Life with the Vespa – Part 2 – Final Review

Posted by Mark

vespa1

I’ve had my Vespa for over 6 months now and not only have I not gotten bored of it, but I love it even more than ever. It’s by far my best purchase of 2014. As I mentioned in part 1 of my review, whenever I’m riding my Vespa I feel like I’m on a vacation and 6 months later that feeling hasn’t changed one bit.

vespa2

I don’t even know where to begin this post because there are so many great things about living with a Vespa. The obvious one is the fact there is no traffic when you’re on a Vespa. Throughout the past 6 months whenever I had any kind of work in the city or Shuwaikh during the day, the Vespa was my go to ride. You would think any motorbike would fair the same in traffic but that’s not true because scooters are much more agile and nimble. In Shuwaikh where there’s lots of road construction taking place the cars don’t really line up properly because the lanes aren’t properly divided. So you could be making your way between the cars in traffic and then get to a point where the cars are just too close too each other and you’re stuck.. unless you’re on a scooter. Scooters are much more lighter and more compact so it’s so much easier to just weave your way between cars in traffic and the fact the Vespa has an automatic gearbox also means it’s quicker and less of nuisance to stop and start. There hasn’t been a single traffic jam yet in which I wasn’t able to make it to the very front.

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Imagine if the roads were empty all day long… thats life with my Vespa.

I own the Vespa Sprint which has a 125cc engine. It’s not that fast, the maximum speed is around 95km/h and I can sometimes hit just over 100 when going downhill. Although that doesn’t sound fast it’s more than enough when riding on the Gulf Road or even the 4th Ring Road where the maximum speed is 80km/h anyway. Vespa do have have different models with larger engines but the bikes themselves are also slightly larger and heavier. My Sprint is usually the first off the line at a traffic light but after that acceleration is fairly slow. But really you don’t need the bike to be faster since it’s not like you’re going to ride the Vespa down to the chalets on the weekend, it’s for city errands and at that I can’t imagine anything performing better. Even though my Vespa isn’t fast I still ride like a hooligan because the bike gives so much confidence. Probably too much confidence because I slid and fell at a small roundabout near my house a couple of months back scratching up the left side of my bike. Luckily my favorite pair of jeans and sneakers were unharmed.

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The Sprint has a good amount of storage space in case you do some shopping. Under the seat you’ve got a large compartment which I use to store my helmet in and you also have a small glove compartment in the front which I use to store my phone and wallet. In case there isn’t enough space under the seat for your grocery bags, there is a small hook that comes out from the seat in the front which you can hang your bags on. I also love the retro looking analogue speedometer since it adds a lot of character to the bike.

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A lot of people have asked me if you need a license to ride a Vespa and the answer is yes, you need a motorbike license to ride one. That wasn’t an issue for me since I got my license years ago when I got my first motorbike, but it’s still worth noting for anyone considering getting one.

With all the traffic issues in Kuwait I’m surprised not more people have gotten scooters. It’s obviously impossible to ride one in the blazing summer heat but there are at least 6 months a year where the weather is great for them. I really don’t have anything negative to say about my Vespa, maybe if there was a built in USB port to charge my phone that would have been convenient but actually thinking about it now, I probably could get one installed easily. Honestly it’s so much fun riding a Vespa I can’t stop recommending it to people. Get one if you can.


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Fail of the Week

Posted by Mark

fail

Hashtag #kuwaitfail on instagram or email me a fail and I’ll share the best one every week.

Thanks Mathai


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Skateboarding and Badminton

Posted by Mark

sovrn

This is a little bit off topic from my usual posts but I need two things:

Badminton
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.

Skateboarding
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.

#midlifecrisis


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Women from Sierra Leone ‘sold like slaves’ in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

domesticworker

“Choose the one you want,” says one agent with a smile. “I will give you a hundred days’ guarantee. If you don’t like her you can send her back.”

The Guardian published an article two days ago on the treatment of domestic workers in Kuwait, specifically ones from Sierra Leone. They compared it to slavery with every right to do so. One interesting fact the article highlighted is that nearly 90% of Kuwaiti households employ at least one foreign maid. That’s just an insane figure. Check out the full article on The Guardian [Here]

Also Fajer the Lawyer previously posted on Domestic Workers Rights [Here] in case you missed it.

Thanks Laila


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Things to do in Kuwait this Weekend

Posted by Mark

Another busy weekend but my personal picks are The Spring Bazaar for tonight followed by The Spring Comedy Show if it isn’t sold out. Tomorrow I’d pass by Open Mic at Bayt Lothan and finally on Saturday I would pass by the last Qout Market of the season which is going to be held in the evening this time around. Check out the full list of events below:

Thursday
Exhibition: A Wonderful World Under Construction
Kuwait Dino Park
The Spring Bazaar
The IBAK-PROSPORTS Badminton Challenge Cup
The Cube Market
Rooftop Movie: Forks Over Knives
The Spring Comedy Show
MILSIM Failaka

Friday
Kuwait Dino Park
The IBAK-PROSPORTS Badminton Challenge Cup
The Cube Market
Book Club Meeting
Open Mic
Play: The Glass Menagerie
Culinary Event: Pasta Pronto

Saturday
Kuwait Dino Park
The Cube Market
Qout Market
Play: Love Letters
Rooftop Movie: Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels

If you’d like to share an event on the blog [Email Me]


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Acura Showroom Now Open

Posted by Mark

acura-kuwait-1

Acura, the luxury division of Honda have opened up their first showroom in Kuwait. I passed by the first time two weeks ago before they opened and was given a tour of the place, and earlier today I went back to take some photos now that it’s actually open. According to the Acura representative who was showing me around, the Acura showroom in Kuwait is the largest Acura showroom in the world. They actually don’t like calling it a showroom but instead prefer using the world facility since it’s a one stop shop for everything Acura.

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Acura is a premium brand and the showroom lives up to it. The building is huge and very tastefully decorated with lots of light colors and lots of natural daylight everywhere. As I said earlier, they prefer to call it a facility because of the fact you have the main showroom in the front, a quick service garage in the back, a body and paint shop in the basements and a spare parts store all under the same roof.

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Right now the dealer is carrying two Acura models to start off with, the TLX which is a four-door luxury sedan and the MDX which is their luxury SUV. My first question obviously was if they were getting the NSX since thats the car I’m extremely interested in. Turns out they will be getting it once it launches next year. Not only that but their facility is already prepared for it, they have a special location on the showroom floor where they will be displaying the car as well as a special section of their garage designed specifically for the NSX maintenance.

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I can’t believe its taken this long for Acura to get here but glad it’s here now that the NSX is getting released. The new showroom is located in Al-Rai right next to Xcite Electronics. Their opening hours are from 8:30AM to 8:00PM.


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Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers Opening in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

raising

No idea who Raising Cane’s are honestly but I just read that Alshaya decided to bring them to the Middle East. I’m guessing Alshaya probably wanted to bring a chicken franchise to the region and Chick-fil-A would have been too controversial so they ended up with Raising Cane’s. According to the article, Raising Cane’s will open their first location in Avenues this July (probably at the recently closed Olive Garden or Red Lobster locations. [Link]

Thanks James


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I flew Kuwait Airways and I liked it

Posted by Mark

ku1

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.

ku2

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.


[YouTube]

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.


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Kuwait Win of the Week: Meiagib Nasser Al-Dossary

Posted by Mark

mail

A reader posted the following story in the community forum and I figured I would share it here as is:

It was a routine day with a regular issue “I didn’t receive my registered mail”. I bought an item and that was shipping via registered mail from Singapore; status is showing that it has reached Kuwait on 10th of March and today was 24-March-2015.

During this gap from 10 to 24, I’ve been to Kaifan Central Post Office, Abu Halifa post office, KOC post office Ahmadi and Ahmadi Post office 3 Times.

Long story short either I was told to go to my area post office which is Ahmadi or simply “Maa Fi” and waived away. During my 3 visits to Ahmadi post office; I heard it a lot “Maa Fi” and few times that it didn’t came.

Luckily one day I was surfing net for any possible help or solution, I came to Ministry of Communication “Postal Sector” Site; on that page is a picture of Asst. Undersecretary and link to the site which is in Arabic and contains some basic info.

Site: http://moc.kw/English/post.html

Randomly I sent a text to Asst. undersecretary Engineer Meiagib Nasser Al-Dossary, and after 45 minutes I got a mobile call from Airport Post office, that guy asked my tracking number and found it in less than two minutes saying that “We received it back from your area Post Office” and you will receive it after 2 days from your own area.

I didn’t almost believed that, kind of shock that a mail I’m searching can be found so easily. I got a call from another guy and asked me same details and asked about problems I faced at area Post Office. I told him that they have found it at airport “returned”.

I believe all thanks to Mr. Meiagib Nasser Al-Dossary (Asst. Undersecretary). After those two calls, I got a call from him “sorry for delay and in future if I need any postal help I can contact him”; that felt very nice.

To check that further, I spread the word out of this help and asked my friends (who are also waiting for their registered mail) to contact him and results was again the same. He was helpful and guided them to write person.

I believe Mr. Meiagib is kind enough to let anyone contact him for help and solve the issues.

It surely can be one of the good things in Kuwait. I hope anyone get help from this incident.

I have a package that I need to pick up this week from the post office, should be routine but we’ll see how it goes.

Photo by Mathai


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Quality of Living in our Region

Posted by Mark

quality

Mercer’s 2015 Quality of Living rankings was recently released and Kuwait came 4th in our region with UAE, Oman and Qatar coming ahead.

1 – Vienna, Austria
74 – Dubai, UAE
77 – Abu Dhabi, UAE
104 – Muscat, Oman
108 – Doha, Qatar
125 – Kuwait City, Kuwait
130 – Manama, Bahrain
138 – Hyderabad, India
163 – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
166 – Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
170 – Cairo, Egypt
181 – Beirut, Lebanon
203 – Tehran, Iran
230 – Baghdad, Iraq

No surprise really with UAE topping the list or Qatar coming ahead but, I am surprised with Oman just because I’ve heard its a great place for a vacation but a boring place to live.

Check out the full list of cities [Here]


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