My Visit to the Museums

Post by Mark

On Friday I passed by the museums with a bunch of friends and I figured I’d share my experience which was overall pretty good, especially considering the number of people who were at the museum on Friday. First though, let me get the negative out of the way.

We got to the museum around 3PM and the traffic to get in was a block long because of the fact you needed to buy tickets before entering the parking lot. Although they have 9 drive-thru ticketing booths, they’re arranged 3 in a row, so only 3 lanes with each lane having 3 booths. If you’re the third car in a lane, you have to wait for the two cars ahead of you to finish buying tickets before you could enter the parking lot which is what slows things down. What was also annoying was that the main gate had two lanes to enter, the people who drove through the gate in the left lane ended up at the first ticketing lane, but the cars who drove in from the right lane had access to the second and third lane of ticket booths. So the cars that drove in through the right lane moved twice as fast as those who entered the gate from left lane. So here is a tip, enter through the right lane!

The ticketing system is the only negative thing I have to say about the museums and I imagine its a short-term issue since the museums just opened. It took us exactly 30 minutes waiting in line to enter the museums’ main gate, buy the tickets and then park the car.

Once inside finding parking was easy since there was plenty. Not only that but when we were leaving around 5:30PM, the museum had closed its main gate because the museum was full, even though there was still plenty of parking. I guess based on the number of tickets they sold, the museums had reached their maximum capacity. And here is the great thing, the museums didn’t feel like they were overcrowded on what probably is going to be recorded as their busiest day ever, the first Friday right after opening. Sure there were some busy areas with tons of kids running around, but there were also plenty of areas that were practically empty as well.

They had live music playing outdoors which felt surreal when combined with the orange sky that date and the beautiful and futuristic lights of the museum. Kinda felt like I was on the set of the film Blade Runner. You can check a couple of vertical videos I shot (sorry they were meant for insta stories) [Here] and [Here].

One thing that caught me off guard was their bookshop located in one of the buildings. They actually had a ton of great books for kids and adults and most of them were from Phaidon which is my favorite publisher. I need to go back again this week and buy some books.

Like I mentioned in my previous posts, the museums are huge and you really need a full day to explore them all properly, and even then you’ll probably miss some stuff. I’ve been there twice so far and I have yet to explore the whole museum properly and there are areas I still haven’t even visited. I really love the place and I can’t wait to go back there again. For ticket prices, opening hours and more information, visit the ASCC website [Here]


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15 Years Blogging Anniversary

Post by Mark

I posted my first blog post ever exactly 15 years ago to this day. It wasn’t on 248AM, I launched that two years later, it was on another blog called qHate. Back then I was still living with my parents, I was piss-ass broke and didn’t really know anyone in Kuwait. Crazy how that was just 15 years ago since a lot has happened over that time. It’s kinda scary when I think about where I’ll be 15 years from now, probably in L.A. working in the electronics section of a Walmart would be my best bet.


My computer setup back in 2003There are dates that represent important moments in my life, I was born in 1978, 1988 was my first trip to L.A., the Gulf War in 1990, graduating from high school in 96 and so on.

2003 is when I started blogging.


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Introducing… My Lotus Exige 380 Cup

Post by Mark

Last month while visiting the Lotus dealer with a friend of mine, I was given the opportunity to upgrade my car. A friend had ordered a Lotus Exige 380 Cup, but once it arrived at the local dealer he decided he wanted the more powerful 430 Cup instead. So, the dealer gave me first dibs on the car along with a too good to be true buyback offer on my Lotus. So after a lot of deliberation in my head (which mostly sounded like yada yada yada, you only live once, yada yada yada, mid-life crisis, yada yada), I decided to pull the trigger and get the car.

So what are the biggest changes over the Exige I already had? (skip this paragraph if you’re not into cars)

To start with, the 380 Cup is over 100KG lighter than my previous already super light Exige. The Cup weighs in at just 1,057KG! It also produces 375 hp compared to the 345 my previous car made and does 0-60mph in 3.4 seconds. The aerodynamics of the Cup car is also much more aggressive producing over 250KG of downforce compared to my previous Exige. You can really feel the car being pushed down to the ground once you hit high speeds. The wheels are also lighter forged aluminum, and the tires are larger and come with the track and competition Michelin Cup 2 tires. The AP Racing brakes have been upgraded and the gearbox is now a manual instead of paddle-shift and looks incredible with all the metal gearing exposed. The suspension is two-way adjustable so I can make it softer for the road or harder for the track. Finally, the car is covered in carbon fiber, everywhere, from the roof to the interior, even the rear engine window was replaced with a carbon fiber hood to save weight. So yeah, loads of changes compared to my previous Exige and that’s not even including overall usability improvements. I should also add that the 380 Cup is limited to just 60 cars worldwide (and the only one in the region), so its super rare.

I’ve had the car for around 10 days now and I’ve put just a bit over 1,000KM on the car already so I’ve gotten a good feel for it. The Cup is a lot faster than my previous Exige, and because it’s more track-focused, it rides really rough, is pretty noisy and is now even more unpractical than what was already a very unpractical car to begin with.

But I love it.

Its raw, it’s not bullshitting you pretending to be something it isn’t, it’s as honest a car as you can get. And it’s not just me, EVO magazine gave it a 5 out of 5 and Road & Track called it “too much fun to be street legal”. It is too much fun.

I was planning to take the car to Bahrain for their open track day on February 15th, but turns out I need to have at least 3,000KM on the car before tracking it and I don’t think I can get that done in two weeks. So not sure when I’ll have the car on the track but hopefully pretty soon.

If you’re looking for a good place to take car photos by the way, I’d highly recommend the rooftop parking of the complex in front of Mayar in Shuwaikh. I took all the photos here with my iPhone on the roof and loved the spot because of the neutral colors and clean lines. Here is the location on [Google Maps]


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I’m Selling My Nikon Gear

Post by Mark

Since I got my Sony RX1 a few years ago, I basically stopped using my large Nikon D800 camera. Over the past few years I’ve only been using the D800 for taking photos of cars when reviewing them for the blog. The rest of the time it’s just been sitting in my closet gathering dust and depreciating in value.

Since I’m trying not to be a hoarder, I’ve decided to get rid of all my Nikon gear. So if you’re interested, I’m selling it for a pretty good price, check it out [Here]

Actually, since I got my iPhone X, I’ve even stopped using my RX1. But don’t think I’ll ever sell it, I just love it too much.


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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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Friendship Ended with Salmiya, Now Netflix is My Best Friend

Post by Mark

A few days ago I posted about how Salem Al Mubarak Street is finally turning into a pedestrian only street. One of the negatives I highlighted was the fact they had chopped down some of the old trees that have been there for nearly 50 years. I was upset about it, but when I asked the engineer behind the project if they were removing the old trees, he responded saying “only some”. So I assumed they had chopped down the trees that they didn’t need and all the ones left were the ones they were keeping. Well last night I noticed they had removed nearly all the remaining trees. Using Google Maps I counted 28 trees that were originally planted on that street and there are now only 3 left. That means 25 trees in total were removed! One of the remaining trees currently has a chainsaw parked under it so it might not even be there anymore by the time this post gets published. I’ve marked all the removed trees with x’s in the above picture and the ones remaining with circles.

How is 3 trees out of 28 considered “only some”? Why are they removing the trees anyway? If they were building an airport runway I could understand but they’re not so why? Some of the trees were fairly large and it would have been pretty cute to have small cafes underneath with seating areas around them. The trees were large enough to provide shade, they didn’t need any watering because they were well rooted and the trees were also homes to a lot of birds.

But you know what? I don’t care anymore.

Last night I got so upset about the whole situation I emotionally booked two trips for the next two weekends. Why am I getting so worked up about all of this? It’s not my country, I don’t own the street nor were the trees mine. Why am I even surprised about all of this? Based on the renderings the engineer shared I should have known no good was going to come out of this. When you demolish historical buildings in your renderings and replace them with fancy shiny malls, it says a lot about the thinking process. Chopping historical trees isn’t only a Kuwait thing either, it happens everywhere. In Lebanon for example a politician cut down part of an ancient cedar forrest so he could setup an outdoor venue for his son’s wedding. I mean like wtf? If shit is gonna happen its gonna happen and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

So starting today I’m hopefully emotionally disconnecting myself from Salmiya. I no longer want to be mayor. If anyone wants to take over the responsibility of giving a fuck, they’ve only started construction work on half of old Salmiya. They haven’t started on the other half yet (pictured above) and based on Google Maps there are approximately 38 trees there. Good luck trying to save them.


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When are you moving to L.A.?

Post by Mark

Since I’ve gotten back from my vacation I’ve been asked that question over a dozen times. The truth of the matter is, although it is something I consider every year when I visit L.A., I don’t think I’m leaving anytime soon. Other than the fact I still have things I want to accomplish while here, when I talk to family and friends living in L.A., I realize the grass is not that greener over there. I mean I’ve always known that, ever since I was a kid and played the PC game Theme Park. If you wanted to start a park in a highly populated country, you had to pay much more for the land. If you didn’t want to pay for land, then you’d have to build in a country with a smaller population which meant less income for your park. There were things you needed to compromise on depending on what country you wanted to build your theme park in, and its the same in real life. We compromise on one thing, but in return we have something else going for us here.

When people living in L.A. ask me about life in Kuwait. I tell them about how things are here and their eyes get all dreamy, wishing they were living in Kuwait and had our lifestyle. We generally have it pretty easy over here and in my case, super easy.

So yeah things aren’t perfect here and I’m usually the first to point the issues out, but if you don’t appreciate what we having going for us right now (we really do have a lot going for us), then you’re probably not making the best use of your time here.


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Oh L.A.

Post by Mark

I’m at LAX right now, leaving L.A. in a bit and heading back to Kuwait. My irresponsible self wants to stay here for another week or two, and maybe even just move out here for good. But thats not gonna happen, I’ve just become too responsible to do something like that (sadly).

Do I miss Kuwait? I miss my Lotus, but other than that no, not really? Usually I’m looking forward to getting back home, but this time, something is different…


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I don’t feel like posting

Post by Mark

For the past week I haven’t been in the mood to post at all. I’m on vacation and like everyone else who goes on vacation, I want to leave my work behind. But with the blog, its not that simple.

With your normal job you tend to handover your work to another employee and then take off, with the blog I don’t have anyone to hand over the posting to. I also can’t just stop posting, I mean I can if its a short trip but I’m out now for nearly three weeks so I can’t just not post for that long.

Putting that aside I also struggle to find stuff to write about when I’m not in Kuwait. When I first started blogging I used to post about my trip, places I’m checking out, things I recommend other people do and if you’re lucky, you’d catch one of my drunken rants before deleting it. But overtime I just kept getting more and more private. I don’t post about my trips anymore and I barely instagram anything as well. I’ve been to the States 4 times over the past 3 years but nobody except my closest friends knew about them. I did Kentucky, Tennessee, Washington, and Philadelphia on one trip and barely posted two abstract pictures on instagram from my whole stay. I like it that way, I like my privacy.

But I think I’m going to go back to how things were before. I think I’m going to start posting about my trips again since it will give me stuff to write about which in return will reduce my stress when I’m on vacation. I do have a bunch of cool things coming up on my trip so we’ll see how things turn out.


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My Parents Have Left The Building

Post by Mark

My mum moved to Kuwait back in 1968 to work as a personal trainer at a local gym (yup, she was an OG PT) before joining Kuwait Airways as a flight attendant. My dad on the other hand moved to Kuwait in 1972 and worked as a self employed interior designer. They eventually met, got married, had kids and continued to live here until last week, when my parents moved out of their apartment and left Kuwait for good.

People always ask me if I have any plans on leaving. The thing is, eventually, all expats have to leave Kuwait.

Even though my parents were living in Kuwait for nearly 50 years, they had as much rights and benefits as someone who just moved to Kuwait last week. They still needed a sponsor, they still needed to renew their papers every year and they couldn’t own any property.

I was thinking how depressing that must be, living and working in a country for nearly 50 years and still have to put up with so much bureaucracy. Not only that, but they moved to Kuwait when it was expat friendly, and then watched it over the years turn into a country that dislikes its expat population (not all of you), thats difficult to take in as well. If you can’t get permanent residency or own property after living all your life in a country that doesn’t want you here in the first place, how can you retire in it?

I’ve already been in Kuwait for 38 years and I call it my home, but the reality is, no matter how long I’ll be here for, Kuwait can sadly never be my home and eventually, I’ll have to leave as well.


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