Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour – February 2

As Salam Alaykom!

***That is how you say hello in Arabic!  It is pronounced Ahl sah-LAHM ah-LAY-koom and is the typical greeting here.

We’re back to work now, after our awesome 3 day weekend!  As always we jam packed as many things as possible into our weekend.  If we were meeting for a happy hour this week, here’s what I would have to share with you . . . . .

  • We booked 2 trips this week!  The first one was for our trip to Jordan in April for Spring Break.  My parents are coming to Kuwait for a few days, then the four of us are heading to Amman, Jordan for a week.  We have been talking about doing this trip for a few months, but we finally purchased our tickets from Kuwait to Jordan.  We are super excited, as it is going to be more of an “adventurous” trip rather than a “chill at the beach” kind of trip.  We are going to rent a car, and traverse the countryside and explore the Dead & Red Seas, visit Petra, camp in the desert, and some other stuff.  It feels good to finally have it booked so that we can start finalizing our itinerary and get our accommodations settled.  This weekend we also booked a trip to Cairo, Egypt!  We are going there for four days at the end of the month with a couple of friends.  We are excited to visit the Egyptian Pyramids, Sphinx, and explore the history of the country that dates back hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of years!  We found a nice 5 star resort for super cheap that we’re going to stay at.  We “upgraded” our room (for $12) so we have a view of the pyramids from our balcony. SCORE!

Photo Courtesy of:


  • On Friday, a group of us piled into our car and headed south towards Saudi Arabia to visit one of our favorite beaches at Al Khiran.  We went earlier this year, and you might remember that Rachel wrote a little blog about it here.  The air temperature was in the 80s, but the water was ice cold!  We just chilled out at the beach, got some sun, tossed the frisbee, and just hung out with friends.  It was a great way to spend our afternoon!
  • After last weeks ridiculous round of golf at the local sand course, I had the itch to do some more golfing.  So on Thursday, a buddy and I headed to the Sahara Country Club here in Kuwait City.  It was a BEAUTIFUL course, definitely the nicest one that I ever played on.  The grass wasn’t as lush and green as it was when I was there in August, because apparently the type of grass survives better during the intense heat of the summer months.  I guess it goes dormant during the winter months here (70s-80s) and was a bit brown.  Regardless though, we had a great time and it was so nice.  The course also has lights on all 18 holes, so we are going to try and go again in a few weeks and play at night.  Here is a link to the course we played: Sahara Country Club.
  • This weekend I also scored a few freebies!  In our apartment building (all teachers that we work with) I found out that someone had an old dryer they wanted to get rid of it.  Apparently it worked fine a few weeks ago, until it suddenly stopped working for some reason.  They said that they weren’t very handy and didn’t want to bother trying to fix it, and just wanted it gone.  I jumped at the opportunity to tinker on project, so we are the new owners of a broken dryer!  Then about an hour later, one of our friends told us that someone was looking to get rid of a broken treadmill.  They knew I was pretty handy and always looking for a project, and the next thing you know . . . . . .  me and a friend are humping a huge broken treadmill back to our apartment. So for the first time since moving to Kuwait, I have myself a “Honey Do List.”  I bought a few basic tools this weekend, and am going to start tackling my projects during my spare time.  You may think I’m a hoarder for collecting this broken stuff . . . . . but I’m pretty excited to have something to tinker on.  I’ll keep you posted if I’m able to fix them.

That’s all for now folks, we’ll see you next week.


Mr. Pillow . . . . . Saved Again!

You may recall a blog post I did a few months ago, when we first moved to Kuwait called: Mr. Pillow.  Well, he still holds the top spot in Rachel’s heart, and I’m a distant second. However I am thinking I might have a scored a few bonus points with the Mrs. when I saved his life . . . . AGAIN!

During our Holiday Break, we checked into our tree house at Yala National Park, when Rachel suddenly realized that Mr. Pillow was gone!  We had just completed a 4 hour tuk tuk ride (it was supposed to be 2 hours) and I thought for sure it was laying on the side of the road somewhere in the beautiful countryside of Sri Lanka.  Rachel was bummed, however I was a bit excited. (Perhaps this was my chance at being #1 in her heart!)  Unfortunately though, my feelings of excitement did not last long. . . . .

We had just sat down for dinner at the hotel restaurant on our first night there.  We were hanging out with a few people from New Zealand, drinking some Lion Lagers, and watching some cricket on tv, when I noticed a blue blurr.  For a second, I just assumed it was the Lion Lagers taking their effect on me after 4 months of sobriety, but then I realized what it was . . . . . Mr. Pillow!

I asked Rachel, “is that your pillow?”  She nearly broke her neck, as she twisted her body in world record speed.  Her face lit up when she realized that it was indeed Mr. Pillow.  She nearly pulled a hamstring sprinting across the restaurant to go grab it!  It somehow must have fallen off her pack when we were getting out of the tuk tuk, and whoever found it, just put it in the lobby.

I was sure to capture this pic as she was reunited with Mr. Pillow:


This is Rachel reuniting with Mr. Pillow. She had to go to the “lobby” of our “hotel” to grab it. It is kind of hard to see her ear-to-ear smile in this pic, but it’s there!


And then he joined us at the table for the rest of our dinner:


Mr. Pillow got his own chair at the dinner table.


Everyone is happy that he is back with us:


I’ll thumbs up to this!


I will continue to update the comings and goings of Mr. Pillow during our time in Kuwait.  He has survived a couple of times, but we’ll see how many lives he has!





We had given up hope.  As we rode in our open aired jeep out of the national park we were already discussing how we could try and go to a different national park the next day.  We were leaving Yala National Park, the area in Sri Lanka with the most wild elephants without seeing a single elephant.  I was disappointed.  It had been raining for days, the park was flooded and it was just impossible to get further into the park, to find where the giant creatures were roaming.   The sun was setting and as we rounded the last corner to head out of the park gates an elephant was heading straight for us.


He was huge.

He walked straight at us, throwing his trunk around and grabbing a trunkful of whatever was in his path.


I did what anyone with a camera in their hands who was looking at an elephant would do. . . . I started wildly snapping pictures, barely taking the time to focus any of my shots.

I was so excited, I was silent giggling, worried that if I made a noise he would dart off into the jungle.   The only sounds I dared to emit were the clicks of my camera.


As I continued to snap away Mitch quietly whispered in my ear, “Don’t forget to just look with your eyes.”

He was right, some moments are just better to be lived rather than captured.  So I put down my camera, reached over and grabbed my husband’s hand and looked with my eyes.

Maldives Bungalow Tour

Mitch and I booked our trip to the Maldives way back in September. At the time, we decided to book a beachside bungalow, rather than one of those cool bungalows built on stilts over the water. We knew it would be super cool to stay in one of them, however they were so dang expensive.

Upon our arrival to the resort, we were surprised with a FREE upgrade to one of the over-the-water bungalows!  The hotel gods were definitely smiling down at us. We were ecstatic as we walked down the long dock to our little bunglow, and couldn’t believe how nice it was!  Check out this video tour of our bungalow!

The room was fabulous.  We were able to swim right off of our deck, and I did, immediately after checking into the room.  I ran down the steps and hopped in the water.  After a quick little swim I climbed the steps back up to the deck. I was staring happily at the crystal clear water below, looking at the huge tropical fish swim along, when suddenly a giant Manta Ray swam by!  It was bigger than our dining room table and was enough to make me a bit weary about swimming in the water again. It was like 6 feet long! After watching for another minute or so, 5 sharks swam by!  At that point my mind had been made up, I was going to do my swimming in the pool.

update: we got some feedback that the vide wasn’t loading properly.  Here is a link in case you can’t get it to work.

We Found Real Bacon!

Upon our arrival in Sri Lanka, I was in search for two things:

  1. Booze
  2. Pork, more specifically Bacon

We quickly found a bar on the beach, and started enjoying the first of many beers, however they didn’t have bacon.  We stumbled down the beach until we came to another bar/restaurant called Koko’s on the Beach.  It’s a little family run place owned by a super cool British guy, his Sri Lankan wife, and their two daughters.  One of their daughters was about 2 years old, and her job was to bring us our beers. One time her mother brought out a round for us, and the little girl burst into tears because SHE wanted to bring them to us!  It kind of made me excited to have a 2-year old kid one day to run back-and-forth to the fridge for me 😉

I noticed on the menu at Koko’s that they had a bacon cheeseburger. I asked the owner if the bacon was pork, and when she confirmed, I told her that we wanted a plate of JUST bacon!  Her english wasn’t the best, and she kept double checking that she heard me right, “you want 10 pieces of bacon?”  I smiled and said yes, however all I could think of in my head was: Yes lady! I haven’t had a piece of pork in 4 months, goooo!!!!!

Minutes later, her husband brought out a plate full of the best bacon that I have ever had! It was greasy, grizzly, crispy, and fucking delicious! (sorry for the language mom).  I kind of felt like the dog in this video when he was carrying it out to us.


It was so good, that I had to take a picture of it!

The owner was baffled at my order, and started asking, “why so much bacon?”  After explaining that we lived in a Muslim country and that pork was illegal, he felt so bad for us that he didn’t even want to charge us for it. We slipped him some money, and returned again a few days later for another plate of bacon!

Tree House Tour

While we were in Sri Lanka I had a major mission, I wanted to see elephants!  After the guilty conscious I experienced with the camel riding in Dubai, I had made a pledge that I was going to be a more responsible traveler and do my homework in advance.  After reading much about the treatment of elephants around the world, I knew I didn’t not want to visit any animals that were in captivity.  Even if the facilities were claiming to be an elephant hospital or orphanage, I just didn’t want to take the chance on it being a cover up for a circus type situation.  I realized I needed to see elephants in the wild.  I wanted to go to a national park, and had my eyes set on Yala National Park.


When Mitch and I are in the planning stages of a trip, I am almost always the one coming up with ideas and things I want to do. Mitch is the “logistics guy” and enjoys figuring out the transportation, where we will stay, and other types of details.  This trip was no different.  I decided I wanted to see elephants at Yala National Park, and Mitch made it happen!

At first Mitch had his eyes set on “glamping” in the national park in semi-permanent tent structures.  However, the $900 per night price tag was enough to point us in another direction.  The end result: Beddegama Eco Park!  Mitch found this awesome little gem about 10 minutes outside the park for about $90 per night, where we slept in………a tree house!   It was so awesome we decided to make a video tour of it.

Our stay in the tree house was awesome. The location was the perfect jumping off point for our safari in Yala National Park.  We left with many memories that we will be taking with us like: listening to the peacocks scream at us while they sat in the near-by trees, surviving the thunderstorm that shook our entire bungalow the first night, taking an ice cold shower that came out of the side of a tree, and plenty of other little gems that are tucked away for us to take with us.

Moral of the story: let your husband plan all trip accommodations, because it will be awesome!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from the beautiful beaches of the Maldives!


The last few days here have been fantastic, as we wrap up our amazing 2.5 week Christmas break vacation!  We will be back in Kuwait in a few days, and will share our stories and pictures from the trip.  As we ring in the New Year, here is our view, as we contemplate our resolutions.

IMG_5371This view sure does make it easy to bump “travel more” to the top of the resolution list.

Unawatuna, Sri Lanka

The first stop on our Christmas Vacation was Unawatuna, Sri Lanka.  Unawatuna, pronounced just as it is written una-wa-tuna, is a small beach town on the southern coast of Sri Lanka.  Nearly all of our teacher friends who recommended Sri Lanka to us, said we had to spend time in Unawatuna! Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 6.08.39 AMWe heard it was the perfect spot to swim, lay on the beach, drink out of coconuts, and relax. IMG_5011 Unawatuna delivered on all of those promises and a few more that we weren’t expecting, like monkeys coming out from the jungle and checking us out during our breakfast. IMG_5005 We chose to stay at an Airbnb that was located “upstairs” in Unawatuna, a short Tuk Tuk ride up the hill from the beach into the jungle.   Our view was amazing, we were surrounded by jungle with a view of the Indian Ocean off in the distance.  So with a view like that, we spent as much time as possible sitting out on the deck and soaking in all the greenery that we have been desperately missing since we live in the desert.  On our second morning in Unawatuna, a brown adult male monkey decided to come and check out what we were up to while we ate breakfast on the deck. He swung his way from tree to tree and hopped right up onto the deck railing.  Even though the camera was sitting right on the table, Mitch was too excited by our visitor to snap any pictures.  The monkey stared at us for a few seconds before climbing the post on the deck to go to our friend’s Lauren and Adam’s deck to say hello to them as well.  Lauren and Adam were clearly aware that a monkey was nearby, as once the monkey started to make his way up to their deck, I began yelling like a crazy person: “MONKEY, MONKEY, LAUREN, MONKEY, ADAM, ADAM, ADAM, MONKEY.”  The nice part about my crazy yelling is that Adam reciprocated my crazed enthusiasm by answering with “MONKEY, MONKEY, HOLY SHIT, I SEE A MONKEY!” IMG_5004 After Mr. Monkey made his way across Adam and Lauren’s deck, I had composed myself enough to snap a couple of pictures, but none of them would truly do justice for how close this buddy had come to investigate what we were up to. Once he was at a safe distance from us, we heard a bunch of crashing in some nearby trees.  Soon after, Mrs. Monkey and her three babies emerged and followed him from tree-to-tree making their way deeper into the jungle. IMG_4994 The beaches here are great, the views are beautiful, but sometimes it’s an unexpected breakfast guest that makes the trip worth it.

Sri Lanka & The Maldives

As I am writing this post we are leaving in 10 hours with a couple of super awesome friends, and headed to Colombo, Sri Lanka.  After we spend 12 days in Sri Lanka we will hop on another plane and head down to the Maldives. Pinch me, I am pretty sure I am dreaming! When we decided to move to the Middle East I immediately started looking up plane tickets from Kuwait City to anywhere I could think of that would be within an 8 hour plane ride. Before we even left the states I made a list of my dream travel destinations and both Sri Lanka and the Maldives made that list.  Once we arrived in Kuwait and started talking to returning teachers, who have traveled a ton, we kept hearing how awesome Sri Lanka was.  So the deal was sealed and the plane tickets were purchased.  Since we were going to be so close to the Maldives we decided to add that on to our trip as well. Sri Lanka is an island off the southeast corner of India. sri lanka 1 Our plan when we get to Sri Lanka is relax on the beach, check out some temples, and head to a national park where we hope to spot elephants and leopards while out on safari.  If those three goals are achieved I will leave Sri Lanka a very happy lady. After our Sri Lankan adventure we will head 470 miles away to the Maldives which is a conglomeration of 1,190 islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Maldives 1The Maldives basis for tourism is the fact that they are made up of some pretty spectacular islands.  The Maldives is a water destination.  The plans are to swim, snorkel, and maybe head out on a submarine.  So many activities of the Maldives are based around water because so much of the islands are literally a small step away from the water.  The Maldives is the lowest country in the world, with the highest point being below eight feet over sea level.  maldives 2 So there you have it, the plans on our first overseas Christmas.  The only thing that is helping my homesickness over not being with our family for the holidays is knowing we get to go and explore these destinations, that weren’t even in the realm of possibility in our old life style. I am so grateful for a supportive spouse, awesome friends to travel with, a family that understands our love for exploring, and FaceTime!

Dubai Marina

We have been to the city of Dubai twice now and both times we have stayed in the Dubai Marina area.  We stayed there the first time pretty much by chance, and the second time because I refused to stay anywhere else because I absolutely love it there!  The Marina area is awesome, it is as if we stepped out of the Middle East and stepped into Chicago.  It has the same tall buildings with awesome water access that you get when you are in Chicago.


Chicago last summer with Sarah, Heidi, Katie and Laura…Miss you Ladies!



The Marina is built on a two mile stretch of man made canals surrounded by tons of high rise apartment building, restaurants, shopping, and best off all: walking paths!

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 8.05.47 AM

The Marina is right near the Palm Jumeira, which is a series of man made islands in the shape of a palm tree. At the top of the palm tree is the Atlantis resort where I took my infamous leap of faith 🙂 The UAE is currently in the process of building another series of man made islands but this time they will be in the shape of a map of the world.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 8.06.55 AM

One other selling point on the Marina for me is that awesome little M on the map. The Marina has a metro stop right next to it, making basically everything in Dubai just a short train ride away.

One thing we have been majorly missing in our Kuwaiti life is access to outdoor space.  We do not have sidewalks, parks, or green space near us in Kuwait, so the accessibility of the outdoor space in the Dubai Marina is luxurious to us.  When staying in the Marina area we could roll out of bed in the morning and go for a walk, go out for brunch, run into the mall, or go for a bike ride.  In our short little weekend jaunt to Dubai we did exactly that on both mornings while we were there.  The only time we left the Marina area was when we went to the Rugby 7’s Tournament and when we went to the Irish Village for live music and dancing. (more on the 7’s and the Irish Village later)


When adulthood and childhood collide….adult size big wheels.


Niamh and Mitch



I love so many things about this city: the diversity, the amenities, the cleanliness, the metro, the legal alcohol, but more than anything else that I have found in Dubai, I love the Marina!

IMG_4842With a view like this, can you guess where I will be staying the next time we are in Dubai?