Ascend Rock Climbing Wall

Post by Mark

Ascend is a rock climbing club that has been fairly active in Kuwait for a few years, and a couple of months ago they opened up a climbing wall. Their plan is to eventually open a climbing center but for now they came together as a community and built this wall at their headquarters.

The climbing wall is outdoors and opens to the public every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. A single session costs 5KD, 10 sessions for 30KD, and 20 sessions are for 40KD. It’s not a very large wall but it’s a great start considering there isn’t really another good alternative. The only climbing mall we had was at Marina Waves but that closed down years ago.

If you want to find out more or are interested in trying climbing out, check them out on Instagram @ascend.kw

2022-06-29T08:04:13+03:00Jun 29, 2022|4 Comments

Know Your Rainbows Part 2

Post by Mark

The Ministry of Commerce has shared some more bad rainbows you need to look out for. I honestly have no idea what the three bottom ones are for, but I’ll make sure to report them if I see any.

2022-06-28T09:37:19+03:00Jun 28, 2022|44 Comments

The Financial Guide to Lebanon 2022

Post by Mark

I’m back from my trip to Lebanon and while there I realized I should post about the financial situation in Lebanon at the moment. It’s a bit of a mess but if you do it right then it could be a pretty affordable trip. If you’re planning a trip to Lebanon this summer or looking for an affordable place to travel to, this post is for you.

You might have been to Lebanon before and think you don’t need this guide, but a lot of things have changed over the past couple of years because of the financial system collapse, the pandemic, and the massive Beirut explosion. The currency has devalued considerably and the cost of living there has skyrocketed for the residents, but to our advantage, has become cheaper for tourists.

I’m going to try and keep this as simple as possible so as not to confuse you or scare you off.

Previously, 1 US Dollar equaled 1,500LL. Now it’s around 1 USD = 30,000LL, it varies slightly from day to day but this was the rate as I was typing this post. This rate is what Lebanese call the “market rate” or “black-market rate”. The banking sector in Lebanon on the other hand has a different rate which as I’m writing this post is 1 USD = 25,000LL. The banking sector rate is the conversion rate if you use your credit cards in Lebanon. To make matters more complicated, all the online currency conversion apps are inaccurate because they still use the old 1$ = 1,500LL rate.

So tip #1, don’t use currency apps to convert the currency, use a calculator. A friend who used a currency convertor thought she was quoted 350KD for a haircut when in reality it was just 18KD.

Tip #2, take all the money you want to spend on your trip with you in dollars. If you use your credit card there you are going to technically be paying more and in some cases, you could be paying the a much much higher price (more on that below). The only thing you should use your card for is paying for your airline ticket and hotel, for everything else you should be paying cash in Lebanese Lira. Once you check in to your hotel ask them where the closest money exchange place is. I personally use Western Union / OMT stores or Whish ones and they’re both easy to spot. You should find them scattered around Lebanon but your hotel can point you to one near you. Go there and exchange enough money you need for a day or two. The reason I wouldn’t recommend exchanging more is that the currency has devalued so much, that you’ll be walking around with a huge wad of cash. 300$ exchanged to LL is going to give you ninety 100,000LL notes, the image above is how that looks like. Here is a money exchange shop in Gemeyze.

Tip #3, figure out how you are going to carry the wads of cash around because they won’t fit in your wallet. Most guys carry fanny packs in Lebanon, I just exchange for a day or two and so the wad is small enough to fit into my front pocket.

Tip #4, don’t leave Lebanon with Lebanese Lira. I don’t think anyone outside Lebanon will exchange them back to KD or Dollars, and by the time you come back to Lebanon next time, the money might not be worth anything. So make sure you exchange them back to Dollars at the exchange shops. If you’re leaving on a Sunday and need an exchange shop that opens on Sundays, here is one.

Tip #5, as I mentioned earlier, currency apps are not accurate since they still think 1$ is 1,500LL. Some websites and apps do not display the correct USD prices because they convert them from LL. For example, if you try to book a car with Avis Lebanon, the pay now price is the correct amount, but the pay later price is not. That’s because Avis has to list the LL rate for the pay-on-collection option since you would be paying for it when in Lebanon and the law says they have to list the LL rate. But, the Avis website uses an online currency exchange software that thinks 1,500LL is 1$ and so the pay-on collection price ends up being ridiculously high. You can see what I mean in the screenshot above. I have a friend on this trip who used a food delivery app and paid with his credit card in USD even though we had told him not to use his credit card in Lebanon. The app converted the LL to USD using the wrong rate and he ended up paying $200 for a chicken sandwich. He spoke to customer support and they’re thankfully refunding him the money back.

Tip #6, if you want to know the latest market rate and bank rate for the LL, use the lirarate.org website.

I think that’s all of it. So the gist of it is don’t use currency apps, don’t use your credit card in Lebanon, and bring all the dollars with you to Lebanon and exchange them to LL as you need them.

If you have any questions let me know in the comments.

2022-06-28T08:34:59+03:00Jun 28, 2022|18 Comments

Movies Showing in Kuwait this Weekend

Post by Mark

The movies below are now showing at Cinescape, Grand Cinemas and VOX:

New This Weekend:
Elvis (7.7)
Fortress 2: Sniper’s Eye (2.8)
Kingslayer (N/A)
Marmaduke (3.9)
The Black Phone (7.4)

Other Movies Showing:
Fireheart (6.1)
Jurassic World Dominion (6.2)
Last Seen Alive (5.9)
Shut In (6.0)
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (6.9)
The Bad Guys (7.0)
The Batman (8.1)
The Cellar (5.3)
The Elfkins
Top Gun: Maverick (8.7)

Classic Movies Showing:
Saving Private Ryan (8.6)

The films below are also showing at the Scientific Center IMAX theater:

IMAX Movies Showing:
Antarctica
Asteroid Hunters 3D
Ocean Odyssey
Turtle Odyssey

Numbers in brackets refer to the IMDB rating at time of publishing.

2022-06-23T07:15:00+03:00Jun 23, 2022|6 Comments

Sandqvist Ruben 2.0 – The Best Backpack Ever

Post by Mark

Since I’m traveling today I realized I never posted about the best backpack ever. Earlier this year I was looking for a replacement for my Herschel backpack and ended up ordering the Sandqvist Ilon from the Sandqvist website. It looked cool, it had all the features I wanted and it wasn’t too expensive. But, it turned out to be the worst backpack I’ve ever owned. The bags canvas material was too rough and scratchy, the bag had no give, and the shoulder straps kept losing their set length every time I picked up the bag. After using it on one trip I decided never to use it again. I really really hated it.

In April while in London I decided to pass by the Sandqvist store. I don’t know why, I think I was hoping an employee would come up to me and ask me if I’ve owned a bag so I could then tell them yes and vent to them about how much I hated it and it was the worst purchase ever. The Sandqvist store small, I walked in, looked around and nobody asked me if I had a bag so that plan failed. But, while there, a guy walked in with a pretty cool looking Sandqvist backpack. I don’t remember how, I think I might have asked the employee there what bag that was and then the guy with the bag heard me and struck up a conversation about the bag. He couldn’t stop talking about how great the backpack was. He cycles a lot and told me how the bag was weather resistant and his stuff never got wet, and how the bag can hold a lot of stuff and was very comfortable to wear. He was really passionate about the bag, maybe as much as I was passionate in hating the bag I had gotten it. So he sold me on it and I ended up buying it, the Ruben 2.0.

He wasn’t wrong, this is by far the best backpack I’ve ever owned and I’ve owned a lot. The bag’s material is soft to the touch, has give so very usable when full, it’s light, fits a ton of stuff, looks great and has all the pockets I want (front pouch, pouch inside, laptop sleeve, and two side pockets on the outside to hold my water bottles). I ended up wearing it everyday while in London to carry my stuff and all the shopping I did. I then used it to travel with a few times and so far it’s been amazing. The material also seems pretty durable since I throw the bag around without care and there are no scratches or any blemishes at all. It’s also really easy to clean so I don’t worry about spilling anything on it. The one and only negative comment I have about it and I’m being really picky is that I wish the inside pouch was located a bit higher up the bag since I use it to put my passport in. Right now I have to dig down into the bag to get to it but that really is the only negative thing I have to say about it.

If you’re looking for a great backpack get this! I paid 62KD for it in London (£165) but it’s available for slightly less (58KD) on the Sandqvist website. Here is the Link.

2022-06-22T08:27:07+03:00Jun 22, 2022|12 Comments

I Really Like Kuwait Airways

Post by Mark

I can’t be alone in thinking how great Kuwait Airways has become right? I just got to the airport because I’m traveling today and once I got there it was pretty busy. I thought to myself it’s going to be such a disaster inside even though I didn’t have any bags to check in. I printed my boarding pass from one of the machines, got to immigration and breezed through it and then the same with security. I’m now sitting down near one of the gates just 30 minutes after arriving to the airport. That was really fast for a busy airport.

I try to fly Kuwait Airways as much as possible because of how good the overall experience has become. The planes are comfortable, the airport terminal better than the other ones we have and so far I’ve never had issues finding parking in the long term lot. It’s not Qatar Airways but it’s much more convenient when flying direct than to stop in Doha or Dubai first. I really like Kuwait Airways.

2022-06-22T07:44:58+03:00Jun 22, 2022|43 Comments

Water Bar at Monoprix

Post by Mark

If you haven’t been to Monoprix yet you’re missing out on a lot including their Water Bar. The Water Bar is their selection of premium water and it’s similar to how Dean & Deluca had a nice premium waters section when they first opened that looked like a vodka section. But, what makes Monoprix different is how expensive some of the bottles are with their most expensive one costing 40KD for a bottle of “handcrafted water” called Bling H2O which was voted the best tasting water in the world.

I’m not about to drop 40KD on a bottle to find out how good the water tastes but I might get a less fancy 5KD water the next time I get invited to dinner at a friend’s place. It could be the Kuwait equivalent of bringing a bottle of wine. Although, since we are on the subject of alcohol, Monoprix does carry a good selection of non-alcoholic wines, Champagnes, and even whisky.

2022-06-21T15:26:20+03:00Jun 21, 2022|29 Comments

AAB World Moving to a New Larger Location

Post by Mark

AAB World, everyone’s favorite photography and videography store is expanding! When I first started buying from AAB World they had a small kiosk-like store in the basement of Shamiya Coop (it’s still there) and what made them special back then is how specialized they were. They carried different camera brands and also brought in some of the best photography accessories so they quickly became really popular.

In 2014 they opened their Symphony Mall location a few years later they doubled their size by taking over the shop next door. Now it looks like they’re going to more than quadruple their size by moving to the old DXL space right across from them. I love how they’ve grown over the years and I still continue to get all my camera gear from them even though I don’t shoot as much as I used to.

2022-06-21T07:46:34+03:00Jun 21, 2022|4 Comments

Know Your Rainbows

Post by Mark

Yesterday the Ministry of Commerce issued guidelines to differentiate between a regular rainbow and LGBTQ+ flags with the hashtag ‘participate in censorship.’ At first, I was like is this the most pressing issue they have right now? But then a friend pointed out they might have done this because people were probably flooding them with complaints about LGBTQ+ flags being sold in Kuwait when in reality, they’re just products with regular rainbows.

How to Tell a Good Rainbow from a Bad Rainbow:
🌈 = Rainbow and has 7 colors = Good Rainbow
🏳️‍🌈 = LGBTQ+ flag and has 6 colors = Bad Rainbow

2022-06-20T12:09:54+03:00Jun 20, 2022|100 Comments

Event: Celebrate World Music Day

Post by Mark

World Music Day (or Fête de la Musique) is an annual music celebration that takes place on June 21st and is celebrated worldwide. In Kuwait, it’s going to take place on June 22nd and will feature regional acts from UAE alongside some of our local musicians and artists.

The event will be taking place at Yarmouk Culture Center from 6PM to 9PM and tickets are KD12. If you want to go then you can get tickets from this Link

2022-06-20T08:04:20+03:00Jun 20, 2022|0 Comments

The New & Larger Spunsprinkles!

Post by Mark

Spunsprinkles, the cotton candy experience store opened their new location this past weekend at 360 Mall. The new location is so much bigger than the previous one with a total of 6 cotton candy stations and a small seating area. If you’ve never been to Spunsprinkles before, they’re a cotton candy store that allows you to build your own customized cotton candy cup or cone with a whole variety of different toppings. They have over 24 different cotton candy flavors and the experience is really fun for both adults and children. I’ve posted about them before and you can check that post here.

If you want to pass by, the new location is located in the 360 Mall food court next to Cinescape. For more info they’re on Instagram @spunsprinkles

2022-06-19T08:55:06+03:00Jun 19, 2022|1 Comment

Assima Parking is the Worst

Post by Mark

Not sure how many of you have experienced the Assima parking lot but it might be the worst mall parking in Kuwait right now. It doesn’t help that the building is located on a super congested street, but I also think it has to do with how you get in and out of the parking as well. Even when there isn’t traffic, navigating the parking lot is tedious with a lack of proper signage, too many aggressive speed bumps and a layout that’s very confusing. At night the situation is made worse with the higher footfall, last week a friend of mine was stuck for over an hour just trying to get out of the parking lot and that seems to be a normal occurrence.

Supposedly this past weekend the mall was going to try something new to help reduce the parking issues but I’ve already given up attempting to even go there at night. When a friend called me asking for tips on where to park I told them to park across the street in the KIPCO parking lot and walk over, they called me later that evening when after leaving Assima telling me how ingenious that idea was because the Assima parking was so packed and chaotic.

2022-06-19T08:41:42+03:00Jun 19, 2022|44 Comments

Things to do in Kuwait this Weekend

Post by Mark

Below is the list of events for this weekend. As usual if I missed anything please let me know in the comments:

Thursday
Exhibition: I Am Here – Manuella Guiragossian
Exhibition: My Name Is Woman – Maha AlAsaker
Exhibition: Deconstructed Phyche – Sheikha Al Habishi
Exhibition: “The Mystic Letters” By Antonella Leoni
Exhibition: ‘The Emir from Poland’ – An exhibition about Wacław Seweryn Rzewuski
Cinema Thursdays at the IFK: Des Hommes
LAPA Open Day – Music, Dance, Fine Art and Drama.
JACC: Gipsy Kings featuring Tonino Baliardo

Friday
Summertime Thrifting
Dunes & Ripples Studio Visit
JACC: Gipsy Kings featuring Tonino Baliardo

Saturday
Exhibition: I Am Here – Manuella Guiragossian
Exhibition: My Name Is Woman – Maha AlAsaker
Exhibition: Deconstructed Phyche – Sheikha Al Habishi
Exhibition: ‘The Emir from Poland’ – An exhibition about Wacław Seweryn Rzewuski
Grand Mosque Tour
Storytelling: Safety
Sunset Cruise & Coffee
Trash Hero: Kuwait Towers Beach Cleanup

2022-06-16T10:13:20+03:00Jun 16, 2022|2 Comments

Movies Showing in Kuwait this Weekend

Post by Mark

The movies below are now showing at Cinescape, Grand Cinemas and VOX:

New This Weekend:
Offseason (4.8)
Project Gemini (3.3)
Pursuit (2.7)
Shut In (6.0)
The Elfkins

Other Movies Showing:
Fireheart (6.1)
Jurassic World Dominion (6.2)
Last Seen Alive (5.9)
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (6.9)
The Bad Guys (7.0)
The Batman (8.1)
The Cellar (5.3)
The Northman (7.3)
Top Gun: Maverick (8.7)

Classic Movies Showing:
Saving Private Ryan (8.6)

The films below are also showing at the Scientific Center IMAX theater:

IMAX Movies Showing:
Antarctica
Asteroid Hunters 3D
Ocean Odyssey
Turtle Odyssey

Numbers in brackets refer to the IMDB rating at time of publishing.

2022-06-16T08:26:42+03:00Jun 16, 2022|2 Comments

Recycle Electronics, Paper and Plastics

Post by Mark

Every now and then I get comments under old recycling posts or emails asking me who they can contact to pick up stuff for recycling. It’s usually paper waste or old electronics that they want to recycle because they care about the environment. Well, I finally have an answer to that question now.

Enviroserve is a recycling facility in Kuwait that originally started off focusing on e-waste. I posted about them a few years ago but since that post they’ve grown to offer full recycling services and last year they introduced it to individuals and companies.

Enviroserve now recycles the following:
– Electronics
– Paper and Cardboard
– Plastics

Their pick-up rates are pretty decent. If you want a one-time pick up its 5KD, if you want a weekly pick up it’s 10KD a month, and if you want a monthly pickup it’s 48KD a year.

To find out more or to book a pick up, click here.

2022-06-15T16:28:20+03:00Jun 15, 2022|6 Comments