Monday, October 08, 2007

In Kuwait Again

08 October 2007

Well, in Kuwait again. I'm enroute to meet Phil in Amsterdam and then home to Chicago for a couple of weeks. I wasn't expecting to take so many days, but when I found out that I had days left from last year that were not charged as vacation and as medical leave (which all of it should have been charged as medical leave!) I figured I need to burn up some days or lose them.

Can you think up any better way of burning up days than in Amsterdam and then at home? I sure can't. I've got big plans for the next 30 days. But first, a commercial interlude in Kuwait to get jacked around by their new visa system which involves contractors coming into and out of the country to now part with 12 bucks each way to their treasury. The U.S. Government isn't paying them enough for the pleasure of us to be here. They now have to squeeze more money out of us for the pleasure of acting as a visiting force in their country. So I now have the luxury of lazing around for a day or so while the Kuwaiti's screw around with my visa to verify I'm not a migrant Indian roadworker in their country illegally!

We ought to just pull out of Kuwait and do everything through Qatar and eventually our NATO allies...Turkey. Once the UN thing gets going, flights from Qatar or Turkey would be much easier and cheaper than this clusterf*** of a mess we have here in Kuwait. The Kuwaiti's haven't been all that accomodating as of late and seem to be tiring of our extended stay. Who can blame them? We pushed out the Iraqi's over how many years ago. How much longer are we going to remind them that we gave them back their country? When is the debt paid back to us? Kind of like Danny Kaye reminding Bing Crosby of saving his life in White Christmas. How many times can you milk it to make them feel guilty and allow you to have your way with their country?

Couldn't get a flight out of Baghdad on Monday, so I left on Sunday and will try to get an earlier flight to Amsterdam if possible before my scheduled flt on on Wed if the visa comes back early. Usually, Brit Air flights are overbooked, so I am still debating whether to get a hotel room in Kuwait City for a night or continue my wonderful stay in the tents at the LSA (Logistical Support Area) at Ali As Salem until my departure. Kind of nasty though living in a transitory tent with ten or twelve others on bunks that are old and ratty and the lights are on 7X24 with god-knows how many sand flees living in the tent with us and how much drool from how many people who have occupied those bunks and NOT put down sheets. Not the Hilton by any stretch of the imagination.

Phil has never been to A'dam (hell, I just got him to Munich last year and London the year before) so I figure six days should be a good start. I already told him that we have to go to the Van Gogh Museum and to the Hard Rock. As many times as I've been in A'dam, I've never been to either one. I have to take him to the Heiniken "Experience" as well. We'll be staying in a very nice B&B (Bead and Breakfast) called the Seven Bridges Hotel. This place is nicely appointed in antiques and Oriental rugs in a nice canal house location in the Eastern Canal area. http://www.sevenbridgeshotel.nl/ Tripadvisor.com and the Top 10 Amsterdam book make special mention of this place, so I have high expectations.

I'm hoping to pay a visit to my Dutch friends in Arnhem, but R in India at a shooting competition with the Dutch Army and A has a badmitton tournament that weekend. Might just take the train out for a quick visit as it is only a 45 min train ride. Their daughter is a real riot and I love her just as much as my own nephews and nieces. She actually reminds me of her uncle (R's little brother) when he was that age, so we know where she gets it from!

After that, we will just wing it on what else to do. I'm thinking I would like to do a dinner show at the comedy club Chicago Boom, also well written about. And of course, we will have to see the Red Light District and take in some of the clubs. Also have to take him to the Bull Dog; one of the most popular "Coffee Shops". He still can't believe that they actually have shops that are so open with the soft drugs...with a menu, mind you! Not that we'll partake, but speak up if you want a t-shirt. Who wouldn't want to be sportin a t-shirt from the Bull Dog?

We arrive back home on the 16th, and I'll be in Phoenix from Mon-Thurs the next week. So I'm open Oct 17th-21st and then from Oct 26th-Nov 1st. I leave for London on the night of Nov 2nd. I'm meeting my buddy that I grew up with who now lives in NY, in London for the weekend. He is in London for a budget meeting that week, so he will stay over in London till Tuesday and fly back to NY when I fly to Kuwait. I'm pretty sure we can find something to keep us busy in London!

BBC news had an article about the Chinese Teracotta soldiers being on display at the British Museum while I'll be there, so I would really like to give a go at getting tickets to that. Wouldn't mind catching a show either. One place I will absolutley force Brian into is the Texas Embassy. Great TexMex food and drinks right next to the Canadian Embassy in Trafalgar Square! It is a required stop in my book.

That's all for now. I'll let you all know if the plans actually worked out as the vacation progresses.
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