Antiques!






So our trip out to the desert was cancelled because of another dust storm. I'm kind of glad we didn't try to brave it, because you look at the sky (like in my earlier post) and just think "what am I breathing in!?"
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So we're home and its a lazy Saturday morning here. I've watched two movies while I've done things around the house and will go to the gym soon.
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I just added the mall post last night and I wanted to wait a day to put up this one, but I got bored :) So make sure you scroll down to see my last post too!
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We went to Gloria's antique shop yesterday. It was AMAZING. I can't wait to go back. Its not a store, its a mansion that's just filled with antiques. The owner is a British woman who's husband, and I think a whole team, buys pieces from all over including scrap wood from old demolished Indian buildings and brings them back and carves them into beautiful art. She is obviously doing very well for herself because she just rents that property for the shop. She doesn't even live in it. There is a courtyard in between the house, the workshop and the guest house that makes you feel like you're on some tropical resort because the walls surrounding the land are tall enough that you can't see the desert around you. Its also a block from the ocean, so you can smell the sea as you walk around.
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We found two pieces that I really loved. They're not in the pictures above. One was already sold and the other was on hold for someone else (figures, right?). So we'll keep looking. One was a 4 panel carved screen that had hand painted flowers on it. The other was just a chunk of wood that was about 5' long and about 2' tall with intricate carvings on it. I think it'd look really cool hung on a wall. I'll share our future finds, because we are definitely going back!

Shopping at the Mall







In Kuwait you can shop and eat until you drop (or go broke, whichever comes first!). There are tons of malls, shops and restaurants. We've been to two of the malls now. The Avenue's mall is where the Ikea is. We didn't walk around too much because, let's face it, Ikea is enough of an undertaking for one day.
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The 360 mall is one of the new malls in Kuwait. The pictures above are from the 360 mall. The top floor is a food court. The first and second are shopping, and then the basement is actually our favorite grocery store. Its really strange that its in a mall, I know...
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We visited the food court while we were there and it was pretty great. They had all the American norms including: cheap Chinese food, a sub shop, ice cream, burgers, etc. They also had some fancier sit down restaurants, dessert shops, juice bars, and coffee shops mixed in. Jason and I chose falafel. The picture above is Jason's. It had pomegranate on it (among other things). It was good! (I don't know if the picture makes it look good though)
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I have taken quite a few pictures recently, so I have a whole stockpile of fun to share with you soon! Just as a teaser, we visited an antique shop today that is my new favorite place. We also are venturing out to dessert tomorrow. It should be interesting. Wish me luck and keep your fingers crossed there isn't a dust storm, because I will probably refuse to go if there is! :)
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Happy Weekend Everyone!

Holiday



Thursday and Friday of this week are Kuwait's National Day and Liberation Day. Liberation Day celebrates Kuwait's freedom from Iraqi control during the Persian Gulf War. The holidays are very important to Kuwait and are highly celebrated. There are flags everywhere and there will be festivities all over town this weekend.
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From what we're told, the celebrating can get out of control, so its best to lay low. That's what we'll be doing most of the weekend. Because of the holiday, today is the last day of the work week here for most.
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Today is also the first dust storm we've been here for. I haven't driven yet today, so I don't know how the weather is affecting visibility on the roads, but it just feels windy and dusty outside. It feels a little cooler too because the sun is hidden. I have some experience with dust storms from being in college at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas where we had dust storms all the time. The wind here (today anyways) seems actually tamer than when we had dust storms in Lubbock. You can see how dusty it is in the background of my photos. The pictures are of the flags we hung on our balcony to celebrate the holiday.
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Everyone have a good weekend!

To Market...





Table Runner vendor & the one we bought

We visited the Friday Market yesterday. It was a sight to be seen, there was so much to take in as we wandered through. Its huge, first of all, with entire sections dedicated to things like rugs, furniture, used clothes, antiques, flea market-ish areas, ect.
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We made this trip our "scouting trip". We'll have to go back a couple more times before it gets too hot. We found a couple good buys and scouted out some areas that we'd like to come back to. I especially want to spend more time digging through the antiques (and so-called antiques...you have to watch for the "made in china" label hidden somewhere). There were tons of genie-like lamps and very ornate bowls, candlesticks, vases, ect. I found a little decorated gold bowl that looked a little banged up (in a good way, like it had a story), but the guy wanted too much for it, so I passed. I will definitely keep looking though!
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The rugs here were all machine made, but there were a few that were really pretty (and also some really crazy & tacky ones). I need to go back and shop with someone who has purchased from there before because I don't know what things should cost. Nothing is priced at the Friday Market, you wheel and deal. Still being new at dealing with the currency, I might need a little more information before I tackle a rug buying trip!
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The pictures are ones I snapped when I thought no one was looking. The place was very crowded, so it was hard! The enormous stacks of cushions you see in the one picture are for their diwans, which are the men's social room in the house. Women have a room in the house as well, but it is more private than the diwan. The one in our house, a.k.a. the office :), has its own bathroom similiar to the master bedroom and big comfy chairs in it.

Week Two...


I hope everyone had a good Valentines Day! We had a good one here. This week has been fairly quiet though. I've gone out a couple of times, but we haven't done anything that I could really take pictures of and share with you. The above new plant is one of my Valentines gifts from Jason. We had gone to one of the big new malls the day before and I was drooling over some of the floral arrangements and succulents in a flower shop, and so he went back and got this one for me :) It has gold rocks in it, its pretty cool.
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I DO have to go back though and take pictures of the mall here for you. It was incredible inside. Much much fancier than just our run of the mill malls. Like I've said before though, this country has A LOT of money, or I should say, those that have money in this country have LOTS of it. Most of the stores are really high end and designer name stores. Many are out of our league price wise, but there's a GAP coming soon! Yay! I wonder if the prices will be comparable or if they'll be just slightly raised, like the Ikea?
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I went last night with another women to this women's get together that meets once a month. It was good overall, there was a speaker that was really interesting. She is a Kuwait women that was here during the Iraqi occupation. She told the story from her point of view as a curator and somewhat of a protector to a collection of museum pieces that represented a lot of the Islamic history and is worth many billions. She was very well educated and nice to listen to. She had gone to school in London, so she had a British accent. I was talking to her casually before she started speaking, and didn't even realize that she was the speaker. She's very educated in islamic art and architecture, which I have always been drawn to, so it was extra interesting for me.

February 14th


Happy Valentines Day!

Ikea!




We visited the Ikea last night. It was just like the stores we know and love back home :) I'm actually convinced it was a little more expensive, but can't say for sure. We didn't do any major shopping, we just picked up some odds and ends. I found some little plants though. I love the little orange one! Does anyone know what it is called? It just said "mixed plant" on the side.
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Only one more day until Valentines Day!

More homes... I love their gates!






Ok, the pictures that I posted yesterday were a little pathetic, I know. So here's some better ones! We got out and walked around a neighborhood.
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You'll notice all the cars on the street. This is typical. One of the houses we passed had 7 parking spots outside and all were full. They have really extravagent cars. I see expensive cars like porches and mercedes constantly.
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A lot of the time, both the intermediate and extended family will all live in the same mansion. Other times, you'll see two mansions that look really similiar right next to each other (sometimes more than two). Men are able to have multiple wives here, but they can't show favoritism by law, so the two identical houses are more than likely for each of his wives.
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The second picture above is a house still under construction. Its going to be HUGE when its finished! All the homes are made of concrete block here. Even the interior walls. The concrete keeps cool in the summer and holds the warmth in the winter.

The Homes






The homes here are big cubes. A majority of them are tan and very plain, but it makes the ones with character stand out that much more. These pictures aren't the greatest, because most were taken from the backseat of the car. :)
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I hope to get more as we begin to explore ourselves. The houses are really cool to look at because they're all different and their owners take pride in different styles and different aspects of them. Some have elabroate landscaping, some have absolutely none. Some are very private with tall gates and metal shades that come down to cover the windows like a fort, and others have the front door almost on the edge of a main road.
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There is a lot of money in this country and its interesting to watch how people spend it.

Money



Here are some pictures of the Kuwaiti Dinar. The exchange rate is about 3.5 dinar = 1 american dollar. So, a half dinar is about $1.75. It'll take me a little while to get quick with all my conversions: kilometers to miles, the time difference, the exchange rate! :)
~Whitney

The Aquarium








We went to the Aquarium today. They had some neat stuff to see, but overall we weren't too impressed. The Aquarium portion was really small, even though from the outside it looks big! There was an imax that we didn't go to, but it looked like it might be good, so I can't speak for that.
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The exhibits they did have though were good. Plus, it opens right to the boardwalk, so we were able to walk there for a little bit. It was actually a little bit chilly here today. Nothing like the snow I hear our friends and relatives are getting, obviously. But it feels in the 60's if the wind is on you. I doubt its below 70 though. It was kind of a hazy and dusty sky today and it reminds me of Lubbock :) I'll have to try to get another skyline image when its clearer out than today.
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Hope everyone is having a good weekend! Ours is over now. The weekend in the Middle east is Friday & Saturday.

We're here!

The time difference is still kicking our butts, but we got out of the hotel yesterday and were able to explore a little. A colleague of Jason's drove us around to see the city and where we'll be living. I was trying to take pictures out of the car window, but I'm sure you know how that goes... most are blurry. When we get a little more settled in and begin exploring ourselves (and driving ourselves), I'll be able to do more picture taking. Its impolite to take people's pictures here and it draws attention to you when you walk around with a camera stuck to your face, so I'll have to be sly about it.
We're in the hotel for another week. The food in the hotel so far is really good. There are several restaurants including, Italian, Lebanese, and Japanese, but we've only been to the Japanese restaurant so far. The sushi was great and we were really impressed. I think we made it out of there without doing anything socially uncacceptable, at least I think so :) Did you know that it's improper to use your left hand when eating? I'll let you research to discover why, if you're interested.
Anyways, more pictures to come.
~Whitney


Light fixtures from the Japanese restaurant


The spa area of the hotel. I love the flowers in the water and the lanterns!


The boardwalk downtown.


View from a rooftop. You can see a mosque peaking up through the trees. Look for the minaret.