Travel Tips - Transportation
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The city is pretty small. Watch Out: If you are allergic to dust, reconsider your decision of travelling to Kuwait. Since Kuwait is plump with oil, tourism is not a big thing for the Kuwaitis. So there're less buildings and therefore lots of sand, compared to more developed GCC countries like UAE, Bahrain. There are frequent sandstorms here that could almost throw you off the road and render near zero visibility. You haven't seen it if you haven't seen...: One has to see the Kuwait towers and the Independence Towers, which opens out on Kuwait's Independence Day. It is only on this day that people are allowed up the tower. It has a revolving restaurant that moves up and down. You may need to book at least a month in advance. The Blue Kuwait towers are a magnificient sight at night. One glance at them will take your breath away. I would strongly recommend that one travels all the way to Kuwait only to see this marvel in its glory. Grub: If you're non-veg, Food is simply not a problem. Vegetarian options are farily limited. There are a few Indian restaurants, you can start at a place called the Mughal Palace and work your way from there. Must Pack: Shades and loose summer clothing. People here: The population has the highest percentage of locals that I have seen in any GCC country so far. After that you have a lot of Egyptians and Indians. Speak to me? Most people talk in Arabic. This is again due to the high presence of an Arab population. Egyptians are exceptionally good in English, so you can bank on that. Money: Kuwait is so far the only GCC country to depeg from the dollar. So dollars will work fine. You can change at the airport, but I would recommend changing at a exchange center. There a number of exchange centers run by Indians near one of the Lulu Center in the heart of the city. You can get good rates there.
As Salimiyah, Kuwait
Use taxis* for transportation. They are cheap. Do not use the bus, usually they are very dirty and take much too long to reach from point A to point B. There is no train transportation available. As a more expensive option you can rent cars. There is a huge range to rent from. N-Joy ;) * [NOT THE RED ONES - the red taxis will pick up more passengers on the way, use the normal white taxis :)]
Watch for the flicking highbeems behind you!!
In 2005 I was in Kuwait on business. (I have enclosed a photo from Kuwait taken from my hotel on the Gulf, of the beach and sunrise.) While I was there I wanted to do some touristing and did have one day for it.
I did some research on the internet before going. Kuwait is a new country, and doesn’t have much history. I decided to go out to Failaka island, which is just off the coast of Kuwait city. I wanted to go there because of the history. There was a Hellenistic city there named Ikaros. Before that, Nearkos, one of Alexander's generals, was marshaling the Greek army there for an invasion of Arabia, when Alexander died, and that put an end to the idea. Even earlier this island was part of the Dilmun culture (sometimes Tilmun). Sargon talks about them. They go back 3-5 thousand years. I knew there was a dig on the island and a museum.
I asked the hotel how to get out to the island and they acted like no one ever goes there. (The Iraqis mined the place, so you need to walk in someone else's foot prints.) Any way, there is a public ferry that leaves Kuwait at 0700, and leaves the island at 1130. (Don't miss the ferry.) When I got down to the ferry, I knew I had the right one. The name of the ferry was Ikaros, named after the city that was there 2000 years ago. The trip takes 90 minutes. So I had packed a couple of bottles of water (the high was 120 F -- 50C) and an apple, and took off.
When I got to the island, I asked some locals where the museum was, and they reacted like "There's a museum on this island?" The third person I contacted knew about the museum and said it's over there (pointing) -- you can walk to it. I thanked him and headed off in that line.
The first building that I came to was a school that the Iraqis had trashed and which had not been set right, but I looked further along and saw another building -- beyond that was the Persian Gulf, so I knew this building had to be it.
As I got closer, I could see the area around it looked like an archeological park, surrounded by a fence and barbed wire. I could see dig sites with shelters over them. Finally I got to the gate and there was a sign in English and Arabic that said this was the museum -- but it was closed for restoration. I walked up and down the fence line to see if I could find someone to let me in. No luck. There was no one in sight. That wasn’t a surprise because of the heat.
By 1000 I had eaten the apple and drunk all the water. Then I looked down at my shoe. My tennis shoe was melting. The glue had gone liquid and the sole of the shoe was separating. Then it occurred to me why the Greeks called this island Ikaros.
Ikaros and his father Dedilos were trapped on Crete. To escape the island, they made wings of wax and feathers and flew off. Ikaros flew too near the sun though, the heat melted his wax wings, and he fell to the earth. The Greeks apparently thought that this island was also too close to the sun -- and I agree.
When I got back to the hotel, I went straight to the bar and drank a liter and a half of water – for which they charged me $25. That was the best value I ever got for my money.
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