Postcards from Kuwait | Atop

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The cityscape of Kuwait on a clear ( dust-free) day .

Before we left Kuwait last year, we were fortunate enough to visit the Kuwait towers.This is a must-thing to do  for us since we don’t know if we would ever set our foot back in this place ever again.It’s several times already for me, a first time for my husband and my daughter. Luckily, it’s just in time for its re-opening after long years of being closed for renovation.This time, I’m more excited for my daughter to be on top of the towers and enjoy the cityscape of Kuwait.

Did I ever feel the heat up in the Kuwait Towers? No, not really. The temperature was good from this altitude and there’s Air Conditioning of course!

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On top of the 2nd spherical dome of Kuwait.

Now a 2-year old have no idea of what’s up there on top.If she love the views, I don’t know but obviously,she’s more interested in walking through the revolving deck and licking the railings.At this point, she doesn’t have any remembrance of this experience yet,but once she grow up, she can see her photos of herself being on top of the most important landmark in Kuwait, her birthplace.A place that she spent her first year of life. This place would always be special for all of us,  and to her.

The view of the Arabian Gulf from above is stunning, the promising skyline of the skyscrapers in Kuwait namely the Al Hamra Tower, the Kipco, Al Tijaria,Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) and others provides a fascinating vista on a clear, haze-free day. The typical  beige urban areas, the nature-less landscape, the tempting Aqua park beneath the towers, and the hustle and bustle of the Gulf road. These things make this area very prominent and touristic attraction.

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Up above, there’s a reflective wall where you can see yourself in a twisted panoramic view. We had fun playing with photos. It looks surreal, like a myriad of reflective glass. This is one of my favorite photos taken here. For me, It’s so different to see this place because my focus is on my daughter. I felt like it had a different meaning for me , regardless of the same scenic views I’m seeing. Like a tower, we’ve managed to overcome our struggles here, sandstorms, the heat and all. We’ve been through ups and downs in our life spent here but in the end, we surpassed it all.Now, these views are all nostalgic memories, a beautiful postcard.

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It’s not hot up in here, Mama !

As for my little Goblin, she’s only 2 but she have collected so many postcards from the top countless times already.She love all the fast elevators and steep views from all her journeys.From hanging out in the highest Rock museum in theMunich Olympic Tower, climbing the Austrian Alps, even napping through the cable cars above and marveled the beauty of the Zugspitze-Arena in Austria, enjoyed the fairy tale journey into the steep magical Burg Eltz castle, making a mess inside the Windmills, learned to step in the steep, claustrophobic Cubic houses and exploring the old ruins of castles along the river Moselle.

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Looking up to the three dominant features of this Tower.

She’s not even three and she have these views already! She have been to places before she even learned how to talk…

As for us, we continue to collect postcards, be it from the top or seen from the grounds.

 

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Post inspired by DP Photo Challenge | Atop

Mobile lifestyle in Kuwait

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Umbrella and mobile phone : A good match to survive the heat

Expats outnumbered the locals in Kuwait, with 70% of its  population is composed of expatriates. So expat life is rather diversified compared here in Germany. One typical street sight in Kuwait is summed up in the photo above. It doesn’t matter where you are and who you are and what you do in life. An office janitor can have the latest gadget phones same as his Modir ( Boss) as well as anybody.  Everyone seemed to be glued in their mobile phones anytime of the day. It seems like if you don’t own a smart phone, you are left out and isolated. It becomes a necessity and at the same time a hazard especially for reckless drivers who are pinned to their phones while driving. Taxi drivers,mostly Egyptians, Indians, Bangladeshi or Syrians, have 2-3 phones to manage while they go on their work. Crazy, right? but its true. They are talking to their families and friends while driving around. Insane as it may sound but Kuwait becomes fanatic to smartphones and internet calls. Before I was in wonder, but now, no more, horrific and fatal  car accidents  happens everyday, especially in the Gulf road and 5th ring road where drivers drive like maniac. Everyday life revolves around internet, social media and chatting. You should take a look at this article to see how far it goes. If you’re living in Kuwait, I know how it feels, it sucks!

If you’re an expat, having a smart phone with internet is a must. It’s a  materialistic symbolism too. One can easily  get an internet line provided that they have a civil ID to present when they purchase. One’s number is linked to your personal data in the country’s ID system. Another particular sight in  is how Kuwait evolved into mobile parenting.While out in the mall or park, you can see that children have iPads and tablet to keep the child occupied in their buggies while busy parents do their errands. Kuwait has become a symbol for parenting in the iPhone stage. When you move to Kuwait, a way to combat homesickness, your mobile lifestyle becomes elevated and your life revolves in your phone.

Hungry? just log in and check into Talabat or call for delivery from Canary for mushakel and  kebab. Even if the  Matam ( restaurant ) is just around the corner of your flat.I am writing this because I have never seen such incidents like this here in Germany. A total culture clash I must say. Or maybe not yet…

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Hala February Festival and National Day in Kuwait

Oh well, Happy National Day Kuwait!

For expats out there, enjoy the long weekend with the Hala February festivities and stay away from the Gulf road or you’ll end up harassed by the water gun fanatics!

Want to know more about Expat life in  the Gulf? Here are some related further reading :

Hala February Festival in Kuwait

Only in Kuwait : National Spraying gun day!

Kuwait : National Identity symbol

 

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via Photo Challenge: A Good Match

Waiting for Spring…

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The Neues Schloss in Ingolstadt in Winter

The New Castle-My favorite place to photograph in our lovely town.

Am I the only one or is there anyone else waiting for Spring? The landscape surrounding it is really beautiful.I have photographed this castle  many times and yet everytime I passes by it, I can’t help but to admire its simple beauty.The past seasons showed its different charm and I can’t wait how would it look in the bright, sunny spring time!

Here are some related content about this beautiful architecture which you might find worthy to read :

Early morning with a view in Neues Schloss

The Cannons in Neues Schloss

A walk into the old town

 

 

Light & Shadow play

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My daughter enjoying her shadows  and experimenting with Light and Shadow play

When you have a toddler to entertain, you just got to be creative. And when you have enough sunlight even indoors, you’ve got to soak your toddler in it! That is why I love Light & Shadow play concept for kids. It is just a great tool for creative learning for young, curious minds like my daughter.

One of the things that we have an abundance back then  in Kuwait is the SUN.Yes, too much sun that when I came here in Europe, I find that the skies are always gray and I get a mood boost when I see its sunny. In Kuwait, we were lucky enough to have a bedroom with a sea view. The big windows allows some great amount of sun to penetrates into our room and many times, I would put my daughter to enjoy the sun and  let it create playful shadows on her. She loves it! One of my favorite captures of her is when she was playing inside a laundry basket and the shadows from the sun creates a mask of circular golden tan on her baby skin. She was just  about 7 months here. So young, so free, so playful, and so curious.

 

One of toddler’s fears are their shadows. I have heard of stories where in young children are terrified when they have learned about their shadows. The moment I put my daughter inside the basket, it was amazing! She become so engrossed with the patterns in her skin, pinching it, touching it while it changes when she moves.

In summer in Kuwait, where in the temperature could reached up to 50+ degrees C, there is no way  your babies can enjoy the outdoors. The sun can already be scorching at around 5 am so we go to the beach at early mornings or late in the afternoon in weekends. I guess when you’ve lived in the middle east, you would have a fair share of knowledge why people wear the Abaya & the Dishdasha. It is really for functional reasons. Instead of agonizing with the heat and the sun, why not embrace the fun you can get from it, plus, nobody complains that you can actually dry your laundry within 5 minutes!

 

This post is in response in this week’s DP Photo Challenge |Shadow

Beauty + Art in solitude

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Mixed media landscape painting  created with Crelando paint pallet in acrylic, watercolor, cray pastel and colored pencils.

S   o l  i  t u  d e

Solitude is a luxury that I can’t afford everyday. But when I have it, I indulge and create something that  calms my tired soul.

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Landscape Mixed media painting

There is beauty in Solitude. There is Art.

#Conversationswithmypaintbrush

In response to this week’s DP photo Challenge | Solitude

Solitary crystal clear waters

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Solitary crystal clear waters

I am a self- confessed nature and beach lover, and I find true solitude in island hopping and discovering rugged virgin lakes and beaches. I just find natural beauty of bodies of water to be totally de-stressing. I am not a savvy traveler, I am just a normal girl who wants to be refreshed, away from the busy-ness of the city, and going to place like this, leaves me both satisfaction and awe without blowing a budget.

Solitude” for me is a personal business.

It takes your whole being to be in tune with yourself. It is not the absence of noise, it’s actually the absence of distraction, and when you found yourself floating in the clear waters of the claimed ‘ cleanest lake in Asia’, it is guaranteed that you’ll find zen and calmness, naturally. Your mind gets clear. Your senses becomes alive. Literally unplugging from all negative vibes. Kayangan Lake in Coron, Palawan is a picture of no filters, and crystal clear waters seemed to washed away all  the toxins in my mind. When you can actually see the bottom of the lake especially when the sun is up,you can feel the good aura of the place vibrating. Visiting this place is one of the most memorable holidays I have in my life.

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Revisiting the same spot, even in a bit gloomy weather, the waters still as clear as it can be.

I have enjoyed swimming in this lake, exploring the cool, azure waters as far as I can. There is so much serenity in this place that you might think you are in another dimension. Surrounded with limestone mountains, you don’t have the right  to be ungrateful about life. I have tried snorkeling as well and seeing colorful marine life, it was a dream to see the world down there. I explored the whole surroundings by  boating,cruising through the native tribe’s area,the Tagbanuas, in between of the tiny islands and looking into their culture. There is an adjacent lake, the Barracuda,which is less commercialized in the sense that only a few visit the lake and most are armed with tanks and diving suits, making it a haven for professional divers.  Locals nearly discourage visitors to visit the place as the depth of the lake is unknown and is recommended only for professional divers.

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A fantasy island that actually exists

The surrounding mountains will leave you in awe. Everything is so calm and I felt  so secure.There’s an old tale I’ve heard that they are growing an inch every year. I haven’t tried climbing these mountains yet, but its on my list.  Large area is composed of Karst formations where swiftlets  or the Philippine Cockatoo, dwell and build their nest (edible birds nest). There are vertical limestone cliffs that reach up to 600 meters above sea level and eight (8) brackish lakes and three (3) smaller one’s that have underground connections to the sea.This place is on Tentative list in Unesco World Heritage List.

When you are in a place where there is a deafening silence, it’s  so uncomfortable and yet you never get tired of it. I still can’t believe that this fantasy island really exists. Claiming that it’s the cleanest lake in Asia or not–just look at the waters and you’ll know what I mean.

Do you love water-fun activities?

What is your ideal place of relaxation?

You might want to check out these posts if you want some inspiration from the tropical beaches and destinations I personally love. There are still so many beautiful beaches that I have been to but I haven’t made a post for them.

Coron, a fantasy island that actually exists.

What real summer looks like in Coco Beach.

Malcapuya Island : Accidentally in-love!

This post is in response to this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge |Solitude

Fateh al-Khair : Graceful against the wind

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Fateh Al-Khair – The last surviving Dhow ship displayed in front of the Scientific Center in Kuwait. (c.1938)

The Fateh Al- Khair  and its voyage  to India and Africa up until 1952 is one of Kuwait’s local pride and symbol of cultural heritage. They are called the “graceful “sailing ships . Built to withstand against the strong winds , these boats are with triangular sail (lateen)  set on a long yard mounted at an angle on the mast, and running in a fore-and-aft direction. For me, grace is an art and act of doing things in a dignified motion, like elegance against turbulence.

Living in Kuwait means seeing Dhow ships like this on a daily basis, as you see date trees almost everywhere!  Staring at them takes you back to the time where in dhows are the mighty means of transport of trading during the good old days, before the oil was discovered. The marine lifestyle of Kuwait is still so very active up to this day, although Kuwaitis prefer to travel leisurely  by yachts & private-owned boats. Fateh Al-Khair stands as a perfect memento of Kuwait’s  rich maritime culture. I won’t be surprised if they will build another extension of The Avenues with the concept of a dhow ship, after all, it’s the Top 1 Attraction in Kuwait!

Fateh Al Khair, is a surviving deep-sea sailing ship from the pre-oil era, that is displayed as an exhibit in front of the Arabian Gulf right inside the grounds of the Kuwait’s Scientific Center. Fateh Al Khair  is 19.8 meters long, 8.1 meters wide and 4.9 meters high. This ship was designed and built in Kuwait in 1938. The building of the ship took 18 carpenters who worked 60 days round the clock and cost approximately 17,000 rupees, which was the currency prevalent at that time. The dhow is made from Indian timber and weighs 95 tons when empty and can sail up to 13 knots.
In my days spent in Kuwait, I visited the Dhow harbor frequently since it’s just a few meters away from where I live. Seeing it against the background of  beautiful azure blue waters of Arabian Gulf makes me feel proud that once in my life, I have seen this important part of Kuwaiti culture. She’s a  fine noble ship, surviving the harsh winds from her voyages, and now, she rested with pride, gracefully.
Her legacy –  a Dhow ship in full sail is represented in the Emblem of Kuwait, emphasizing its traditional importance in the country, where it was used to carry fresh water and in the pearl industry, as well as a trading ship.
Are you fascinated with the Arabian culture?
If you want to read further about the Maritime Culture of Kuwait,here are some useful posts that I have written documenting my experience of seeing them. I got  married in the Guiness World Record- “Al Hashemi II “, the largest boat I have ever boarded, and even celebrated most of my special days in one of the traditional “Booms”.
Do you have a boat experience? What’s the biggest boat you’ve ever boarded?
If you like to see more photos with stories, please check out my Instagram and follow my Twitter for more updates! Have a great week…

This post is my entry for this week’s  DP Photo Challenge | Graceful

Creating Ambience in your Home

Are you familiar with the good feeling when you finally got home from a long day?

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What’s the aura of your home?

You open the windows and soak the view outside and after kicking your shoes, you lounge in your favorite chair. The familiar scent of your home fills your nostrils. You breathe in and the feeling of sense of belonging…the relaxed feeling, the calmness, right in your cozy own place. Even the taste of your home- made tea , your own favorite mug, the flavor is different from the ones you buy from cafes. It’s all about personal space. I am self-confessed homemaker and for me, creating an aura, a cozy atmosphere in my own place is very important.

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A corner  in our kitchen where we have soothing views of the garden and  ample natural light

Just like style, I believe that creating your own ambience is totally personal. I love it when a simple detail can enhance the overall feel of a room. Be it a lamp shade, a picture frame or a vase full of flowers, it doesn’t matter, the effect always affects your mood. That is why I am a fan of neutral colors and natural lighting from the sun. This is why I love our new home here where we have large windows & doors made of glass.In Germany, curtains are almost rare, totally opposite from the norms in Kuwait where dark,patterned heavy curtains are essential because of the harsh sun.

I can’t claim our home to be completely minimalist ,but it’s almost livable even without the technology disturbances. This works for me since I have a 2 year old kid, where de-cluttering with tons of baby stuff and toys is almost impossible to achieve. Not at the moment. So by keeping things less, it’s less stressful,more appealing and most important –Easy to clean

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A Corner of fond memories of travel and Expat life
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A bathroom with the calmness of greens.It’s only here in Germany where bathroom windows are placed directly facing main streets.

Having an active toddler ushered us to live in simplicity. With the daily chaos and noise from playing, screaming &  running, we’ve been trying as much as possible to bring in the calmness by putting more green plants, keeping our ornaments and decorations to minimum, and keeping our furniture simple and natural. Truly, less becomes more.

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How to create homes with an Ambience .

Our kitchen has the most amazing natural light and I love the views I have when I’m cooking. I watched the sun rises & sets here while I do the dishes,listen to the raindrops, the swaying of the trees, and now, the magical snowfall. Most of the pieces we keep have a sentimental value and putting them in the right places draws us to fond memories of our Expat life.

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What’s the aura of your home?

Ambience is the feeling that you’re creating in which ever place you’re in. Either it has been created by others for you, or self-imposed, you allow that feeling to manifest in your system and to others. As for me, the best ambience to languish is the one coming from your own home. Nevermind the noise, the clutter and the mess–because really, there’s no place like home.

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Our garden in complete whiteness of snow

What about you, what do you think is the impression that others get from your home?

This post is in response to this week’s WP Photo Challenge |Ambience

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99 Names of God | Grand Mosque in Kuwait

The dome of the Grand Mosque in Kuwait is probably one of the most beautiful things created by man and the architecture influenced by Islamic faith in Kuwait.This unforgettable sight is also the center of this mosque (masjid al- kabeer ) and contains the 99 Names of God written around it.The dome of the mosque is 26 metres (85 ft) in diameter and 43 metres (141 ft) high, and is decorated with the Asma al-hosna.

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Dome of the Grand Mosque in Kuwait where the 99 Names of God is written.

According to tradition (hadith) there are 99 names of God in Islam, known as the ʾasmāʾu- llāhi l-ḥusnā (Arabic: أسماء الله الحسنى‎‎) “Beautiful Names of God” (also أسماء الحسنى asmāʾu-l-ḥusnā “Beautiful Names”).

I have made hundreds of photos in my 4 times visiting this Mosque together with my family and friends and each time, I always find so many notable architecture details worth mentioning. Now, as I remember my Expat days back then in Kuwait and exploring the local sightings, the Islamic touch always fascinates me, totally unforgettable .

What about you, what kind of local attractions attracts you the most?

This post is in response to this week’s DP photo challenge |Names

Too beautiful to Smash | Names

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My daughter’s beautiful  Hungry caterpillar Smash Cake, too beautiful to smash!

Thinking of what to name your child is probably one of the most memorable part of Parenthood. After all, the name that you will give to your child will be something that your child will bear forever. So when we thought of a name to give to my daughter, we have chosen “Natalie”.  Although it literally means “Christmas Day” while she was born on a hot August afternoon in Kuwait, her name is special for us. So on her first birthday, we made sure that her name is written on her  first Birthday smash cake.

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A Very Hungry Caterpillar Smash Cake for my daughter Natalie

My daughter loved the books by Eric Carle’s The very Hungry Caterpillar and she was so delighted when she saw her cake. Her eyes showed so much excitement all the more when she was able to touch it, poked it, and eventually smash it .I chose this theme because she is totally in love with the caterpillar character and by now, she even memorize the whole story. She had a caterpillar Tutu dress,a huge Hungry caterpillar cake made by a Dutch Artisan baker,and a garden of Oma & Opa decorated with the caterpillar balloons and buntings. We even had a giant strawberry Pinata to complete this theme.

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A Very Hungry Caterpillar 1 JAAR Birthday Cake

Someday, when she is old enough to see the photos of her birthday, she will learned that out of millions of kids named “Natalie”, for once, she had a special Cake and a smash cake with her name in colorful yummy fondant letters celebrating her wonderful milestone of her first 1 year of life.

A beautiful cake, a smash cake too pretty to smash, a special name, one milestone, and a yummiest cake for her 12 amazing months, 365 Delightful Days, and 8,760 Adorable Hours and 1 Perfect Year!

This post is in response to this week’s  Photo Challenge |Names