Tampopo Ramen Shop

Post by Mark

Until just recently, if you wanted good ramen in Kuwait you were basically out of luck. There weren’t many places that had ramen and the places that did usually had a pretty average bowl. But, last week a new ramen place opened up in Kuwait called Tampopo and it’s great!

The chef behind Tampopo is Maryam Alnusif (or Mimi), many of you might have heard of her since she is behind Shakshooka and The Secret Garden project. Tampopo is actually right next to the Secret Garden, it’s a small place with a main seating area composed of a bar running along the kitchen counter, as well as a bar facing the opposite wall and another bar stretching across the main storefront window. The menu is extremely simple with just three ramen dishes to choose from: Chicken, duck and vegan ramen. They also have a few cocktails and surprisingly, really great tasting non-alcholic Japanese Asahi beer.

I was there with some friends and so we ordered one of everything. My favorite ramen bowl was the vegan one followed by the duck and then the chicken. Because we got there early at around 6:30PM, we managed to find seating, but by the time we were done with our bowls, the place was already packed with people waiting to be seated. I loved the food, the atmosphere and all the people behind Tampopo so I’m definitely going back again this week. Plus its walking distance from my home which is pretty convenient.

Because Tampopo is still in a soft launch phase, they’re only open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 6PM to 10PM. But, starting next week they might start opening on Mondays as well. They also right now only accept cash but should start accepting knet next week. For a map of the location and to stay up to date on their store timings, check out their instagram page @tampopo.ramenshop


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My Experience Flying Out of the New Jazeera Airways Terminal

Post by Mark

This past weekend I got to fly out of the new Jazeera Airways Terminal (T5) and I’m not sure what to make of it. It’s a brand new terminal and our current main terminal is a horrible mess so you would think flying out of this brand new terminal would be a far better experience, but, it really wasn’t that much better.

Parking & Check-in
Firstly, I used the Jazeera Airways Park & Fly service to check in. It’s a service they have where you park your car in their parking lot located away from the terminal, you then check in at the parking lot and take their shuttle back to the main airport. The reason I did that is the service costs KD2.5 a day while parking at the Jazeera Airways parking lot costs KD6 a day, so its a considerable amount of savings. I’m glad I checked in from their remote location since when I arrived to the main terminal, I noticed the check-in area was pretty packed, and they didn’t have their self-check-in machines installed yet either.

Passport Control & Security Check
Passport control wasn’t too bad, there weren’t a lot of people and so I didn’t spend too much time in line. The area did look a bit messy though, I don’t understand why the airport, both this one and the old one can’t get belt barriers set up in straight lines. Anyway the issues started right after passport control beginning with the security check. Between passport control and the security check there really isn’t enough space to set up a proper queueing system so we were standing a bit disorganized. The security machines were also pretty small without any prep space before it. By prep space, I mean an area before the machine to put your bag and start unpacking the laptop or removing your belt, watches etc. Also they didn’t have any bins to dispose of liquids in before the machine, you had to put your liquids in the machine and then dispose of them on the other side. Finally, not sure if its the same now in the main terminal, but the last time I flew out from the main terminal they were using the private security firm G4S for security control. At the Jazeera Terminal the Port Authority is in charge and I’m not exaggerating here, it looked like they were on their first day of the job. They were completely disorganized and looked like amateurs with very little confidence or experience to manage the security check. I’m 99% sure this must have been their first day in charge of security because I can’t imagine another reason why they were so all over the place.

The Terminal
Once I was done with the security check I decided to walk around and explore the terminal but there really wasn’t anything to explore. The duty-free section hadn’t been set up yet and there were no restaurants and very little seating. The terminal still looks unfinished, it was basically in the same state I had seen it in before they had opened. Thankfully, the Jazeera terminal is connected to the old main terminal so I just headed to the lounge there to kill some time and then passed by the newly opened Pick to grab a bite. When it was close to boarding time, I decided to head to my gate back in the Jazeera terminal to wait there, except it turns out there isn’t enough seating at the gate so you have to queue outside the gate until they’re ready to put you on the bus. Once you get into the gate you need to pass through another security check and like the first security check, it was a disorganized mess. This security check also lacked bins to dispose of liquids so people were just placing them on the floor around the security machine.

The Plane
Not related to the airport but still worth mentioning. Our plane was the brand new A320neo which they had just received like a week or so ago. It was very comfortable and not that noisy (engine sound). The thing I found odd was that the interior of the plane was a dark maroon color, both the carpets and the seats. It felt like I was on a Qatar Airways flight and not a Jazeera Airways one. Aren’t the interiors meant to be blue? I thought they were because of their press release photo (pictured above) so I found that odd. I kinda feel like this plane was possibly meant for Qatar Airways but was then taken by Jazeera? Can’t imagine why else it would be in this color. No screens, USB ports or any seat amenities of course, but that was ok with me since I carry everything I need with me anyway. I just wish they had screens somewhere with the live map so we knew how far into the trip we were but that’s the only issue I had with the plane.

Arrival
Coming back into Kuwait was a far better experience. Passport control went pretty smooth and so did the carry-on security check right after. After the security check is the baggage conveyor belts area which felt small. Our baggage did take forever to come out but I’m not sure Jazeera have any control over that. The airport is small so the distance from passport control to baggage pick up to airport exit is very short so if you’re only with your carry on, then you could be out pretty quickly from the terminal. Once I was out there were no signs telling me where to go for the shuttle bus back to their Park & Fly area, I also couldn’t find a Jazeera Airways employee to ask so I asked a security guy who told me to go to the side of the building. The shuttle was just arriving so I didn’t end up waiting long and ended up back at my car fairly quickly.

In Conclusion?
If you fly with Jazeera Airways right now you need to manage your expectations and treat their new terminal like it’s still in beta testing with a lot of bugs that need to be sorted out. Is it better than the main terminal? I mean I guess but marginally. Only the passport control area is an improvement but that’s about it. The conveyor belt area was a bit tight, there are two belts and the space around them is smaller than the number of people per flight so it gets crowded very quickly. If two planes land at the same time I can imagine it looking like a total mess but I think it would still be better off than the main terminal, but just slightly. The worst aspects of the new terminal are the unorganized and inexperienced security personnel along with the horrible gates that can’t hold passengers (at least Gate B3). I imagine things will get better but for now, don’t expect too much.


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The All-New Lincoln Navigator

Post by Mark

When the all-new Lincoln Navigator concept car was previewed two years ago with its butterfly doors and futuristic looking seats, Lincoln brought the Navigator back into the spotlight. The Navigator was a pretty popular car for Lincoln when it had originally been released, but over time, it started looking dull and outdated (along with the rest of the Lincoln line up). The concept car was a way for Lincoln to show the market they were still relevant and it worked. A year later they released the all-new Lincoln Navigator and although it didn’t have the butterfly doors or the cool looking 3 piece fold out steps of the concept car, it pretty much retained everything else including the cool looking seats.

I’m generally not into large sized family SUV’s, but when I was asked if I was interested in reviewing the new Navigator I had two questions, did the test drive car have the cool seats and, did it have the cool car unlock light show? When I was told it did, I decided to borrow the car for the weekend.

First impressions, I was extremely impressed with the interior. The dashboard was pretty sleek with a large digital display that had super minimal but premium looking graphics. The buttons were all nicely laid out in the center console along with another large information screen. Even the gear change buttons were beautifully laid out in the center console. The interior oozed luxury and I wasn’t even in their top of the line “Presidential” model that used a more premium quality leather.

One of the things I was looking forward to were the seats because of how customizable and comfortable they supposedly were and I wasn’t disappointed. The seats had 11 different parts I could individually adjust as well as a built in massage feature and cold air ventilation. It had 30-way seat positioning so finding the most comfortable setup was super easy to achieve. Shorter people are also going to love the fact that the foot pedals are electronically adjustable and so can be brought in closer to the driver. The car I drove had a large panoramic roof which brought in daylight that lit up the incredibly large interior. Large is an understatement actually, the car is huge! The second row passengers have more legroom than most people do in the front seats of their cars, and then you have the third row seats to hold more people and you still had room behind those seats for your luggage. There is loads of storage space all over the car for your stuff as well as a huge storage compartment under the armrest and below the center console. The car also had multiple USB ports everywhere and even a wireless charging area.

The model I drove had a bunch of driver assist technologies including a lane keeping system, parking assist, brake assist, 360-degree cameras and adaptive cruise control. The combination of all these technologies made driving the humongous Navigator a lot easier and made driving, in general, a lot more comfortable. The adaptive cruise control works like cruise control on regular cars where you set a speed and the car would stick to it, with the Lincoln it also applied the brakes and slowed down for you when the car ahead would slow down or stop. Combined with a lane keeping system that can control the cars steering to keep you in your lane, you basically end up with a fairly autonomous vehicle when on the highway. The parking assist also made parking super easy. The car can perpendicular or parallel park for you and based on my short experience with the car, it worked pretty well all although it still scares the crap out of me everytime I let a car park for me. As you can see in the video above which I shot, the car takes full control of the steering and acceleration and all you need to do is apply the brakes to stop.

After spending a long weekend with the car I had to give it back and I was fine with that. The car was just too big for me and is clearly meant for large families. For a single guy like me the car felt overwhelming although I do miss the comfort and the serene interior. I had the car on the first day of Ramadan and even with all the traffic, I wasn’t bothered with the chaos that was taking place outside the car. It felt like I was sitting in my living room which is anice feeling to have while stuck in traffic. I do have some issues with the new Navigator though, none major but still worth mentioning. I really dislike the rear of the car, although I think the front of the car looked good, the back just looked super boxy and not in a cool way boxy, but more like the 90s outdated way. Then the stereo, even though the sound system in the car was pretty good, my issue with it was how the dashboard and doors rattled with the bass, and I’m not talking about rattles when I’m blasting the music really loud, I was hearing rattles at low volume as well. Not something I would expect from a premium car. Finally, I thought the suspension was too soft, it made the ride comfier obviously, but the car also tended to bounce a lot after going over a speed bump or hitting a pothole.

The price of the all-new Navigator starts at KD27,000 but the model I drove was the “Reserve” edition and that retails for KD29,000. For more information you can check out the Lincoln Alghanim webiste [Here] or their instagram account @lincolnalghanim


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The Ferrari GTC4Lusso

Post by Mark

Around six years ago, Ferrari launched the Ferrari FF model. It was a hatchback Ferrari with rear seats that could comfortably carry two large adults, but could also be folded down creating a ton of storage space for those ever important trips to IKEA. It was a very practical Ferrari and quickly became the daily driver for a lot of serious car guys including Chris Harris and YouTube car blogger Shmee. Then two years ago, Ferrari released an updated FF and called it the GTC4Lusso. The car pretty much looked the same with just a minor exterior facelift and the biggest changes coming under the hood and the interior.

People either loved or hated the way the FF looked like and it’s the same with the GTC4Lusso. Personally, I think its a great looking car and it reminds me a lot of the now classic BMW Z3 Coupe which was also controversial in the looks department.

Five minutes after driving out of the dealership I felt right at home in the Lusso. The car didn’t feel intimidating at all and I right away understood why so many people chose it as their daily driver. This is going to sound strange but the last time I remember a car being this comfortable to drive was the Mercedes S-Class. The way the Lusso drove over potholes and road imperfections, the way it took speedbumps and ate up cobblestone roads was just incredible, beyond anything I would expect from a high-end sedan let alone a Ferrari. Then you have the interior cabin which is fairly spacious, quiet and really comfortable to be in. The model I drove also had the panoramic sunroof which beautifully lit up the interior space. The most visual change in the GTC4Lusso over the FF is the interior since the center console now has a very large and sleek looking screen.

Oh yeah and my favorite part of the interior is probably the small screen in front of the front passenger, right over the glovebox. The touchscreen allows the passenger to control the stereo but also allows the passenger access to information like the speedometer, RPM and other car related information. A gimmick of course, but a well-executed one.

I had the car pretty much the whole day to do what I wanted with it, and yet I spent most of the day looking for traffic to drive into or backroads that might prove to be too rough for the car. I wanted to see how good a daily driver the Lusso was, and it just ate whatever I threw at it. In traffic it was comfortable to drive and no backroad turned out to be too much to handle. I completely get it now why a lot of people previously chose the FF and now the GTC4Lusso as their daily and sometimes their only car.

After spending the day with the Lusso I fell in love it with, so much so that I want one now. I test drive a lot of cars and not a lot of them capture my heart the way the Lusso did. Even when I took out the Ferrari 488GTB in January, it was a great car but I didn’t really want one. The way the Lusso made me feel reminded me a lot of how the Lotus made me feel when I first test drove it, and I eventually ended up getting one. The only problem in this case is the GTC4Lusso costs around KD100,000. That’s a lot of money to spend on a car and it would only make sense if I was in a much higher income class. But there is hope! I was at the Ferrari dealer a few days back checking out their used cars and they actually have 2 Ferrari FF’s for sale including a gorgeous silver one. Sadly the interior was a really bright red and gave me a headache so that’s a big no. But I’m not in a rush, and four or five years from now they’ll hopefully have a reasonably priced second hand Lusso for sale.

If you’ve got the budget and are looking for a sports car that you can drive daily, you really can’t go wrong with the GTC4Lusso. At 100K it’s in the price range of the extremely fast Huracán Performante and the hottest looking sports car right now, the McLaren 720S. But, unlike the GTC4Lusso, you couldn’t really drive those every day nor could you have them as your only car. If you’d like to find out more about Ferraris in Kuwait then you should follow the dealer on instagram @ferrarialzayanikuwait.


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Review: Lotus Exige 380 Cup

Post by Mark

Back in January I swapped out my Lotus Exige S with the Exige 380 Cup, a lighter and more powerful version of the Exige that was more track focused. I still remember when I posted about my Exige S after getting it, I had linked to a Exige 380 Sport video and I remember thinking, damn I wish I had the 380 Sport instead. It was faster, more aggressive and looked slightly better. And now, I’ve got the 380 Cup which is an even more extreme version. Someone pinch me!

Anyway, here is a rundown of the car after doing around 4,500KM on it plus taken it to the Bahrain International Circuit for a track day.

The Good
I was hoping because the car was so stiff and rough, I wouldn’t drive it a lot so I could keep the mileage low, but that didn’t happen. I’ve been driving the car daily since I got it, racking up miles like I would in any normal daily driver. I don’t have sound isolating carpeting in the car, just floor mats, so I can see the aluminum car frame as well as hear alot of the road noise. And I love the sound of the road under my car even the sounds of little pebbles hitting the underside of the car. Just makes me feel more connected to the road.

I also still love climbing in and sitting inside the tiny cockpit, and I love how the car feels on the road. Road clearance isn’t that much of an issue and since I tend to spend most of my time driving from my home to the office using the Gulf Road, I don’t have problems with crappy roads.

Unlike my previous Exige this one has a manual gearbox and I do have mix feelings about it. Not the specific manual gearbox in this car which is incredible, but more on the idea if I prefer an automatic over a manual gearbox. Car guys are going to say manual is the way to go but personally, I’m 50/50 split on this. On the one side, the thing I like most about this car is the analog feel of it. There isn’t much technology in this car, the interior is very simple and so the manual gearbox works really well with the overall feel of the car. I like the metal clunks the gearbox makes when I shift gears, I like trying to match my revs or practicing my heel and toe skills when slowing down. But, I also miss the convenience of an automatic gearbox especially when I get stuck in traffic.

The Bad
I haven’t really had any issue with the car other than the fact this past weekend while on the racetrack the hatch on the front of the car was coming loose whenever I hit 200km/h. Not fun and I had to keep coming back into the pits to push the hatch back down. You can actually see it happening in the video above, if you look at the left corner where the black carbon fiber hatch meets the blue bodywork at the 3:12 minute mark, you’ll see the front hatch lift up.

The Ugly
The only other issue I’ve had isn’t really an issue for me, but more for the cops. The car exhaust has a valve, in normal driving the car is quiet, too quiet which I don’t like. So I usually have the car in sport mode which opens up the exhaust valve. The problem then is the car becomes too loud, like I’d be driving 40km/h but from the sound of it you’d think I was doing 140km/h. It attracts tooo much attention from the cops and since I get stopped for no reason anyway, this doesn’t make life any easier. Oh and I’ve definitely been traumatized by the cops! This weekend while I was on the racetrack, I swear at some points I was worried I was gonna get pulled over or get caught by a speed camera. I’m convinced its some sort of PTSD.

Mods
There isn’t much in terms of modifications I can do to this car since Lotus already upgraded everything in it that can be upgraded. The sound system is really shit but I’m not going to upgrade it since I did that with my last Exige and the sound wasn’t that much of an improvement since the speakers that fit are pretty small. So the only upgrade I did was install a harness bar along with a 4-point racing harness for the driver’s seat. I can still use my regular seatbelt for day to day driving but for track driving, I can now use the 4-point belt instead. The advantage of the 4-point system is that it allows you to become one with the car. Once you tighten it up you can’t move anymore, you’re just glued to your seat which allows you to feel the car a lot more.

Plan B
Before I got the 380 Cup I did consider other cars. The most obvious car was the Porsche 911. They’re hot, super practical and really easy to drive. I’d love a 911 GT3 or GT3RS, and I think a black Targa is one of the most beautiful cars out there. But, the problem with Porsches is that everyone has one. They just aren’t special anymore, it’s like owning a Rolex. On track days they’re the most popular cars on track and I wouldn’t want to spend so much money and not feel special. Other cars I considered were second hand Ferrari 430’s and 458’s, as well as second-hand McLarens. My dream car right now is the baby McLaren, the 540c, but even second hand they cost around 50K. Then you’ve got the maintenance costs associated with Ferrari’s and McLarens, I don’t want to worry about that shit when I buy a car. With the 380 Cup on the other hand, because the car is so rare (1/60) it’s instantly special. On the track this past weekend it must have been the most photographed car even though there were McLarens, Ferraris, Lambos and Porsches. I like that.

So yeah, I still really love the car, I love the brand and the online Lotus community. I love the way my car looks and I love it even more with the roof off. I love the sounds it makes, the un-practicality of it, and I love watching my friends try to climb in and out of the car. Do I wish I had a McLaren 540c? For sure but I also wish I had a Ferrari F40, a Porsche 918, a Lancia Delta HF Integrale, my old Datsun 240z, a BMW E30 M3, a Golf GTI MK1 etc.. I’m a car guy so I’m always going to want more.


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Google Home Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot – Which is Better?

Post by Mark

A couple of weeks ago I got back from LA and brought back with me the Google Home Mini and the Amazon Echo Dot. I actually got two Amazon Echos, I put one in my bedroom and the other in the kitchen while I put the Google Home device in my living room. After using them for two weeks I sadly can’t tell you which is better because I don’t think there is a clear winner. But what I’ll do is explain how I’ve decided to use them and the issues I have with both of them and hopefully, that will give you an idea on which one you should get.

Firstly for those of you who have no idea what the Google Home and Amazon Echo are, they’re voice-controlled devices like Siri on the iPhone. Amazon’s assistant is called Alexa while Google’s is simply called Google Assistant. Recently Apple released the HomePod which uses Siri. The reason I didn’t get that instead is the price. At $350, the HomePod would be pretty expensive to add to every room in the house plus, I already have a legit speaker in every room of my apartment anyway the HomePod would make them redundant. On the other hand, both the Echo Dot and Home Mini cost $50 each, so the three I got cost less than half the price of one HomePod. I connected the bedroom Echo to my Bang & Olufsen Beolit 12 speaker and the kitchen one to my Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A2 speaker. I left the Google Home as is because I wasn’t planning to use it to play music.

Let me take the opportunity now to explain how I’m using the devices.

In the morning I tend to wake up and play music on the BeoLit 12 in my bedroom. Before I got the Echo, I used to launch Spotify on my phone and then AirPlay the music onto my bedroom speaker. My phone also used to be my alarm. Now on the other hand, I set the alarm on the Echo and when I want to play music I just go “Alexa, play music everywhere”. Everywhere is a group I created that includes my bedroom and kitchen Echo. So now I get music playing in my bedroom, and my kitchen downstairs. Then just before I leave my house I go into the kitchen, get my car keys and say “Alexa stop” and it stops playing music in my apartment. I also have Alexa setup to work with both my Amazon Music account and my Spotify account. When I say for example “Alexa play jazz”, it will connect to a jazz radio station on Amazon Music, but when I say “Alexa play music” or “Alexa play my discovery weekly playlist on Spotify”, it will either continue playing where I last stopped on Spotify, or play the specific playlist I asked for.

While I use Alexa for music, I use Google for questions, like I do on the web. I have it set up in my living room where I spend 90% of my time in. So far it’s been super helpful while friends were over. For example, I was sitting talking to a friend and they asked me how long the flight from NY to LA was. I estimated at around 5 hours but then I was like “Hey Google, how long is the flight from NY to LA?”. Within an instant, Google replied that a non-stop flight was 6 hours and 15 minutes long. Another time I was watching a movie and someone mentioned a banana daiquiri. I was curious to know what alcohol is used to make a daiquiri so I was like “Hey Google, whats in a banana daiquiri?”. A second later google responded back with the ingredients of a banana daiquiri. I’m picking up my phone to google stuff a lot less now because I can just ask Google a question verbally. And unlike with Siri, it just feels more natural to talk to Google. It just understands normal dialogue like a real person while with Siri I sometimes feel like I have to talk to it knowing she’s an AI. Not only that but Siri barely understands me sometimes and a good example is now while typing this post, I just asked Siri whats in a banana daiquiri and she responded with the weather report. Like WTF Siri?!

Another cool feature with Google Home is it can tell me if there is traffic on my way to work. Since Google knows where I live and where my office is (I had this setup on Google Maps from before), I can just ask “Hey Google is there any traffic on my way to work?” and it will respond with an answer and then tell me which is the fastest route to take and how long it will take me to get there. Not only that but I could ask it where the closest McDonalds is and how far it is to walk to and it will tell me!

I haven’t really asked Alexa a lot of questions but I did try the banana daiquiri question on her and she struggled. She struggled mostly to understand what I was saying and then told me what was in a daiquiri but not a banana daiquiri.

So you’re thinking Google Home is clearly the winner here. It’s not since I’ve had some weird issues with it. Firstly I can’t seem to set Spotify as my default music player so when I tell Google to play music, it replies saying I need to set up my default music player. But when I go to that section in the app, it won’t let me pick Spotify. To play music I have to say “Hey Google, play music from Spotify” which is annoying cuz its easier to just ask “Hey Google, play music”. Then the worst part is, Google Home doesn’t work with G-Suite. Since my Gmail account is connected to my 248AM domain I have a G-Suite account and it won’t work with Google Home. I can’t connect Google Home to my Calendar or email which is so bizarre. Amazon’s Alexa, on the other hand, connects to both my Gmail and Google Calendars! How weird is that? Alexa also has a ton of plugins so say we had Uber working in Kuwait, you could install the Uber plugin and then be able to call an Uber by talking to Alexa. I’m using Uber an example here but there are plugins for everything imaginable.

So which device to get I really can’t tell you. I like having both. Between the two, the Google Home Mini sounds a lot better than the Amazon Echo Dot but really if you want to use it as a speaker, both Google and Amazon have much better-sounding devices. You can also do a lot more with both devices like control home automation, have them tell you the news and with Google Home you can even play games with it or use it as a doctor (say “hey google, virtual nurse”). But my needs are very simple as you can see above. Both Google and Amazon devices are available in Kuwait, Xcite sell both at KD20 each and you can most likely find it at other stores as well. If you have any questions, let me know below.


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Review: Shure SE215 Wireless Earphones

Post by Mark

Shure SE215 Wireless Earphones

Last month after posting my review on the Bang & Olufsen H5 wireless earphones, I got a message from the audio brand Shure asking me if I’d also like to try their wireless earphones. I’ve been a fan of Shure ever since I got my first pair of in-ears back in 2004, the Shure E2’s, so of course I said yes. A couple of weeks later I got their new SE215 wireless earphones in the mail.

I had a few issues with my H5’s and was curious to see if the Shure’s would solve them. My main problems with the H5’s were the battery life and the low volume level of the earphones. So how did the Shure’s perform?

Battery Life
While the B&O H5 promises up to 5 hours of battery life, the Shure’s promise up to 8. That doesn’t sound like much but in real-world use, it is. With the H5’s I make sure I put them back on the charger after using them for a couple of hours, with the Shure’s I charge them every couple of outings and still have enough juice for a third outing. But what I like about the Shure’s is that if I do run out of battery, I can just charge them using any standard micro-usb cable unlike the H5’s which require the use of the charging station that came with the earphones.

Volume Level
I’m sitting right now at Arabica having my coffee and typing up this post with the Shure earphones on listening to music. I have the music volume at 80% because at 100% they’re just too loud. With the H5’s I would always have the earphones at 100% and wish I could raise them by at least another 20%.

So yeah, the Shure’s do solve my two biggest issues with the H5’s in addition to solving another issue I wasn’t aware needed solving. When you first turn on the Shure’s, you get a voice prompt letting you know once they connect to a bluetooth source and then the voice lets you know how much battery life is left. With the B&O’s I need to launch the B&O app on my phone to find out the battery life which isn’t very practical. Another advantage of the Shure’s is the price, they cost half that of the B&O’s and sound as good if not slightly better.

Shure SE215 Wireless Earphones

With all the positives so far with the Shure’s, you’d think I’d prefer them over the B&O’s but that hasn’t been the case. Whenever I leave the house and need to pick a pair of earphones to take with me, I kept finding myself reaching for the H5’s over these Shure’s. The reason for that is the Shure’s are pretty bulky. The battery pack isn’t built into the earphones but instead is located on the cable so it makes wearing the earphones awkward. On top of that, the earphone wires are too thin making the Shure’s feel flimsy and messy because the wires keep getting tangled up.

But in the end, it really comes down to the person’s requirements. Are you looking for battery life or style? If I’m traveling then I’m definitely going to pick the Shure’s over the H5’s. But if I’m just going to a coffee shop for a couple of hours to get some work done, then I’m always going to pick the H5’s.

If you’re interested in picking up a pair of Shure SE215 wireless earphones, they’re available on Amazon for KD45 [Here]


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Lavan – Indian Cuisine

Post by Mark

Lavan is a new Indian restaurant that opened up in the city last month. When I first got invited to Lavan I didn’t really have high expectations. Lots of Indian restaurants pop up all the time and most tend to be average so I wasn’t expecting Lavan to be any different. When I got to the place I realized my expectations might be right, the interior was bland, so much so that I wasn’t even sure I had walked into the right restaurant. There was nothing Indian about the interior and the fact the restaurant didn’t have a sign outside didn’t help either. We definitely didn’t start off on the right foot.

But once the food started coming out my view of completely changed. Every single dish we had ordered was just delicious. I left so impressed that first time, I went back three more times since then. I’ve now practically tried every dish on the menu and it’s my favorite Indian spot at the moment. Here are some of my favorite dishes:

Starters
Sweet Potato Chat
Prawns Amritsari

Tandoor
Humour Tikka
Tiger Prawns
Lamb Tikka

Biryani
Chicken
Mutton
Lavan Special (Goat)

Pricing is on par with the likes of Asha’s and Copper Chimney which I think is very reasonable. You can get a better idea by checking their menu which I’ve uploaded [Here]

Like I mentioned earlier, Lavan is currently my favorite Indian restaurant. I still find the interior bland and lacking charm, but the food makes up for it which is why I keep going back. For a map of the location as well as more photos, you can check out their instagram account @houseoflavan


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The Ferrari 488 GTB

Post by Mark

I haven’t reviewed a car for some time now mostly because there really hasn’t been a car I’ve been interested in, but also because I love my Lotus so much I’d rather be in it than any other car. But, since my Lotus isn’t with me at the moment (more on that soon), I decided to take advantage of the situation by test driving the Ferrari 488 GTB.

Driving off in a car for the first time that costs as much as a home is a pretty nerve-wracking experience. The fact the car is also super low, and the roads around the dealership in pretty bad shape didn’t help the situation either. But the Ferrari 488 I was driving had the option to raise the suspension to give it a bit more ground clearance, so I managed to make my way out onto the main road without too much drama. It was pretty early in the morning so the first thing I did was head to Arabica in the city for some coffee. I took the long way by going through a bit of traffic on the 4th all the way to the 30th, and then from the 30th exiting onto the Gulf Road. I spent most of my day taking the longest way everywhere I went. Instead of grabbing my usual acai bowl for example from Liquid near Arabica in the city, for example, I decided to drive all the way to Bida’a and pick one up from Be Cafe. After spending the day zigzagging across Kuwait, I headed out to the desert to get some shots before the sunset.

After driving the Ferrari 488 GTB for a day I’ve come to the conclusion that the car has just two speeds, fast, and I’m going to get deported fast. I’m being serious here. The Ferrari 488 hits 0 to 100km/h in just 3 seconds. That’s just 0.8 seconds faster than my Lotus but damn what a difference that 0.8 makes. But that’s not even the impressive part, if you keep your foot down on the gas for just one more tiny second, you’re suddenly in the getting your license revoked territory. The car is insanely powerful, so much so that there just isn’t enough road for it. Usually, when I take out a sports car to review, I tend to drive it like I stole it. The 488 is probably the first car that I drove decently just because stepping on it would get me in a lot of trouble. Ferrari 488 owners are really going to love our racetrack once it opens up, its the only way to really enjoy and take advantage of all the power the car has to offer.

Other than the speed, a few other things impressed me quite a bit. The brakes on the car impressed me more than the speed of the car, the pedal feel is just so on point and the car stops in an instant. The interior of the car is also a wonderful place to be in. The interior is covered in leather with beautiful stitchwork and lots of carbon fiber trimming. I never felt uncomfortable, and even on my long trip with my friend into the desert, we spoke about how great the car would be on super long trips. Even though the 488 is a sports car first, you’re not sacrificing with comfort or amenities. The sound system was impressively good and the car I drove even came with front and rear parking cameras. It’s a luxury car that just happens to also be crazy ass fast.

So are there any downsides? Well yeah, the car costs as much as a house. The 488 GTB starts at KD78,000 which means I’m not really going to end up owning one anytime soon. But on the bright side, the Ferrari 488 GTB does come with a 5-year warranty (that can be extended up to 15) and 7-years free maintenance. So really the only costs you’ll have to factor in down the line are tires and brake pads. Not bad.

If you’d like to find out more about Ferraris in Kuwait then you should follow the dealer on instagram @ferrarialzayanikuwait. You can also go ahead and build your own 488 by visiting the Ferrari online car configurator [Here]


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Review: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H5 Wireless Earphones

Post by Mark

The last time I reviewed earphones on my blog was back in 2016 when I purchased the Sennheiser IE80 earphones. I still have them, I still love them, and I still constantly use them when I travel. But, since getting an iPhone X and losing the headphone jack, I decided to explore my wireless options. I mean I don’t mind using the dongle to connect my earphones to my phone, but I was just curious to try and go wireless.

I don’t like the way the Apple AirPods look so I didn’t even consider getting them, so after a bit of research, I narrowed down my options to the Beats X and the Beats PowerBeats 3. I really didn’t want to be cliche and go with a pair of Beats, but both pairs contained Apple’s W1 chip to make connecting across all my Apple products easier, and honestly, the X looked pretty minimal and slick. But, I decided I’d go with the PowerBeats 3 because they were better for working out and had a much longer battery life (11 hours). Just before getting them, I decided to check out the reviews on Amazon and damn, they were terrible. Loads of people were complaining about the reliability and how they would suddenly stop working, so I decided I was just not gonna bother with wireless and stick to my IE80s.

Then, a friend of mine decided to get a pair of beautiful Bang & Olufsen wireless earphones, the BeoPlay H5. I was with her when she purchased them and so was kinda tempted to buy a pair for myself, but at KD85, they were just more than I wanted to spend, especially since I really loved my IE80s. Luckily for me though, after using them for a couple of days, she decided she didn’t like them. The earphone cable kept getting tangled up in her hair and so she decided to stick to her AirPods and offered to sell me the H5’s for half the price. So I got them.

Now that I’ve been using them for around 10 days, I’m not sure how I feel about them mostly because I’ve got two main issues with them:

Battery Life
B&O say the H5’s last for up to 5 hours and that’s just too little for me. If I’m traveling to Beirut, that’s a flight that’s just over two hours long. Add two more hours of use on top of that at the airport, and if I’m listening at full blast (which I always do) the batteries are going to be dead by the fourth hour. And this is a short flight, forget about using these on longer flights. You can’t even charge the earphones with a standard USB plug which means if you want to charge the earphones on the go, you would need to carry around the included charging stand which has a pretty long cable attached to it.

Volume Level
The second issue and what is probably annoying me more than the short battery life is the volume level, it’s just not that high. I tend to listen to my music at pretty loud levels and the H5 are not loud enough. Whenever a good part of a track kicks in I keep reaching for the volume to try and increase it only to realize it’s already on max. The H5 feels like it needs to be at least 25% louder.. all the time.

But, on the bright side, the sound quality of the earphones is pretty good, they’re not bassy but they’re also not too bright which I was worried they would be. They’re also super stylish, I’ve got the “Moss Green” version and I just love the way they look. These are definitely the nicest pair of wireless earphones you can get.

But, I’m not sure if these are enough reasons for me to keep the earphones since they definitely won’t be replacing my IE80s. Right now I’m sitting at Arabica listening to my music with the H5’s, and I appreciate that they’re wireless since I’m moving around freely without having to keep disconnecting my headphones from the computer or getting the wire tangled up with the other items on the table. But I’m also constantly hitting the volume up button trying to make them louder, and I’ve already been here for 3 hours so not sure how much longer they’re going to play before shutting down. They sure do look good though…

If you’re interested in a pair, you can find them at the B&O dealer in Symphony mall or on Amazon for slightly cheaper [Link]


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