Hiking Lebanon

Post by Mark

Over the years I’ve posted about different things to do in Lebanon and different places to go, but I’ve never really posted about any outdoor activities you could do (well except for paragliding and ATVing, but that was ages ago). I tend to like doing one outdoor activity whenever I go down to Lebanon, usually camping, but if I don’t have enough time then hiking. Hiking is actually something thats really easy to do in Lebanon and doesn’t require much in terms of prep, you just need transportation and a good pair of hiking shoes (or old sneakers). If you’re interested in hiking the next time you’re in Lebanon, below are two places I highly recommend.

Tannourine Cedars Forest Nature Reserve
The Tannourine reserve is a really great place to go hike and for a number of reasons. Firstly if you enjoy driving then you’ll enjoy the drive to the Tannourine village. The roads are long and winding with beautiful views so I’d highly recommend you rent a convertible for it. Secondly because the reserve is so high up the mountain, even during hot summer months the weather up there is bearable. Finally and most importantly, the reserve is beautiful and filled with huge cedar trees throughout the trail.

The reserve is also pretty well organized. The website isn’t that great but once you get to the reserve you get handed a map at the entrance along with a explanation of all the trails available. There are three trails available with the shortest lasting an hour and the longest nearly three hours. The hike isn’t that difficult although there are some areas that are steep, so you need to be a bit fit or else you’re gonna keep stopping for breaks. The trails are also clearly marked with wide paths and various signs at various intersections so it’s really difficult to get lost. The entrance fee is just 5,000LL (KD1) and the reserve is on Google Maps so it’s really easy to find. For more information you can check out the reserve website [Here]

Shouf Biosphere Reserve
The Shouf reserve is really easy to get to if you’re staying in the Beirut area. If you try to head to the Tannourine reserve during the middle of the week it could easily take you up to 3 hours while the Shouf reserve would take you half that. Like the Tannourine reserve, there are 3 main hiking trails with the shortest lasting just 20 minutes and the longest over 3 hours. But the trails are pretty tough due to the fact that the first half involves a very steep uphill climb to get to the top of the mountain. The trail is actually so tough that you really don’t get to enjoy the beautiful forest until you start making your way back down. The trails also aren’t clearly marked and there are barely any signs. Most of the time you’ll wonder if you’re heading in the right direction or if you’ve veered off the trail and are heading into the middle of nowhere. But its because of that I like this trail, it’s more exciting and feels like a proper adventure. You’ll spend a lot of time on the trail second guessing yourself, wondering if you should have gone left instead of right or right instead of left.

The biosphere’s website is also pretty well put together with a lot of information on all the different trails available as well as information on where to stay or where to eat in the area. The entrance fee to the reserve is 7,000LL and its also easy to find on Google Maps. For more information you can check out the biosphere website [Here]

If you’re really into hiking and camping, and have a bit of time then you could attempt one of the official Lebanese Mountain Trail hikes. The LMT trail is 470km long and divided up into 26 sections. You can get more information on the LMT by clicking [Here]

Like I mentioned at the start of the post, whats great about the two reserves I shared is that they’re easy to get to and very doable if you’re in Lebanon for the just the weekend. It’s a perfect escape from the city and great stress reliever. And best of all, both reserves are close enough that you’ll still have enough time to get back to the city and party after sundown.

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Now Pay Per 100g with Shop & Ship

Post by Mark

Aramex Shop & Ship just launched a new service called Flex in which you pay for your shipments per 100 grams instead of the standard per 500 grams. Usually if you get a package that weighs 300 grams, Aramex would charge you as if it was 500, if your shipment weighed 600 grams then you would get charged for a kilo. By paying per 100 grams instead of 500, you should be able to save on shipping costs.

It would have been a game changer in the US mailbox forwarding market if it wasn’t for the fact that to be eligible for the new pricing structure, you need to pay Aramex KD35 a year. So whatever savings you would accumulate with the Flex pricing structure, you’d most likely end up losing it all with the Flex yearly fee. Not very practical unless you order a lot of items online. If you’re interested to find out more, click [Here]

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Kuwait is One of the Least Stressful Countries in the World

Post by Mark

Zipjet (an online laundry and dry cleaning service) analyzed a 150 cities, and then put a list together highlighting the most and least stressful ones using various factors such as green spaces, public transport, air pollution, traffic and race equality. Based on those factors, Kuwait City was ranked as the 23rd least stressful city in the world and coming second in the region just behind Abu Dhabi. Here is how Kuwait compared to other countries in the region:

1 – Stuttgart, Germany
19 – Abu Dhabi, UAE
23 – Kuwait City, Kuwait
32 – Dubai, UAE
60 – Doha, Qatar
73 – Manama, Bahrain
75 – Muscat, Oman
92 – Amman, Jordan
97 – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
98 – Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
101 – Beirut, Lebanon
140 – Damascus, Syria
145 – Tehran, Iran
146 – Cairo, Egypt
150 – Baghdad. Iraq

For the full rankings and analysis, click [Here]

Thanks Sharan

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The iPhone 8 is Out in Kuwait

Post by Mark

The iPhone 8 just went on sale a few days ago in the States and its already available in Kuwait. Since it hasn’t officially been released in Kuwait yet the prices as expected are pretty ridiculous at the moment. Here are some of the current prices:

Best Electronics
iPhone 8 Plus 256GB: KD400

iPhone 8 256GB: KD315
iPhone 8 Plus 256GB: KD400

iPhone 8 Plus 64GB: KD300

Mobile 2000
iPhone 8 Plus 64GB: KD300

The official Kuwait prices in comparison are as follows:

iPhone 8 64GB: KD245
iPhone 8 256GB: KD297
iPhone 8 Plus 64GB: KD278
iPhone 8 Plus 256GB: KD332

A bunch of places have pre-orders for the official release including Xcite and Jarir. The expected release date is September 30th.

If you’re hoping to get your hands on the iPhone X then you’re going to have to wait a bit longer since the iPhone X is scheduled to be launched in the US on November 3rd.

Thanks Frankom

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Movies Showing in Kuwait this Weekend

Post by Mark

The movies below are now showing at either Cinescape, Grand Cinemas or Sky Cinemas:

New This Week:
Estranged (5.4)
It Comes at Night (6.3)
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (7.6)
The LEGO Ninjago Movie (6.8)

Other Movies Showing:
American Made (7.5)
Birth of the Dragon (4.1)
IT (8.5)
The Hitman’s Bodyguard (7.3)
The Limehouse Golem (6.4)
The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (4.5)
Victoria and Abdul (6.1)

The movies below are also now showing at the Scientific Center IMAX theater:

A Beautiful Planet 3D (7.9)
Dream Big 3D (7.9)
Humpback Whales 3D (7.2)
Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Secret Ocean 3D (N/A)
Tiny Giants 3D (8.0)
Watermelon Magic 3D (7.4)

Numbers in brackets refer to the IMDB rating at time of publishing.
★ is for movies I’m interested in. ♦ implies movie might contain censorship.

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Cars & Coffee with the US Ambassador

Post by Mark

A few weeks ago I got contacted by the US Embassy telling me that US ambassador Lawrence Silverman wanted to meet up for coffee. Originally they wanted to know if he could come by my office, but I thought that might be a bit weird since I currently work in a government office and it would be kinda awkward if the US ambassador came to our offices with his entourage just to meet with me. So I asked them if we could meet somewhere else and they were like sure, where?. Now in my head I was thinking, can the US ambassador actually have coffee anywhere? I didn’t know if there were any rules or security protocols that prevented him from doing so, but I wanted to meet somewhere casual, so I figured I’d ask anyway. So I proposed Arabica at Arraya and they agreed. First thing I then did was get in touch with Arabica and see if I could book a table. I didn’t want to get there with the ambassador and then not have anywhere to sit so Arabica ended up hooking us up.

I actually just got back from having coffee there with the ambassador since our meeting was this morning. His arrival was pretty dramatic as expected, first I got a message from the Cultural Attache saying “We’re approaching” and then I saw all the flashing lights of his convoy pull up a few moments later. He then walked over to Arabica with his security detail who ended up hanging out around the area until we were done with our meeting. It was my first time meeting with ambassador Silverman. I had met the previous ambassador when we flew together to the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, but ambassador Silverman has only been in Kuwait for a year and so we hadn’t had the chance to meet yet.

The meeting turned out to be pretty enjoyable surprisingly, I was worried we wouldn’t have anything to talk about and end up with awkward moments, but there wasn’t a dull moment throughout the hour we were together. We kinda clicked from the start since we were talking about Oman and I mentioned how me and some friends of mine were planning to send our sport cars there for a road trip, and he mentioned that Audi recently launched their RS3 in Oman. I was like wtf? (in my head) How did he know that? Me and my friends were actually watching an RS3 review video that was shot in Oman when we decided on this trip. Turns out the ambassador had watched the same video and himself is a car guy so the conversation pretty much flowed after that with us talking about cars mostly.

Close to the end of the meeting we brought up the idea of him possibly guest posting on this blog, similar to how the previous British ambassador had his “Mondays with Matthew” posts. He was interested so expect those posts to come soon. I have to say, its occasions like this that make me enjoy what I do so much. It’s unreal.

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Stalk Me

Post by Mark

If you’re ever interested in more content than whats on here, you can follow me around the web using the links below:

Twitter: @mark248am
Instagram: @mark248am
Facebook: /248am
Soundcloud: @mark248am
Spotify: interdigitate
Yelp: mark248am

If you do follow me on Spotify make sure you follow my “ice cream run 🍦” playlist which is updated constantly with tracks I’m currently liking. [Link]

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Sponsored Post: Nouriyah Residence

Post by Sponsor

The newly opened Nouriyah Residence in Bneid Al-Qar is a state of the art furnished and semi furnished complex brought to you by House Living, a specialized serviced apartments company.

Services and Facilities of Nouriyah Residence Includes
– High Quality Finishing
– Trendy Interiors
– Cinema Room
– Multi Function Hall
– Concierge Services
– Swimming Pool
– Gym with a Personal Trainer

About House Living
House Living company is a unique concept of luxurious and modern serviced apartments introduced to Kuwait’s real estate market in 2011.

House Living Properties host a series of state of the art facilities such as swimming pools, gyms, lounges and recreational rooms. All of our efforts focus on creating complexes that can support the western lifestyle and allow expatriate tenants to feel like home, by offering hotel-like services. In our apartments we offer you cleaning services, concierge, 24-hour maintenance service staff and 24- hours security with cameras and electronically secured doors. The utilities (i.e. electricity, water, and cooking gas) along with the internet are all included for free. Our properties are located in Bneid Al-Qar, Salwa and Salmiya.

For more information and pictures of the Nouriah Residence, you can visit our instagram account @house.living or call us on 90000680.

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Will the Apple Watch with Cellular Work in Kuwait?

Post by Mark

Last week Apple released the series 3 Apple Watch and introduced the option of having cellular connectivity. Unlike with phones, the Apple Watch won’t use a regular sim card but instead uses what Apple calls the eSIM, which is a digital sim card. So will it work in Kuwait? No, it won’t, not for now at least.

According to my contact at one of the local telecoms, the eSIM technology is not yet available in Kuwait. This means if you do order the Apple Watch with LTE, you won’t be able to benefit from the cellular function for the moment, not until the local operators start supporting eSIM technology (I wasn’t given a timeframe to when that might happen).

If you’re also thinking of buying the LTE version now in hopes of being able to use it later once the local operators get eSIM, then you need to make sure you get the correct version. Kuwait uses the LTE frequency bands 4 and 5 and different versions of the Apple Watch support different bands. Check out the chart below which I took from iMore:

So if you want to get the LTE version from now, your best option is to order the watch from the States since it supports both frequency bands 4 and 5. The UK version for example just supports 5 which means you’ll only be able to use it with Ooredoo (if this source is correct). My guess is that local operators are currently scrambling to get eSIM fast so they could say they’re the first, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we get eSIM support by early next year. But thats a guess…

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Must Watch TV: The Great British Bake Off

Post by Mark

A friend of mine mentioned The Great British Bake Off over dinner a couple of weeks back and that same night I found it on Netflix and watched the first episode. Since then I’ve been binge watching the whole series every night until I finally finished watching all the seasons that were available on Netflix. It’s now probably one of my favorite food related shows right up there with Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (not to be confused with the American version Kitchen Nightmares).

The Great British Bake Off is an amateur baking competition which starts with 12 contestants and then every episode one person leaves until you finally have a winner. What I love about this show is how super chill it is. Unlike the majority of the American competitive shows, there’s no dramatic music, heavy editing or any forced drama at all. Anyone who has watched the UK version of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and then the US version would know what I’m talking about. The humor on the show is great and the two judges and the two hosts are really entertaining. Even the personalities of all the competing bakers are usually interesting, quirky or funny.

But there’s one major issue with the show. Ever since I’ve started watching it I’ve also started craving and eating so much dessert. All I’ve been doing the past two weeks is either trying to bake myself, or going from one bakery to another looking for interesting bread, pastries, pies or cake to get. On more than one occasion I put an episode on pause and then walked down to the Paul near my home to get some bread or pastries. The other night at 10PM I actually drove all the way to Avenues just to pick up some stuff from a bakery over there. Thats why I was trying to get through the show as quickly as I can, just so I could stop pigging out and go back to eating healthy again.

So if you’re into food shows and haven’t watched this show already then you should. Just be warned that you’ll probably put on weight doing so. The show is available on Netflix US to stream but not on the Kuwait. I use Smart DNS Proxy to get Netflix US working here and you can get more info on that at this [Link]

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