The Ferrari 812 Superfast

Post by Mark

I wish my review for this car could be just a 😳 because really that’s all I need to describe it. The Ferrari 812 Superfast is the ultimate Ferrari you can buy excluding the limited edition models, and it was the only Ferrari model left from their current lineup that I hadn’t driven yet. It lies on top of the Ferrari foodchain with an engine that is considered to be the most powerful naturally aspirated engine on a production car ever made. It has 789hp which is freakin’ insane!

I can’t emphasize enough how batshit crazy this car is when the roads are dry but I picked it up when it had just started raining. A 789hp rear wheel drive car in the rain in my hands could have turned into something messy really quick. Thankfully, the rain didn’t last long and I survived to tell the tale. And you know what’s bizarre? The 812 is meant to be a daily driver! I have no idea who needs 800 horsepower on a racetrack let alone to drive to the office or the supermarket, but I love it! It’s overkill of course but you kinda have to be nowadays to stick out next to the likes of the McLaren 720s and the Lamborghini Aventador.

But, what I liked about the 812 is that Ferrari allows you to choose the character you play in the car. Are you going to be the successful CEO driving like a normal adult on the way to an important meeting? Or are you going to be a complete moron with the car and try to kill yourself? I’m the second option for sure but the important thing here is you have the choice. Although it has nearly 800hp, if you want to drive the 812 like a normal human being you can absolutely do that. In normal driving conditions, the car engine and exhaust sound are fairly subdued, and with the windows rolled up you can barely hear the outside world. Add to that the ride quality is also incredibly good even when driving over our pothole-ridden roads. I swear I kept forgetting I was in a supercar because of how good the ride quality was. If there is just one thing I wished my Lotus had from this Ferrari, it wouldn’t be the power or the beautiful interior, it would just be the suspension. I keep mentioning this in all my Ferrari reviews but it’s unreal how good the ride quality is on their cars.

So yeah, the Ferrari can be “normal”, in the same way Bruce Banner is also a normal guy.

As soon as you downshift a few gears and step on the gas, things change incredibly fast. I’ve never been so scared to put my foot down as much as I was in the 812. Clearly, the name Superfast was given to the car after one of their test drivers took the car out for the first time because that’s exactly how I’d describe it. Once you step on it the car suddenly starts screaming like an F1 car right as the shift-lights on the steering wheel start lighting up like a Christmas tree. I don’t think I was able to keep my foot down for longer than 3 seconds at any point during the 2 days I had the car.

It’s a monster underneath but so civil on the outside. It has a pretty large trunk and all the amenities of a luxury car like front and rear cameras, a dual-zone climate system, fully adjustable electric seats, an incredible sound system and lots of soft luxurious leather everywhere. But it’s a crazy freakin’ monster.

The car I drove had a retail price of around KD130,000 which makes it one of the most expensive Ferraris you can buy at the dealership. I was thinking to myself if it was worth it or not, as in if I had the money and was in the market for a Ferrari would I get the 812 Superfast? And the answer to that is no, my heart still belongs to the Ferrari GTC4Lusso. For a bit less than the price of an 812 Superfast, the GTC4Lusso for me is a more practical daily car with rear seats that also fold down like in a hatchback. But then again, this is such a first world problem to have trying to decide between the two. I actually just checked the Ferrari pre-owned cars list and the the 812 I borrowed is listed for sale at KD115,000. So if you want to check it out or at least check out more photos of the car then click [Here]

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Carriage Black – One Month Later

Post by Mark

Early this month, Carriage launched their free delivery service where for just KD3.5, you get an unlimited amount of free deliveries for a month. I signed up to it right away and so far I’m loving it.

Before Carriage Black, I used to order from Carriage once or twice a day at least, now its double that. One of the reasons for this is I’ve now started using their groceries section a lot more. For example, I ran out of milk last week and didn’t feel like driving to the supermarket, so I just ordered a bottle through Carriage. Their free delivery service has made their Groceries section a lot more convenient.

Another thing I’ve started doing is ordering snacks on Carriage. Before going to the gym I now order healthy power balls from Clean Eats or if I feel like chocolate, I order a bar from Rococoa. Before their free delivery service, it didn’t make financial sense to order small cheap items.

One thing I was worried about was that the quality of their delivery service would drop but so far since I’ve signed up, I haven’t had any delivery delays. If anything, delivery has been quicker this month. The only thing I’m concerned about is with people abusing the service by ordering cheap items just for the heck of it.

KD3.5 a month for unlimited free deliveries is too good a deal to pass, so if you haven’t signed up for it already, you probably should.

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Ferrari F12 Berlinetta

Post by Mark

You’d think the most stressful part of reviewing a Ferrari would be the part where I take a Ferrari out that isn’t mine, on roads which are in terrible condition, surrounded by people who can’t drive yet are all too busy on their phones and then try and bring the car back to the dealer in one piece. Instead, what really stresses me out is trying to find a place to shoot the cars. It’s so hard finding a nice clean backdrop for a shoot which I haven’t abused already like my favorite strip of road in the desert or the rooftop across from Mayar Complex. I can’t keep taking pictures in the same spot so I don’t take out as many cars out as I’d like. With Ferraris, it’s even more difficult since instead of having the car for the weekend like with most brands, I have to instead pick up the car early morning and then drop it off in the evening before they close. Sounds like a first world problem but when car dealers lend me a car, they’re hoping to get nice photos taken in return and I want to keep getting nice cars so I need to keep taking nice shots. With the Ferrari F12, this was the first time I was allowed to keep the car overnight so I decided to try something new.

The Ferrari F12 Berlinetta I picked up is part of the Ferrari pre-owned collection. It’s a 2016 model and had done around 6,500km when I picked it up. It’s the model the preceded the new Ferrari 812 SuperFast which I’m hoping to pick up sometime this week. The F12 has a 6.3L V12 engine producing 730HP making it the fourth most powerful Ferrari road car produced to date. That sounds crazy except then you find out that the F12 is actually meant to be a daily driver and you’re like wtf?! It’s got an insane amount of power, too much power for our fairly short and unexciting roads, but it also has all the comforts and luxury features you’d find on a high-end luxury car plus a large trunk in case you need to drop a friend off to the airport or pick up a few items from IKEA. It’s really why I had my eye on the car a couple of years ago.

At one point before getting my Lotus I was actually checking out the F12’s in the secondhand market. I really wanted the 4 seater Ferrari FF since it would have been the perfect daily driver, but since there weren’t any used ones for sale I started looking at F12’s since they were also meant to be great daily drivers. For the short time I had the F12 last week, I did find it very comfortable and pretty quiet when the windows rolled up. Yup quiet, the exhaust sound on the F12 sounds fairly normal when driving around like a normal human being and the cars sound proofing really helps isolate you from all the sounds outside the car. It’s really only once you lower the windows and get aggressive with your driving does it start sounding like the fourth most powerful Ferrari road car ever produced. I always like that good and evil side to cars, it makes the car more bareable to live with over the long run. Another thing I really loved about the F12 is the minimal interior and the fact you can’t see the stereo. The stereo is usually one of the first things in a car that quickly gets outdated, by integrating the sound system into the main car interface which is in the drivers dashboard next to the large RPM dial, there isn’t anything anymore to get dated. Even the car’s interface graphics have been kept to a minimal I presume to keep the car looking good for a very long time. I think it works.

Since I was able to keep the F12 overnight, I decided I wanted to try some light painting for my photo. To light paint a car you need to take it to a fairly dark area, then take the photo with a very long shutter speed while you paint the car with a light source, in my case a flashlight. What this allows you to do is keep the location around the car dark and moody, but get your car nicely lit. I ended up driving around close to midnight looking for an interesting parking lot to shoot the car before settling on the spot above. I think the shot came out pretty good for my first try at light painting. I actually think I could have light painted the top of the car slightly more but I only noticed that later once I got home and it was too late to do anything about it. If you want you can check out the photo of the car normally exposed without any light painting, click [Here]

After spending time with the F12 I can’t wait to take out the Ferrari 812. Actually while writing this post I realized I really want to take out the Ferrari FF and I think they have one or two pre-owned ones available so I might ask Ferrari if I could do that. For now, if you’re interested in checking out their pre-owned collection, you can do so online by visiting the Al-Zayani website [Here]

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Lotus Exige 380 Cup – 1 Year Later

Post by Mark

Since we’re on the subject of cars, exactly a year ago I picked up my 380 Cup from the dealership and since then I’ve done around 10,000KM on the car including four track days in Bahrain. Because Lotus isn’t very popular in Kuwait (or anywhere else really), I decided I’d do a writeup, a sort of a long term review of the car and the local dealership.

As some of you know I had another Lotus before this one. That one kept giving me random problems, but this Lotus has been pretty good so far. I’ve really only had two issues and both were minor:

– Front access panel would loosen up at high speed
– Hazard light button would get stuck sometimes

Both those issues were fixed easily under warranty. Speaking of which, my car’s warranty expires today since it’s just a 1-year warranty. This is the only Lotus I am aware of that has a 1-year warranty, I think the rest have 2 or 3 years but because mine is a special edition with only 60 built, it has just a 1-year. That really sucks but Lotus have the option to extend the warranty for another year for a fee. I’m currently waiting to hear from them how much that fee is, hopefully, it won’t be much.

I actually just got the car back from Bahrain this Sunday. I had kept the car in Bahrain for a bit more than 6 weeks so I could take part in open track days on the Bahrain International Circuit while saving money on having to keep shipping the car back and forth. I got three track days done and just brought back the car to Kuwait so I can get the oil changed and 10,000KM service done. My Lotus did not miss our horrible broken roads that’s for sure.

On the track, the car has been great. I pretty much drive it hard non-stop through the whole session and don’t run into any overheating issues or even brake pedal fade. After four track days, the brake pads are also still full and even the Michelin Cup 2 tires not that worn. Having a lightweight car definitely saves you a lot in consumables. On normal roads, day to day driving I find the car super fun to drive. My car is the European spec, not the GCC spec so it doesn’t have the secondary AC unit behind the seats which my previous Lotus had. I used to find that AC freezing cold 10 months out of the year and it was super annoying because you couldn’t turn off the secondary AC unit. With this Lotus, for 2 months of the year I drive it mostly at night, but then the rest of the year the AC is more than enough. I actually didn’t really face any major cooling issues during the summer, the AC cooled the car enough but I also always parked it in shaded parking. I’d imagine the car would take a long time to cool down if you parked it in the sun, but really I don’t miss the dual AC system of the GCC spec cars. If you’re wondering what the advantage of a Euro spec car is, basically because you have space behind the seats you can install a 4-way seat belt harness and bar. You can’t do that on GCC spec cars since that gap behind the seats is taken with the secondary AC unit.

Moneywise I haven’t really spent that much on the car. I paid around KD200 for the harness bar and 4-way seatbelt, I bought a new racing helmet and gloves, but that’s really it. Oh and I changed the oil back in December before sending the car to Bahrain and it cost me KD60 at the dealership. That isn’t too bad, double what I pay for my FJ, but also like a fifth of the cost of a Lamborghini oil change. So it’s reasonable in that sense. But I do have an issue with the dealer’s prices on parts. New brake pads at the dealer costs KD358, but the same OEM pads can be ordered online for KD100 and KD200 would get you some serious racing pads. I’m not to concerned about the price of the pads since I can just order them online when the time comes. But what I am concerned about is larger pieces like body panels. I’m worried if I crash on the race track how much the body panels and carbon fiber parts are going to cost and I’m too afraid to ask. I don’t think it’s the fault of the local dealer since the local dealer gets everything through Dubai. I think Lotus Dubai are the reason to blame on the high cost of parts.

Generally, though I’m really satisfied with Alghanim who are the local dealer’s. Everyone is just extremely friendly and helpful from the mechanics to the showroom manager up to the aftersales manager. I also love the fact that I’ve got the mechanics on Whatsapp and I just message them before I head over, it makes the service feel very personalized. My only gripes with the dealership are minor, the first being the fact I hate passing by the dealership and seeing dirty and dusty Lotuses parked outside. That cheapens the brand and there is no reason not to keep them nice and clean especially since they’re the test drive cars. The second issue I have is with their instagram account, it’s not very active, the stories they post are lame and their phones camera lens is always dirty. Again I feel it cheapens the brand. Not only that but whoever is running their instagram account doesn’t know their cars well and I’ve had to leave a comment more than once correcting them. Not only that but I setup an account for my car a few months ago (@380cup) and I get more likes and engagement than the dealers instagram account, so they’re clearly doing something wrong. I should probably work out some sort of deal with them where they hand over the account to me to manage in return I get like free service or something.

In the end, I’m really really happy with the car and I’m so glad I traded in my older Exige for this one. I still look back at the car after parking it and I still get excited every morning knowing I’ll be driving the Lotus to work. If you’re looking for a sports car you can track, I’d highly recommend the Lotus and the local Lotus dealership.

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Oak and Smoke

Post by Mark

Over the weekend I finally got to pass by Oak and Smoke and try the place out. Previously they only had delivery, but last month they opened up a new location in Shuwaikh and I’ve been meaning to pass by ever since.

For those of you that have been to the original RAW sushi place in industrial Shuwaikh, you’ll recognize the Oak and Smoke location since they took over the old RAW. BUT, they also took over the whole basement and that’s where the main restaurant is located. Getting down there is an experience which I think adds a lot to the place. The entrance to Oak and Smoke is through an alleyway which was softly lit with a red glow. Once we walked into the alleyway we started following a guy until we got into a large industrial elevator. With a press of a button we started going down and it felt like we were about to enter a club. The fact they were able to turn a simple thing as entering the restaurant into a very instagrammable moment is super smart and something a lot of their customers will share. After the short ride down the lift we walked into the restaurant which I think looks amazing. The ceiling had vintage metal ceiling tiles, the walls looked aged, there were two fake backlit windows and also beautiful chandeliers. I think it’s one of the coolest looking spots in Kuwait.

Oak and Smoke’s menu is pretty small with six starters and two mains. We ordered Tri-Tip for starters which is composed of thinly sliced beef and arugula over a horseradish cream, as well as some Vietnamese hot wings and then beef ribs and brisket for our mains. I didn’t have the wings but the Tri-Tip was good and kept us patient until our main dishes arrived. I’ll make this quick, just go there and order the ribs. Seriously, maybe with some soda but you’ll be more than satisfied with just ribs. It was just too good, super juicy and flaked off the bone so easily. We were 5 and we downed nearly 3KG of ribs in just a few minutes, and that was right after going through three orders of brisket!

The only thing I’d avoid at Oak and Smoke is their dessert which was a dish that combined of what looked like canned fruit served over white cream. They’d have a better dessert if they just served a jar of Nutella with a spoon. Other than the dessert there really isn’t anything to complain about. Pricewise, we were five people and ended up paying around KD18 each but that included 4 orders of brisket, 2.7KG of ribs, 2 plates of hot wings, 2 plates of tri-tip, fries, dessert, and drinks. If you’re looking for a new restaurant to try out I’d highly recommend experiencing Oak and Smoke. They take reservations so better call ahead just to be safe. They’re on instagram @oakandsmoke and you’ll find their number and link to their location there.

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The New Suzuki Jimny

Post by Mark

The new Suzuki Jimny is one of the hottest and hardest to get cars right now in the market. When it launched in Kuwait back in October the dealership sold out of the Jimny on the same day (65 cars is what I heard). The resale value of the car is probably the highest right now as well since whoever was lucky to buy one can sell it for basically the same price they paid for if not more. I’ve been wanting to try the Jimny ever since it launched and I was lucky enough to have a friend who lent me his to drive for a few days. Spoiler: It was a lot of fun!

The Jimny is a very tiny SUV that kinda looks like a mini Mercedes G-Class. It has a very boxy minimalistic design which I fell in love with ever since I saw the car when it was announced early last year. The car comes in 8 colors but my personal favorites are the Jungle Green and the Chiffon Ivory which is the color my friend luckily had and pictured in this post. There are no options for the interior color, all Jimny’s come with a black interior (thankfully). Locally, the car comes with practically no options other than powered windows. For some reason the GCC spec doesn’t include options like LED headlights or a stereo with a seven-inch screen and Apple CarPlay. The GCC spec also doesn’t include safety features like Weaving Alert and Lane Departure Warning. This isn’t the dealers choice, Suzuki just doesn’t offer these options for the GCC models right now.

As soon as I sat in the car I felt very comfortable and cozy. I’m 6’1 and there was lots of room for me, even in the back seat surprisingly. The car’s pillars are also fairly thin so there are no blindspots around the car and the large windows bring in a lot of light helping give the car a very open and spacious feel.

Driving the Jimny is a lot of fun, the small size and the fact you can see outside in every direction helps give you a layer of confidence you might not usually have when driving. Actually driving the Jimny reminded me of the Fiat 500 and my old Vespa since both of those were super fun and very easy to manage. You can tell what kind of mood the car put me in from the photos in this post, it’s not a serious car and so I wanted to have fun with it. But don’t get me wrong, the Jimny is still a very capable SUV, it’s actually why the older model had such a cult following. I took the Jimny out to the Mutla Ridge (pictured above) and it didn’t have an issue climbing up the ridges and even the deep sand wasn’t much of an issue since the Jimny is a fairly light SUV. It’s an off-road car as much as it is the perfect city car.

When I finally had to give the car back to my friend it felt a bit sad. Because its so easy to get comfortable with the Jimny, I quickly got used to it, and for the few days I had it, the car felt like it belonged to me. Thankfully the dealership doesn’t have Jimny’s for sale at the moment or else I might have been tempted to just pass by and pick one for myself. At only KD5,500, the Jimny is pretty much in impulse buy territory for a lot of people. But even if you weren’t looking for a fun second or third car, the Jimny would be a great primary one. The car is perfect for driving around in the city or areas like Shuwaikh because of the small size, but even on my drive to Mutla I didn’t feel like I was in a slow car and the ride was pretty comfortable.

If I didn’t already have an SUV I would buy one without hesitation. Plus, the amount of accessories and customizations available for the Jimny is just crazy. For KD5,500 I don’t think there is any other car on the market thats as fun to drive or as good of a deal.

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Review: iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2018)

Post by Mark

A month ago I posted my first impression of the new iPad Pro. I got the iPad from Xcite and since then I’ve also gotten the Apple Pencil as well as purchased the Apple Smart Keyboard Folio for it, and an iPad sleeve from WaterField. My setup is basically complete and now that I’ve been using the 12.9″ iPad Pro for over a month I managed to answer the ever so important question, can this iPad replace a laptop? Yes, or in my case at least it has replaced one, and I’ll explain how.

Full disclosure, I have a long-standing relationship with Xcite who provided me with this iPad Pro. They’ve been very active with me and the blog over the years and they’ve lent or given me a number of items over the years to review, as well as hooking me up with discounts. I’m a huge Xcite fan.

As I mentioned in my first impression post, my current Mac setup at home is composed of a 27-inch iMac which I use mostly for my design work, a 13-inch MacBook Pro which I use as my day-to-day computer, and a 9.7-inch iPad Pro I use for random things like watching YouTube videos in bed or when I want to chill and browse the web at a coffee shop. What I didn’t mention in that post was that I also had a small 12″ MacBook which belonged to the company I work for. I hadn’t used a 12-inch Macbook before joining this company and I really fell in love with it. It’s extremely compact, its lightweight and battery life was incredible. Instead of lugging my 13-inch MacBook Pro around to coffee shops or when traveling, I’d always prefer to take the 12-inch MacBook. But now that I was leaving the company I decided I wanted to get my very own MacBook, and that was around the same time the new 12.9-inch iPad was launched.

I’ll be honest, I was barely using the iPad Pro before getting the Apple Pencil or keyboard for it. I used the iPad Pro to edit photos in Lightroom but that was about it. I found the iPad Pro too large to use while sitting on my couch and I hate typing on the screen. In bed, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro was also too huge to be practical, so I continued to use my smaller 9.7-inch iPad before going to sleep. But, once I got the Apple Pencil and keyboard, things changed drastically. The keyboard for me turned the iPad Pro into a proper laptop, it really made a dramatic difference and I suddenly found myself using the iPad Pro whenever I had the chance. Even at home, I found myself reaching out for the iPad Pro more than my MacBook Pro when wanting to browse the web while watching TV.

Apple Pencil
I’m not an illustrator, in fact, I can barely draw stick figures, but you don’t need to be an illustrator to make use of the Apple Pencil. I found the Apple Pencil really useful in the photo editor Lightroom, and when using the Photoshop-like-app Affinity Photo. In Lightroom the Pencil gave me more precise control when adjusting the settings sliders while also allowing me to draw my image masks more accurately. In Affinity Photo, the Apple Pencil allowed me to draw my object selections better as well as made erasing backdrops so much more easier. If you can illustrate, then you could take the iPad Pro to a completely different level. I know a bunch of very talented illustrators who dropped their Wacom tablets and shifted to using the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil as their primary illustration tool.

Apple Smart Keyboard Folio
As I mentioned earlier, I hate typing on the iPad screen and I never got the hang of it which is why I also had a keyboard for my smaller iPad. The keyboard on the new iPads though is a much better design. If you have the old keyboards then you know they’re not great to use on your laps because of the way they fold. The new keyboards don’t have that fold at the bottom, it’s one solid piece so it’s a lot more stable on your laps. Typing on this keyboard is great, I haven’t experienced any issues or even a drop in my typing speed either. The only thing I miss is the backlit keys, but that would probably add more weight to the keyboard and I wouldn’t want that since it’s already pretty hefty.

12-inch MacBook vs 12.9-inch iPad Pro
One thing I wanted to know was if the iPad Pro would be a better option for me over the small 12-inch MacBook. The biggest test would be if I could use the iPad to blog from. It sounds like a fairly simple thing especially since you could technically blog from any browser on any device, but that’s not what I mean. I’ve been blogging now for over 15 years and I’m used to blogging in a certain way. For one thing, I like my space, I can’t post from a small screen since it feels claustrophobic. I also need Photoshop because that’s what I use to resize photos so they fit on the blog as well as allowing me to control the compression strength of the jpg.

The most difficult blogging day for me is usually Thursdays because that’s when I post my “movies now playing list” as well as my events list. I say difficult because it involves a lot of jumping around on different pages, lots of researching, downloading of images, a lot of copying and pasting of information and lots of linking. If I could get my Thursday posts done on my iPad Pro, then it would pass the test. Spoiler: It passed.

Last Thursday I did all my posting on my iPad Pro and I was even able to complete my posts at a much faster pace than usual because of the way I can split the screen up and did two things at the same time side by side. My setup during my movies post, for example, had my blog open on the left side of the screen while the cinemas and IMDB websites were open on the right. I could then copy paste the info from the right screen to my left and basically work on my post without having to keep swapping tabs. Simply put, the iPad actually made my job a bit easier. Because the screen is also slightly larger than the 12-inch MacBook, I could also see and fit more information on the screen at once and it just felt a lot less cramped.

Dash Sleeve for the iPad Pro from WaterField

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the keyboard is now what I will take with me when I travel and it’s what I will be using to blog from when I’m posting from outside my house. I’m actually using the iPad right now for this post because I’m at a coffee shop and it just makes more sense to post from an iPad when I’m advocating how great it is to post from it.

Both the 12-inch MacBook and 12.9-inch iPad Pro are similarly priced once you add the keyboard and pencil to the iPad. And really, if I had gotten the MacBook instead I wouldn’t complain since I love it so much. But what the iPad Pro is offering is something a bit more. Because it’s a tablet and a fairly fast one, I found I prefered editing my photos in Lightroom a lot more enjoyable than on my MacBook’s. This iPad Pro is actually faster than the MacBook and my MacBook Pro. The Apple Pencil also an extra dimension which the MacBook’s, in general, can’t compete with.

So can the iPad Pro replace your computer? It really depends on your requirements but the simple answer would be yes it can. Right now the only thing I’d really like on the iPad is a full version of Adobe Photoshop but that’s supposedly coming out next year. Until then I’m using Affinity Photo which pretty much has 80% of the things I need from Photoshop. As long as you’re prepared to change your habits a bit, I don’t think moving to an iPad as your primary computer would be that difficult.

The new iPad Pro is now available in most places around Kuwait but I got mine from Xcite and you can find them on their online store [Here]

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Peak Design Camera Gear in Kuwait

Post by Mark

Earlier this year I sold all my camera gear, and by all I mean everything from my DSLR and lenses, down to accessories like tripods and carrying bags. I wasn’t using my camera gear much cuz everything was so bulky and so got rid of them. Then last month I realized that I actually did need a camera, I just didn’t want something big so I ended up getting the new Sony A7 III mirrorless camera which I have been loving. I’ve also been slowly rebuilding my camera gear again from scratch and one of the first things I needed to do was get a camera strap and bag.

After doing a lot of research, I ended up with Peak Design for both the strap and bag. Peak Design is a pretty popular brand in the photography world, but I only recently found out about them because of their camera strap. Nearly all the Sony A7 review videos I watched had the circular red anchors (pictured above) and I didn’t understand what they were until I saw one of the reviewers snap his camera strap to it. That’s when I knew I needed that camera strap in my life. With my previous cameras, it was pretty unpractical to keep removing and putting the strap on so I always left it off, but with the Peak Design strap, it’s super easy. I shot the video below to show you how quick it is to snap the strap on and off.

I was going to order the strap online but decided to check and see if it was available locally and turned out AAB World had them. I ended up getting the Peak Design Leash Strap which is one of their thinner ones and while picking it up I also checked out the Peak Design bags.

When I was researching bags one of the things I was looking for was a bag that was at least half decent looking and the Peak Design looked pretty good online but I wasn’t convinced until I saw them in person and tried them out at AAB. I decided to go with their Everyday Sling model since I liked the way the bag looked and the way it’s worn. The Everyday Sling comes in two sizes, the 5L which I thought would be perfect for using when I travel, and the 10L size which I thought would be perfect to use locally when I needed to carry all my camera gear.

Full disclosure, AAB ended up giving me the 10L bag for free so I could review it. I had the choice to choose any of their bags but figured I’d have them give me the 10L so I could then buy the cheaper 5L version myself.

I picked up the bag a few weeks ago but waited to get my camera lenses before I could do a proper write-up, and now that I have most of my lenses, I’m kinda concerned the bag isn’t big enough and maybe I should be looking at their backpacks instead. The biggest issue is with my large 100-400mm lens which is a pretty tight fit heightwise. If you watch the video below you’ll see that I do manage to squeeze in all my lenses including the 100-400mm into the bag. But once I put my MacBook into the bag, then it becomes pretty difficult to zip up. I guess the easy fix is just not to carry my MacBook, but I really wanted a bag I could shove everything into and not worry about space.

One thing I was surprised with was how light the bag felt even though I had all my gear in it. I think that has to do with the way the bag is worn. Unlike a regular messenger bag which presses down on a small point on your shoulder with the weight of the bag being on your side, with the Sling, the weight of the bag is spread over a larger portion of your shoulder with most of the weight carried with the help of your back like a backpack. It’s a hybrid of a backpack and messenger bag and I found it easier to carry the gear without my shoulders starting to hurt. I also think the bag looks great and is really practical. You really should watch the video on the Peak Design website to find out about all the cool features of it since they do a great job of showing them. For example, I can carry my tripod with the Everyday Sling by strapping it to the bottom of the back or I can stack lenses inside the bag by using their “FlexFold” dividers. Peak Design really do think of everything which is why they’re loved by so many photographers.

If you’re interested in Peak Design gear, AAB are the local dealers and their prices are similar to if you order it yourself from the Peak Design website. The Leash strap cost me around KD14 while the Everyday Sling 10L bag sells for KD45. They’re both available on the AAB website [Here]

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Review: Sony WH-1000 XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Post by Mark

I’ve had my eyes on the Sony noise canceling headphones ever since their first generation was launched a few years ago, then last year I was tempted to get their second generation (the XM2’s), but never ended up pulling the trigger. Then, a few months ago, Sony surprised everyone by launching their third generation XM3 headphones and they instantly became a huge hit. Many were calling it the best wireless noise canceling headphones you can buy and most of the reviewers agreed that they were miles ahead of the popular BOSE QC35 II. I decided I wanted one.

Since the headphones had just been released a couple of months back and were super popular, they were sold out at every US and UK retailer I checked from Amazon, to BestBuy to Currys. Even on eBay they were being sold at ridiculous prices. After a week of searching, I finally found a retailer in Australia that was selling them at retail price and I ended up ordering my pair from there and shipping them to my Australian Shop&Ship address. Surprisingly, Aramex were pretty quick with the shipping and I managed to get my pair delivered this past Thursday just before I traveled to Dubai. After using them while working out of Arabica and then again on the plane, I’m in shock at how good these are.

For those of you who’ve been reading my blog for years, you probably know I have an obsession with headphones. I actually just found a list of some of the headphones (and earphones) I’ve owned:

Bang & Olufsen A8
Bang & Olufsen H5
Beats by Dre
BeyerDynamic DT770 600ohm
Sennheiser Adidas PMX 680i
Sennheiser IE80
Sennheiser PX100
Sennheiser PX100-II
Sennheiser PXC250
Shure E2
Shure SE210
Shure SE215
Sony MDR-XB500
UE 5 Pro
UE Triple.Fi 10 Pro

So I’ve used a lot of headphones over the years but my current go-to pair when traveling were the fantastic Sennheiser IE80. They sounded terrific and because they were wired, it meant they never ran out of batteries. But they had two issues, the first being they were wired, wireless is more practical of course especially on a plane. The second issue I had was with the comfort, the IE80’s are in-earphones so on long trips my ears would get really warm and sweaty. I wanted a new travel pair and these Sony’s solved all my issues.

Firstly, the Sony’s are wireless, but they also have a 30-hour battery life which means even on my longest flight to LA, I’d be able to use the headphones on the plane, during transit and still get to LA with lots of battery left. Secondly, the Sony’s are super comfortable. I haven’t used them yet for more than 2-3 hours at one go, but so far they’ve been extremely comfy. The Sony’s fit around my ears so they aren’t applying any pressure on them and the padding is super soft. The most important aspect of these Sony’s and what really makes them so great is the noise cancelation abilities. I haven’t used a lot of noise-canceling headphones but people who have say these are the best ones you can buy right now. I’m going to believe them because based on my experience this past weekend, they work like magic. On the plane, they COMPLETELY cancel out the lound rumbling engine sound, my flight to Dubai and back was extremely quiet and peaceful. Every time I took the headphones off I was actually in shock at how loud the plane was without them. I actually feel that way whenever I take the headphones off after using them anywhere. We are surrounded by so much sound everywhere we go and we don’t tend to realize it because we’re so used to it. These headphones really transport you into a quiet space, so you’ll get the library silence wherever you are. They aren’t perfect, while using them at Arabica, if I didn’t have any music playing I could still kinda hear people chattering.

The headphones have a lot of cool features and can even be connected to an app that allows you to control the amount of ambient sound they let in, but, I’m not going to go into too many details since you could watch or read more comprehensive reviews online. What I will say is this, these Sony’s sound great, are super comfortable and kill the sound around you so good that you won’t believe it.

If you’re interested in a pair I couldn’t find any place locally to get them and they’re still hard to get online. BUT, while I was at the Duty Free in Dubai I spotted them being sold there and for around KD110. So if you have a trip to Dubai planned or know someone traveling, let them get you a pair. Here is a link to them on Amazon but they’re out of stock as of this post [Link]

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Best Molokhia in Town?

Post by Mark

I hate molokhia but, @cosmicxcircus somehow convinced me that I’ve been having bad molokhia all my life and that I needed to try it at her favorite place. She sold me on the theory and told me about a small hole in the wall in Hawalli called Layali Zamaan that supposedly made the best molokhia in Kuwait. So I decided to head there with her and a couple of other friends to try it out.

There are mainly two kinds of molokhia, the soupy Egyptian molokhia and the leafy Lebanese version. As this was an Egyptian restaurant they made the soupy kind. The molokhia meal at Layali Zamaan consists of bird tongue soup (chicken broth with orzo pasta), leafy veggies, rice, protein, Egyptian bread, and of course, the molokhia.

You have five different proteins to choose from, duck, chicken, meat, pigeon, and fish. I was curious to try the pigeon since I’ve never had it before but, since I was already out of my comfort zone with the molokhia, I decided to stick with meat.

The bird tongue soup which didn’t really look appetizing turned out to be actually really good, and I love carbs so the bread was great, and that is about it. Turns out I still really dislike molokhia because I hated it at this place as well. The whole time I was there I was thinking about what I would order off Carriage once I was back home. Everyone else I was with LOVED the molokhia but I have no idea why.

The best thing about Layali Zamaan for me was that it was located around the corner from the popular ice cream shop Bikdash Al Sham. The second best thing about Layali Zamaan was the price. We were four people and the bill came out to KD5.500 which I guess is a steal if you like molokhia. If you’re interested in trying the place out, they’re located in Hawalli, here is their location on [Google Maps]

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