2.10.2012

everything...and more...you wanted to know.

(instagram: wwrinserepeat. from top left to right: minaret at a mosque,
view from our bedroom, roses from Gabe and detail of a mosque)

Hello, friends! I'm on day three here in Kuwait, and here's something I didn't expect to say: I really love it here...it's been an intriguing cultural experience. Truly! So much so that Gabe and I decided we'd be comfortable living here through the year. Unexpected, right? Nothing is in stone, though. Just saying that we're open to the experience, if offered. :)

On to the FAQs:

Do you have to wear a hijab or burka while visiting Kuwait? Nope! Only Muslim women are required to cover their heads and/or body. But as a western woman, you must keep shoulders and knees covered, avoid overly tight clothing...and definitely no baring of cleavage. Basically, dress like you're going to grandma's...be modest.

The ladies here have amazing fashion sense, even if they keep it covered in public. I saw countless women dressed in traditional dark, floor length robes shopping at incredible clothing shops. Also, I've spotted more than a few pairs of sparkly shoes peeking out from under cloaks. :)

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Are you safe? I'm very much safe, especially when I'm home! Four security guards watch our apartment building 24/7. During the day, I'm allowed to roam our little neighborhood alone--apartment buildings, a few restaurants and pharmacies. Oh, and lots of stray cats. We met a very friendly cab driver, Naser, and I can call him if I'd like to be driven to the market or shopping center.

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How do locals react to western women? Do they pay much attention to you? They definitely notice westerners!  Lots of men just watch you...all the way down the street. They're simply intrigued and aren't shy about stopping everything to check you out. On my first day here, I went on a short walk--a man popped his head out of a shop to yell after me, "Fantastic! You are very, very fantastic!" And yet, every interaction I've had with local men has been friendly and respectful.

The women are very kind...a few might stare, but not as many as the men. Those I've encountered in social situations--in restaurants, in shops, at the airport--are very friendly. What I've loved thus far is that the women aren't afraid to laugh with me as I try to figure out new things, like ordering food, the way doors lock differently here...or how sinks and hand dryers turn on. They're even kind when I have a hard time understanding conversation, due to my horrible ability to hear through accents other than my own!

In short, as long as you're respectful and dressed appropriately, I cannot imagine having any troubles with the local population. They might stare...I look quite different than the local Kuwaiti, so I get it! It's slightly uncomfortable, but I haven't experienced a sliver of unkindness yet.

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And...are you scared to be there? Not at all...not even for a second. When traveling, I believe there's a difference between being wise and being scared. I'm not scared for my safety, but aware that as a western woman I need to stay alert to my surroundings when alone, and remain extremely conscious of what I say or do.

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So, riddle me this, friends: would you ever visit the middle east? I've been surprised by how many readers + friends have said they'd love to, given the chance!

Happy weekend!

25 comments:

  1. I would love to visit the Middle East someday. I was once going to get my Master's Degree in the history of the Middle East, so it's always been a drea of mine to visit. I just love everything about their culture and history and religions...it's so fascinating!

    Glad you hear that you are enjoying yourself over there!

    xoxo,
    Joelle

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  2. i love the soft and pastel feel of the photos, since usually that area is depicted in sunny saturated tones. what a unique experience you're having! i'm honestly not sure how i would react to feeling like such an obvious foreigner.

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  3. Your openness about your situation is yet another reason why you're wonderful. I'm so glad you can open others' eyes to other cultures that may seem "scary" on the oustide but are really just different. You're an inspiration to all!

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  4. Wow, such an adventure! And I love the Q&A... didn't have time to ask but that pretty much covers it. :) Hope you and Gabe enjoy more time together and you have adjusted to the time change by now! :)

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  5. Sounds like you are having a food time...... Love reading your trip.... :-)

    Not sure I would feel to comforable with people staring at me though... :)

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  6. I would definitely visit the Middle East someday. Reading about them from books, about their culture and their people is different. Being there and learning things is so much exciting! ♥

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  7. Your photos are lovely! It's so interesting to read the travel experiences of a Western girl in the Middle East. Thank you for sharing them! I'd definitely visit if I had the opportunity, especially if I was with my fiance. He spent a lot of time over there while serving in the military and I'd definitely feel more comfortable traveling with someone who is mroe familiar with the culture :)

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  8. Once again, beautiful pictures!!!!

    I enjoyed reading about your experience so far. =)

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  9. I couldn't have answered these any better! I'm so glad you're having such a great experience! One quick tip that I think you'll like--buy pearls while you're there!! Pearls are dirt cheap in the Middle East compared to the States, and they are gorgeous :) :)

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  10. It is so refreshing to read this post!!! Experiencing different cultures are wonderful ways to learn :) I've never really thought of visiting the middle east, but I have met some amazing people from Sri Lanka and Nepal and it intrigues me to visit there someday! I'm glad you're having such a fabulous time Bethany!! LOVE it!

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  11. Wow! What an amazing post. Glad to hear things are going well and you're enjoying it!

    Keep Shining,
    Meghan
    Shine On

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  12. Kase's father is originally from Iraq and came here in the 70s to study. When they were first married, Kase's mom moved to Iraq and lived there for 10 years before they moved back (to have Kase). I would love an opportunity to go there with Kase and Colin (he is 1/4 Iraqi after all) when and if it becomes safe again- all his father's family still lives there. I'm so happy for you that you get to experience it. Can't wait to hear more!

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  13. I would love to visit the Middle East! But for now, I love how I can live vicariously through you. Can't wait to hear more!

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  14. Such beautiful photos! :)
    I have a feeling that I would be pretty timid in a situation like that. But the way you share about it makes it seem very nice & it truly is very interesting to read about your experiences there! Thanks for sharing!

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  15. no cleavage? I would be screwed. I have cleavage in a turtleneck ;)

    LB

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  16. My mum is moving to Jordan in August to teach for a year. I'm assuming she'll pay for us to visit ;)

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  17. I've been to the Middle East lots of times, and if I'm honest, really enjoyed it, war aside obv.

    SO glad you're with your husband.

    Have fun!!

    Tab
    my-cliffnotes.blogspot.com

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  18. This post is so interesting and your photos so beautiful. What an exciting adventure you are on!

    Loulou Downtown

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  19. I'm so glad you like it! The Middle East is definitely a whole different experience! I hope you stay happy and safe!

    smileyius.blogspot.com

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  20. Such a lovely blog you've got here. =) Actually I was guided through instagram cause your photos caught my eye.

    Followed, hope you dont mind. And maybe you'll visit me someday.

    thebookness.com

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  21. I would absolutely love to visit the middle east. I think it's just beautiful. Yes, it has it's hang ups, but part of being a good tourist is appreciating the differences throughout the world. I'm so glad you're having a good time!

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  22. Wow ! Why is it you manage to make everything so beautiful and dreamy ... You write so beautifully Bethany and you photos are so delicious ! Good luck on your new adventures feel free to visit London ! xx

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  23. I've been to Qatar, Oman and UAE and had good experiences at each place. They all felt very modern and safe, places I would go back to again without reservation.

    I hope you are enjoying every moment.

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  24. I loved living in Kuwait. You definitely have to invent your own fun, though, once you get over te shopping. Apparently the glamorous woman with the beehives under their hejabs use a yoghurt pottle to pile up their hair. Gorgeous, extraterrestrial beings!

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