Monday, 8 July 2013

The Ice Capades, A La Kuwaiti Style

Oh my gosh, I did the coolest thing last night: I went ice skating...In Kuwait...ICE SKATING!!! Now, of course ice skating is quite common in Canada. As a child, in the winter time, ice skating was a weekly field trip. My classmates and I would don our snowsuits (hats, mitts, scarves, boots, etc...), and lug our bags for a whole whomping 15 minutes to the community (indoor) ice rink. In our bags we carried extra socks, mittens, small towels to dry our skate blades with and maybe a snack/drink. Sometimes we took sports equipment, but for most kids, hauling skates, our bags AND sports gear was a bit much. The boys, (ice) hockey enthusiasts, were more committed to bringing sporting equipment. My love for ice skating continued over the years to the point where my sister and I would ask for new skates for Christmas when our old ones were too small or damaged. Up until recently, every year my sister and I would set our alarms to blare in the wee hours of the morning, hop out of bed, get dressed, grab our stuff (by now we'd substituted food/drinks for portable music players), and drive to the (outdoor) ice rink downtown. We'd skate until the Zamboni machine arrived (around 7am), and then we'd run across the street for coffee/hot chocolate and go home. We haven't done it in the past few years and I miss it. Maybe that can be what we ask my dad to get us for Christmas: new skates!

A picture of the rink downtown lit up around Christmas at night.

Skating in Kuwait was an altogether different experience. Located in Kuwait City, the skating rink is open every day and is relatively cheap to visit (3kd/2 people). How did I even learn of this place, you ask? One of my students offered to take me (along with his friends) after I showed my students pictures of Canada and told them what I loved doing in Canada that is quintessentially Canadian. Ice skating came up in the conversation, and so came about an invitation to go to skating.

My student picked me up (which had me panicking because police tend to pick on Asians and Arabs driving around together, but all was fine). We took the scenic route to get there (we got quite lost!). Thankfully, my student wasn't afraid to ask for directions-yes, that's a dig at Canadian men who usually won't ask for directions because of their male pride. Anyhooo, most people had no idea what we were enquiring about and one guy flat out laughed at us. EVENTUALLY someone was able to help us and we managed to meet my student's friends AND get in a few laps around the rink before it closed. My poor student had only skated a few times, so he clung to the Plexiglas most of the time. The ice was quite cut up so it took me a looong time to even get my balance, but by the end I was whizzing around and weaving in and out of the crowd the same way that people navigate their cars here.

I was stupid enough to believe that the rink would be dead and we'd have the whole place to ourselves. How ignorant I am. Imagine my surprise when we entered the rink and saw it was PACKED! No joke. What was awesome was that there were AMAZING skaters there! Men and women JUMPING, twirling, spinning, doing fancy footwork and even being brave enough to try a move, fall (painful-looking falls), and get back up and try it all over again. Girls dressed to the max were still able to skate beautifully; girls wearing MEN'S skates were still able to skate beautifully! What was even more awesome was that people of all ages were skating around together. Yeah, this is no different from Canada (you Canadians/westerners are thinking, I know), but the difference was girls were skating with girls, boys were skating with boys, girls were skating with boys-and in each of those categories many were holding hands-being supportive and lending a helping hand! I thought it was the sweetest thing when I saw my student's friends (both male) holding hands and skating together as one could skate better than the other who could barely stand without losing his balance. I couldn't stop smiling. I actually stopped skating a few times to just sit and watch because, well, because it was amazing. I've never felt so at home in a country so different from my own (Japan doesn't count because I'm half Japanese and I do consider it a second home).

Unfortunately, taking photographs inside the premises is NOT permitted, hence the lack of photos in this post. I know that tons of people WERE taking pictures, but I didn't think my student would appreciate me posting pictures of him on my blog. He was a good sport and he only fell once! I really want to go back! I had a blast and highly recommend a visit there (I only saw two expats, a father and son, there). We finished off the evening grabbing a bite at Chili's (not my choice), and I had corn on the cob (ohhh, yeah!), and I couldn't help getting mint lemonade which is definitely NOT what I'm used to after ice skating, but whatever. When in Rome...I loved my student's friends. The better skater can't speak any English and the novice skater is quite good and lived in Calgary for six months. An honorary Canuck ;)

You can find information about Touristic Enterprises Company Ice Skating Rink at the following link: http://www.kuwaittourism.com/IceSkatingRink.htm

2 comments:

  1. I've heard of this place but have never gone. Its near the discovery mall right? Its been years since I've gone ice skating and I can't skate for peanuts either! We've gone a few times during my school days. Though, I would spend most of the time on my butt wiping the ice of my jeans, by hey.. its a lot of fun!

    I'm surprised that it was jam packed! Wasn't expecting that! Lol.. glad you had fun :-)

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    1. hi layla!
      apologies for the late reply! i have no idea if it's near discovery mall because i'm just not familiar with that area :(
      i hope you're enjoying your summer and if you're up to a night full of laughs you should try the ice skating out. it was awesome!

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