it guilt free. At KD32 this really is a no brainer impulse buy. So if you feel like making your own ice cream this summer, get this. Here is the map to Tavola [Google Maps] and you could call them on 24825761.


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Tumi Love

Post by Mark

tumi

I’ve had my Tumi suitcase for 6 or more years now and it just won’t die. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Tumi but I’ve also had my eye on an aluminium Rimowa for sometime now. I saw a badly beat up and dented one at an airport a few years ago and even though the suitcase wasn’t in its best shape of its life, it had a lot of character and I fell in love with it right away. I decided I would get one as soon as my Tumi fell apart but that day doesn’t seem like it will be coming anytime soon.

I travel a lot and my Tumi bag (pictured above) is my favorite and primary suitcase which I take with me wherever I go. I’m not very gentle with it, I’m abusive and I really throw it about and expect it to take my shit with no questions asked. The wheels have probably taken the most amount of abuse from me and yet they’re still in perfect condition. The suitcase is bullet proof (probably literally).

After all these years of my Tumi putting up with me, I figured it was time I’d be nice to it and show my appreciation with a post on the blog. So if you’re looking for a durable travel suitcase I can’t recommend Tumi enough.


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RAW Sushi Bar

Post by Mark

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Friday night I passed by RAW Sushi Bar with a few friends to try the place out. RAW is a new sushi place located in a very industrial part of Shuwaikh and currently opening just on the weekends. Actually up until last week they were opening only Friday evenings but starting this coming week they’ll be opening Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. They’re still in a soft launch phase which was why their menu wasn’t the final edition when we passed by but I liked the place so wanted to post about it.

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First to get the food aspect out of the way, we ordered a whole bunch of rolls and starters so we could try a variety of dishes. The worst dishes we had weren’t really bad but they just weren’t anything that really stuck out. On the other hand the stuff we did like we would go back for more. Their Negimaki was the best I’ve had and from the rolls we ordered my favorites were the Cali Wearing Orange and the Pink Ink rolls. Forgot what was inside them but just look for them on the menu if you pass by. One of the things I liked about their rolls was the ability to order half portions so you can order more of a variety without over ordering.

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The interior of the place was dim, industrial and trendy looking. It’s not that big with a small bar running along one side of the restaurant and four small tables scattered around. They’ll soon have outdoor seating but I think I’d still prefer the inside more just because of the mood. It’s a local business run by the owners themselves who happen to also be the sushi chefs. I asked one of the owners why he chose to open up in that location and he told me he was actually a bike builder and spent a lot of his time in that area. There literally isn’t anything else around them open that late, there aren’t even any street lights which can be a bit creepy. But, it’s where he feels comfortable and along with all the location quirks I thought they helped make the place seem that much more special.

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The only issue we really had was with the service. It was fairly slow but that was to be expected since they had only been open a handful of times and are still working to fix all their kinks. Price wise I found them extremely reasonable. We were four people and our bill came out to KD26. It actually should have been around KD31 since we ordered 4 starters, 5 different rolls, 4 waters and 2 green teas but, they didn’t charge us for two half portions of rolls because there was a mix up and we ended up getting them really late. Still, KD31 add tip plus divided by 4 is KD8.5 per person. That’s really good. As I mentioned, starting this week they’ll be opening Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 7PM till midnight. Their instagram account is @eatrawkwt and here is their location on [Google Maps]


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Review: Sennheiser IE80 Earphone

Post by Mark

ie80

Since around 2007 and up until last year I had basically been loyal to one earphone brand and thats Ultimate Ears. They were so good that I ended up going through three pairs, I started with the Ultimate Ears SuperFi 5 Pro in 2007 and then upgraded to the TripleFi 10 until they stopped working so I bought a second pair of the same ones. I just couldn’t find anything better for the price and decided to stick to them even though they had failed me. Then last year my second pair started failing as well so I decided to look for an alternative.

After a lot of research I ended up getting the Sennheiser IE80. There were a number of factors that played into my decision with the main ones being the sound signature, the price, the comfort and the brand. Trying to buy a pair of earphones without being able to try them on and listening to them is extremely difficult. Why would you choose a pair of $150 earphones over a pair of $100 ones or how much better do a pair of $500 or even $1,000 pair of earphones sound over a $300 pair? Theres an earphone at every price point and I had to go through tons of reviews and read hundreds of different comments by people in various forums before I could finally decide on a pair. What made things more complicated with me was that I didn’t really have a budget. I didn’t mind paying $70 and I wouldn’t have minded paying $500 since music is important for me and so I really need to have great sounding earphones. I think I might have even been willing to pay a $1,000 if it meant I’d be getting ear euphoria followed by a happy ending from an Eastern European model.

One of the most important factors in choosing an earphone would be the amount and quality of bass they had. I listen to a lot of electronic music and really need deep bass to thoroughly enjoy the music. But I didn’t want boomy bass and I also didn’t want the rest of the sound spectrum to be muddled. Based on what I read the Sennheiser IE80’s fit into what I was looking for. They also cost around $280 which wasn’t too bad and from all the reviews I read they seemed to be very comfortable as well so I went a head and ordered a pair last July while I was in LA.

When I first got the IE80’s I was actually disappointed with the sound since I found them too bright and lacking deep bass. Even when I tried all the different earphone tips provided with the earphones I couldn’t get the bass to the level I needed it to be. After going back to some forums and reading up I noticed a lot of people were recommending to combine the IE80’s with a pair of Comply T-500 Foam Tips. So I ordered a pair of those tips and I’m so glad I did. They completely changed how the earphones sounded by providing better isolation which resulted in much deeper bass. Since then I’ve been using the IE80’s frequently including on 5 plane trips that were over 10 hours long. They’re very comfortable and they sound insanely good, better than any pair of earphones I’ve previously used. The only down side I have with them is their carrying case which I find a bit too big and bulky to carry and also not that practical to use. Other than that minor issue I’d highly recommend these earphones. If when you do get a pair and the bass seems a bit weak even after burning them in then do what I did and order the Comply tips as well.

I bought my pair of IE80’s from Amazon for KD86 [Link] but they’re available locally at aDawliah for KD117. The Comply T-500 tips cost me another KD5 and I bought those from Amazon as well [Link].


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Lexus NX 200t

Post by Mark

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A couple of weekends back I borrowed the Lexus NX 200t from the dealership so that I could review it for my blog. I had emailed them requesting it since I’d been admiring the car for awhile now and was curious to try it out. Lexus weren’t really know for exciting or breakthrough designs but the NX completely changed my perception on them.

My favorite color on a car is usually black, but not in this case. I was actually disappointed when I picked up the car to find out it was black. The NX is designed with a lot of sharp lines and black just hides all of them. Not only that but one of the nicest design elements in the car are the rear lights which stretch across the side of the car over the rear tire. But in black that part doesn’t show and instead blends in with the rest of the car. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to show off how beautiful the car really is in my photos because of the color, but I also figured there are tons of them on the road already so more than likely you’ve come across a lighter colored version.

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The NX is a cross over vehicle which makes it smaller than a proper SUV but slightly larger than a standard car. They always feel like oversized hatchbacks to me and the NX isn’t any different here. It’s a 4-cylinder turbo engine with front wheel drive but it never felt like it lacked any power on the road. Obviously the fact that we don’t have any mountainous roads helps a lot with that. In the States they have a hybrid model which comes with an electric motor for the rear wheels turning it into an all wheel drive car. Not sure if we have that option in Kuwait, I didn’t see any at the dealership and I forgot to ask them if they had any.

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Like all Lexus cars, the interior was plush with leather all around including on the dashboard. The entertainment system interface still feels outdated which is disappointing. They’ve also replaced their finicky joypad with an even more finicky trackpad. I hated the trackpad, it seemed like anytime I accidentally tapped it the car would change a setting or forward a song or perform some other unwanted action. The trackpad along with the outdated interface were the only things I actually didn’t like about the car. Actually come to think of it, the sound system wasn’t that great, mostly because if there was any bass in the track the rear trunk door would loudly rattle annoyingly. For the passengers sitting in the rear, there’s pretty good legroom. I’m over 6ft tall and as you can see in the photo below I didn’t have any space issues.

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Like I mentioned at the start of this post the NX is a pretty hot looking car. Lexus have managed to carve out a look that can’t be mistaken for any other car on the road except possibly their larger RX series. The starting price isn’t that bad at KD12,950. It kinda seems like a good deal considering you’re getting a good looking Lexus with a nice all leather interior and Lexus reliability. They have an F-Sport version which looks even better with larger wheels and slightly more aggressive styling, but that’s priced at around KD16,000. It’s a great car overall, but Lexus should definitely give their entertainment system interface a major overhaul. If you’re interested in test driving the car you can do so by contacting the dealer. Here is a link to their [Website]


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Review: Sphero BB-8

Post by Patrick

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With the release of Star Wars Force Awaken, a lot of new Star Wars merchandise has gone on sale like clothing, Lego’s (the Millennium Falcon is KD170!), new figurines and now a new addition, the Sphero BB-8. Being a big Star Wars I’m pretty much on cloud nine. Not only was The Force Awakens a great movie, the new toys look great and even the clothing isn’t bad at all. So I was excited to test out the BB-8 and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked.

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So what’s so cool about the Sphero BB-8? You can control it using your smartphone and it’s compatible with both iOS and Android devices so no one is left out. This little guy can move fast and can take a beating. When I first tested it out, the first thing that popped into my head was that BB-8 would make a great (albeit expensive) toy for my cat. It was impressive watching it speed across the floor especially that the BB-8’s head is attached to the body using a magnet and two little wheels so it stays in place while the rest of the body rolls. It has barely fallen off, even as I’ve hit the wall multiple times and the legs of chairs. The body itself has an “upright” position that corrects itself with the help of the stabilizers that are part of the internal mechanism. There’s also a gyroscope and accelerometer that will assist in controlling BB-8 by being aware of its movements and make subtle and slight adjustments to help you out.

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If you get tired of controlling it you can set it to patrol mode. Patrol mode works similar to the way a Roomba does. The BB-8 will roam around your room on its own and will move around objects, like chair legs or people. What’s cool is that there is an event log that that lets you know if BB-8 hit a wall or detected an object.

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The price tag for the BB-8 is steep, it costs KD69. Ultimately, this is a cool piece of tech, but it’s not something I would play with everyday. Right now I have it on my shelf next to my Samus figurine and my Super Mario Amiibo and sometimes I’ll tease my cat with it once in a while, but at the end of the day it’s a glorified figurine. House guests will find it impressive and it makes for an interesting topic of discussion. I love the BB-8 and it’s unique in a world of cheap toys. It’s a Star Wars toy that can be enjoyed by kids and adults.

If you’re interested in the Sphero BB-8, it’s available at the Avenue’s branch of Fantasy World which has a new section catered towards adults called THE EDGE. Fantasy World also has the largest collection of Star Wars toys that I’ve seen in Kuwait so far, including nice figurines of Kylo Ren, Finn and Rey.

Post by Patrick

Full Disclosure: The Sphero BB-8 was provided by Fantasy World to review on the blog.


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Herman Miller Mirra 2 vs Aeron

Post by Mark

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A few months ago someone from Midas left a comment under an old Herman Miller post I had. Turns out Midas had become Herman Miller dealers and the reader told me I could have a chair if I wanted one. I didn’t need a chair back then so I just never got back to him. Then a few weeks ago, I decided I needed a new chair for my office. I got in touch with Midas and made a deal where I’d pick up a Herman Miller chair and in return give them banner space on the blog.

Unintentionally, I ended up trying two different Herman Miller chairs, the Mirra 2 (pictured on the left) and the Aeron (pictured on the right. When I was originally deciding between the two I couldn’t really find a decent comparison so I figured I’d post my opinion on both in case anyone is ever googling a review.

The Aeron is a classic and has remained mostly unchanged since it was introduced in the late 90s. It was first popularized in Silicon Valley during the dot-com boom and is even featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. The chair has a lot of history but when I first chose a chair I opted for the Mirra 2 mostly because it was one of the newer Herman Miller models and also because the color they had available (the teal) would work well with my office.

I used the Mirra 2 for two weeks and I honestly couldn’t get it setup to where I felt comfortable sitting on it for more than a couple of hours. With the Mirra 2 everything was adjustable from the height of the armrests to the length of the seat, lots of little knobs everywhere to help you personalize the seat for you. Maybe I was just never able to set it up properly and so I never got around to being comfortable in it. Then my office got a makeover and the teal colored Mira 2 no longer fit in with my furniture. So I got in touch with Midas and asked them if I could swap the chair with a black Aeron which they accepted.

The Aeron surprisingly had less customizable features when compared to the Mirra 2 but yet I felt a lot more comfortable in it right away. Setting it up was easier, quicker and the whole experience was less complicated. It’s been over two weeks with the chair now and I love it. According to my contact at Midas, women tend to feel more comfortable in the Mirra 2 while men prefer the Aeron so maybe thats why I also preferred the Aeron.

Price wise, you can pick up the Aeron for KD250 while the fully loaded Mirra 2 costs KD295. To get those prices though ask for Ed or printout this post and take it with you. That puts the Aeron around KD40 cheaper than the price on Amazon while the Mirra 2 around KD10 more expensive. If you’re interested in getting one, here is the Midas office furniture location on [Google Maps]


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Brunch at ORA

Post by Mark

Friday brunches are usually reserved for Cocoa Room but on Saturdays I like to go to other places. Recently it’s mostly been Street (their egg and shroom bao is a killer) but last week while having dinner at ORA I found out they had a brunch menu on Saturdays. So I passed by a couple of days back to try it out.

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Their brunch menu really only has 3 or 4 breakfast items with the rest being mostly dishes you could have for lunch or dinner. That’s not a bad thing but if you’re expecting a bunch of intricate breakfast items cooked up by their talented Chef Tiger, you’d be disappointed.

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I ended up ordering the Short Rib Eggs Benedict to start with, and then a Steak & Egg Donburi to share with friends followed by French Toast & Banana Tempura for dessert. The steak & egg was easily my favorite, the eggs Benedict was also really good except the hollandaise sauce was cold which made the whole dish seem like it was cold. Finally I didn’t like the french toast but thats because I didn’t read the description of the dish properly and turns out it had peanut butter and I hate peanut butter.

Overall not a bad option for a Saturday brunch although I do hope they add more “breakfasty” options to the menu. They open at 11AM and brunch is served till 2PM. If you’ve never been to ORA before click [Here]


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