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Monthly Archives: February 2016

Playing the air-ticket market – how to buy the cheapest tickets

The price differentials, travel date 25-Feb-16.

The price differentials, travel date 25-Feb-16.

Everyone claims to know how to buy the cheapest tickets – the truth is there is no tried and tested way to always guarantee, there are however certain tricks you can deploy to ensure you get the best possible ticket at the best possible price.

Step 1: HAVE A PLAN

you cannot score good tickets on a whim, you need to review the calendar, check when you want to go on vacations, and select a destination.

Step 2: SELECT A DESTINATION

some people have a passport that allows them to spin the globe and go wherever their finger lands, others need to apply for visas. In either case, start applying a good month or so before your date of flying. To base your trip on your budget, check www.kayak.com/explore (link) for ROUGH ticket prices during certain periods to destinations around you.

Step 3: SET UP AN ALARM

you can freely track changing ticket prices on Kayak, Dohop, Expedia, Skyscanner etc. whereby you set your dates, and watch for changes.

Now, at this point, it becomes tricky – PRICES FLUCTUATE! if you watch the fluctuations, you will understand why airlines do not allow you to transfer your ticket to someone else.

We had selected a destination and started watching it, the lowest price per person was KD 125 on Qatar Airways. QA announced a bonanza on tickets, so we waited. During that period, prices went up and down by about 1KD.

Suddenly, as the bonanza kicked in, instead of prices dropping, they suddenly sky-rocketed to DOUBLE WHAT THEY WERE!

Which leads me to believe that airline websites have cookies that enable them to hike up the prices based on increased traffic/ purchases on their website.

At this point I was kicking myself for waiting so long, and silently cursing my luck.

Once the bonanza finished, prices went down. All this time I as merely checking my email for daily/ weekly updates on ticket prices.

The problem was however, the “class of ticket” i wanted was no longer available. Or the time (flight) was not available.

Two factors influence ticket price – class and date – by class we mean econo-saver, econo-super-saver etc. and by date we mean different dates.

Lo and behold, the ticket I wanted was back online, and for the same price I had seen a few weeks earlier, I quickly nabbed it up and ended up paying KD 250 for two return tickets to Cyprus on QA at the PERFECT TIME (leaving 5AM) and leaving Cyprus in the evening.

I learnt to be patient, to always check online and to know when to jump in.

Prices have now since gone lower, however the attributes are not the same, the “To” journey is now 13hours as opposed to 7, which is a killer in itself.

By monitoring prices, you will know what the average price is, and once you reach that price again…

Sustainable Youth Initiative Feb 2016 – The Montage

We hope everyone had as much fun attending as we did organizing, and we had A LOT of fun Organizing!

Sustainable Youth Kuwait Community 5KM Team Run Review

At first people were skeptical, how could this event be free? What was the catch? Are the medals for everyone or just the top 3? Last 3? What is going on here?!

Yesterday marked the first time I ever took part with a group to organize a race, under the banner of Sustainable Youth.

Sustainable Youth is meant to highlight the fact that our own youth is in our hands; by living a life of activity, we can remain forever young. And that is what was most prevalent yesterday; looking around the participants, seeing happy faces, young and old, veteran runners and newbies, all united in their quest to have a great time.

Our goal was simple; the race would not be won by the first person crossing the finish line, rather by the last. For each participant crossing the finish line earned their team points, if teams were unequally distributed in terms of numbers, the age-old mathematical trick of cross-multiplication helped to level the playing field.

#SYQ8 #4forfitness #raiseawareness #Kuwait #healthy #physical #active #sports #Fitness #exercise #foreverfitq8 #freefitness #Running #Mindovermatter #yourhealthmatters #healthyq8 #tiretodaybettertomorrow #buildothersup #4awareness #4teams4health

Team GreenIsMean! 

As an organizer, I was proud of the event we put together on such short notice, we had around 4 weeks from the time our project was approved by En.v to the time we had to implement the event, at that time I had managed to get 50 people to sign up and be interested in the event, of course it was no walk in the park from there.

Registrations, confirmations, cancellations, requested affiliations, suffice to say I lost a few friends along the way, but I ended up making MORE FRIENDS than i’d lost, so all-in-all, it was quite rewarding.

#SYQ8 #4forfitness #raiseawareness #Kuwait #healthy #physical #active #sports #Fitness #exercise #foreverfitq8 #freefitness #Running #Mindovermatter #yourhealthmatters #healthyq8 #tiretodaybettertomorrow #buildothersup #4awareness #4teams4health

The Yellow Sparows! (gentleman in the top right was a last second addition, who drove by after the race had started, got out of his car, asked to be signed up, got back in his car, drove to park it, then ran the race and to the finish line – which is as you recall, THE ORIGINAL STORY BEHIND OUR VIDEO!”

The email we had made for the event had a problem; Google refused to let us send out bulk BCC emails, so I had to rely on my personal email for that, with around 14 different threads and 100 conversations or so.

Participants: We had 112 participants show up, out of a total of 156 we had heard back from. 72% attendance.

Food: in excess.

Giveaways: plenty remained, everyone was accommodated.

On race-day some people showed up that were neither registered or waiting list, we took them in as well.

We recruited the registered runners to help us out behind the table, special mention goes to everyone that stepped up and helped make this event a success.

It has been referred to as the M&M’s run, and the Skittles run. And we love the names!

The first four to cross the finish line, surprisingly, were one from each of the 4 teams! Red finished first, however as we said from the beginning, it was never about who finishes first, but this just goes to prove how equally the teams were distributed!

Now, I must step outside my role as organizer and critique the run I organized, as I have made a reputation of doing:

Cons:

1- Demarcations were not clear

When I arrived at 7:30AM that day, I had one mission in addition to organizing, demarcating the path – I’d printed papers to stick up along the path, to make the race a series of 500M runs. The day was very windy and the papers were quite flimsy. After I got to Salwa Al-Sabah hall and turned around (2KM & 3KM markers) I was putting up the before last marker (4KM, at the Sultan Al Jazeera area) when security showed up. Now security along the path belong to Marina, and we’re hosting the event at the Scientific Center ON Marina’s walking path. So of course they required authorizations, paperwork, approvals etc. Which we did not have from Marina. Fortunately, they let it slide and even gave me a ride for 500M in their electric car.

(props to @thescarletzeaster for being my executive manager and handling all phone calls as I went for a run!)

2- The start line was chaotic

We apologize profusely to Tami590 for her injury, which was as a result of OUR oversight, in that the start line was LONG, and the two poles in the middle were unseen by the people in the back as they began their run, so we sincerely apologize for that oversight.

3- No music

Planning the event on a frugal budget and having our mind focused entirely on the run made us miss entertainment, however we sincerely hope that the antics of @mradamantine made up for it!

4- Finish line banner placed on floor

Runners favorite moment is running through the finish line, however the one we had made was quite heavy, and was presenting a challenge both hold up and run through, so we decided to put it on the ground and have people run over it instead.

IMG-20160213-WA0038 (1)

Team Red Rage!

5- Everyone was running back

Initially we had communicated to our participants that only captains and co-captains would run back, however, when we saw that everyone was motivating everyone to run back, and that we had plenty of eyes at the finish line to tell us who had crossed before and who hadn’t to ensure no extra points were given by mistake, we decided to allow the people to motivate everyone!

What was beyond amazing was how everyone rose to the opportunity and motivated their team, not just caps & co-caps.

6- No ambulance

We contacted the MOH, they approved our request, an ambulance WAS supposed to come, however, nothing. We also contacted the MOI and got police approval, as well as the governor of Hawally to gather a crowd together, and yet no police came.

Pro’s:

1- as far as first events go, this was not that bad!

2- we reached out goal of motivating people to motivate others, which was something one of the mentors at En.v was skeptical we would achieve. I remember clearly he kept saying, you are assuming. What he failed to realize however was that in my core, I am a runner, and I KNOW how runners are. We’re the people who are over-eager and always happy to help strangers, we give advice when needed and remain silent when needed. We show support by running shoulder to shoulder with strangers and motivating them to reach their potential.

3- M&M’s and Skittles, the shirts were mutli-colored, the people were as different as you could imagine. Older, younger, faster, slower, smaller, bigger – but it wasn’t in how different we all were, as opposed to reflective we were of each other’s spirit – that of sustainable youth. Running is one sport where you can be as competitive as you want or as friendly as you want, there are two extremely and a million places in between where you can land.

4- Everyone was happy, no one was competitive, everyone was co-operative. Your individual finishing time did not matter, what mattered was your team’s collective finishing points, and guess what? we had points going up to 55 minutes, but EVERYONE was done by about 48 minutes, which is no small feat!

5- the t-shirts came out looking awesome, the logo was awesome, the medals were awesome, the trophies were awesome, the recipients who were captains were flabbergasted (especially our most influential runner who was not even paying attention to the guy on the mic as he sang him praise!).

What happens now?

If you think this is the end, you’re thoroughly mistaken. I saw the amount of fun people had, and save for one individual who had something negative to say about the race, we aim to ensure everyone is this happy again.

Our first time was free as it was completely funded by En.v, we plan to see where we can go from here, knowing full well the pricing of standard races in Kuwait.

The hope now is to find a sponsor willing to put their name on this project and write it off under Corporate Social Responsibility, now comes the difficult part of writing it up and pitching it, so if you know anyone that might be interested, please do send us their details.

IMG-20160213-WA0039

The winner’s and inaugural champions – Les Bleus!

Thank you to everyone that contributed to making this event a success.

Special mention goes to the wives of runners, who prove that behind every great runner there is a great wife that sacrifices and volunteers to help the common goal be reached, we were fortunate to meet two such lovely ladies (3 including my wife).

#SYQ8 #4forfitness #raiseawareness #Kuwait #healthy #physical #active #sports #Fitness #exercise #foreverfitq8 #freefitness #Running #Mindovermatter #yourhealthmatters #healthyq8 #tiretodaybettertomorrow #buildothersup #4awareness #4teams4health

The champions!

Review of the #NorthFaceChallenge 2016 @q8sportsevents @thenorthface @thenorthfacekwt

This past Saturday witnessed the 4th version of The North Face Challenge in Kuwait, organized by Pro-Vision.

(I have postponed writing this review as I have been very heavily involved in organizing my very own first community project, a 5KM team run this saturday morning, so apologies for the delay).

Initially, I was not slated to compete at TNFC, frankly because I feel it is overpriced, and based on the statements of people that took part in the earlier versions, quality has been steadily deteriorating, with give-away’s becoming virtually non-existent.

Map

The trail began as follows; short run uphill (soft sand), small rock climb, run on flat surface for a good distance, DANGEROUS run downhill (rocks), flat lands run till base-camp, run uphill (softer sand), run downhill, run uphill (SOFTEST SAND EVER), climb ladder, run to the side, run downhill (soft sand), back at starting point. Repeat X5.

Here are the pro’s and con’s of the race, as we saw and as we heard from several racers:

1- No medals

It is no secret that runners sole drive for participating in races is bling. The organizer claimed that it is a “challenge”, and the challenge was to complete 5-laps in a desert terrain, equaling around 17KM within a cut-off time of 2hrs30mins.

Now I do not know on which basis they decided to select this cut off time, maybe the organizer had an important breakfast meeting he had to run off to, but the fact remains that after checking the official North Face Challenges website (link), I concluded that the cut off time was too short. Here is how I arrived at that conclusion:

For their Marathons (trail) the cut-off time was 8hrs.

Half-Marathon (trail) cut-off time was 4hrs.

10KM (trail) cut off time was 2hrs.

The average runner would complete those distances in half that time, 4, 2, 1 hour respectively. They allotted double the time. Why? Because TRAILS.

Now the cut-off time given by pro-vision was 2hrs30mins, which even if the race were FLAT GROUND, would require 1hr37minutes to complete, meaning they only gave an extra hour, which still does not take into account that this race was a TRAIL, with several climbs.

2- No recognition

Most people refused to give up, even after they were counted out unceremoniously by the organizer, and pushed and persevered to complete the distance, however, upon arriving at the finish line, the timer had already stopped, and all their efforts were for naught. Not only that, the organizers had begun packing up to leave already, removing their signage etc. A sincere low-blow to people that made the effort to drive out 40 or so KM to the base camp. You were the reason they drove there, you better ensure they all leave intact.

3- Dangerous cliffs

As always, the organizer made a habit of yelling at everyone to keep quiet and to explain the terrain of the race. Not once did he bother to give any tips on running up sand dunes or more importantly, running down cliffs. When I was navigating the first downhill stretch, I was going on instinct, and felt more mountain goat than man:

mountain goat

There was only one volunteer at the top, and a camera man that moved towards the cliff as the race progressed, however there was no medical personnel in the area or any other volunteers that could assist should anyone be unfortunate enough to land incorrectly. What’s more there was a downhill jump that had a piece of metallic wiring for the first lap, obviously knocked over by a runner, which could have caused serious injury.

4- No food

Despite the organizers promising meals to the participants, there was not enough to go around, as by the time some finished, the food was already out. So no medal, and no food. Hey, atleast you could get your fill of water.

5- No Gatorade

In addition, the number one thing you need once you’re done with a TRAIL race in the DESERT is electrolyte replenishment.

Was there adequate gatorade? No. What the organizer was doing however was watering it down and giving each participant the equivalent of a few sips. And by the time the race was done the Gatorade was out.

What did they choose to pack in the “meals”? Gatorade you say? WRONG! Juice – Mango, Cocktail and Apple.

6- Faulty toilets

One of the bathroom stalls in the male bathroom had a door that does not close/lock. ’nuff said. How much does a lock cost? How difficult is it to inspect a door prior to driving out that giant porta-cabin to the desert?

7- Trash left behind

A friend that went out to enjoy the trails yesterday was shocked to discover the mess left behind by the organizers, who did not even have the courtesy to clean up after themselves. Just because it is the middle of nowhere does not alleviate the obligation of environmental awareness.

8- Bottlenecks

The ladder was a terrible idea, a bottleneck that would cause  a pile up as people stopped to catch their breath whilst climbing. There should have been alternatives.

editors note: 9- cut-off time for registration

a dear reader (#4 on the podium – Greg Ziembinski) brought it to our attention that one of the problems he saw with the race was that a lot of people that deserved a chance to run the race were denied because they’d reached capacity. Now, this makes us think, for next time, why don’t the organizers specify a minimum requirement for the challenge, seeing as how they officially came on record and said it is not for everyone, but instead of taking people’s money and not giving them a medal because they did not complete the race, set a condition for people participating, like they must have completed a half-marathon in under two hours etc. Something that people can see, compare to themselves, and then leave registration spots open for those that have earned them.

Just a thought.

Thanks Greg!

Pro’s

1- Super difficult trail

details

The race took me 2hrs6mins to complete, of which 1hr44mins were moving time. I set my watch to autopause, therefore the race required almost 20 minutes of walking time in the sand.

2- Supportive crowd

Everyone was super supportive of their fellow runners, showing the true bonds of this fraternity.

3- Not as sandy as people made you believe

Everyone was going on and on about how the biggest problem was sand in your shoes. Instagram is littered with pictures of people with their shoes over their shoulders, and several people on race-day sat on the sidelines to get sand out of their shoes. Some had fashioned their own anti-sand covers, whilst others went for store-brought. I did neither, and had very little sand in my shoes.

The key is: thick socks.

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As you can see we were not shy about getting our feet ankle deep in dunes

If we had to do this run all over again, we would urge the organizers to plot a course that does not have ALL THE UP/DOWN hills in one area, back-to-back.

Stay tuned as I review my own race next.

Where to find Custom Kuwait February Celebrations Artwork?

Look no further than http://craitza.blogspot.com/

stock-vector-victory-sign-hand-painted-in-kuwait-s-national-flag-vintage-poster-356128733

Cris is an artist that brings a touch of locality to his designs; having been in the region for many years, he is well informed of all the norms and traditions of society in Kuwait, which is relfected in his spectacular artwork.

Have a look and see what he has to offer:

stock-vector-three-vintage-style-postage-stamps-greetings-from-kuwait-landmark-parliament-building-336083330

Once upon a run – a tale of Sustainable Youth

You may have noticed that our blog writing activities had decreased significantly over the past month; the reason being we were involved with a new endeavor – planning our first running event!

You can find out more about the event through our instagram post @sustainableyouthq8, as well as our Facebook page (link).

And now, we even have a promotional video:

As far as first attempts go, we’re quite satisfied with the final product. It is worth mentioning however that the final product that came out was not originally what we had intended, here is what happened along the way:

a. The approval to go ahead with the project came later than expected; a project of this magnitude (140+ runners) requires plenty of planning and follow-up, we were given around 3 weeks to put this thing together.

b. The event is called Sustainable Youth, it is meant to be “how to achieve sustainable youth”, not to empower the youth in Kuwait, not an effort by the youth of Kuwait, but an endeavor to bring sustainable youth to everyone in Kuwait.

The original script of the video called for the character to be walking, reminiscing. All of the sudden, he would see runners coming at him, he is supposed to lean forward as if to fall over, followed by a black screen and the sound of gasps, to signify that he might have been trampled by the runners.

However, the running team, although being requested to appear in two different locations, misunderstood and kept going. We were waiting at the midway point, we would then go to the finishing point to shoot the finale.

Once that happened the original idea was out of the window.

c. We had only one day of shooting, as the running group convenes on a saturday, so we made the most of what we had.

d. The video was being shot in Kuwait and edited abroad, put together, then sent back to Kuwait for review. This was not the first we viewed, we had to work on it again.

The new story is that the old man is telling the world that despite appearing as old, there is still gas left in the tank.

We thank you for your viewing and hope to see you at the event, on February 13th, 8:30AM at the Scientific Center.

How the internet helped preserve my Man-Card

Let’s face it, “man-card” is much more author pleasing than “manhood”, so here is the harrowing tale on how technology helped me save my dignity at the time of chivalry.

It all started one lazy afternoon, I was driving home from work where all of the sudden, I was met with a huge traffic jam. Frequent in Kuwait, so as always, whilst passing by the culprit, a rather bulky Hyundai SUV, I noticed two things:

a) there was a woman driving it

b) she had a flat tire, shredded was more like it.

Noticing her distress, and the fact that no one else was stopping to help her, and that she was alone. I parked a few feet away, removed my suit jacket, rolled up my sleeves and walked towards her, palms out to signal I meant no harm.

She rolls down her window, smiling. I ask if she has a spare tire (trick question) to which she replies, I don’t know.

(Now ladies, all new cards come with spare tires. It is not an option you can select or ignore, it is standard).

So I asked if I could check in the back, I go to the trunk and notice the first thing, the hydraulic system that keeps it up is broken. Crapfest.

Then I see that she does indeed have the tools for fixing a flat, so I rush to tell her that. The back area was bedecked with children’s bicycles (X2), school books and the cover for the back area, which I thought would work well to sit on whilst changing the tire.

So after clearing out the trunk, I lift it up to notice that, it’s an extra seat, and not in fact, a cover for the spare tire. I began to feel distressed, how would I tell this lady that I was wrong, and that there was in fact no spare tire in the car?

For some reason, I decided to inspect the undercarriage, and sure enough, there it was, all bedecked in dust and grime, the spare tire, hanging beneath the car. Of all the STUPID places to put a SPARE tire, the underbelly of the car has to be THE STUPIDEST! It is completely at the mercy of the elements! It can get punctured, torn, violated etc. and you would never know until it was too late.

Now came the conundrum however; how to REMOVE the spare tire.

This was NOT my first spare tire rodeo, I have changed countless tires, mostly for myself, but never was I presented with one beneath the car. I went about my neanderthal-like ways of trying to pull at it, to no avail. Then I consulted the oracle, the oracle known as Google.

Sure enough, there was a very smart way to remove the tire, which knowing now, makes me 10% less mad at the idea of a spare tire on the undercarriage. 5%. 2%. It still sucks.

I went about changing the tire, which was very difficult to do bedecked in shirt and tie, but I did it anyway. All the while the lady was on her phone, smiling.

As I suspected, the spare tire was deflated quite a bit. Not only that, it was MUCH SMALLER THAN THE REGULAR TIRE. The car would definitely drive lopsided. So after it was changed, I told the lady she needs to drive slow, no more than 50KMH, to the nearest tire place. She even helped hold up the back of the car as I started piling her stuff back into the back.

Going the extra mile, I noticed the suspension on which the spare tire was was now dangling like a pair of… from the back. So I tightened the screw to bring them back up, away from the road.

And that is the story of how the internet helped me save my man-card amidst a chivalrous act.

PS If you see a lady with a flat tire, help out. She may not have someone else she can depend on.

PSS If you’re a dude that cannot change a flat tire, hand in your man-card NOW.

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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