Difference between revisions of "Kuwait"
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Revision as of 13:07, 18 January 2012
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The State of Kuwait is a small country in Western Asia.
This article is based on the experiences of Kriechstrom as of early 2010. If you know something changed, feel free to correct.
Before you start thinking about hitchhiking in Kuwait read the safety remarks about the country. Extreme outdoor situations will be life-threatening if you're not well prepared!
Kuwait is an artificial desert city that thrives because of rich oil resources in the country. There are few tourist attractions in the country so it's only worth it for 2 to 4 days if you have a stopover. You don't need to know any Arabic to get around as everybody knows English and all signs ar bilingual. Women are supposed to cover their legs and shoulders but do not need to cover their heads. Men should wear long trousers.
Hitchhiking is not recommended in Kuwait. There is nobody doing it because of its hazards and because fuel and public transportation are dirt cheap. If you still insist to do it, think about where you want to hitchhike.
This agglomeration area is the only place where a lot of people are living. Lots and lots of cars are going around but the traffic situation and that hitchhiking is unknown might make it difficult to get a ride. If you still want to try you should position yourselves at the on-ramps in the living areas or on the bus stations along the highway. In general it will be much easier to visit Kuwait by a hospitality exchange service. Couchsurfing hosts might be eager to pick you up from the airport and even show you around since so few couchsurfers come to Kuwait.
Buses are available for 200 fils (about 50 Euro-cents) by KPTC (link to KPTC website) and private bus companies. All companies run buses along the same lines. To get from the airport into the city, take line 13: line 13 route . Taxi rides within Kuwait city are about 2 KD to 5 KD (5 Euro to 12,50 Euro).
Kuwait city is connected via big motorways. The ring roads numbered from 1 to 6 (7th and 8th are under construction) form rings around the city center where the 1st ring road is closest to the center. The 2-digit roads like 30, 35, 40 etc. lead into and out of the city.
Desert and small towns
Going to the desert or the smaller towns (like Wafrah or Al-Ahmadi) is interesting if you've never been to a desert but that's it. Do not hitchhike there if in doubt how to get back, if you get stranded you're not just screwed, you might die.
If you can get into touch with any Kuwaitis in winter, they might invite you to join them to their desert camps. Almost all Kuwaitis follow this old tradition of putting up tents and celebrating with family and friends. And these are not the European style of smallish tents, they are huge and might even include toilets and TV. Of course your Kuwaiti friends will insist to take you there, so you won't need hitchhiking.
Though there are roads to Iraq and Saudi Arabia you should not try hitchhiking there. South Iraq is still too dangerous to travel and if you do not have a visa for Saudi don't put up hopes to get across the border. There are no tourist visa to either of these countries!
Be informed about where you are going in Kuwait. Carry a cell phone and the number of the emergency services at all time. Cell phone is usually good even in the middle of the desert.
Crime and traffic
Crime is not a problem inside Kuwait, traffic safety is. Though not the worst in the Arabic region, driving is much more recklessly than in Europe. This situation is made even worse by the fact that Kuwaitis love big cars (big as in GMC Yukon big). Car wrecks are often just left beside the road but don't seem to serve as an example. If you get into the possibility of driving yourself, think about it twice and then leave it to somebody else. In accidents involving Kuwaiti usually the non-Kuwaiti is found guilty.
You will notice that there are "No Photography" signs on refineries and official buildings. Obey them. Doing otherwise will probably not get you into prison but foreigners have been detained by Kuwaiti secret service for days for that.
The weather and the extreme temperatures are a permanent danger in Kuwait. Temperatures range between -5 ºC (23 F) and 55 ºC (131 F) and change rapidly between night and day. So, bring warm clothes, sun shelter, sun glasses, sunscreen and before all, lots of water. Even when you're barely outdoors you will have to drink 2 liters per day. If you're stuck outdoor in summer you will have to drink 10 liters or more per day. So, DON'T get stuck outdoors. Stay near places where there is air conditioning and water supply, e.g. shopping malls and small supermarkets (co-op societies) that are spread all over Kuwait city.
Sandstorms often occur in Kuwait. They probably won't be life-threatening but they are no fun either if you don't have any shelter.
During the Iraqi invasion lots of landmines have been laid in Kuwait. Though most have been cleared there is still a small danger. Don't step into any place that looks fishy or carries warning signs.