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By this Author: ErinDriver

Kuwait City Gulf Bank Marathon

18 November 2017

sunny

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About 22 people from my unit, the 86th Combat Support Hospital, ventured off post this morning to downtown Kuwait City for the Gulf Bank Marathon. It started at the Marina Mall which showcases some pretty amazing boats the Kuwaiti's are able to afford. To get to the start we had to walk all the way around the marina to the bridge.
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Because the race started late there was plenty of time to look around at the people starting with us. The women were just beautiful. There was a 5K, 10K, 1/2 marathon and full marathon all starting at the same time. I imagine with all the makeup and jewelry these women were wearing they had to be just doing the 5K.
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The first loop of the race was beautiful with a large portion actually along the gulf. We passed by their cultural center, Grand Mosque and actually went through the souk. Some of the vendors were passing out grapes, etc to the runners. After the first half which was basically one big loop we then did four small laps which became VERY monotonous. It went past the towers but even they weren't impressive by the 10th time you passed them.

The volunteers were great but did seem to loose steam by the end of the marathon and just stood next to their tables. The finish was also a mind trick. It looked like it would be under the start banner up the little hill. But when you got to the top of the hill someone said its just down at the bottom by the flags. But when you got down to the bottom of the hill you had to make a left turn down the red carpet to the finish. Which was actually quite pretty.
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There was no clock and my watch had died so I had no idea what time I got. Someone from my unit told me I got 2nd place female and I told her she must be crazy. She then pointed to the results board which did indeed list me as 2nd place.
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Shortly after I got called to the stage area and there was an awards ceremony where we actually got to get up on the podium. I got a huge check for 600 KD which is like $2000! They also gave us flowers and another medal. Unfortanately we had to turn in the big check in exchange for a paper one.
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Posted by ErinDriver 05:59 Archived in Kuwait Comments (0)

Shadow Marine Corps Marathon

22 October 2017

sunny 80 °F

Tim Pekari, one of the ortho PA's in the 86th Combat Support Hospital and a HUGE runner was able to coordinate with the Marine Corps Marathon for us to have a shadow race on Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The route was a much more boring 26 miles of looking at dirt and brownness but it still gave approximately 120 people around the area something to train for and an accomplishment during their deployment.
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Sun coming up on race morning.
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The CSH mostly ran the event to include an expo the day before. He was able to coordinate the Marine unit to give us our medals at the end which was a very nice touch.
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Overall it was a great race and we ended up with the same medal those who did the race in the US got :)
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Posted by ErinDriver 06:29 Archived in Kuwait Comments (0)

Kuwait Zoo and 360 Mall

14 October 2017

sunny 90 °F

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Anything animal is my kind of thing so I was pleasantly surprised by the Kuwait Zoo. It didn't have a great layout but it was only 500 KD or about $1.50 to get in. The animals were actually pretty active now that its a little cooler. I have never actually seen snakes moving around and here more than one was crawling up the side of the cage.
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The iguanas were having breakfast.
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The zebras were rolling around in their pen, the llama came prancing out, the lion was eating a piece of meat and the bear was sticking his tongue out at us.
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Some of the Animals I didn't even know what they were and the sign postings weren't that great.
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Swans were a hit for me and always so easy to photograph. I'm not sure who is in more danger though, the swan or the cat.
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This bear was pacing all around on his butt to look up at us.
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Can you find the alligator?
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I love this sign reminding people not to feed their kids to the alligator.
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Pink flamingos looked right at home.
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SPC Pulos and SGT Alvarez constantly had to be watched to make sure they were following the rules :)
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Myself and SPC Castillo at the entrance.
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The crew at the zoo - CW3 Estrada, LT Kagiri, LT Hargrave, SPC Pulos, SPC Castillo, myself, SGT Alvarez.
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After the zoo we went to the 360 mall which is 4- 5 stories with a bowling alley, IMAX theater and gym on the top floor, not to mention tons of stores.
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And for some reason a white carraige surrounded by roses.
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After eating Italian at Margharitas and having SPC Pulos (one of my medics) demonstrate how to properly pour water our group split up.
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The kids went shopping and bought vans.
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Four of the rest went to the bowling alley and played a couple games for 5 KD each in the nicest bowling alley we had ever seen.
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They have bowling socks for those who aren't wearing any.
large_LT_Kagiri_..wling_socks.jpgThe chandeliers were beautiful and the place was very clean.

After dinner we ate again at the chocolate bar I had caramel coconut cake.

Sadly by 1500 it was time to head back to post and become the animals in the cage again :(

Posted by ErinDriver 07:08 Archived in Kuwait Comments (0)

Scientific Center and Arabella Restaurant Complex

22 August 2017

sunny 110 °F

I read the Scientific Center had an aquarium so when I saw this as an option for MWR I got on the trip. When we got off the bus the sun was just setting on the water so everyone pulled out their cell phones to get a photo. I think I am one of the only people that actually carries around a camera.
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The aquarium is not that big but what they have is nice.

The entrance makes you think you are in the Sharknado movie!
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Inside they have more than just fish. There is a section of birds, snakes to include a sand viper and even penguins.
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The shark tank was pretty neat with the way it was lit and I could get a photo of Phil trying to photograph something else with shark right over his head.
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The Scientific Center has a lot for kids but also an IMAX theater. We see a movie that exceeded my expectations on engineering around the world.

After the Center we hit Arabella Restaurant Complex and went for Italian at Nino's. In these restaurants you can almost pretend you aren't on deployment. Last but not least was more lotus sushi for dessert at the Chocolate restaurant.

Posted by ErinDriver 11:10 Archived in Kuwait Comments (0)

Sheraton Hotel, Kuwait City

17 October 2017

sunny

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Phil Baldwin was having a birthday and wanted to go downtown to the Sheraton hotel which had a Persian Restaurant and an English Tea Room. So he took his ladies :) - me, Dana Nicholson and Heather Lorenz downtown. We arrived a bit early so took a lap around the neighborhood which had some interesting restaurants and what looked like the ghetto with the Marriott right behind it.
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We took a look around the rest of the Sheraton hotel before our reservation for dinner at the Italian restaurant. The lobby is gorgeous and we found a bunch of ballrooms.
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One was named after Dana.
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And one had the hugest chandelier that I have ever seen.
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Even the bathroom was amazing with built in foot massagers.
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The Italian place was Ricardo's and felt like a five star place with white table clothes and light fixtures that looked like they were from Venice. The food was amazing, tasting just as good as it looked.
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We got Phil a cheesecake for his birthday, not realized just how full we would be after the dinner.
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Our next stop was to be the English Tea Room but we weren't counting on being so full so just had some tea.
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The place was adorable with cute couches and even little covers for the tea pots.
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It was all a great day until Phil contaminated everything by putting the leftovers from his cake on the contaminated container outside the hotel.
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Posted by ErinDriver 06:06 Archived in Kuwait Comments (0)

Arabella Restaurant Complex

4 August 2017

sunny 120 °F

Another opportunity to get off Camp Arifjan is to sign up for one of the hospital trips. This morning a small group went the Kuwait Armed Forces Hospital which is sort of like our SAMMC or JBLM. The doctors discuss a few patient cases from the ICU, which was very claustrophobic. I was very glad to get out of there and move on to the Arabella Restaurant Complex which is right on the water. Believe it or not there is a Texas Roadhouse and Cheesecake Factory there but we wanted something a little different.
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Four of us ended up in an adorable little Spanish Restaurant called Torero. For an hour or so it didn't feel quite like we were in the Middle East.
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I had pasta in some foil which was interesting. The other nice thing about eating in restaurants here is the portion size. It is so much more reasonable than the American portion size!
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For our after lunch dessert we moved on to the chocolate restaurant. This lotus sushi is a new favorite dessert and I wish I could get the recipe. It is SOOO sweet making a half portion just about right.
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Posted by ErinDriver 10:01 Archived in Kuwait Comments (0)

Kuwait Towers and Mais Alghanim Restaurant

25 July 2017

sunny 125 °F

Camp Arifjan's MWR had a trip to the Kuwait Towers and Mais Alghanim Restuarant for dinner. These trips are always in the evening and it took us awhile to leave the post. We finally arrived at the towers at dusk and instead of going up inside them again I set out for some different angles. I don't know how well I succeeded but I feel like they look pretty cool at dusk.
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I also went to have a look at the beach which is kind of dirty looking but the lit up coast line is pretty with the lights.
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Just down the road from the towers is Mais Alghanim Restaurant which is a leading Arabic and Lebanese restaurant. The building is HUGE with two floors of restaurant. The door, lights, decorations are intricate and beautiful. Our group of people were put upstairs at a long table within view of two guys playing drums. All around people are enjoying their houka's and we even watch some women in burkha's trying to eat under their clothing.
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I had some of that delicious hummus and bread before a shrimp dinner. One thing they have everywhere here is the lemonade with mint that is just great!. For dessert I tried Halewet Al Jebin which is an egyptian dessert. It turned out to be pretty disgustingly sweet but it looked pretty!
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I went on the trip with Tina Braddock and Samantha Swehla who are both nurses with the Combat Support Hospital. What a fun night and a good diversion from deployment boredom.
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Posted by ErinDriver 05:11 Archived in Kuwait Comments (0)

Fahaheel Market MWR Trip

17 July 2017

sunny 120 °F

One of the benefits of being "deployed" to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait is the MWR office. They offer trips monday through wednesday of every week that take you to a destination around Kuwait City. The "scubby buses" aren't the most comfortable but they get you there for free! Today my friend Phil and I were on the trip to Fahaheel market.
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The kind of questionable thing is that the bus dropped us off by the water and said the mall is to the left, the market is across the road on the right, be back by 2200. That was okay for me as a pretty experienced traveler but I think if I wasn't I would have been nervous. For one, crossing the busy road there was not the easiest. We did pass a McDonalds which just fascinates me when it is written in Arabic. It also had a scooter in the back for deliveries!

Phil and I had our WAYS app out and still had to ask someone where exactly this bazaar was. It is a couple of blocks off the road we were dropped off at. As it turns out it wasn't much. We did a quick walk through but these colored chickens were the most interesting thing for me :) Everything else was just cheap stuff.
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Along the walk to the bazaar we passed a lot of places selling gold jewelry. It is very popular here and sold by weight so seems expensive to me. I did end up buying a ring I love but probably paid too much for it.

Kuwaitis seem to eat very late at night butPhil and I were starving so went to one of the first places we saw called Mughal Mahal. There menu was large which I guess should have been a clue but it was okay and we still managed to feel like real human beings for a night. Phil got a plate full of donor kabobs and I got a rice dish. Mughal is a mix of Chinese, Asian and Pakistani food so I guess that is why the menu is so big!
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We weren't too hungry to hit the Chocolate dessert place right down the road. Kuwaitis also seem to love their chocolate/dessert restaurants. We enjoyed amazing looking and tasting crepes and coffee at Bell Cafe to further surprise us this could happen on deployment. The food was almost too pretty to eat.
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A short walk later had us back at the mall which is interesting to walk through with fancy stores and barely a person in any of them. Just outside the mall was a little port with some VERY fancy and expensive looking yachts.
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Posted by ErinDriver 04:17 Archived in Kuwait Comments (0)

Dinner in Kuwait City

14 July 2017

sunny 122 °F

Panto took us on the all day tour of Kuwait and was now leaving Kuwait due to the end of his deployment. A few people accompanied him downtown for his farewell dinner.
But before that he had a deal with one of the Kuwaiti's he worked with to take a ride in one of his gliders. Kuwaiti's are basically rich and these things are their toys. Panto is a pilot and so he wanted to ride in one of these as part of his bucketlist for Kuwait. They don't do it a lot during this time of year because of the heat so the trip wasn't long. The rest of us waited on the ground :)
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Ashley hadn't been up to the Kuwait Towers so we took her up to the top and got a photo from inside. Also we needed to waste some time because the Kuwaiti's don't eat until later in the evening.
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Downtown Kuwait is a hard place to find a place to park but after that was accomplished we found a table at the Shemmam Restaurant. The place was full of locals and the food was great. I have fallen in love with their bread and hummus here as a started. I had the Shemmam Mix which was a huge plate full of different kebobs, fish and quesidilla sort of things. Amazing local food!!
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After dinner we went back to the place with the fountain and watching it again before having dessert at The Chocolate Gate. We sat outside enjoying the night and I split a peanut butter cake with Ashley Hall, our OB/GYN doctor.
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Panto had this brownie which was funny that it came with a syringe full of sauce :)
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Posted by ErinDriver 04:53 Archived in Kuwait Comments (0)

Full Day in Kuwait City

9 July 2017

sunny 115 °F

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I am now in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait for a nine month deployment but the good part about this one is that we are able to go off post. There is a scuba diving club at Camp Arifjan and I was scheduled to go today but it was cancelled due to the weather. Luckily I had met Nicole and ended up going to a crazy fourteen hour tour of Kuwait City instead. Her friend Panto was scheduled to leave in one week and had lived downtown Kuwait City so was able to take four of us on a tour. (Nicole brought another of her aviation warrant officers with us).
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We started with a quick look at the Kuwait towers. One is actually a water tower. The other ball has a restaurant, viewing tower and small gift shop. Of course there had to be staged shots 😊
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Near here is the Opera House which is a really gorgeous building right across the street from the ocean.
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It was late morning so Panto needed a pick me up and took us to one of his favorite coffee shops. The coffee comes with a little donut!!! I’m in love!
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I love the building designs here. We also go past the library and get a kick out of the benches.
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These two brothers are Kuwaiti royalty who are on every business and building.
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You have be careful crossing the street here!
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We tried to go in the National Museum but most of it was closed for some reason. We then hit up Martyr Park. It was built to commemorate the lives of those who died for Kuwait in the Iraqi invasion in 1990. In addition to the monument that looks very much like the Vietnam War Memorial there is a botanical garden, lake and walkways. It is kind of amazing how green the park can look in the middle of the desert. It was SOOO hot though, we were sweating so much you could almost see through my pants!!
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date trees in the park
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It was time for lunch and a cool down so on to Al Balad, a Kuwaiti restaurant. The hummus and bread was just so good that I barely had any room left for my lunch of what looked like little meat quesadillas. I had lemonade which looked and tasted a little bit more like a mojito without the rum.
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Panto had promised he could find camels on the way to Camp Beurhing so we took off down the highway. On the way we see a sign that says Good Bless US Troops so though of course we needed a picture next to it 😊
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By camels next to the road, I thought he meant the camels would be next to the road but in fact we spotted a guy with 3 camels about half a mile off the road. He just turned the vehicle on to the sand and we went to ask the guy if we could take pictures with his camels. Kuwaiti people (although most aren’t from Kuwait) all seem very friendly so far. Obviously the answer was yes and we spent some time admiring these weird looking animals.
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Next us was the Grand Mosque. This is the fourth largest Mosque in the world and just beautiful. Nicole and I had to put on a special outfit to go in and the guys had to put on some skirts 😊 We were lucky to have a guide all to ourselves. He told us each little blue spot on the carpet is for a person to pray on.
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He showed us how all the alcoves that people can speak from are made so they can’t be heard by the one right next to them. Nicole and I thought they were better for photography.
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I was in love with the architecture and how photogenic it was.
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Our guide was asked what the carving said around this door and he took out his phone and said “Thank goodness for the I-Koran”. He looked it up on an app on his phone!!!
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I should have paid more attention to what he was saying but was just so excited to have some many things to photograph!

There is a souk downtown that we walked through. It felt very local, busy and colorful. Even the fish market was fun to see.
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Believe it or not we were getting hungry again and Panto had something else to show us. The opera house park has a collection of restaurants around a small lake that has a light show every thirty minutes after dark. The show was really awesome. NO one is the same so the music and light combinations was different for each one. Some even had fire involved!
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Dinner was at Baker ‘n’ Spice. It is an organic restaurant and we sat outside to watch the fountain show. I had pasta with shrimp that was excellent!
It was a pretty interesting method for paying the bill also.
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One last thing before calling it a night was seeing the Kuwaiti Towers lit up and then having dessert.
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Al Hamra Mall is a beautiful 3 or 4 story building in the city that you would never guess was even there.
large_Al_Hamra_Mall.jpg It holds The Chocolate Bar which was the objective for our final activity. I had a delicious peanut butter dessert with Butterfinger crumbles on top!

Posted by ErinDriver 02:13 Archived in Kuwait Comments (0)

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