Hiking Lebanon

Post by Mark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dubai Must Visit: Tomini Classics

Post by Mark

Over the weekend while in Dubai I passed by Tomini Classics with a friend of mine. Tomini is a classic car dealership and my friend wanted to check out a 1971 Jaguar E-Type and asked me if I wanted to join him, obviously I did. As soon as we walked into the showroom the first car the greeted us was a 1964 Ferrari 330 P4 race car. An insane car but the whole showroom was filled with insane cars. Because its Ferraris 70th anniversary, they filled the showroom with classic Ferraris. It was like walking around in a museum except everything was for sale. They had Testarossa’s, a Berlinetta Boxer, GT4, 308GTB and a lot more and they were all in excellent like new condition! It was mind blowing, just one classic Ferrari next to another. They also had some vintage Maserati’s, Lambo’s and even a Lotus out on display but most of their collection was hidden inside what they call “the vault”.

The vault is their large garage where they store the cars that have already been purchased as well as cars that are not on display in the main showroom. Photography is strictly not allowed inside so I’m gonna try and describe it the best I can. From all the car museums I’ve been to, and I’ve been to many, I don’t recall a single one that had so many great cars all in one place. Sure the Petersen Automotive Museum has some great cars, but they’re mostly great because of their historical significance. They’re cars with great stories, but not necessarily cars I would want to own. The vault at Tomini on the other hand is what my garage would look like if my last name was Zuckerberg. They had maybe half a dozen E-Types, a ton of vintage air cooled Porsches from the 60s all the way through the 80s (including at least two 356’s), they had a Pantera, a few more vintage Maserati’s, a couple of 60’s Mercedes SL’s, a Lamborghini Espada, the 1982 Ferrari Formula 1 car and even more but this is just what I remember right now. They also had a couple of new cars like the new Ferrari LaFerrari Spider and Porsche 918 Spyder. But the car that caught me by surprise the most was the Renault 5 Turbo 2. I had never seen one in person and I couldn’t believe they had one in their vault. It’s not that popular of a car and compared to the classic Ferrari’s and Lambo’s it kinda seems out of place. But it has a strong cult following especially if you grew up in Europe or in a place with a lot of European cars like Lebanon in my case. It’s definitely a car you would want to have in your collection.

In conclusion, that was some crazy shit. If you’re into cars especially classic ones then I’d highly highly recommend you drop by Tomini the next time you’re in Dubai. It seriously felt like visiting the best car museum in the world and the best part is… everything is for sale if you can afford it. To check out all the cars they have you can visit their website and flip through their for sale list as well as the sold list (which contains some of the cars I saw in the vault). Their website is tominiclassics.com. You can also follow them on instagram @tominiclassicsdubai

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Post by Mark

I had a plan. I was supposed to fly out of Kuwait Airport at 5AM via Qatar Airways, land in Doha, spend an hour and a half killing time before my second flight to Nice (France) also via Qatar Airways. I would have landed in Nice at 2PM, around the same time my best friend’s flight would have also landed. We were gonna pick up our rental, drive down the coast of France all the way to Marseilles, stopping along the way for some beach time and food.

Great plan if it wasn’t for the fact the Kuwait Airport luggage conveyer belt for check-in stopped working this morning. It was a disaster with bags pilled up all around and check-in taking far longer than it usually would. My flight ended up taking off over an hour late and by the time I landed in Doha, I had around 10 minutes to make it to my next flight. I realized I had a 90% I wouldn’t make the flight and let my friends know that before I took off from Kuwait. I stayed calm, I figured stressing wouldn’t solve anything and I accepted the fact I was gonna miss my flight.

Luckily, once I got out of the plane there was a Qatar Airways employee waiting for me, she told me we had to rush to my plane because they were waiting for me. I sent my friends a message letting them know I was miraculously gonna make it. While we were running to my gate the employee tells me they printed me a new boarding pass, just as she is giving it to me she notices something, the boarding pass was for August 18th.. the next day. Because my flight from Kuwait was delayed, they issued me a ticket for the next flight to Nice which was the same time but for the next day. I was devastated. I wanted to continue running to my gate but she told me it was too late, they would have closed it by now. I was mentally ready to miss the flight but then had my hopes raised only to be disappointed again. It sucked.

I stayed calm, I didn’t get upset or angry, I was a bit annoyed definitely but calm. We went to the transfer desk because I asked if there was a way I could get to Nice earlier. While waiting there everyone around me was screaming at the employees and I was just thinking how this must be the shittiest job in the world having to deal with all these frustrated and angry customers. The thing I found the most surprising was how they were finding me alternative flights to Nice. I thought there was some kind of sophisticated mechanism, a smart software with some sort of algorithm that would figure out the fastest way to get a person to a destination. But it wasn’t anything like that, it kinda seemed very manual.

First they came back to me telling me I could fly out through Zurich and I’d arrive in Nice 10AM the next day. I then asked if there was a flight via Paris, so they checked and came back to me 15 minutes later telling me there was, but it had a 12 hour layover and I’d arrive to Nice the next day at 8AM. I then asked them what about flights via London. They got back to me telling me there was a flight via London and I’d end up in Nice at 2AM, but the flight from London to Nice was fully booked. I told them they could put me in economy and that I didn’t care but she said it was against their policy. I told her to try at least, so she left and came back 15 minutes later, this time telling me there was another flight from London and I could be in Nice by 11:30PM. And thats the flight I’m taking now, boarding actually starts in around 30 minutes. Kinda weird that I had to come up with routes when I would assume their software could do that.

Overall, a pretty dramatic morning for what should have been a routine trip. At least I’m flying out now on A380 (my original flight was a Dreamliner), I think there is a bar with a lounge onboard which should be pretty cool. I was actually just thinking how Qatar Airways put me on a more expensive flight so I could still get to Nice today which was pretty nice of them. It wasn’t their fault that the conveyor belt at the airport stopped working, they could have just kept me on tomorrows flight. So definitely a good experience for a shitty situation.

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Things to do in L.A.

Post by Mark

There is so much to go over in regards to things you can do in L.A., so I decided to split it up into categories and also show you how to find stuff to do yourself. The most important thing is to keep an open mind (when it comes to doing things you might not usually do), don’t be lazy and be ready to spend a lot of time in traffic commuting all across the Greater Los Angeles area.

Unlike cities like New York and London, Los Angeles is extremely spread out and so I wouldn’t recommend relying on public transportation or cab services like Uber and Lyft as your only means of transport. Instead I highly recommend renting a car. I always use Avis since they tend to have the best prices and I’ve never had a bad experience with them. I tend to pick it up from the airport when I arrive and then drop it back there on my way out. You don’t need an international driving license to drive in L.A., your Kuwaiti driving license is all you need. Prices are also not that expensive, a Ford Mustang convertible is for around $65 a day which includes unlimited mileage and full insurance, so you can imagine how much cheaper regular cars would be. If you don’t want to use a rental company for some reason or if you’re looking for a very specific car (like a TRD Tacoma or a Tesla) you can also use Turo which is a service similar to Airbnb except for cars.

First Time in L.A.?
If it’s your first time in L.A. then definitely hit up all the touristic spots like Disney Land, Universal Studios, Six Flags, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Griffith Observatory, The Getty etc.. You should also probably drive out to Las Vegas and check that as well.

Off the Beaten Track
If it’s not your first time in L.A. or are looking for something less touristy to do then it really depends what you’re into. Below are a few things I like doing:

Museums: I didn’t like The Getty, but I loved The Broad and the Petersen Automotive Museum. If you want to check out The Broad make sure you reserve your tickets in advance, it’s free entry but they limit the number of people per day. If you’re planning to visit L.A. this year between October 21st and January 1st, then I’d recommend you also reserve your ticket for the new Yayoi Kusama exhibit called Infinity Mirrors. Tickets will be released on September 1st and they’ll most likely finish quickly, here is a link with more info on the exhibit [Link]. On my last trip to L.A. I got to experience Yayoi’s previous exhibit, “Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away“. I had to get to the museum one hour before opening and line up outside so that once the museum opened I could then rush in and wait in another line for 30 minutes so I could then get a number so that when my turn came two hours later, I could spend 45 seconds in the Infinity Mirrored Room trying to take a photo. Insane. If you’re into cars I’d also recommend you do the extended tour at the Petersen Automotive Museum which includes a tour of their vault which is their car collection in the basement which isn’t on display in the main museum.

Concerts: There are concerts taking place on a daily basis in L.A. When I was there for example a lot of cool musicians were performing including Nine Inch Nails, Iggy Pop, Metallica, BUSH, Tears for Fears, Lionel Richie and Slayer. There were hundreds of more bands performing while I was there if not thousands. The best way to see what concerts are taking place while you’re visiting is to check Ticket Master. You can plug in the dates you’re going to be in L.A. and then scroll through pages and pages of concerts taking place during that time. If you can’t find tickets for sale because they’re sold out, check Stub Hub, thats where I usually buy my sold out tickets from. For electronic music I’d recommend checking Resident Advisor for club dates.

Events: There are soo many things happening every day in L.A., so much that its nearly impossible to go through it all. While I was in L.A. there were a bunch of things that interested me that were taking place including UFC 214 which I sadly ended up missing. There are two ways of finding events that I’d recommend, the first is using Facebook. Facebook allows you to explore events taking place near you and you can be pretty specific about the kind of event you’re looking for and the date you want to check. By being more specific, instead of navigating through thousands and thousands of entries you end up having to dig through hundreds. Still a lot of events to go through, but not as bad. The second way to find events is to decide on an area you want to visit and then see whats taking place there. So for example I wanted to visit Huntington Beach and it turned out the Vans US Open of Surfing was taking place there so I checked it out. When I went to play volleyball on Hermosa Beach, the Charlie Saikley 6-Man Beach Volleyball Tournament way taking place up the road in Manhattan Beach so me and my friends ended up heading there after our game. Actually now that I think about it, there is a third way of finding events, you find one based on your interest. You could just google your interest like “yoga event los angeles” and end up with a bunch of cool things like hip hop yoga or a cannabis infused yoga event.

Beaches: I went to four different beaches on my trip and my favorite two were Hermosa and Manhattan Beach. I went on weekdays and weekends and both beaches were pretty much empty. Because the beaches in L.A. stretch across the whole coastline, and because the beaches are so huge, it never gets packed, I love it. Even when we were playing beach volleyball on Saturday afternoon, there were two other courts next to ours that were not occupied. And that was on a weekend! You could also rent a bike on one beach and ride it all along the coastline through the other beaches since they’re all connected. The bike path is called the Marvin Braude Bike Trail and stretches for 35KM. The only thing you’ll have an issue with when beaching is finding parking. My tip for that would be to park far away and then Uber it down to the beach.

TV Shows: L.A. is home to a bunch of cool TV shows and you can sign up to be part of the live audience. Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Maher, The Price is Right and Jeopardy all tape in L.A. and you can watch them all for free. All you need to do is sign up ahead of time to make sure you have a higher chance of scoring a ticket. To get tickets, just visit your favorite shows website and you’ll find a link to sign up for them there.

Other Random Things: There are a few places I personally enjoyed while in L.A. If you’re into video games you might want to combine it with alcohol and visit a couple of barcades like The One Up or EightyTwo. I would also highly recommend you go bowling at the Highland Park Bowl which is the oldest bowling alley in L.A. It opened up back in 1927 and is still alive and kicking today. Its by far the coolest bowling alley I’ve ever been to and has great music and even a bar. L.A. is also home to the largest IKEA in North America if that’s something you’re into. Oue Skyspace in downtown have a glass slide outside the skyscraper which is a quick thing to try out if you’re in downtown. Finally, visit The Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard for some great comedy in a small cozy space. Tickets are usually just $5 and lots of great comedians are regulars there like Joe Rogan, Joey Diaz, Marc Maron, Jamie Kennedy and David Spade. It’s also the home of my favorite podcast Kill Tony.

Eats: I already posted a bunch of cool places to eat at in L.A. last week and I’ll be adding more to that list probably later today or tomorrow. If you haven’t checked that list out already, here is the [Link]

I think thats all I have to share for now. Like I said there is so much to do and you really need a car to be able to freely move around. If there is anything else you want to know, just let me know in the comments below.

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Kuwait Airways Video Review

Post by Mark

Sam Chui, the world’s most followed aviation blogger recently flew on one of the new Kuwait Airways planes and reviewed it. Overall he really liked the new planes although he had major issues with the Kuwait Airport, but don’t we all. I’m surprised Kuwait Airways didn’t bump him up to first class from business since it didn’t look like anyone was there and it’s Sam Chui..

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L.A. Eats

Post by Mark

A reader who’s traveling to L.A. next week asked me if I could share a list of places to see and places to eat at. Problem with L.A. is that its huge and spread out so I’m not sure how practical a list like that could be. Traffic here is insane so trips around L.A. usually take an hour easily and most of the time a lot more than that. I’m also staying and hanging out mostly in the Armenian areas like Glendale and Burbank which are not close to any touristic spots I’m aware of, maybe the Griffith Observatory but thats about it. So again not sure my list would work for anybody else but I’ll share some below.

The best way really to find some great eating spots in general is to just open up Yelp whenever you find yourself hungry. If a place has 4+ stars and 200+ reviews then most likely that place is gonna be great. Since I’ve got relatives and friends in L.A. I’ve been pretty lucky so far on this trip with some really great food recommendations, but whenever I’m stuck I just go back to Yelp. Below are some of the best places I’ve gone to on this trip but for all the places I’ve been to, check out my yelp account mark248am.yelp.com

El Faro Tacos – I just found out on this trip that Lebanese immigrants to Mexico had a small influence on their cuisine in the form of the Al Pastor, which is basically a shawerma taco. This small hole in the wall specializes in the Al Pastor and is super authentic and super cheap, just $1.24 for a taco. They were so good I had 4.

Afters Ice Cream – Like In-N-Out but for ice cream. Afters is a California based brand and is currently only located there. I dropped by and picked up their “Anti Diet Diet Club” tshirt which is a spoof of the “Anti Social Social Club” brand, and while I was there I also enjoyed their billion calorie Cookie Monster ice cream in a hot glazed milky bun.

Baja California Fish Tacos – Best fish tacos I’ve ever had, they were crazy good. Order any of the fried fish tacos since there is no way you can go wrong. This place along with El Faro are the only two places I’ve given a full 5 out of 5 on this trip so far.

Eggslut – So this place I wasn’t really going in with high expectations but I ended up leaving impressed. I’ve had a ton of egg sandwiches in Kuwait mostly from EightSix and Eggcellent so really didn’t figure Eggslut could be that much better. It was! I ordered the Fairfax which had scrambled egg and cheese topped with their special sriracha mayo sauce, maybe it was their bun or the sauce but damn it was so good. Actually might go back there tomorrow morning for breakfast.

Sugarfish – Simple straight forward authentic sushi. They have set menus which is what me and my friends all ordered and everything on it was super delicious… except for the blue crab. AVOID the blue crab, it tasted like canned tuna.

The Drunken Crab – A Louisiana-style seafood spot with delicious crawfish tossed in their special spicy drunken sauce and served authentically in plastic bags. Its one my have to visit places every time I come to L.A.

Verve Coffee Roasters – If you’re looking for some good coffee while in L.A. and a place to get some work done, this is a great spot. It’s located in downtown so it’s probably going to be close to where you are and it’s super chill and not too packed.

786 Degrees – They make the best Napoletana pizza I’ve ever had, but not only are their pizza’s delicious and award winning, the people working there are the friendliest people I have every encountered anywhere. Super polite and super nice, they won’t let you pay for the pizza unless you love it!

Other notable mentions:

Norah – Best cornbread EVER

Baco Mercat – Go there for the Hamachi Crudo

Hopefully the spots above are helpful. I might add more to it before my trip is over.

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Old Airport vs New Airport Size Comparison

Post by Mark

Since I last posted about the new Kuwait airport in May, a lot of progress has been made based on satellite imagery from Google Maps. Since I could now clearly see the outline of the new airport, I decided I’d overlay our current airport just to get an idea of how big the new airport is going to be.

I managed to fit six of our current airpot over the new one (same scale). This means the new airport is roughly six times bigger than the current one!

To view the updated satellite imagery, click on the following link from a mobile device (desktop will show old imager) [Google Maps]

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Tidbits: British Airways, Qatar Airways & Etihad

Post by Mark

While we’re on the subject of airlines…

British Airways
Not sure how its possible but BA always seem to have the cheapest business class tickets to the States; at least to LA, and by always I mean whenever I want to go. And I’m talking like 40-50% cheaper than anybody else. So if you’re planning on traveling to the States check out their prices now since there is a promo running. [Link]

Qatar Airways
If you missed out on the Qatar Airways offers during Eid it came back yesterday. I got a ridiculously great priced ticket for a trip to Europe next month, literally half the price of competition. So again if you’re looking to travel soon, check their prices out as well. [Link]

Finally, in case you missed this bit of news yesterday, you can now carry electronics onboard your flights to the US if you’re flying with Etihad. They’re the only airline in the region which you can now carry electronics onboard US flights. [Link]

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Wataniya Airways First Destinations

Post by Mark

Wataniya Airways is getting close to relaunch and they’ve updated their website with the first three destinations they’ll be flying to which are:


If someone had asked me to guess their first ten destinations, neither of these three would have made my list. They seem like such low traffic destinations to be flying to but supposedly they’re popular destinations for conservatives. That’s interesting, and smart.

When Wataniya Airways launched the first time around they were flying to popular destinations like Beirut and Dubai so they were competing with a number of other airlines. This time around it seems they’re trying to carve a niche for themselves and now I’m curious to see what else they’ll be adding.

Here is a link to their [Website]

Thanks Abdullah

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Kuwait Airport Ranked Worst in the World

Post by Mark

Flight compensation legal services company AirHelp ranked 76 airports by punctuality, quality, service, as well as the social media sentiment of over 130,000 tweets over three months this year. According to the final result, the Kuwait Airport ranked the worst in the world.

I mean I agree that the airport is not the best in the world but the worst seems pretty harsh. Somehow Dubai also came 7th which doesn’t make sense and Los Angeles which I think have a great airport came in 10th. Check out the full article [Here]

Thanks AJ

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