One weekend I planned on going to Al Shaheed Park to walk around and get some fresh air. This place is a slice of heaven because it is filled with trees and water. A complete contrast to the sandy car parks and sporadic plant life. The main reason I don’t go or go anywhere is the hassle of getting a taxi. It’s not a difficult task, I just don’t always like to get one. Also, its cheap to get taxis in Kuwait, but that money adds up. I just learned the bus route and it was the easiest and cheapest way to get to the park making me more willing to go. Part of the reason I don’t like to do things is because of the taxi money. Most times taxis are not more than 2KD (7ish USD) depending on where you are going, but it still adds up. Taking the bus is 300fils ($1ish USD) while a taxi is 1kd. This particular day I was on my way to meet Baraa and then plans changed. She text me and asked me over for hot chocolate, pie, and Christmas tree decorating. She had me at hot chocolate.
I was going to try to take a bus to her house but it was going to take 1 hour and it was already late in the afternoon. So I convinced my other friend Fatuma to ride a taxi with me. It would be an epic friends day, but we didn’t know that yet. The first thing on our agenda after meeting up with Baraa was to go to City Star. The first City Star I went to was in Hawally and I found it my second year in Kuwait. It’s like the store Big Lots that has a little bit of everything. The Hawally City Star is cluttered and cramped. When I go there I want to go in and out. I went to another one somewhere else and it was neat and organized making me want to buy all the things. I was not prepared for the massive array of organized items. When we arrived at the City Star in Salmiya I was mind blown.
This City Star is like a Walmart on steroids without the groceries. It has two floors and small shops are connected to it. There is an Xcite( the electronics store) and other specialty shops. Plus when I went there was a 950 fils sell. Certain items were only 950fils which is equivalent to $3 usd. Now putting it that way seems like a lot, but fils are parts of a KD like cents are parts of a dollar. There is something about things being less than the dollar amount that makes you feel you are saving money. Anyway, I grabbed a few things.
When I tell you I was mind blown about being in this place, I was literally filled with excitement because not only did we catch the 950 fils sell, we also found another shop with Arts and crafts and holiday items. When you are new to a country it takes a while to find the things you want or need and sometimes you don’t find them at all. For example if you want arts and crafts you can go to Michael’s. If your really creative you can find things in Walmart or Target. If you want party favors and balloons the Dollar Store or Party City. In Kuwait, if you want these things, City Star in Salmiya. You have to go to the one specifically in Salmiya because it is the biggest and has more items.
After leaving City Star we waited forever for a taxi we got through an app called Careem. The most peculiar thing is when you don’t need a taxi there are several that you can take. Multiple available taxis passed us while we waited for a Careem. We ended up canceling the one we called and waited for taxis. Now that we needed one they were nowhere to be found. This happens way to often. Our next stop was Symphony Mall. One thing about Kuwait is that there are many, many, many shopping areas. In Hawally alone there are at least 6 malls and several shopping areas that I am aware of. There could be more. In Symphony Mall there is a European department store called Marx and Spencer. Everything look so nice and neat, but it was out of my budget so even though I wanted to I didn’t buy anything. After Marx and Spencer our plan was to make burgers and fries ar home. On our way to the grocery store ro pick up a few things a cool looking ramen noodle restaurant was calling out to us and we quickly decided to answer it’s called.
Meme’s Curry satisfied our desire for that which is aesthetically pleasing so we couldn’t resist. In this hipsterish resturaunt there were artistic doodles of previous customers. It was very Japanese and made me think of anime. The ambiance made us comfortable, but the food had the opposite effect. Sometimes things can be bland and you just need to add salt and pepper. Blandness wasn’t the problem for this curry sauce. The sauce in the ramen noodles smelled and tasted like hot garbage (not that I’ve tasted hot garbage I can just imagine based on the smell. Fortunately for me, the manager allowed me to get something else without charge. I got the most basic meal you could ever get. French fries with a twist. I don’t know if the same curry sauce was used, but it tasted much better in the fries. I also tried Fatumas curry and rice and it wasn’t that bad. We concluded that the sauce just wasn’t meant for the ramen. Baraa had ramen as well, but she was able to tolerate her food more.
In Kuwait food is a hit or miss. In my experience, most restaurants outside of Kuwait have pretty decent food. Even if the food isn’t great, it’s still edible. In Kuwait that doesn’t exist. The food is either ok or horrible. Notice I said ok and not good. There are too many restaurants that I’ve been to where the food just wasn’t up to par. That’s just the reality. The good thing is Arabic food is cheap. I can get a huge falafel sandwich for 300 fils or a small one for 100fils and these are nice.
I love days when I plan to do one thing, but end up doing something better. The best part of that night was visiting City Star. Even though I didn’t like Meme’s Curry it looked nice so it made me feel good. At the end of the night, we went to Baraa’s and helped her decorate her tree. We had some tea instead of hot chocolate and finished with Bojack Horseman. Twas a good night.
I am currently traveling from Kuwait to Barbados. I’ll be spending the holidays with Trevis and his family. It will be weird to be in a warm environment for the holidays, but I’m definitely looking forward to it. What are your plans for the holidays?