With six hours before my next flight, I figured I could see what my Kuwaiti friend once called “the most boring city in the world.” It wasn’t that bad, but…
Immigration is a breeze for American citizens in Kuwait, but can be a bit confusing. A vending machines dispenses visas to those that need them but no visa is needed for most American visitors. There were no customs/immigration forms distributed on my United Airlines flight from Washington to Kuwait so I first followed the lead of more familiar visitors and retrieved a form from a stack on the counter. On the right side there is a line in which your document is quickly examined and you are given a slip like at the deli where you must then wait for your number to be called. It wasn’t long before my number was called a government agent quickly looked over my passport (not checking for Israel stamps, BTW), and stamped my form, sending me downstairs to customs. There, I was officially stamped into Kuwait with no line.
The airport was a bit…grimy…for lack of a better world. Unlike the modern masterpieces at Dubai Terminal 3 or Abu Dhabi, this was a drab and dated airport without the overindulgent opulence of counterparts in the region. There were flags all over and a few American fast food mainstays.
I exchanged a bit of cash and as is custom for me in new places, I hopped on a bus into town. To be honest, I wasn’t sure where the bus was going and the driver did not speak English. So off I went.
About 25 minutes later we reached what appeared to be a bus terminus and I hopped off to find myself in a swarming shopping area. Kuwait City? It felt like I was in India or Sri Lanka, with signs in Hindi and no Kuwaitis around. Kuwait provides immigrant workers a way to feed their families, but life here is no walk in the park for non-citizens.
I spent the next four hours walking around the city—not sure where I was going or what I would stumble upon.
Western hotels abound and the JW Marriott looks to be a fine property.
The Liberation Tower, in memoriam of Kuwait’s victory over Iraq.
One of the many mosques that fill the city
Wealthy citizens just leave their cars running when they stop for a bite to eat.
Always a McDonalds and Starbucks
Finally, it came time to return to the airport, only there was a problem—no busses in sight and it was now approaching midnight. I started walking back toward the bus terminal in the center of town, but standing under the Kuwait Towers I was a few miles a way…with my luggage in tow (just a rollerboard, but still…).
I had two dinars left ($7), and finally hailed a cab and told him my predicament. He was a nice guy and agreed to take me back to the airport (it helps that fuel is under $1/gallon in Kuwait). On the 20-minute drive to the airport he described daily life in Kuwait as mundane, but livable, with escapes to Dubai or Abu Dhabi necessary every once in awhile to avoid going stir crazy.
Back at the airport, I checked in for my Turkish flight, proceeded through immigration (which took no more than two minutes), and headed up to the lounge.
Read the rest of my trip report to the Caucasus!
Thrown Off a United Airlines Flight for Taking Pictures!
Washington Dulles to Kuwait City in United Airlines BusinessFirst
Six Hours in Kuwait City
Pearl Lounge – Kuwait International Airport
Kuwait City to Istanbul in Turkish Airlines Economy Class
Istanbul to Baku in Azerbaijan Airlines Economy Class
Baku – A City of Illusions?
Review: Park Hyatt Baku
Baku Metro (Pictures)
Overnight Train from Baku to Tbilisi, Georgia
Pictures: One Day in Tbilisi, Georgia
Overnight Train from Tbilisi to Yerevan, Armenia
Feeling at Home in Yerevan
Yerevan to Istanbul in Armavia Economy Class
The Flight Home from Istanbul…