| GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)|
The State of Kuwait, دولة الكويت is an Unitary
constitutional monarchy, covering 17.820 square kilometres in-between the
Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. It is the home of 4.348.395 citizens,
of which 99,98% are Muslims.
The currency is Kuwaiti Dinar, worth 20,71 Danish Krone and €2,78. The GDP
is US$161,885 billion.
The climate with it immensely hot summers create a desert, even at the 500
kilometres of coastline, which only host some marshes.
More than 363 species of birds were recorded in Kuwait, twenty eight species
of mammal are found in in the country; among them, the Asiatic cheetah, Acinonyx
jubatus venaticus, Caracal, Caracal caracal, Arabian sand cat,
Felis margarita harrisoni, Wildcat, Felis silvestris, Asiatic
lion, Panthera leo persica, Arabian leopard, Panthera pardus
nimr, Striped hyena, Hyaena hyaena, Golden jackal, Canis
aureus and the Ratel, Mellivora capensis. I'm most likely to see
I fail, finding any information on the flora, but I am convinced; here must
be some interesting desert plants - if the goats haven't gotten to them
I arrival from the fantastic
Oman in the afternoon. While I use to "hit
the ground running" I just realised; I have not really been able to find
that much interesting sights in Kuwait at all. I will drive around to see, if
I can find something interesting, but no rush at all.
I have secured a e-visa from home, but the immigration bounces me.
Apparently, I should have picked up the visa somewhere else. I go to the
visa pick-up desk, but he refers me to another place - in the other end of
this rather large airport. Here, I'm asked to take a number and something
else, which get lost in Pinging-English. Finally, my number is called, and a
girl look at the passport, stamp a paper, and ask me to go to another
counter. She get my pass and papers, but lack a stamp. I have to draw it
from a machine. The machine only accept 1 dinar bills, and I have to find an
ATM. It refuses to pay out more than 30 Dinar/600 DKK, but I can't be picky.
Back with my stamp, get it on a paper, and show it to yet another guy. He
scan my fingers, one by one, and take my picture. Then I can go to the
I find the rental car-stands, but not my company; they are hidden in the
basement. I have paid, but there is an additional one month insurance of 12 dinars - cash only,
receipt later. I get the car and set the GPS for my hotel, as the sun
is getting low by now.
It is a short drive, but I end up in the middle of a huge area, where all
buildings have been torn down! Apparently, my Block 1, Street 129 is not the
one in Kuwait City, but 20 kilometres away in Abu Halifa - which do take me
some time to figure.
The sun is gone at five, and I get to drive through some dubious areas. In
general, at least the part I get to see from Kuwait, this late afternoon, are
worn down, shitty and misused. The sealing really bad, buildings worn down,
trash everywhere and the traffic is intense and the horns are frequently used. All in
deep contrast to The Emirates, Bahrain and Oman.
I finally make it to the hotel or rather apartments. I thought I had paid,
but apparently not. I get a big, but not that fancy room with kitchen and
washing machine, but no desk. There are several shops and takeaway
restaurants in the area, and unfortunately, I get to choose an overpriced
burger (mushrooms and Switch cheese), which is greasy and grouse. Eight time
the price of the great falafel-burgers I'm used to in Oman.
the weekend starts tomorrow, I decide to head for the Kuwait City Souk this
morning. The road into the city is nicely aliened with green trees, but the
sealing is terrible. I usually don't drive with both hands - here I do. The
skyline comes up, with some impressive and creative buildings. At the same
time, half of the buildings are more or less falling apart.
I find a gravel field in the edge of town to park on, and pass those who want to pay
for parking, while I walk the 600 metres to the entrance of the old souk. At
first, I wonder why they call it old. Then I find out the actual houses are
truly old, only the cobbled paving and the fancy wooden roof over the alleys
The areas are divided into different goods. The first part I find have
wristwatches. A lot of them! The shops are only opening by now, and I make
it to the butchers quite fast. Tiny shops, but a lot of them. The next alley
have the vegetables, fruits and dates, then come the fishmongers. It seems
like most date sellers are from Iran, the fishmongers from Bangladesh and
the butchers Egyptians. A few of each are Kuwaiti. I see the cloth-sellers
area, the households, the teapots, the raw perfume, the mixed and the small
amplest for perfume. Some sell praying beans, but they are fare from looking
orthodox. One look like a fat Turk in a "I love NY" T-shirt.
I do several loops in this lovely maze of souk shops, and several stops at
the cafés, where the Kuwaiti sit and enjoy a small glass of sweet tea.
Then I head for the harbour. Somehow, the internal
ministry occupies well over a kilometre along the beach, making access quite
difficult, as they are NOT hospital. A long walk bring me to a harbour with
wooden fishing ships. The ice is brought by trucks, but the big fish market
right next to.
The first I see here, is live chicken and quails. Then there are a lot of
vegetables and fruits
along with so many different dates. Then
come the fishes, shrimps, octopus and crabs.
to the fish market is the huge Souqsharq, with all the fancy shops - and
Mark & Spencer and Hennes & Maurice (could be more fancy). Between the mall and the city, the
marina is found.
When I return to the old souk, the shops are starting to close for midday,
and I find some great falafel-burgers for 0,100 dinar. I could get 25 of
these for the price I paid last night!
I find my car, and aim for the Saudi border. After I clear the city, the
sandy desert is occupied by massive tent camps. I guess this is where the
Indians and alike live. After 50 kilometres with these camps, it is 50
kilometres with what look like party- or wedding tents. Then there are 50
kilometres with camel- or sheep nomads. I stop every time the gravel or
sand offers a few plants, but is it real limited. Only the two lines of
Acacia offers much green along the road, and they are artificially watered.
I reach the border just as the sun touches the horizon,
and I turn around just before the control. Then it is 160 kilometres back on
the shitty sealing in a rather intense traffic. It is fast, and a few morons
drive insanely fast and in zigzag.
is close to loos it, as he try to overtake in the hazard lane, which is loose
Back at home, I try another restaurant. I get two closed-pizza-like mixed
falafel things, with pickles for one dinar. And one of them goes in the frits,
despite they are delicious.
Day 1: The Souk, harbour and road
22. With the thought on, how disappointed I have
been with the recent three or four botanical gardens I had tried to visit
(gone, closed to further noticed, observed by something else), I check up on
Kuwait's this morning - and did I screw up! It is only open on Thursdays
mornings! And from the pictures, it look fantastic. I did not see that one
coming! I should have visited it yesterday - so much for planning to see the
souk before the weekend.
Plan B will be a trip to the island Bubiya and the
northern part of Kuwait. I am running out of sights fast! I start with a
stop at the giant mall at the harbour: They must have muesli. Then I find a
beach on the way out of town. It is low tide, and it is a bit smelly, but
here are nice sand and some shells.
Then I negotiate the layers of old and new roads. I find it a bit strange; so
many new are being constructed, while the surface on the older ones are
neglected badly. I see numerous cars every day, parked along the highways
with corrupted wheels. Potholes are a bitch with 120 km/h. I gas the car;
0,085 dinar for a litre.
I try to find plants, but tents are so much easier to
come around. They are everywhere, it seems. Weekenders barbequing, nomads
with sheep and camels, workers and alike. But the plants are only found a
few places, and only a limited number of species.
I reach the
Mula Ridge, a sandstone ridge. It is a popular weekend place, and filled
with trash. I try to capture its beauty without too much plastic, but it
kind of spoil the feeling of undisturbed nature - a lot! I climb to the top
of the ridge, and it is swept clean by the wind. Here are only a few plants
in a ravine, but the pebbles are interesting. I even get close to a sand
must feed on the flies, attracted by the trash.
As I follow the highway onwards
Bubiyan Island, the GPS have some strange information - and lack others. I
end up on a six-lane highway, which the GPS don't know. And accordantly to
the potholes, it is fare from new! In several places, the sand dunes are
blocking the road, and I have to be careful not to get stocked.
I find the right road, then the road-layout different from the GPS again. Finally, I make it to one
of the two parallel bridges, but here is a military check-point.
At first, there is none. Then, when I move forward a bit, a staff sergeant
appears in the sheet. He
seems rather upset, and dive into the car after the
key. He get my passport (glad I insisted on getting it from the hotel this
morning), and talk a lot in Arabic. Then he call his lieutenant, who speak
some English. He get the car's papers and my hotel's name. Then he call the
captain, who don't condescends to speaking foreign languishes.
I end up with the captain in the passenger seat, on a drive to the commander
of the place. As the little, fat staff sergeant start explaining for a
third time: "I just rushed pass him", I explain: If I had done so, I would be
on the island. If he had been awake, he would have noticed me, as I stopped
at the line". That shut him up.
I get the commander convinced about; I'm just a fool, trying to get to the
beach. Never the less, he have to contact HQ - and that takes time. I'm
served traditional Arabic coffee in a traditional pot, then a glass of sweet
I get my passport and are free to drive. It turns out; the entire island is
one big military base.
My next plan is the northern of the country, at the Iraqi
border - but not over! I have to drive back pass Kuwait City, and the northern
road look just like the others. Tents, hardly any plants. Here are a
few oil wells, some pick-ups selling firewood, charcoal, water and other
other stuff the the campers. In many places, the high-power electrical towers
Near the Iraqi border,
several huge farms with green fences are found. Could
be nice to know what they farm, but the sun is low, and when I turn at the
border, I have 160 kilometres home. Besides from Kuwait City, I have not
seen any towns today - only tents.
It have not been the day I had hoped for, but at least I
made it to the hotel. On the way in from the car, I buy tea at the
convenient shop next door. Only when I get home, I discover he was out of
powder in the machine. Not my day for sure! Day
2: No BG, no
Bubiyan Island, no plants
The plan is simple; stay out of jail and explore some awesome nature. I
follow the southern bound costal road, hoping for some beach experiences
along with the desert. The first stretch is just through living areas in
Kuwait City. Then some petro-chemistry plants blends in, and then take over. New
ones are being build all the way.
I reach an area, fenced, but partly open, with sand and plants. It is
salt-tolerant plants, and soon after, the entire area turns into a dry
In one area, near the road, and probably less salty, I find a flowering bush.
I got a feeling of, it might be invasive, but it is pretty. When I
make photos of the plants, I have to clear the area for a lot of
trash. Plastic brought by the wind, building-trash brought by trucks. It is
all over the southern half of Kuwait - and pretty much the northern as well.
It is truly a depressing sight, in such a wealthy country.
After the oil factories, the not so salty
plains are occupied by tents. Some might be workers, others are defiantly
nomads with camels and sheep. The road is fenced all the way, but I find a
few gabs. Not that it helps, here are really few plants, and it seems like I
have seen the all by now.
I find the smaller coastal road, but it is
lined with estates. Most look like they have seen better days, their
front-yard filled with trash. I got this strange feeling: The more trash you
have, the richer you are: It is prestige to have a lot of trash? Cantinas in
old Spain never swept the floor. It was a thick layer of bones and
olive-stones - showing how much good food here have been enjoyed.
Never the less, I fail to find a passage to the beach. I can glimpse it
through the lots from time to time, and it does not look that interesting.
Lack of tide and surf, swamp-like and no sand.
end up at the Saudi border, and decide: I will reach the beach! I fight my
way back the coastal-near minor road, but it have been altered time and time
again. It reach an area with artificial islands - and no access. 30
kilometres, not a toe in the surf! I do get to see a few small salt-lakes -
and a lot of trash.
Well, no beach today, but desert at least!
I find some way-points, hoping it will be ancient caravan villages. They are
not! It is companies, oil-industry or whatever; I can't get even close!
I manages to find
a few places I can get a almost clear shot of the sand with plants - and not
too much trash. But never mind where I look, the horizon is covered in
While the surface of the roads are truly dangerous with pot-holes and other
scars, new roads are constructed everywhere, it seems. Bridges in the middle
of nowhere, round-a-bouts with only two roads. I have a hard time finding a
small part of the desert, not being dug up, altered or filled with trash
from construction. It seems like the most "original" is the bloody sand
dunes on the road: They are left in piece!
The tents are everywhere,
but here, it is
mainly nomads and their sheep. They live on barren, fine sand, and apparently,
all food it brought - and bought. I find a huge area, filled with trucks.
Hay, pills and alike. And the empty bags mark where the nomads have
had a camp. I think they move around to avoid the shit and trash, not to
I finally find a town: Kabd. Well, it is
some large blocks, but here are no centre and no sealing in the streets.
Along the main road, sheep sellers sit and wait for costumers, and in one,
small streash, a few minor shops are found. I find tea, and head on. I end
up at the western road, and head back to Kuwait City.
It is only three, and I try to find a beach. Apparently, there might be one
1,6 kilometres from the hotel! And there is, and it have nice sand and
shells to find. One species of small snails have a huge variation: Colours
and patterns are so different, and I have to get some samples. Thinking
about it; the Danish beach-snails have it too. I truly enjoy this true
nature - and the fact; I don't have to drive 160 kilometres through the
night, to get home.
Day 3: The South (no
beach, lots of trash)
24. I have seen what I came for - in the degree I
was able to find it, and I still have one day left. Looking back at the
entire visit, I find the souk was the only thing that really worked for me, and at the
same time offered some good motives. I head back from the early morning, hoping
for yet another interesting day.
I work my way through the maze of alleys and streets rather systematic, but
make many tea brakes. I talk with some of the people working here, and even
get a chat with a Kuwaiti! Another local ask for a selfiw. Actually, three
more young men does, but they could be from anywhere in the world.
An old Iraqi man offer s sweet tea, and we have a long chat on the steps to
his tasbih shop. He get an Indian to do some translation, but I get most he
say. He offers me a tasbih; never had one of these before!
Here are professional shoppers. Some have a hand-truck
with a cardboard box on, others have red coveralls and a shopping cart. They
follow the Kuwaiti around the mall, carrying their purchases.
Apparently, there is a basement under a great part of the souk with
additional shops - and I can't
be bothered. There are quite enough at street level.
At noon, I find the shop with the great falafel burgers, and then I
continues. So much perfumes. From famous producers, raw oil and everything
in-between. One shop with guns, numerous with all kind of clothing, fabric,
spices, nuts, blankets, foreign currents, household, waterpibes, pots,
belts, wristwatches - everything!
I go through the butchers street and the fishmongers
market again, meeting some familiar faces. Then I realises; if I am going to
do the traditional Christmas Beach visit, I have to leave the souk now.
Someone have bumped into my car, but I hope I get it sampled good enough:
Most is plastic. I
get to the beach at sunset, and have it for my self.
Back to work, and prepare for Qatar.
Photos of the day; Day 4: Return to the Souk
HIGHLIGHTS OF KUWAIT
Kuwait have not been the greatest experience, but the
people are real nice. Here are too much trash, too little nature and other
stuff to see. One day at the great souk would have been enough. I have
driven 1288 kilometres and taken 650 photos. It come with a limited cost,
as this is part of a roundtrip: