Qout Farm Table

Posted by Mark

qoutfarm

The people behind Qout Market are putting together two day trips this weekend. The day trips will involve a farm-to-table brunch, tour of the farm and greenhouses, a small produce market featuring neighboring farms, and watching the sunset while sipping on tea.

The two day trips are taking place on Friday 26 and Saturday 27. Friday features Caveboy Grubs, Saturday features #NourasKitchen.

Bring cash should you wish to buy produce from farms and bring your own bags. Transportation will be provided and is mandatory. For more info and to to book a seat at the table click [Here] (link only works on your phone)


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WWE stars were in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

wwe-in-kuwait

Big Show, Vince McMahon, R-Truth, Summer Rae, and Alicia Fox all from the WWE were recently in Kuwait visiting the US troops. Other than Vince McMahon I have no clue who the others are but damn Summer Rae is pretty hot. [Link]

Thanks Tuan


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Review: Alpine iLX-007 and Apple CarPlay

Posted by Mark

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Apple’s CarPlay is an operating system for cars that allows you to connect your iPhone and control it from within your car display. Ever since Apple revealed it I had been eagerly waiting for a third party to launch a unit that I could buy and plug into my car. The first company to announce a unit was Pioneer and then at the end of October Alpine released their own CarPlay unit, the iLX-007. Right as soon as it became available I ordered it and I’ve now had it for around a month so I’ve decided to go ahead and review it.

This is my fourth Alpine unit with iPhone/iPod compatibility but the first to use Apple’s new CarPlay OS. There isn’t much to review in the Alpine unit itself since its basically useless without CarPlay. If you don’t have an iPhone the Alpine unit is just a $500 FM/AM receiver. It doesn’t have a CD player or even Bluetooth but it does have an Aux input. The only other thing worth mentioning is the fact I can change and fine tune the sound/speaker settings all from my iPhone using the Alpine Tune App which is a pretty cool feature. So anyway for the rest of the review I’ll be focusing on CarPlay itself.

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After using CarPlay for over a month now I’ve developed a love and hate relationship with it. On one hand I love how seamlessly the iPhone integrates with my car but I also hate how the software feels unpolished as well. First lets talk about the good stuff.


[YouTube]

I recorded a video which you can watch above showing how easy and simple it is to interact and use CarPlay. My biggest reason for wanting CarPlay was the fact that Spotify is a supported app. Even though I could previously use Spotify with all my older Alpine units, this is the first time I can actually browse through my playlists, music and other Spotify specific areas all through my cars interface. I also like how well Siri works in my car now and how I could have her make calls for me or read or send messages which I dicate to her. And thats about it when it comes to the good stuff.

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Now here is whats wrong with CarPlay… it’s still very new. It reminds me of the iPhone when it first came out and so I’m expecting a lot of things to get fixed pretty soon but for now here are my biggest issues:

– Maps. For some reason I had the impression Google Maps came built into CarPlay but when I got it I realized it’s actually Apple Maps which sucks big time in Kuwait. It shows you all the roads on the screen but it won’t give you directions and you can’t search for anything. It’s pretty much useless and I’m hoping Google Maps will work with CarPlay pretty soon.

– When your phone is connected to CarPlay, ALL notifications on your phone get turned off. Meaning if your phone screen is off and someone sends you a message on Whatsapp you won’t be able to tell since the notification screen doesn’t come on to let you know nor will you get a sound notification. You don’t even get a popup on the CarPlay screen informing you of a notification like you do if you get an iMessage or SMS. Same with email or any other notification, they all stop showing on your phones lock screen and you don’t get notified in CarPlay. This means I now drive around with my phone screen on and my notification screen pulled down so I can glance at my phone every now and then while driving to check and see if I got any notifications.

– If you get or make a phone call you can’t talk to the person from your phone. You can either talk to them hands-free on the cars speakers or using your phones speakerphone. There is no option to talk to them privately using your phone so if there are people in your car the only way you can answer a phone privately is to disconnect the phone from CarPlay and then mute the car sound system (since it automatically switches to FM when you remove the phone) and then answer the phone. Super unpractical and I mean come on Apple WTF?

– Not many apps support CarPlay yet. As of now there are a handful of apps that work but the two I use are Spotify and Sticher for podcasts. I’d like to see Google Maps, Soundcloud, Whatsapp, HypeMachine and YouTube integrated into CarPlay. Just to be clear right now you can use music apps like Soundcloud with CarPlay but in basic form. For example if you play a track in Soundcloud on your phone you can view the track name and album art on the CarPlay screen and forward, pause and reverse from the screen as well but that’s it.

So as I mentioned already, CarPlay is still in its infancy. I’m expecting a lot of bugs and things to get fixed with upcoming updates and I’m also expecting a lot more app support as CarPlay becomes more and more popular. For now though if you’re considering getting CarPlay just be aware of it’s limitations. I don’t have any regrets getting it and Spotify alone is worth it for me. My Alpine iLX-007 unit cost me $499 and I picked it up from Pacific Stereo since they were one of the first to carry it.


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Kuwait Mile and crowd safety

Posted by Mark

This past weekend the Kuwait Mile event was held where around 500 cars signed up to race down a mile long strip of the highway. The event was a success with lots of interest but sadly there were two accidents (which I am aware of) that took place that day. Accidents at a racing event are absolutely normal but what I was surprised with was the lack of safety barriers between the track and the crowd.

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In the video on top of one of the accidents, the car loses control and luckily crashes into the barrier on the left. If the car had headed to the right instead then there might have been some serious injuries since there was only a metal fence separating the viewers from the track (check the screen grab above).

After I found out about the accident I started checking out photos and videos of the event and noticed a fire truck parked on the side of the track. I quietly thought to myself that can’t be safe for the driver if his car crashes into it and I thought of the Jules Bianchi crash in Suzuka this past year. Later on in the day a car crashed hard into the fire truck and luckily missed some firemen who were standing next to the truck as well.

It’s pretty cool that more motorsporting events are taking place in Kuwait but a catastrophic incident at one event would end up setting us back a very long time.


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New Kuwait Airways A320 has arrived

Posted by Mark

a320

Over the weekend Kuwait Airways received their first new leased A320 plane. It’s their first new plane in 16 years and although no official photos of the interior have been released they should look similar to the renderings pictured below. This is the first plane of twelve that Kuwait Airways leased which has arrived.


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Power Ranger was living in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

redranger

A completely random and useless fact but turns out that Austin St. John, the original red Power Ranger was living in Kuwait right under our noses. He was working here as a medic for four years before just recently returning back to the States. How did we miss that? [Link]

Thanks @forzaq8


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Kuwait is the lightest-drinking country

Posted by Mark

drinkinginkuwait

Not sure how accurate this report by the World Health Organization is but Kuwait has the lowest alcohol consumption rate in the world. The reason I doubt the accuracy is because:

(a) Because alcohol is illegal in Kuwait so the majority drink in secret and I highly doubt with admit to it on a survey
(b) They list beer as the most consumed alcoholic drink in Kuwait when in fact it should be spirits

For those curious Saudi Arabia came second after Kuwait as the lightest-drinking country while Belarus came first as the heaviest-drinking country. Check out the BBC Booze Calculator [Here] and the WHO report [Here]

via BlogBaladi


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Salhiya Valet Crashes Porsche

Posted by Mark

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I have no idea how this happened but somehow a valet driver at Salhiya managed to crash a Porsche hard into a pillar inside their underground parking lot. Hopefully the valet driver is fine but damn wtf?

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Cape Town – World’s best kept secret

Posted by Mark

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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:

Bungee Jumping
Paragliding
Hang Gliding
Skydiving
Surfing
Kite Surfing
Hot Air Balloon Ride
Wine Tasting

Once I got to Cape Town I started planning my schedule.

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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:

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Foo Fighters
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.

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Skydiving
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?

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Bungee Jumping
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).

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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.

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Surfing
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.

surfing

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.


[YouTube]

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.

prom

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.

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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.


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Cinderella Pantomime Now Available Online

Posted by Mark

cind

If you missed the Cinderella Pantomime by Staged in Kuwait last week they’ve now uploaded the full video of the show online. Here is the video description:

SIK bring a brand new Cinderella script to the stage for their third pantomime, weaving some fun new characters into the age old tale in a story aimed to entertain the whole family. Sadly the video of this production was shot at the last performance against the backdrop of an extremely noisy audience who did not know how to behave in a theatre. One of the many problems we have yet to overcome in Kuwait.

To watch the video of the performance click [Here]


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