The Dhow ship: Kuwait’s timeless Heritage

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The timeless Dhow ship of Kuwait, a precious Maritime Heritage

Speaking of Heritage — The Dhow ship is probably my most photographed icon, next to the Kuwait Towers, from my years of stay in the Middle East. A distinct symbol of Kuwaiti culture.

This boat, the Fateh-Al Khair, is a graceful against the winds, beautiful boat, originally used for trading and fishing purposes have long defined this oil-rich country’s identity up to the present times. Wherever you go, the iconic Dhow ship is displayed in many public spaces in Kuwait and there are so many museums dedicated to this heritage.This one in particular is my favorite, next to the gigantic and huge Al Hashemi II, which garnered the coveted Guinness World Records for the largest Dhow ship ever built in the whole world.

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Dhow ships and fishing boats in Souk Sharq

One of the scenic spots in Kuwait where anyone, especially foreigners can have a glimpse of the Dhow ships and fishing boats displayed and docked gracefully in the harbour. This one is taken in  Shouk Sharq, one of the places where I buy fresh local fishes, just adjacent to the fish Market. Here, you can watch the hustle and bustle of the fishermen as they go about their day, making rigorous  bidding for their pricey catch.

An ideal place if you want to catch a beautiful Sunset from the Arabian Gulf.

 

If you are interested about Kuwait ‘s culture and Islamic Heritage, here are further readings which I have written based on my personal escapades while living there.Photo credit to my friend Ramil Sunga for the second photo. I used this photo as my painting inspiration for my series ‘Kuwait’.

 

Diving for pearls with Dhow

Life in the sea in Kuwait

How to beat the 50 degrees Heat in Kuwait !

The Art of Islamic Patterns

This post is inspired by this week’s Photo Challenge | Heritage

Reflections from the lowlands

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 De Grote Kerk and the Georgiuskerk amongst the greens reflecting in the pond 

From our recent trip to the Netherlands last Easter, I snapped  once again some photos where mirror-like reflections of nature was so captivating and irresistible to ignore.This is one of my favorite subject to photograph in Holland, its water reflections. Be it from a small pond, dike, lake or in canals, the waters are ever-so-clear! As we walked through the woods, I found this little paradise, just in the outskirts of the old town.This is the thing about Holland, be it after the rain or not, beautiful water reflections of nature are just a normal thing. The waters are so clear that the images of trees, city landmarks, and the sky makes a great portrait!

The world seen upside down; but still so beautiful — or maybe even more beautiful!

The first known mirror in the world was perhaps a very clear and still water surface. There is an old Greek mythology about a beautiful boy, Narcis, who saw his reflection in the water and fell in love with himself. So deep was his love, that he didn’t want to do anything but watch his own reflection, and he did it until he died of lust. I don’t know if the water mirror really is that dangerous, but I’ve fallen in love with Amsterdam reflections especially the reflections of the gable houses along the canals. During sunny days, the houses are reflected in the canal water or in the windows of houses on the opposite side. In parks, the image of trees on the water surface looks like a Van Gogh painting.

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Reflections from the Netherlands

Still-life or not, this beats any type of painting. The waters are crystal clear that minute details are clearly seen upside down.

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Though the weather is not that perfect, but still with enough light considering  I am only using my iPhone, I am still impressed by the images that I captured. This simple demonstration of beauty of nature needs no filter and no explanations. It is just perfect.

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Mirror-like collage of leaves of trees 

 

How about you, what are your favorite subjects to photograph in your travels?

This post is inspired by this week’s  Daily Post : Photo Challenge | Reflecting

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

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

National Tulip Day in the Netherlands

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Fresh tulips in the house
Yesterday was  National Tulip Day in the Netherlands. Everyone is free to pick tulips in the ‘picking garden ‘in the Dam square in Amsterdam. Bursting with around 200,000 tulips on display, an event that should not be missed if you’re in town. More than 10,000 people come and pick their own free tulip, and you know what makes this event really rocks?  

You pick FREE tulips of your choice, with its bulbs,so you can bring Spring to your homes,All for FREE! The special theme for 2017 is ‘Mondrian to Dutch Design’, as the Netherlands celebrates 100 years of De Stijl.

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National Tulip Day in the Netherlands
I don’t know about you , but one of the things that I love in this world are Tulips!  Although tulips originally came from Turkey, the Netherlands and Tulips are two things inseparable! Just like Curry wurst and Germany. Yesterday, my husband surprised me with a handful of fresh bulbs of flaming yellow-red tulips, as he always does. He knows that I loved them. The aftermath, of course, me taking some photos and getting some inspiration from it.

There’s something about its slim perfect skinny stem, the fresh long green leaves, and it’s cup petals  bursting with unique charm and beautiful vibrant colors. The “flames” and mosaic in the petals is a total stunner, a nature’s wonder. Tulips  is the ultimate symbolic flower for grace. No wonder tulips (Tulpen)  is  3rd world’s most popular flower! Such a surprise that I married a Dutchman and that tulips is just right in the doorsteps!

Did you know that the first Dutch’s financial bubble is because of tulips? Can’t believe that a single bulb of tulips could cost more than 10 times the annual  income of a skilled person! So precious…

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Tulip mania
The Dutch love affair with tulips during the Dutch Golden Age of the mid-1600s paved way  to tulip bulb bubble or also known as “Tulip Mania”.  Generally considered to be the first recorded financial bubble, the Tulip Mania of 1636-1637 was the time in which tulip bulb prices were propelled by speculators to incredible heights before collapsing and plunging the Dutch economy into a severe crisis that lasted for many years. Incredible, right?

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Graceful tulips
While it’s not the fanciest flower in the garden, the beauty and grace of a simple Tulips means it has become a symbol for many things. Here are some interesting facts about this flower that I have found out;

  • A dark or light-colored center contrasts against the petals and can symbolize a broken or light heart respectively.
  • Bright red is the color of passion and perfect love. Don’t send a bouquet of these flowers to a family member or you’ll be sending the wrong message!
  • Tulips are edible but not medicinal. They become emergency food during WW II.
  • Perfect, enduring love between partners or family members
  • Undying passionate love, whether the passion is spurned or returned
  • Royalty and a regal nature
  • Forgotten or neglected love
  • the 11th wedding anniversary
  • Abundance, prosperity, and indulgence
  • Charity and supporting the less fortunate

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The beauty and grace of a tulip flower
I fell in love with tulips even before I have seen a real one. Seeing it from the magazines and in TV made me dream to see it for real. I am just so engrossed in its form, and how delicate it looks and yet so proud. Same as an obsessed gardener, I have this urge to plant dozens of bulbs into our garden. Spring is still  far away from our doorsteps and yet, the sight of tulips in flower shops makes me dream of  bright sunny days ! There’s nothing compares to the sight of  fresh bunch of Tulip  in your hands, in a vase full of these inside your living room, even a single stem can really make a change in the ambiance of your place.

I can’t wait for Spring for our Easter trip to  finally see and visit Keukenhof  gardens to  indulge in the sight of these babies up close!

But for now, this sight is enough for me to look forward for more beautiful days!

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Tulips and a freshly baked Angel Food cake with warm cup of tea equals a perfect  winter weekend treat!

“A tulip doesn’t strive to impress anyone. It doesn’t struggle to be different from a rose. It doesn’t have to. It is different. And there’s room in the garden for every flower.” – Marianne Williamson

 

How did your weekend go? Have you seen something that inspired you?

 

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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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Anticipating in Silence

“Some Days are made of Silent Anticipation “

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A lighted candle always brings anticipation and I love how it creates a “Silent moment”in any child.

Waiting for Christmas has always been exciting for both young and old ones, but here in Bavaria, it’s as big as Oktoberfest I must say. Though people look forward more to a warm mug of Glühwein instead of beer and Zimtstern  (Cinnamon Star cookies) than Pretzels. I, myself is looking forward to see all these new things in my eyes.There’s something about experiencing things for the first time–everything seems special. I can still remember my daughter’s excitement when she saw her boot was filled with goodies during St. Nicholas Day ( Nikolaustag) . All around the city and on each home, everywhere is decorated and the atmosphere of Christmas is so heavy here in Bavaria. I know that in other regions, the traditions vary and things are celebrated differently, but with same looking forward for Christmas Day.

Children have this big anticipation in their eyes, a longing for something exciting! There’s the glow in their eyes when they know that they are counting the days for the big day comes starting with the Adventkalendars. It is practically a calendar with treats or chocolates in every date with small doors.On the 1st of December children get to open the first little door, behind which they find a chocolate or some other little treat. On the 2nd of December they get to open the 2nd door, and so on and so forth up to 24 December. Now, which kid will complain? Even the adults loved this one. Enjoying every piece of chocolate in silence.

Christmas in Germany is one of the happiest and most celebrated holidays of all times here,but Christmas here comes in a long, sweet, waiting game. As early as November, the city center was transformed into a winter wonderland and place for the Christkindlmarkt. Another custom that I have observed here is their Adventkranz  or the Advent wreath. This is a truly one German cozy tradition,though the concept of Advent wreath originated from German Lutherans in the 16th century, but spread out to other denominations. German families celebrates the 4-Sundays of Advent before Christmas  with an Advent wreath  shaped into a round, flat wound of fir pine It is adorned with cinnamon sticks,orange peels and with 4 red candles.

From Hamburg, the Advent wreath started its triumphal procession out to the Christian world: In 1925 an Advent wreath with four candles was set up in a catholic church in Cologne for the first time. Since 1930 as well in Munich.

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Advent, Advent, a Little Candle is burning.

On every Sunday during Advent another candle is lit until in the end all four are burning. “Advent, Advent, ein Lichtlein brennt,” goes one children’s rhyme. “Erst eins, dann zwei, dann drei, dann vier, dann steht das Christkind vor der Tür.” “Advent, Advent, a little candle’s burning. First one, then two, then three, then four. Then the Christ Child’s at the door.”

Children watching the candle in silence, but with eager anticipation. Looking admiringly on the packed gifts under the Christmas Tree and watching the lights flood the living room while listening to Christmas carols. One of the things that I love doing here nowadays is watching the locals decorate their houses in a very unique way, totally different from the culture that I grew up with.When I am out,I love watching people in silence as they all go around with their busy hustle and bustle during Christmas season. Busy shopping, gift wrapping, and some are just celebrating life everyday in the coziness of the German Christmas markets. With a warm mug of Glühwein and with tasty treats, or a bucket of roasted almonds or chestnuts. Some towns are famed for their Christmas markets, for example Dresden’s Striezelmarkt (named after a type of cake – now known as Stollen – traditionally sold there) and Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt (“Christ Child Market”).

Anticipation doesn’t need to be loud or grand, because  some days in Christmas season are made with silent anticipation.

 

In response to this week’s Photo Challenge :Anticipation

Inspiring Spire: Liberation Tower

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Kuwait’s Liberation tower against the vast blue skies.

The spire of the Liberation tower in Kuwait looks so small against the vast expanse of the Kuwaiti skies. More like a tiny needle. Tiny as it may seem compared to world’s super tall structures, at 372 m, the Liberation Tower is the world’s 38th tallest free-standing structure, by pinnacle height. It is standing proud & big symbolizing Kuwait’s liberation from Iraqi invasion.

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Kuwait’s Liberation tower

Climbing this tower is one of the significant experience I had while living in Kuwait.While up in the viewing deck of Kuwait Towers, I had feasted my eyes on the azure blue seascape of the Arabian Gulf,but not so with the Liberation Tower. Since it’s situated in the middle of the city, the views are different of course. The views above the revolving sphere is phenomenal if you really like to see Kuwait in a different angle. Kuwait has a promising Skyline though surrounded with a flat, urban dwellings. Up above, looking down at the brown desert landscape makes me think that Kuwait is indeed a tiny place,scarce with natural resources , but incredibly diverse.

Are you afraid of heights? Do you find it interesting to climb towers ?

 

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Chaos after the Hunger

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Like Fish? – A Red Snapper in sweet & sour sauce

What do you call the aftermath of a sumptuous meal?

A chaotic &  messy sight? I call it simple pleasure . Hunger satisfied. Full tummy. Everybody  ate with gusto!

Photo details : This photo was taken in of the unique Seafood restaurant in Kuwait, it’s called ‘ Fish Market’ situated along the Arabian Gulf and beside the Kuwait Towers. You can choose your type of fish, veggies & other ingredients from the open market inside the restaurant  and decide how to cook it.

It is worth the wait since it’s all fresh & unique. We choose this Red snapper to be cooked with sweet & sour sauce and indeed, it was a great meal. Chaotic & Unique.

What type of dishes could make you eat with chaotic delight?

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