Monday, 16 January 2012

a much overdue and awesome trip to Failaka.


20 years in Kuwait and I had never been to Failaka. It was time to change that. Went to the Failaka Heritage Village with Maeve, an old friend from school (my oldest one, our friendship is ancient) and her friend Kayo who was visiting here. Ever since I heard about the Greek ruins on the island I've been dying to see them!

The ride in the catamaran was rejuvenating. I discovered my sea legs were not fully developed.

Bye bye mainland

The sea's got its bling on

someone asked why I took this.
is it not obvious?
Once there we were taken to the hotel in a minibus. The receptionist gave us a map, directing us to the restaurant Ikaros for lunch and informing us of a tour at 3 pm at an additional cost of 1 KD. The Greek ruins were not open to the public unless you had special permission from the Kuwait National Museum. That sucks.
The island was called Ikaros by the Greeks back in the day (324 BC or a few years later). It reminded them of another island of theirs in the Aegean Sea by the same name. Sentimental much?
The hotel was pretty cool with a touch of the old Kuwait, atleast what it must have looked like before the modernization fever hit the country.

Yup old world window alright..
if you ignore the ATM outside.
3-dimensional picture! It's too bad so few of these (the actual
building not the pic) exist today.


We stepped outside to explore before heading to the restaurant for lunch (we had to be back at 3pm for a tour of the island). It was pretty awesome! This is a little startling, almost every pic below brought to mind some fantasy/movie/cartoon.

Lantern: I'm thinking of that scene of Harry looking at musty
books in the library in Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
                                       
the tree's central location reminds me of
The White Tree of Gondor
umm.. Sleeping Beauty going up
the staircase to prick her finger?
No? Okay no.


my mind draws a blank at this one.

the courtyard, blank again

from the first floor. Kayo said the sheets reminded her of
Aladdin. I love people that relate Disney to reality! :D

Lunch was surprisingly good. There was a buffet with fatoush, mutton biryani, chicken majboos, spaghetti and meatballs (untouched), rice and dakoos (untouched), jelly (untouched) and my absolute favourite Arabic sweet dish muhallabiya. There were other dishes too but none worth remembering.

We went back to the reception to take the tour. First stop was the Iraqi tank cemetery. For some inexplicable reason, it reminded me of the elephant graveyard in the Lion King (I'm beginning to think that I may have watched Disney movies too often as a kid). We only had about four minutes here before the driver tooted his horn and everyone rushed back to the bus. I strayed for a minute trying to cram in more pictures that I had neglected to take. That one minute of solitude there was no sound but that of the wind, blowing through the derelict, rusting, once terrifying machines of death and destruction.

anti aircraft gun
killing machines

Someone please enlighten me as to what on earth
this is.
When we get wowed by war museums and admire the destructive machines on display, how often do we allow the grim realization to dawn on us and reflect on how many lives those may have taken? Wiped out towns? Stolen innocent civilians' rights to a peaceful existence, caught in the crossfire of political differences?
Probably never.

Next stop, the camel farm. First out of the minibus, I ran upto an enclosure containing camel mommies and their young. The herder keeping guard at the gate ushered me in, advising me to make no sound with my camera. I went in noiselessly, standing among the camels but never behind them, afraid of getting kicked by a stray hind leg o_O Pretending I was a wildlife photographer, I managed to capture a tender moment between a mother and her child.

That one.
Those eyelashes are the envy of every woman.
                             
What a soppy grin!
                                   
We were then driven to an area that had a hotel. When the Iraqi army invaded Failaka, they kicked out the residents and used the buildings for target practice.

Hotel rooms.. dozens of them.
Buildings riddled with bullet holes, the place was a ghost town. It was eerie being in such close proximity to empty, ramshackle houses that were once full thriving with life. Almost every house seems to have had a decent sized backyard, such a rarity now in Kuwait.

What's left of the bank.


The crooked man's crooked house (from the nursery rhyme)


Of course, this being Kuwait, it is imperative that one encounters a BlackBerry Pin no. exhibited somewhere, even if it is in the middle of nowhere.


Or in this case, a 'Bin' number.
It was 4 pm by the time we got back; we had to clear out by 4 30. We had just enough time to take a quick peek at the market wares, all handmade in Failaka. Great place for souvenirs!


Metalwork: a doe. We bought stags.
The sheesha tile cracked me up xD
This awesome stuff wasn't on sale :(
And then we were shooed out.


I have a bone to pick with the organizers: I understand high tide being at 4 45 pm means we have to leave then, but WHY on earth must the catamaran leave so late (12 30pm!!) from Marina Crescent? That's 45 minutes going, arriving on the island at 1 15 pm, having to report to the hotel at 4 30 pm to leave. That's just 3 hours 15 minutes minus the one hour that goes in the tour if you opt for it, equaling a little over 2 hours to explore on your own. NOT ENOUGH!!

The way back, I nearly fell overboard trying to get pictures of the Kuwaiti skyline by nightfall. Deciding I had taken enough photos (hundreds) and that whoever wanted to see the same could very well find them on Google, I went inside and firmly parked myself on a seat where there was no danger of meeting with the chilly Arabian Gulf.

For more information on the cost, how to get there etc. visit the website.

6 comments:

  1. Ancient? Thanks for making me seem old Zain :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is that all you took from this post? :p

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  2. very descriptive :) great photography!

    but how on earth did u get there, how did u book it and how much did u pay? thats whats really needed, especially in 2012, latest prices etc.

    :P spill the beans missy.

    PS u can still show up for RunQ8 and walk, without registering. think about it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right. Will edit the post to include all that. Thanks!

      Delete
  3. The mystery picture is an artillery piece - note the muzzle brake on the right - the carriage/trailing legs are up in the air or missing.

    ReplyDelete

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