When we reached Kuwait, the airport experience was not straight-forward. While Dubai had offered us visas on arrival and Oman had not even required us to have a visa, it was much more complicated here. Although we had paid 80 NZD each for our visas, we were required to purchase 3 KD stamps at the airport, and this was was a bit unsettling. But everything went as it should from that point on.
When we finally came out of the airport, we were received by my brother-in-law David Gnanasekhar (Sekhar Annan) and his wife Preeti Akka.
When we reached home, we had just enough time for a quick dinner and some catching up, of course.
Sekhar Annan drives a Ford Expedition, a 5.7 litre beast, which we have not seen in New Zealand.
Going to church for the weekly worship on a Friday morning — this was a first for Philip and me. The service at The Lighthouse Church was quite different from our Sunday Services in South City in Auckland. But we appreciated the faithful preaching. The pastor preached on a passage from 1 Corinthians 10 and endeared himself to us even more by preaching for 45 minutes. After church, we looked at the books and other items in the book store.
We observed the beauty of the city and its buildings during the drive after church.
Occasionally, we came across a building that seemed incongruent with the rest.
We went to Saravana Bhavan for lunch. Philip and I ordered thali meals and finished off with South-Indian coffee. Yum!
After lunch, we stopped for a short while at “Lulu’s” a name with which we are now familiar, as it seems to be a very popular supermarket chain in the Middle East.
The apartment that Annan and Akka stay in has been their home for 29 years! For their children, this place will have so many precious memories. I can remember the girls telling me about how they would swim in the pool below with their mum watching from the window, much like I was as I took this photo. Time flies.
That evening, Annan and Akka hosted the cell group. Annan did the study on the subject of heaven, which was followed by a lively discussion and then dinner. We have been hearing about this cell group for over a decade, and it was wonderful to be able to meet some of the group.
As it was a holiday for Annan on 19 October, being a Saturday, we were all able to go out together. Annan and Akka took us to the iconic Kuwait Towers for the breakfast buffet in the restaurant there.
As we approached the towers, we took some pictures of the buildings.
The towers themselves were beautiful.
The food was well worth the effort and money spent. I would fully recommend that visitors to the city include the buffet in their itinerary.
The views were excellent from both inside the restaurant as well as from the floors above the restaurant. A portion of the floor above the restaurant revolved.
After that, we visited what Annan and Akka call the Fish Palace.
We went to the science museum but did not stay long, as we were tired.
After a rest, Annan and Akka took us to the Al Muthanna Mall. But they were very sad and disappointed because the mall had declined and was in fact closing down. In past years, when their kids were little, they would have spent many evenings there.
On the way back home, more views and some Shawarma food takeaway.
Preeti Akka took us by taxi to Avenues Mall.
We started with the Ikea store, which I found very interesting starting from the orange juice dispenser. We bought interesting things for all the babies in our Auckland circle, born and to be born.
We then went to other shops like Max before returning home.
After Annan returned, we had a fabulous fish-fry lunch, which I forgot to photograph.
In the evening, we returned to Avenue Mall, but this time to Carrefour. We then went for a short stroll before having a quick bite at Burger King.
We then went to the cinema in the mall and saw Born a King, a historical film about King Faisal in Saudi Arabia. I am thankful to God for giving us a pleasant film to watch, and one that was well suited for watching during one’s first trip to the Middle East!
[Making a mental note to tell our roading engineer son about these porcelain markings. The plain paint ones in Auckland are often not visible when it rains. But porcelain is probably too expensive for us.]
On 21st morning Monday, Preeti Akka took us to the Lulu store. We bought some dessert bowls and few other items. We then went upstairs and bought shirts and other items to take for family in Auckland. The meat section had some notable items like camel and Indian Buffalo!
We returned home and had lunch after Annan returned home from work.
KDD Muhallabia ice cream, inspired by the Middle Eastern milk pudding, was a delight. It reminded me both of kulfies and Rooh afza. Yum!
We were also allowed to take from the more-precious-than-gold Tuticorin stash of cashew nut “macroons” on top of the fridge.
In the evening we went to the beach near the Kuwait towers. As both Annan and I had forgotten our phones, we could not take photos except with Philip’s very mediocre phone camera.
At the beach we all had chocolate bars. When finally we got back to the car, by God’s grace, I realised that I had left my handbag somewhere. It had our passports and visas, and I was relieved to see it safe on the bench where we had been sitting.
From there, because Annan and Akka wanted to show us what a Coop supermarket looked like, they took us to Shamiyah Coop. We found a good collection of Corning ware as well as Korkmaz cookware and bought some items.
On 22 October Tuesday, Preeti Akka took us to Avenues Mall again, and we spent a few hours there and realised that it was actually much larger than we had imagined. Even after spending so many hours there, we probably had seen only a fifth of it. I would not be surprised if it were the biggest mall in the Middle East.
We had a pleasant break, with kunafa and Turkish tea, in one of the streets in the mall.
Preeti Akka making some purchases at Carrefour while I watch kuboos being baked.
When the taxi dropped us back at the apartment complex, Akka bought a plate of biriyani at the Arabian restaurant downstairs. We are getting a holistic gastronomic experience indeed, and not losing out on the home-cooking front either.
After lunch and a rest, we went to a Syrian restaurant for dinner.
Usually when the Johnson family gets together they play cards and I do not join them. But now, with just the four of us, I was asked to join in a game.
23 October Wednesday, our penultimate day in Kuwait, was spent relatively restfully. After Annan returned from work, we had a lovely lunch of Preeti Akka’s aapams. These aapams were crispy along the edges and fluffy soft at the centre, and we had them with the wonderful coconut milk & sugar combination. Spoiled for choice we also had a very yummy chicken curry to go with it.
We played a game of cards and had a rest.
In the evening, we went to an old souk, Al Mubarakia souk, after parking the car in a commercial building across the road.
Posing in front of mannequins advertising head scarves.
Finally, we went to Lulu’s to buy traditional sweets to take back with us.
We had Dominos pizza for dinner.
24 October is our last day in Kuwait. Shopping is all done. We have done the last minute packing and worrying about the plumpness of our luggage. We have had a lovely homemade meal of Fish curry and rice, and soon it will be time to leave.
Emirates was very strict about weight and we had to rearrange our things properly. Then our printed ticket somehow did not have our names on it, so we needed WiFi to access our email. Almost miraculously Philip’s phone connected and he was able to provide the information. We later realised that it was because Sekhar Annan was in the vicinity with his mobile router! Although our carry-on baggage just got heavier, our two large suitcases have been checked in all the way to Auckland. What a relief!
KFC dinner at the airport food court was good.
And then it was time to say goodbye.
We are very thankful to the Lord for giving us this wonderful opportunity to see this place about which we have heard so much over the past decades.
Thank you Sekhar Annan and Preeti Akka for your hospitality and showing us around. May God bless you.
After two security checks (two!!), we are finally aboard the flight for Dubai.
Good bye Kuwait. We like you very much.