“You know a creative art when you see it. It doesn’t matter what is its form but you know the genuine talent that comes with it. One thing for sure , a masterpiece always come with hardwork..lots of it.” [ Personal Quote ]
I found a gem in Kuwait which i wanna share with you. It’s called the “House of Mirrors”. It is a MUST-SEE for someone who’s in K-town or a visiting tourist. Meeting the Artist itself is a thrilling experience.
Up Close & Personal : Meet the Artist
Lidia Al-Qattan is one of a kind. Like a rose in a desert. She is an Artist , Sculpture , Painter , Jewelry -Maker , Writer & Author , Baker , An Art Enthusiast , and a Mother. She makes the most amazing orange/honey/ginger /cinnamon juice mix to die for . Until now i couldn’t forget the scent , taste & warmth as she opened the glass-adorned doors that allows us to enter her world. She is full of energy and very enthusiastic vibe. You wouldn’t even believe that she’s in her 70’s already. She is a great Host.
Ms.Lidia Al Qattan is an Italian living in Kuwait and widowed since 2003. She’s warm , Lovely ,talented , Outspoken & wonderful person. As soon as she opened the doors of her house , you will be transported into a different realm , into a world of magical House of Mirrors. A myriad of beautifully designed house of small pieces of broken glass panels. Her house and her work is an opt of physical metaphor of her own life and her new found home , Kuwait.
Bad things that turned into something Great
Because of the attack of Termites in her house in Qadsiya, Lidia transformed her house into a Mirror House. ALL BY HERSELF . She showed us her photos in overalls , doing the work. At first it was to repair an ugly scribbling on the wall made by her daughter. She repaired it by covering it with broken pieces of glass panels .But soon termites infest through the walls. It started in her living room , then off to another until the whole household was transformed. She sticked small panels of mirror forming a creative patch over the walls. She incorporate a unique mosaic ,inscriptions and patterns to her work .
Creating with a Vision
Lidia creates with a vision in her mind. Using glass & its reflective properties , she created a reflection of what is close to her heart. She is passionate about what she do. Every patchwork has a story , a significance , a theme , a symbolic image of her life and her interests . The walls are adorned with intricate Arabic writings . She have made one room with Astronomical images and being in that room is so dreamy that I could stay there for hours.In the bathroom is another amazing experience .I did not go there to pee , i just stared at the beauty of it for quite sometime.
Diversity at Large
As she ushered us from one room to another ,we are brought into somewhat different dimension. This house is full of insane creativity , uniqueness & wisdom . She has one room full of her artwork as a painter . She has a gallery of her finest paintings and craft things. In another room is an interactive room she called “Art Theraphy “. I remember the magical chants she played in the “Nucleus of the Galaxy ” and the surreal feeling of the whole experience while we watch the lights images shown in the ceiling. It was awesome.
There’s so much more to say about this lady but my words will not do her justice because she is just a legend & i consider her one of the greatest artist I have ever met in my life. If you want to visit the House of Mirrors , you need to set up an appointment first .
Travel Tips !
Try to go with a bunch of friends to ‘House of Mirrors’ since it’s an experience that should be shared. The more the merrier .There is a small fee for this tour ,It costs 3 KD on weekends and 2 KD per person on weekdays.There is a fine gallery of Mrs. Lidia art on sale, and those who are impressed by her work are free to make a purchase, towards the end of the tour.Try to be game & join her game for you might win one of her beautiful crafts.
I love everything about this place. I highly recommend it !
“You’ve got to see this!” This is what this post all about.If you are thinking of going to Germany & wants a place to have some serious adventure, or maybe a planned escape with friends ,with serene, and yet fulfilling experience away from the hustling city life vibe , then Moselle is the perfect trip for you. Germany is not only famous for its Oktoberfest and castles, It is also renowned for its lovely river Landscape Nature. For my daughter’s first international trip , we brought her here. Who says you can’t have fun with a baby ? Here’s why ,Moselle wine region ranked # 34 for Top Places to go in 2016 .From my personal experience, This should be in your Bucket list.
The Views are simply Breathtaking
Nature at its best. The River landscape of the Moselle is seen as one of the most varied in the whole of central Europe. There is a folk legend that says that the Devil once visited the area with a large sack which He gradually emptied, thus forming the many different castles and fortresses along the area. The Moselle is the largest left-handed tributary of the Rhine River with a length of 544 km. It stretched from West to Northwest in large loops. Below Trier,the most beautiful landscape of Moselle begins. Its bank s are covered with vineyards , quaint houses,small romantic wine growing communities and medieval looking fortress towns.The Mediterranean flair is inescapable.
Hop on a bike , or just spend lazy times walking is the best way to make the most of your Moselle journey.The streets are stroller friendly. You can let your baby nap beside the banks of the river while you admire the calm beauty of the Moselle or simply,feed the ducks.My daughter took a nap during our hike up to the Landshut castle and while enjoying the view above. How many babies napping with a castle view and surrounded with vineyards? You need to make memories in your journey.
Architecture that surround the whole region
There’s so much detail in every structure that I see. One example is the Lieser castle.It was built in the previous century by the Baron of Schlorlemer in a middle of a feudal park.Nowadays this building serves as a luxury hotel.As you step out of it,20 meters away and you can gaze at the banks of the River Moselle.We had a morning walk here,and although the weather is slightly gray, it was worth the stop.
Just Let loose and be charmed in the Market Squares.
Its like being transported into a frenzy Jumanji . History come alive.Everywhere you look, creative pubs,quaint little shops,of beautiful Half-Timbered houses,fountains and Hauptmarkt (Main Market ) makes the city a fascinating metropolis.You can admire the unique,ancient historical monuments that were of significant testament to the importance of this time. Some fountains were adorned with small ogres and mischievous monkeys.My daughter loved the play area near Saint George’s fountain. Children flocked to the area with flowing waters which they could play, stomp their little feet and running around and just shrieking with delight, while their parents are munching on warm pretzels and people watching.
The best glass of Wine
You can always enjoy a good glass of Beer in Germany, but in Moselle, you simply need to try the Riesling wine ! Even if you are not a Wine Enthusiast like me, you will surely love their wine.We have stayed in an apartment which has their own Weingut and from the moment we arrived, we have sampled their wine. It was really good.There’s no better way to enjoy it than just sitting back in the balcony & enjoying the view. Prost!
Don’t forget to try the local food.We love the restaurant along the banks of Moselle in Bernkastel Kues,The Hotel & Restaurant Cafe Rosi.It has a Beer Garden,River Banks, and a Hotel.Imagine feeding your gastronomy delight with a view of the Landshut Castle and feeling the typical air of the region.Well, in Germany,enjoying Eis ( ice cream ) is a typical sight and of course we tried it.But unfortunately I am not so fond of Ice cream with liquor.It tasted too strong for me that the chocolate flavor was overpowered by the liquor.If you have a thing on this,they probably you would enjoy their Eis.
I am already looking forward to go back and explore the other parts of Moselle.There’s so much more to see and explore. All in all,it was a great trip! and of course ,we brought home some fine wine !
For my first post on f Architecture and Beyond, I would like to share with you my personal Glimpse on MuslimRich Islamic Culturethrough the wonderful experience of having my first ever Mosque visit.
Since I was living in a Islamic country where Masjid (or Mosque ) are a common sight, I thought of exploring this in a very conventional way. Everyday I hear the prayer calls,and eventually I got used to it. I was curious at the same time in awe of the culture behind this structure.
It was one fine Saturday morning when I decided to join the Tour and Lecture hosted by Aware Centerfor the Grand Mosque in Kuwait, the locals refers to it as the Masjid Al Kabeer. As a Non-Muslim Expat ,I am always curious and fascinated of the vivid Islamic culture. I have high respect on its teachings and my interest in Architecture and beautiful structures always lead me to amazing discoveries such as this.
A Kuwaiti Symbol of Islamic Heritage
Kuwait Grand Mosque is strategically located overlooking the Arabian Gulf and opposite the magnificent Seif Palaceor the Government Head Quarters. This striking structure is world -renowned Islamic landmark in Kuwait. Almost every year, Kuwait is visited by dignitaries,tourists & students from all over the world . But discovering inside is quite an experience that leaves me breathless. As we all know that Mosques are religious establishment and although it is open for public praying purposes, exploring it in detail requires an appointment & a guide. During the month of Ramadan, The Grand Mosque is attended with approx. 180,000 worshippers.With its courtyards alone, it can accomodate 60,000 worshippers. It is the main host for congregational & annual Eid Prayers as well as various religious ceremonies. The 5 daily prayers are usually held in the Annex Hall that hold 500 worshippers. It has a special Prayer hall for Women with a separate ground floor entrance on the southern side that can hold 1000 worshippers.
The Architecture & Beyond
The design of the Grand Mosque is according to the traditional Islamic Architecture with hints of Kuwaiti & GCC influences. It has the Islamic touch that is in harmony with Kuwait’s pride of architectural distinct features.The combination of modern construction techniques, fully patterned Islamic ornamentation and Arabic calligraphy is imminent on both exterior & interiors of the whole structure.The main structure ,foundations,intricate columns,majestic ceiling & Minaret were built using fortified concrete.As you gaze through the outer courtyards,you will see that the outer walls were coated by natural rocks,while inner ones coated with mixture of marble ,Morrocan gypsum,and other magnificent colorful ceramics.It was so beautiful .The main courtyard on the eastern side of the grand Mosque includes water closets & ablution areas. It has Three Prayer halls and the Grand Mosque has 21 Doors made of Indian hand-carved Teak wood.
The Dome and its ethereal Beauty
This is the nucleus of the Grand Mosque’s design. I was staring at this beauty for long time that leaves me open-mouthed because it was so beautiful. It was so intricate, almost ethereal. Aesthetically, the huge dome was decorated with attributes of Allah in a hand-carved Mosaic. It includes 144 windows to provide natural light.
The Grand Mosque has a special building for Administration,and a 350 sq/mts Library that includes hundreds of Islamic books and references to be used for special researches while doing their research and writings. It has an underground parking that can hold up to 500 vehicles. There is a special entrance and Hall to receive His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and other dignitaries.I was thrilled to see this hall. I gazed,touched and was mesmerized by the beautiful ceramics,intricate Moroccan gypsum geometric wall carvings .There is an enormous chandelier that adorns the Hall.The highlight in this Hall is the replica of the first original Quran traced back to the 7th century A.D.The Amiri Hall was awesome.
Travel Tip :
If you want to have a rewarding experience like this, I highly recommend to check out Aware Center. They can take you into a wonderful experience as they did to me. They hold their personal guided tours for the Grand Mosque which includes Lectures on Islamic Culture, Islam & Historical significance. You can sign up and enjoy a wonderful morning.Children & Non-Muslims expats are welcome. Please be reminded that women should be dressed modestly on this visit. You will be asked to wear an Abaya & cover your head before entering the Mosque.They have a very cozy Diwaniya Hall to receive the guests and welcomed with refreshments, brochures and souvenirs.
If you are in Kuwait, you can check out the Aware Center’s official website to view their schedule of events, normally they hold Grand Mosque Tour every 2nd Saturday of the month. Their representative, Ms. Iman Martin is very knowledgeable and such a great guide.
Have you ever been inside a Mosque as a Non-Muslim? How was your experience?
If you like this post, then you might want to check out my other post on Exploring the Kuwaiti heritage sites in the Kuwait category. Feel free to browse and learn more about fascinating things you can only find in Kuwait.
This is not a romantic love story post, Nope, On serious note , I found myself to be lucky to find & marry a wonderful Dutch guy, & here I share with you my impressions and things I found to be special and so typically Dutch .
When you are in an interracial marriage, habits and your partner’s interests are the top things you notice. Either it’s totally crazy, out of this world , weird, or annoying but then it shows a lot of their personality.
Tell you frankly, I haven’t got any clue about anything Dutch. We were completely from different cultures. I wouldn’t ever know that Hagelslag ( or Sprinkles) could taste so good on toast after I met my ex-boyfriend , now my husband who is Dutch. Hagelslag is chocolate sprinkles that Dutch spread on their toast.It’s quite a moment to watch how they do it. It’s like a magic routine every time we seat together during breakfast .They spread it on a plain bread with butter or margarine. Their love for Hagelslag can never be taken away from them wherever they are right now. We were living in Kuwait but we have Hagelslag during breakfast, And Yes, I gave my In-Laws a big Thank you for bringing it over here during their visits. It’s totally a Dutch thing. This is a staple on every household and kids form some sort of attachment to it because they love it until they become adults. So Yes, I became a convert on this one and I’m sure my daughter will love it too.
When we had our daughter , we had Beschuit met Muisjes. It’s a tradition in the Netherlands once a baby is born. It’s a crispy biscuit with sugar-coated Anise seeds shared with guests. They come in pink & white for girls & blue & white for boys .I love the uniqueness & everything about it. We never have something like this in Philippines or even in Kuwait.
Who loves potatoes the most?
Dutch people are top-notch on this one. They adore potatoes. It’s like rice for Filipinos. They mashed it, fry it, steam, boiled ,baked it but their favorite is the Patat Friet. Patat Friet is a well-known snack , they are usually served in a paper cone, topped with mayonnaise. Different types of toppings are usually available including knoflook (garlic) sauce, tomato ketchup , frietsaus (a less fattier version of mayo) or the peanut sauce. My husband enjoys this on all occasions.
Dutch people have a serious love affair with their bikes (Fietsen) before they were even engaged or got married. Sounds crazy right? but really, I was dumbfounded when i saw how many bicycles in The Netherlands , let alone Amsterdam itself. It’s HUMONGOUS!
The bicycle culture makes Dutch people stand out. I mean,they don’t just bike to kill time, their lives revolves through it. They have one of the best Public transport system and yet people opt to cycle as their #1 preference of transport.You see mothers with their 3 kids on it with their famous Bakfiets (or cargo bikes) plus bags of groceries, cycling to work, exploring the countryside riding their bikes , and many tourists discover Amsterdam and all through out Holland by bikes. The Netherlands is the most-Bicycle friendly country with about 17 million in population and 20 million bikes! Picture that !
An average Dutch rides his bike 2.5km per day. I have cycled with my husband for 25km in one day and it was great. Another thing that I find so interesting is that they have a very active lifestyle with it. I have seen even older people riding their bikes. A typical household owns 3 bikes and children learn to cycle at an early age. I find it really inspiring when I see my in-Laws (already in their 70’s) riding their bikes together for errands or so.
In Netherlands, multi-level parking areas for bicycles is normal sight. It is Huuuggeee. You can see tons of bikes parked in the train station and its amazing how people find their bikes with ease.
My husband loves to makes Lists , schedules and has the most organized Calendar. He really does it especially during grocery shopping. Dutch people are really living by the Diary. Birthdays and other important occasions are carefully noted in their calendars. They even have a Birthday calendar.
YES! you read that right, a calendar for Birthdays. They normally hung it in their guest bathroom. It’s totally Dutch thing. Imagine that you are a guest and while you do your business in the loo, you can be amused by the thoughts and sometimes it even comes with photos in it. Sure thing, they have no excuse to forget birthdays !
One important character of Dutch people is punctuality. This is as per my observation from them. They are also very straightforward and direct. They don’t beat around the bush.Some may even misinterpret this as rudeness,but actually, they are just so direct in speaking their opinions.
Have you heard about Papadag? Dutch men are very involved on parenting. I love the fact that my husband has high standards for family time. Dutch people have high priority on family and quality time spent with it is important more than any leisure activities. In Netherlands, fathers have a certain half-day off during the week to take care of the kids. Isn’t is amazing? In an interracial marriage, it’s very important to have compatible values, especially on family. I’m so happy that my daughter has the privilege of being raised with Dutch values to ensure overall well-being as a child. The Netherlands holds the spot of only country ranked among the top five countries in all dimensions of child well-being . You can see the full report Here. It is very heartwarming that Dutch kids stands as the happiest kids on the world. They have wonderful childhoods.
Prior to the negative implication of the term “Going Dutch “,which is economical,thrifty Dutch way of thinking, I don’t see my husband as cheap, being prudent is not bad, He spends money wisely. Dutch people are very helpful & charitable and this is regarded as great national value. The Netherlands ranked #14 in Top 23 Richest countries around the world based on GDP per capita and its amazing how Dutch people are so involved in helping others, either national and international, who lag behind economically. There is a general kind of sense that “everyone should have the same”; equality in the economic sense is almost a value. During the typhoon Haiyan tragedy in The Philippines, Netherlands donated EUR 36 million as aid to the victims.My parents-in laws are living example, they have been helping a poor Polish family .
Lastly , with Dutch , there is always a feeling of Gezelligheid . Don’t ask me to define this in literal meaning because I can’t. Just picture this : Lovely ,beautiful gardens on each houses, with curtain-less wide windows adorned with most simple ornaments that looks directly to sidewalks , people having picnics & strolls in the park, Saturday morning frenzy at the city centre ‘s wet market,gobbling on delicious Dutch treatssuch as Stroopwafels , those tiny houseboats along the canals in Amsterdam , people walking and talking about the weather , sitting in benches reading the news , and so on. There is total way of cozy conviviality around.
A fun, comfortable way of everything. For foreigners,it could be perceived as slacking off, but really, they just enjoy and take life in a normal way.
I was grabbed at first sight on the experience of all of these. There is this unfamiliar taste that surrounds everywhere. No wonder tourists come back after visits to the Netherlands. They are really more than the windmills,tulips & clogs. There is so much more to learn and to explore with their culture. I have come to embrace Dutch culture, not only because I married one, but because of Dutch’s unique approach in everything . But I excuse myself on liking the Drop & Haring!
At the end of my day, I still groaned and remind myself, “Oh God,my Husband is Dutch !”
Have you’ve had any encounter with Dutch people? or the Netherlands ?Do you have any fascinating impressions about them?
Please feel free to share your views . I would love to hear it.
Thank you for stopping by & reading this…and Doei!
I have never imagined in my whole life that I will get married, get pregnant and gave birth to my daughter in Kuwait— a small oil rich country yet place for mirage diversity. Looking back at our Expat days spent there brought both smiles and fond memories. Kuwait will always be a special place close to our hearts.
Here I wanna share with you 10 Surprising Things About Parenthood inKuwait that I personally experienced. The content of this post is based from my personal encounters as an Expat living in Kuwait for almost 8 years. Being in Kuwait for work is totally different when you have a family and a young child.
Disclaimer : This post does not promote anything for the purpose of advertisement or whatsoever. My views pointed out here are personal & may not be the same as the other Expats living here or Kuwaitis itself.
Pregnancy and Childcare in Kuwait is totally different from the culture that I was raised with. The reality bites of giving birth to my daughter there while working as an OFW with no relatives around to get support really opened my eyes on how is it to become an Expat Mama. You need to be tough.
The choice for private or public hospital in Kuwait for Prenatal care during Pregnancy & giving birth depends on your personal choices, quality of medical services & of course, the cost. There are plenty of private hospitals around and in every area in Kuwait has Public Hospital. You can go there with a very minimal fee (1KD /stamp ) depending where you are registered as a resident. I am 37 yrs old when I got pregnant with Natalie and has a high risk condition from which I found out on the later part of my pregnancy. I opt for a private one during my Prenatal care, I find it really expensive and yet It was also very comprehensive & helpful for a First-time Mother like me.
There’s no Midwife/ Home Birthing here, Doulas are not a common norm .You can only give birth in hospitals since Kuwait is a Muslim country and has strict laws about getting pregnant outside marriage. You cannot be admitted in hospital if you cannot present a Marriage certificate .If you are not married & got pregnant by chance , then at the hospital you will report you to authorities right on the spot. You will end up in jail and face punishment. Unlike in the Philippines or in Holland, formalities in admission to hospital such as this is not much of an issue . Take note also that there is a strict rule that your spouse cannot see you once you were admitted. Yes, ALONE. Only you and your baby in your utero all throughout the labor to birth phase.
Your Husband can call the hospital to check on your status. It was quite an experience being alone and not having your spouse there on your side. I felt so afraid, at the same time excited. While in the private ones , your spouse has the chance to be with you all the way .
2. On Unbelievable cost of Childbirth.
For Mamas out there, how much does it cost you on the birth of your child? Mine’s only 13 KD!
You can call this cheap but this is impeccably practical. You can invest your money on diapers & childcare later !
I gave birth to my daughter in Kuwait through C-section which only costs us of around 13 KD ( or around 43 USD). YES! Unbelievable right? Only this amount. Considering all the medications I had during the induction of labor this amount is really insane! If i did it in a private hospital , my doctor told me it could come around as 850-1500 KD, maybe more. Giving birth thru C-section in Philippines is so costly that is why Natural birth is still encouraged. Such big difference. In Holland, you need to push and push harder in giving birth at home since natural birth is much preferred unless you need medical intervention.
I had complications giving birth and my daughter is in Transverse position. I was induced for labor for almost 3 days but unfortunately did not progress . But then on the last-minute that both me & my baby was stressed ,her heartbeat dropped & I was rushed to O.R for emergency C-section. I was really amazed how fully equipped and good the government Maternity Hospital here. I have rumors before that it could be a daunting experience ,but as far as my experience , I couldn’t complain for anything . Yeah maybe the pain.
Everything about the induction process is bloody painful. My whole body cried out for so much Pitocin and all those other stuff. It’s just too overwhelmingly painful.
The whole experience has taught me how to be tough ,to listen to my body . The Doctors and staff are knowledgeable, helpful and professional enough in taking care of me. I was lucky enough that the staff assigned to me were really kind, & helpful . I’m glad there were Filipina nurses who attended to me immediately. My daughter was admitted to the Special care unit after she was born and I am very glad how they took care of her. She had a medical care from the Neonatal unit up until 1-year-old to track her progress. By the way, It’s totally free!
My postnatal medical care were also covered in this hospital. You only pay a very minimal fee for the prescriptions and medications provided. I was really impressed and happy.
3.On Baby-Friendly facilities and the LACK of it in Kuwait
Breastfeeding is highly commended by all Hospitals from birth of a child. But Breastfeeding in public is considered offensive. There are only limited areas which has a facility for Breastfeeding mothers and changing rooms. In some large Malls and restaurants, there are abundant changing rooms as well as accessibility to it. Some shops doesn’t even have ramps, totally not Stroller-friendly. Since I had a child, I become aware of this and always opt for a Baby-Friendly facilities such as High chairs, changing tables and play areas . I wear my daughter from 4 months until she was 12 months or so. When she got so heavy then I gave up the sling , besides she likes to walk now ! I couldn’t imagine how I go on without it, It was really amazing.Wearing her on a sling causes lots of stares from many people here , i received many comments about it but I ignore it. It’s not a norm here, but you as the parent should make the right choices for the best of your child & yourself. It’s very rare for Kuwaiti women to wear their child,mainly because most of them has nanny to take care of their little ones.
4. On Harsh Weather Worries , Kuwait is a Sandstorm country.
As an Expat , I am constantly worrying about the weather. If you have read my post – Only In Kuwait , where I noted that the sky turns to different colors within 3 hours .This is a place where sandstorms, dust, & heat & harsh winds is prevalent. During Summer, I was on my wits end on how to deal with the heat and humidity. You can’t take out your child for a stroll if it is 50 deg outside and completely dusty . We often take her out early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Sandstorms in Kuwait is another shock that I need to get used to. The sky suddenly turns dark gray and totally hazy because of dust. I had the experience that it totally turns into orange into black . It was a sight! You need to take care when this happens because its unhealthy for you & your child plus it could last for days.
5.On Childcare and Hired Help for Families
A typical Kuwaiti family with 3 children or more has 2 Housemaids ,1 driver and maybe 1 Nanny to focus mainly with the baby. It’s very common to have a hired help to take care of your child. Most children grew up with a Nanny. For Expat parents who are both working full-time , they can put their child on Nursery & Daycare center depending on their choice. Oftentimes, you see a full entourage of babies with their uniformed Nannies in the mall while their Mothers are busy shopping and bumming their asses in the mall drinking coffee or in the salon maybe. Most of the time, if you go on a playgroups, It’s depressing to see only maids with the little ones.
I find it so important to have a network of friends and mothers who have children same age as your child to survive ,especially on hot summers. I am grateful for friends to visit and arrange play dates with my daughter. It is a lifesaver!
6.On lack of Discipline & Public Child Tantrums
I don’t know why but here I often see many child throwing tantrums in Public. In malls, parks , supermarkets, and restaurants.I find it sad to see some children throwing garbage out from their cars, or on the ground as they please. I don’t see much politeness either. Little children seldom say Please or Thank you to waiters or strangers.This is on my personal encounters. But I am always glad whenever I see kids showing good character in public. I remembered that all Filipino children were taught to say “Po” and the Mano po tradition with the ones older than them. This is far by non-existent here.
7.On Easy Access to Beachfront , the beach can be your playground.
Having an access to the beach within 5 minutes from your home is really a treat . I feel lucky that as I open our bedroom window, we have a direct view of the Arabian gulf. This really gives us an opportunity to take our daughter for a spin in her stroller, on having lazy morning walks during weekends and playing in the sand. Kuwait doesn’t have much of beautiful nature to boast, so living near the beach is good if you have kids. I mean it’s healthy . Green lawns are scarce and looking for a convenient playground with lots of greens is like searching for pearls.There are various playgrounds & indoor play areas, you just need to have patience to find them. In every local area,there is a playground so it’s quite easy. But don’t expect much of it.
8.On family Outings during Fridays
Friday is the rest day for all of Kuwait. This is the Ruhetag version of Germany’s Sunday ‘s quiet day. It’s so heartwarming to see the whole family prepping early for a beach trip, picnic in the park or camp in the desert. Kids flocked to playgrounds, during hot summers they mostly stay indoors or spend a day in the Mall. Here, both parents are so involved. I oftentimes saw fathers playing with their kids and totally hands-on. Kuwait boasts of their big Malls. The Avenues is an example of a great family destination especially when its hot outside. It is designed to become a one stop destination for the whole family. It has an astounding beautiful Play areas for kids while you get busy shopping or meeting friends. It has the amazingKidzania, the Magic planet with its minimalist design, Baroue, & Color Me Mine are among others to keep your child entertained and parents as well. It’s a great place to just relax and bond with your family.
9.On Disturbed bedtime
How crazy it is to see a baby out in the park until midnight? You see children playing in the beachfront at night. Only in here that I see kids riding their bikes in the dark, toddlers playing in the sand until 2 am in the morning enjoying a family midnight picnic. During Ramadan , people spend so much time outside at night. I grew up having our bed times set at 8 pm , except on weekends that we are allowed to watch TV and stay up late. In Kuwait, going out with your kids at 9 pm is normal. I stick to my routine with my daughter to put her to bed on time and especially not to disturb her nap times.
10. On Safety Issues for Children
In Kuwait , I find it relatively safe & crime rate is at par, but as parents we can’t compromise their safety . While in Europe that you can let loose your child in the streets and go home from school by themselves, here its a totally different story. It is not safe to leave your child to play in the streets alone , especially if you live near a highway. There are no sidewalks or safe path walks and cars are speeding up even on residential areas. Besides , There is the garbage problem that you don’t want your child to expose . There is a school just 5 minutes away from our building, it doesn’t even have a pedestrian zone.
As an Expat Mama, I have learned that no matter where you are, Parenthood is a distinct journey to self-discovery. You get to know more of yourself as you go through with it. Becoming a parent is a privilege, and not a right. It is a wonderful blessing. Indeed consider yourself blessed if you have a child on your lap and if you have been on the journey of raising them. If there’s one thing that I learned as I go on this journey of Motherhood, it’s this :
‘You get two big windows of opportunity in your life to do stuff like build castles, play in the dirt, lick pebbles, & just play ; The first is when you are a Child, the second is when you have ONE. ‘
Don’t get too wrapped up to missed it.
Are you an Expat Mama? How is Parenting done in your country or in the place you live at the moment? How are you coping so far ?
Do you find any surprising things about Parenthood? I would love to hear your own story.
I came to Kuwait in May 2008 totally ignorant about this country. Yes,i know about Saddam’s invasion but i haven’t got any clue what to expect from this country. You see, sometimes, when you make big changes in your life, it’s so spontaneous that you embrace it enough to get it through your skin overnight. Now, for almost 8 years of living and working in this small, yet oil-rich country, Kuwait has been close to my heart. My second home. I have embraced the Kuwaiti way of life, Muslim culture, the real heat during Summers , the fierce Sandstorms, the Authentic brightness of the sun, and the parenthood in this culture.
I’m telling you, Kuwait is not your typical tourist destination .If i were a tourist, i would never put Kuwait in my Bucket List. Why? No nightlife, No public partying, no alcohol, not much “Green Nature “ to see here, (yeah there is Desert), No Pork! Public Transportation is bad, besides,who would want to go out in the scorching heat? Kuwait is totally dormant especially during Ramadan. It doesn’t have an appealing profile in Wikipedia, or in Tripadvisor. But still, there are approximately 2.4 Million expats living here.People are attracted to go to Kuwait mainly to earn money. People go here to work, and this is from my own perspective.
Now from the moment you step out of the plane and out from the Airport, you inhaled Kuwait. The air you breathe in is different. The heat & humidity is quite a shock to most foreigners .The heat is real. It could stung your skin. If you come here during the months of May to August,then you might really praise the invention of Airconditioning.You cannot survive here without an AC. When people complained to me that they have hot temperatures, i shrug & always said,“Do you know how it feels to have 50 deg temps?“Getting used to the heat is one of the hurdles you need to overcome. A good pair of Sunglasses is also a must-have. Never ever come here during Summer!!
As we all know, Kuwait is an Islamic country. Arabic is the main language spoken although English is widely understood by Kuwaitis .Paperworks in Ministries are all in Arabic so it’s a nerve-wrenching experience to deal with them if you don’t understand it.Prayertimes are widely observed.Every place has it’s own Mosque (Masjid).I have seen cars parked in the middle of the highway, just because the driver needs to pray.I have seen my colleagues pray together, inside the mall,in the park, even in the island of a Roundabout.
In Europe, where in it is pedestrian-friendly, the car stops to give way to the pedestrians .In Kuwait, the cars and its drivers rules !Maniac drivers are the King of the Road most especially in the major highways. I saw men driving with kids in the driver’s seat,no seatbelts,annoyingly feet up on the dashboard,mobile phones are stucked on their cheeks!People are even driving on New Year’s Eve. I often wonder what in the world they are doing spending all their time driving around. Social status is also depends on the car that you drive. Swerving and cutting lanes is common and mostly causes accidents. Driving in Kuwait is not for the faint-hearted. Autobahn in Germany has no speed limit, yet the percentage of road accidents is lower compared to Kuwait who has speed limits set, yet has a high road-accident rate .Kuwait has broken the world record of number of traffic deaths.Not really the kind of record to be proud of.
I don’t know why but only in Kuwait that Men stared a LOT.I mean, its really crazy and uncomfortable the way people stares. I would believed that you could get so much attention if you are a Celebrity or a supermodel walking along the street and wearing flashy outfit! Don’t forget that Kuwait is a Muslim country and although Non-Muslim women here are not required to wear the Abaya, they are expected to dressed conservatively. I noticed that Kuwaiti women are fashion & beauty-conscious. They love the glamour & glittery lifestyle. Their wardrobe are always trendy and up to date with fashion . Of course, they have money to splurge on make up , clothes & everything. There’s never too expensive for them. You can always see fashionable women totally made-up even on a very laid back environment just like grocery shopping. International brands flocked in Kuwait’s top malls like The Avenues. From designer shoes to bags, they wear it even going to supermarkets. It’s no wonder also that Kuwaiti women are one of the top users of make up.I mean,they really wear it.Loads of it.Everyday.The number of salons both for men & women are more than the number of gasoline stations.
Luxury shops in Prestige of The Avenues
Shopping Haven in Kuwait
For most expats working here, An attractive salary offer without any taxes is the top reason to stay. Utilities are minimal. But the high cost of housing is getting higher due to rise in Expat population.If you are working from a private sector then you have benefits like Free Healthcare, Accommodation ,Transportation and Annual vacation leaves with Airfare .But sad to say that most disturbing inhuman acts of molestation and abuse for domestic workers are also coming from here.It breaks my heart to hear many stories of ‘Kabayans’ who are victims of injustice .I have high respect for these women who really work hard just to provide for their families. In Kuwait , modern slavery is prevalent.
When i was new here, “Diwaniya”caught my attention. It’s totally Kuwaiti. Every Kuwaiti household have a Diwaniya area,mainly a hall or Annex from their reception area for the purpose of meeting & gathering with male friends,colleagues and guests. This tradition is traced back since immemorial. The men usually dressed in their Dishdashas discussing various topics while relaxing,casual smoking,drinking tea,Arabic coffee & Sheesha, nibbling sweets or dates .I find it cozy with their beautiful soft cushions.
As an Expat , I could RANT a lot more about bad things about Kuwait, But then I would be a hypocrite to say that these things are absent in Philippines, in The Netherlands or even in the US.Every country has its own issues. Maybe the extremities are different but injustice & social problems are prevalent anywhere.There is no such thing as perfect place. As an expat, I have learned to accept this country, with its flaws and everything, After all,it is my own freewill to be here. It doesn’t mean that I approve of the rudeness, Hypocrisy, Wasta System, Modern Slavery and Racism but Generalization is complete ignorance.
I have read lots of hate blogs about Kuwait. It’s like spitting it out as a vomit. So many hate and disgust in their words. Kuwait have wounded their hearts. People have the right to voice out their own opinions and some have low tolerance of anything that pisses them off. It may not work for you, but it doesn’t mean that it couldn’t work for others. I have known kind and decent Kuwaitis so in the end, I tried to keep an open mind and looked on the positive side ;
KUWAIT –A country with distinct heritage.Has a stable currency and one of the richest country as per Capita terms. Kuwaitis are more liberal and westernized compared to other Arab countries.Their government is progressive.Yes,their lifestyle is grand,and spend like crazy ,living in big villas & mansions, but they have the money to spend. They can afford the luxurious life.They have Oil and the State owns it.They are endowed.When a Kuwaiti marries,the government gave money .Education is free.NO TAXES!Gas prices as 70 fils (around 0.25 USD) per liter.Expats bring their families here and settled.One way or another,they know that life is better here compared to their home country.Or else they would have left already.
Arabian Gulf on a clear,sunny day.
Symbolic structure along Arabian Gulf
Beautiful skyline viewed from Green Island
For those expats in Kuwait, they have a reason to still stay here. For those who have left already, they’ve had also a reason to go away.
I hope i have given you an idea what to expect as an expat in Kuwait. But how about you, How is your experience as an Expat ? If you like this post, please feel free to hit the like button below & share it. I would also love to hear your comments below.
The moment you knew that you’re going to have a trip with your Little one , you’re all smiles & looking forward to spending great moments with her. But all journey starts from packing your baggage. Packing for your Baby Travel bag can be tricky. Depending on your destination , choosing the things to stuff your Baby bag should be carefully done . For newbie Mamas like me , I was really excited to pack my daughter’s things for our first trip to Europe together. Let me share with you the essential things to pack for your child’s first trip. Here it is ;
MY ULTIMATE BABY HANDCARRY-TRAVEL BAG LIST
Baby’s Formula and Extra Bottles .
Diapers.Loads of it.Depending on type & availability in your destination.
Hygenic Wipes.And more wipes.
Baby Food or Cereals (2-3 bottles or pouches )
Set of clothes (at least 2 onesies with long sleeves,pyjama,jacket,socks,Hats,plus clothes for her once you arrived )
Small blanket (Could be used as a shield in the Bassinet & stroller)
Favorite Toys,Books and Lovey if your child has one.
Important Medications,including pocket Thermometer,medical prescriptions included.
Pacifier with sling if your child uses one.(Take Extra just in case!)
Baby Carrier or Sling.
Snacks for your Baby like crackers,biscuits or any of her favorite food.
Shoes or Sandals for your child.
Sippy cups.(Extra sippy cup with water or her favorite drink )
Travel Crib/Cot/Stroller if you wish to bring one.
Your iPad with her favorite nursery rhymes or songs.
I used to travel so light ,but when I had my daughter , it’s totally different . Having her own stuff in a separate luggage especially the bulky ones could totally keep up your sanity . Depending on the length of your travel and destination then you can gauge how much you bring for your child , but starting with the basics are always a good start .
Babies are different from one another , so what works for me may not always work for you , but it always saves the day when we took extra care about the needs of our Little One. I am so glad that I have brought enough diaper s, milk & our own Baby food because although Emirates gave us baby food , i found out that my daughter doesn’t like to eat it. I brought a small can of formula with complete packaging to saves time in Customs check .The medical prescriptions were placed in ziploc bags,these made easy during our Customs check at AMS where they asked you to take out the medications from the bag.
Make sure you have extra ziploc bags kept on side pockets to put on soiled clothings & dirty stuff. I recommend to invest in a good , durable bag with lots of space to fill up, with a wide straps for not to hurt your shoulders when you carry it and could withstand quick movements especially during x-ray scans in Airport.
I have flown with Emirates before and the new experience of flying with my Baby with them did not dissappoint me. With the A380 plane ,my daughter was mesmerized to see her favorite movie in ICE. It’s really a great feature to help entertain toddlers while on board. They are one Baby-Friendly airline and i was happy with the Bassinet, Changing tables and Baby stuff & Assistance they have provided to me during our Flight. It was an enjoyable flight.
How was your first trip with your baby? what’s in your Travel Baby bag?
Hope this helps, Enjoy the trip, Have fun & Safe Travels!
I have never imagined in my whole life that I will be that woman in a plane travelling with a baby. During flights , i never took notice of it , I just brushed it off , ignored it , especially when i saw that there’s a screaming baby on board .When you are single , you never really care about Kids and stuff.But when you have a child of your own , it is an eye opener , an overwhelming experience.
This becomes a surprising truth to me when I realized that I would be spending almost 10 hours flight with my 11 month old daughter from Kuwait to Amsterdam.Yes,for the first time flight with a baby!The truth is,it scares me.What if she cry all the way?What if she can’t sleep? What if the pressure really hurt her ears? So many questions, besides I would never want to put any inconvenience on other passengers,or at least received those bat-eyed stares. Ughh!
So How did I manage to survived it? Remember that it’s only temporary , you will reach your destination in a matter of time.You won’t even see those fellow passengers again in your life. I wanna share to you Mamas out there who will go on your first adventure of flying these 10 things every Mothers should know while Travelling with Infants & Babies and how to enjoy the experience of flying with your child on board. Here it is;
1.Do your Homework
Start by looking for child Friendly Airlines & Airports ahead of your intended travel date .Choose your flight schedules , timings and seat plan wisely .If possible, get the early morning flights to avoid crowds during Airport check-ins,lines,and weekdays.We choose this schedule because it gives my daughter a chance to nap or sleep through the night even travelling.It always gives you that extra leg room to get the Bulk head seats just in case your toddler wants playtime. Be familiar with the bathrooms , changing rooms locations and play areas inside the terminal.
2.Request and avail of the Bassinet offers from your Airline.
We fly through an Emirates A380 plane from Dubai to AMS so we expected that it’s going to be a full flight , and unfortunately its summer so it’s tourist season in Netherlands and yet we made sure that we reserved & requested the Bassinet functions of each flight .Check with your Airline for this features.Get this done while booking.Emirates Bassinets measure approximately 75 x 33 x 22.3cm (29.5 x 13 x 8.8 inches , l x w x d) and are for babies who weigh up to 11kg (24.2lbs). Emirates even have a complimentary Stroller which you can use during your stop over and transit from gate to gate through the spacious Terminal in Dubai. You need to take out your child from the Bassinet during Take-offs & Landings.
3.Pack that Baby Bag.
We all know that Babies carries a lot of stuff.You can start making a list on what to pack depending on how long is your holiday,duration of the flight & itinerary.I recommend packing as early as 2 weeks before your flight for you to see how much stuff needs to be in that bag.On the last minute,you can just double check for what is missing.This bag should be one of your hand carry luggage.Most airlines allows baggage allowance for babies.Invest in a good bag that could contain your Little one’s essential and won’t be too bulky for you to carry.
This is the very reason why we prepare.Expect the unexpected.Sometimes,no matter how we prepared,things doesn’st work out the way we wanted it to be.Delayed flights.Long stop overs.Your Baby cannot sleep and refuse to drink milk.Anything could happen,even losing your cool.This is where you need your mind to be active.When you are under stress,your child will surely catch it so try to maintain your sanity even when you are sleep-deprived,tired & exhausted .In short word,Expect to be Busy.Really Busy.
5.Have a Buddy-System.
If you are travelling with your Spouse,relative,or partner,then the load can be done easily once shared.It is much more stressful for others who are travelling alone with a child.If possible,having someone to travel with you could give you that assurance that things are manageable and you get the support you need.Having a Buddy System works wonders like alternate holding the baby while the other goes to bathroom ,eating, going though long lines , pushes the stroller,taking stroll with your child while in the terminal.Believe me,you need each other.On our first trip , I’m so grateful my husband is with me to give a hand. Plus, the memories of your first family trip together makes it all worthwhile.
6.Make sure your child is ready.
Your child doesn’t have any idea what is going on.But the moment she cries and becomes unsettled , you know that she needs to be comforted. New surroundings could either make her hyper or break her.Make sure that you prepare your child in a way that she had a good rest , dressed comfortably , and well-fed on hours before and during your flight.If you are travelling on the same time that disrupts her nap routines,try to get her tired enough to sleep.I let my daughter play along the chairs in the waiting area ,the bright airport lights amuses her.My daughter sits on my lap the whole flight and she becomes cranky during take-offs , I prepared her by offering something to drink, her favourite toy,and lots & lots of cuddles. Parents, protect her ears.
7.Wear your child.
Bringing your sling and wearing your Baby around you works wonders for me.From the moment we check-in her stroller in the gate,i put her in the sling.It always good for your hands to be free while your baby is snug as a bug in your arms.This is great for walking her through the aisle or when you need to get her to sleep.For going through spacious and far end side of the terminal that we literally need to run after to get there on time,wearing your baby is a smart move. This will prevent any injury or bumping your child’s head or back that might happen inside the aircraft.I really don’t know How could i ever do things without a Sling I highly recommend it.
You must ensure that your child travel with appropriate (CRS) Child Restraint System that enhances flight safety.If your baby is over 14 days old and under two (2) years of age, not occupying a separate seat,She may be carried free of charge when traveling with an adult (12 years of age or older,with only taxes to be paid). Make sure to ask for the Seatbelt extension for Infants & Babies provided by your aircarft. Most flight attendants will show to you how to put it on with your baby.If you purchased a seat for her,you must make sure that you bring along an FAA- Approved car seat.
9.Take the fine print with you.
Depending on your destination, I recommend to always bring along your child’s Fine printed documents such as copy of Birth Certificate,Medical Prescriptions,Permission to travel/Custody letter from your spouse if you are travelling alone and other related documents that you might need during the course of your trip. I have these documents on the side pockets of my bag so its easily accessible.
10.Create Memories of your First flight
This would be one of the exciting stories you would be telling your kids once they get older.No matter how long the flight,You will reach your destination. It’s the memory of it that will last.For Mamas out there,make sure you smile when you took pictures with your Little One.My daughter became the center of attention by the Flight Attendants, they carried her & she gamely posed for the Polaroid shots given by the staff.We have made friends in the flight and we even met one in the airport lounge . The key-She recognized my baby!
“Children are made readers on the lap of their parents “-Emily Buchwald
Do you read books to your child?
Being a first time mother, I am ever-curious, almost for everything. From baby care to fun activities with children up to how to raise your child to read and love books! Thanks to the internet that information is just a finger’s tap away. This is the reality of an Expat life without the luxury of having your immediate relatives living nearby. You learned how to deal with almost everything by yourself. Even when I was still pregnant, I read that reading is one thing that you could do with your child as a special bonding time. I hope for the best in raising my child , which I understand is a universal wish of every parent. Early habits are formed during the growing years of childhood and this includes the ways we teach them every single day. What happens every single day inside your home is the fundamentals of her early development years. There’s no greater peace you can find from having your child on your lap and exploring the wonderful world of reading.
I set up a goal for myself and my daughter : I want her to love reading. I don’t know how is it going to be in the future but I ma living each day materializing this goal. Books should be an integral part of her childhood and it is my responsibility as a parent to guide her in this.
I’m a firm believer that inside our home is where the first learning starts. Reading to infants and babies at an early stage has a great impact on the receptive and expressive language development, whether it’s for learning, character building or literacy purposes. Be it plain reading ,story-reading, reading -out-Loud, Picture Book Reading, Joint-Reading, Shared Reading, playing while reading ,really , it doesn’t matter. As long as you incorporate books into your child’s daily routines . Trust me ,it’s proven to have long term results.
There’s no greater joy for me than to see my daughter flipping the pages of her books everyday at the same time eating them! The moment she woke up , she ran up to her basket of books and start “making messy-reading “. I dunno why she do it, but she just loves to throw, snuggle, crash, and throw all her books all around her. We started to read to her as soon as she was born. Every single day, every single morning. Does this sound boring to you? Trust me, it will soon pay-off!
Every single moment of her playtime, or anytime we feel like grabbing her books. When we go out, we always stash a book or two for her to read and play. She’s just 17 months old ,and I know that she still cannot read, but the fact that she’s so engrossed with books and shows signs of loving it more than she loved her toys really made me smile.She knows the character of the stories, the sounds, and the pictures. She even have her all time favorites!
I was lucky that my daughter was gifted with a bunch of books. Since then, I tried to make time for her & set a goal to read aloud to her, reading the picture-books to her everyday, flipping the pages for her dreamy eyes to enjoy the colorful images and gobble on it eventually. I even put a book on her bath time. With the presence of iPads, iphones & TV nowadays,it’s easy to give in to this threats. The flashy screens are so tempting and attractive for your toddlers, But I tell you, there is no greater gift to your child than to read a book to her while in your lap.
This really made a daily bonding time between us.
So how to raise a book-lover in your child? Here’s how I’m doing it and loving it so far;
First, Start early. -There’s never too-early to read to your child.If you let her be exposed to books and the habit of reading at an early stage, the better. Soon she will catch it all by herself. She will have a body clock calling for reading!
Make your own Baby-Library. -I put out all her books in one basket that is accessible to her on her tummy time and during the time that she can actually grab it and flip through the pages. Investing on great, classic pieces is always a good idea. I’ve never been so aware about children’s books & stories since I began reading to her. It has been a learning phase for me as well. I had to memorize the characters of the story so I can read a loud better.
Make it a habit.- Stick to your routine. Babies picked up fast when you do it in repetition. They will eventually memorize the rhymes, the covers, the texture,the sound, and your voice while you read it with them. Do it before going to bed,after napping, or even while you snuggle with your child.
Create a Reading Haven.- In your Home or in a tiny quiet corner in your house.Yes ,create a cozy reading area or a little corner/nook for you and your Little One.Put on some throws pillows and spread a mat and get those books for you to enjoy and linger on each moment.Soon, she will learn that special place is place for her to be absorbed with books. This place should be free from distraction.You can even do this while having finger snacks for her too. Sounds absolutely fun!
Visit a Library and Bookshop together.- Let your child explore and choose the books she like.In this stage she will for sure play, scatter and bite on those,Just let her let go of her steam. We brought our daughter to a bookstore in Amsterdam once she was just 9 months old and we were quite astonished to see her delight when she saw the bookshelves filled with books. Of course she plays, throws, rambled on the books but there’s no price in the gleam in her eyes.
Be an Example. -There’s no better way to teach your child good habits than from the way you yourself show. Maybe you’re not a book lover, or you find books boring. But doing this with her won’t let you become a bad parent either. Based on my experience, Whatever works best for you, investing on reading is never wasted.
Shopping for Books in Amsterdam
I found my favorite ! The Hungry Caterpillar !
Hope you have wonderful time spent reading with your kids. Looking forward to hear your own success stories!
Note to myself: I will do a follow-up post on this matter to share with you how is it with my daughter and her road to loving books? Will she love it? or will she hate it? So for those of you whose following my Blog, and the stories I am writing about “Raising Natalie”, stay tuned for the upcoming updates!