Culture shock, Camels – Kuwait

Did you know, that rejecting a second serving of traditional Arabic coffee is done by wiggling the little mug between your fingers? I did not. And I had to learn it the hard way… 6 pm local time Kuwait City, after a 10-hour journey, I decided to have a quick coffee before taking the first steps into my temporary home for the next three weeks. Since I was in the mood for something new, I chose the Arabic coffee stand.

The taste was amazing! Arabian coffee looks like milky tea and smells very spicy. When I handed back the mug, I got a refill without asking for it. To be brief: it took me three servings until I figured out how things worked.

Have you ever fed a camel? Do you know how to reject a second serving of arabic coffee? Neither did I. But I figured it out on my trip to Kuwait. I am happy to share three fantastic weeks with you!

Right after I stepped out of the airport, I entered the next adventure: traffic in Kuwait. Or better ‘how to not die in the passenger seat.’ I have never been so glad NOT to be the driver. It seems like there are absolutely NO rules for driving. One honks instead of using the breaks, one changes lanes without a signal and using a smartphone behind the wheel seems to be mandatory. Even after two weeks I still jammed my fingers deep into the seat and held on for dear life.

I spend most of the day in the photo studio I worked for during those three weeks. Being used to the typical workday of a female, European photographer – carrying heavy stuff, climbing on ladders or anything that can be used as a ladder, crawling around on all fours – I was surprised at how things work in Kuwait. The first time I wanted to carry a chair, I was told that ‘women don’t do heavy stuff around men.’ So the first few days I did the ‘easy stuff’ – decorating the sets and taking the part of the personal assistant.

After a few days, I became friends with some of the workers, and I decided to introduce them to the kind of work I usually do. When I left three weeks later, one of the workers approached me and told me ‘I have never seen a woman tiling a floor before!’ It was easy to see he was trying very hard to hide his amusement.

After work, I spend my time seeking little adventures. One of the most impressive ones was my trip to the desert. When you think about the fact that it is just a massive amount of sand, it is almost ridiculous how overwhelmed I was by the sight of it. When you are used to a much more vivid and colourful surrounding, it is fascinating to see this great, monotonous nothing. And just when I thought I could not get any better, we found the first herd of camels. They came close to us, close enough we could pet them. BEST THING EVER!! They have very soft noses and huge dark eyes. And – as it turned out shortly afterward – they have fleas.. but it was worth every single flea bite!

I also visited the Avenues Mall – which looks almost like a miniature Las Vegas – and the VIP Cinema with giant leather chairs.

Another must-see is the old markets all over the city. They are narrow, and the smell of perfumes and spices is overwhelming. You can visit the traditional gold shops and eat greasy Samosa from the old food stands.

The only thing I failed to visit wwasthe Kuwait Towers. I saw them from the outside, but the towers were closed due to construction for two months. According to the locals, those two months ended about two years ago. So if any of you are ever able to enter the Kuwait Towers, please let me know! I want to know how the only official touristic attraction of Kuwait looks like from the inside.

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