[Picture of Kobayat by FunkyOzzi]
I’ve been delaying this trip for few weeks now due to the situation in the North, and it seemed like the perfect time to go this weekend as there are festivities in most Christian villages before the feast of the Assumption on Wednesday, up until all Lebanese read Michel Samaha’s confessions yesterday and the bombings he was planning for this weekend in Akkar.
I am glad they caught this guy before anything happened, because it would have been disastrous; yet the arrest and serious confessions frightened some friends and families who decided to stay home for the weekend. I am still going though not because I am not worried, but because you will end up staying home your whole life in Lebanon if you keep worrying about this and that plus the situation is much calmer than before nowadays. Hopefully, all will go well.
First stop will be in Tripoli at Kasr el Helou (Al Hallab) for the best Halawet el Jebn in Lebanon and Ramadan’s Kellaj of course.
I learned about Fadi Tannous’ death (heart attack) few hours ago and I am still in shock. Aside from being a good friend and a truly great guy with a unique sense of humor, Fadi was Lebanon’s fencing Champion on many occasions and part of the Lebanese delegation to the London 2012 Olympics. Fadi was truly devoted to the sport as well as many others and was the Federation’s secretary general. He also represented Lebanon abroad and has many medals to his name.
I always looked up to Fadi for being able to work all day yet stay in great shape and compete at the highest level. He was a great athlete and a multi-talented one and a role model to all those who got to knew him. He was getting married in a month time and was only 38 if I am not mistaken.
Here’s his last interview with Al Joumhouriyya Newspaper talking about our chances at the Olympics in London. [Interview]
R.I.P Champ! We’ll miss you!
A a friend of mine contacted me around two weeks back asking me if I wanted to review his McLaren and of course I said yes. After spending the day with it this weekend I can easily review the car with 3 words… “I want one”. Seriously I want one. I can’t afford to buy it but that doesn’t change the fact I really really want it.
There are a lot of reviews of the McLaren online and Top Gear have a great one which you can watch on YouTube. So, not wanting to come about this review in the same way I decided to look at the car differently. It’s obviously a fast super car and everyone already knows that but I was curious to how the car would perform as a daily driver. I would hate to spend this much on a car and then only drive it on weekends. I’d want to drive the car to work, to the gym or even to TSC to pick up some groceries.
First thing I looked for after getting into the car was cup holders and I ended up finding two right behind the center console. Cup holders are great for holding your drinks but they’re also more useful for storing items like your phone or sunglasses. The McLaren not only has two easy to access cup holders but there is also a 12v socket inside one of them which means you can plug in your phone charger as well. That’s practical. Another practical feature is the AC, both the driver and passenger have separate control panels which is a feature you usually find in large cars but not super cars.
The seats are also fully electric and have 3 memory positions which is convenient if the car is being shared between say a couple or family members. The sound system is naturally located in the center console and is made by the high end audio guru’s Meridian. The sound system control panel is a large touch screen that is more than double the size of the iPhone and is 100% iPhone/iPod compatible. Once you connect your iPhone or iPod to the car you can then navigate your music by touch and even view album art beautifully all on the center console screen. I think it has the best iPod integrated system I’ve seen so far. The car boot is a lot bigger than I expected. I wouldn’t take the car to Khoury Home if I need to get a 50inch screen, but it’s definitely supermarket friendly.
The McLaren is very comfortable to drive. I actually found it more comfortable and forgiving on worn out roads when compared to say my old Z4. I’m also pretty tall (6’1) and I didn’t feel claustrophobic or cramped in the car neither did I have problems finding my correct seating position (the seats are incredibly adjustable). Driving the car I was actually impressed by the fact I could cruise in it at 80km/h and not feel like I should be driving it a lot faster. Of course once you step on the gas the car is breathtakingly fast but as a daily driver you want to be able to drive on regular roads at regular speeds and the McLaren does that really well. Even the car’s gas mileage is pretty good at 15mpg which is similar to my FJ Cruiser. I did find the brake peddle a bit too stiff to press but it’s something you would get used to after a few hours in the car.
The only two things that hurt the car as a daily driver is the ride height and the doors. It’s a pretty low ride since it’s a sports car which means the majority of the speed bumps you’ll need to take sideways. The second issue is the doors, they swing open upwards which means you can’t park in very tight spots. If the parking spot is tight you won’t be able to open the doors so you always need to make sure you have ample room on the sides. But again if you’ve paid this much for the car, I doubt you’re going to be squeezing it anywhere. Valet wouldn’t be an issue on weekends since it’s a car that every club would love to have parked right at the main entrance. Just drive up and point to the valet where you want to park and they’ll move whatever car is in that spot for you.
I love the car but then again who wouldn’t? The thing is I don’t only love it because it’s a super car, I love it because it’s a super car you can actually use every day. I wasn’t kidding when I said I want one, I do I just can’t afford it. But, if anyone from McLaren is reading this, give me a fat discount (like 75%) and you’ve got yourself another customer.
As I mentioned almost two weeks back, I wa surprised to find on the ISF website that I received a speeding ticket dating back from October 2011. Even though the ticket was from October, it was published on the website in April 2012, which means over 6 months late.
Nevertheless, it turns out I am not the only one receiving late speeding tickets, so I followed the instructions on the website and called LibanPost. After several attempts, the LibanPost operator informed me that my ticket did not yet arrive and that it is still at Jounieh’s police station. I told them that it’s a very old ticket dating back from October but they confirmed to me that it wasn’t received yet.
Having said that, I tried to find Jounieh’s police station contact number but in vain, so I will be waiting for LibanPost to contact me now. However what amazes me is that I passed my “mecanique” in December even though I had unpaid tickets on my profile. I understand delaying the speeding ticket on the website but shouldn’t it be updated with the “Mecanique” database at least?
Last but not least, I was told by a friend that I cannot pay LibanPost once they deliver my ticket but have to go to their office to do so, which means that it is useless to ask LibanPost to deliver the ticket since you will have to go back and pay it afterwards.
When I was in Lebanon over the weekend I tried to book a table at MAD but it was fully packed so we ended up going to Life instead. When we first got there the music wasn’t so bad but that’s probably the only good thing I have to say about the place.
I basically didn’t like it.
Firstly the majority of the people there were either men and women aged 40 and up or really old men in their 60’s and 70’s with young bimbos or Eastern Europeans. The style of people kinda reminded me of Medusa in Jounieh. If you’ve never been to Medusa by the way that’s a good thing so don’t worry about it.
The music also went downhill or maybe I’m just old and lame but the kinda music they started playing would make even Skybar’s seem better. There was a “show” around 1AM where they two girls got up on the cat walk to dance. It was girl on girl action and it lasted for maybe one full song or two and then it was over and they were gone. Too short of a show and there should have been more girls (preferably also stripping).
Then there were a bunch of little things that stuck out as well. I thought the place looked a lot better when it was dimly lit (like in the photo above) but most of the time they had bright lights flashing and so the general ambiance was too bright and it looked tacky. When the girls were dancing they had these bright lights on behind them which brought to notice a huge dirty smear all over the glass window behind the girls. It was so distracting that I was noticing the glass more than the girls! Out table was up on a balcony and there was a horrible make shift bar underneath us. It looked like it was built after the place was finished and it looked cheap, old, broken and dirty. It really wasn’t a pleasant sight to see. The waiters also dressed like those in Lebanese restaurants (black pants, white shirt and black vests) which isn’t very cool. When we ordered a bottle of whiskey they brought us 18 years instead of the regular 12. When we ordered a bottle of vodka they got us the larger 1L bottle instead of the regular .75L. Doesn’t sound like a big issue but it felt like they were trying to get all these extra charges off us whenever they could.
On the other hand their roof is actually pretty cool. It’s similar to BO18 and opens up and closes so it’s an outdoor and indoor place at the same time. Their sound system was also pretty good with a lot of deep bass but if they only used it to play some decent music…
Anyway you can check out the place for yourself, they’re located behind BO18 right next to Sleep Comfort.
When I’m in Lebanon I live in Seheili (it’s like 5 minutes after Jeita) and for some reason a lot of thefts and robberies take place there. For example my building got robbed twice during construction and the second time our buildings caretaker was held at gun point. Then yesterday night a neighbor across the street had his FJ Cruiser stolen. If that’s not bad enough the thieves contacted him from Baalbak the next day and told him he could have his car back for $10,000!
Seheili is starting to sound like the ghetto. It’s really odd.
I thought they were trying to be funny at first but now that one of the ZWZ valet parking dudes physically assaulted a customer, I guess we better stay on alert and keep guns in the car when visiting ZWZ branches.
On another note, I truly hope ZWZ management fixes this problem soon because it’s reflecting badly on their reputation.
Maybe this will help explain my position better.
I was just watching the live coverage of the 5 story collapse on MTV and I have to say the studio news anchor was incredibly annoying. She kept cutting people off and then when another news anchor was interviewing the head of the hospital where they had taken the injured to, she interrupted them abruptly telling them they had to stop because the news was about to start. THIS IS THE NEWS! What the hell are you talking about? I can’t believe she cut them off so they could go into the news.
So based on the feedback I received in my previous post I got myself an MTC Touch line the day I arrived to Lebanon. I also subscribed to their 500MB package for $19 which is slightly less then what I pay back in Kuwait for the same amount of bandwidth.
My experience didn’t start positively. I got the line and subscribed to Mobile internet at 6PM but I only had my internet activated the next morning. Then I only had EDGE not 3G. I called up customer support and found it very frustrating.
First of all it takes a few minutes of redialing to actually connect to 111. Then when you connect you are FORCED to listen to all the menu options. You can’t skip by pressing the number you want, it doesn’t work that way. You need to hear the automated machine read out ALL the options and only once she is done you can select an option. So what should be a 10 second process is suddenly a minute long. I spoke to customer support 3 times and it was frustrating all 3 times since they couldn’t solve my issue. One guy said I should wait till its 24 hours since I signed up, another said to call again after 24 hours and they would register a complaint, another said I should visit the service center. When I asked for the APN information one guy told me he didn’t have it and I should visit their website. Actually one guy refused to file a complaint even because according to him the service was working since I got EDGE. I told him aren’t you guys advertising 3G? Aren’t you guys advertising the fastest mobile internet? My phone works with 3G and I’m only getting EDGE not the 3G you promised so the service is NOT working.
Anyway finally after spending around 20 minutes on the line mostly on hold a guy got back to me after discussing it with one of his IT guys. This is how I was able to activate 3G on my iPhone 4s based on their instructions:
– Go to network settings and choose Alfa as my operator
– Then after I do that I should swap it back to automatic
– Turn off and on the iPhone
– Voila, 3G is now active
I thought that was strange but hey, it worked and that’s all I cared for. If the guy told me to stand on my foot while shaking the phone over my head I would have done that if it meant getting 3G working.
And yes, 3G on the iPhone is great. It’s fast and I love it. Earlier I went and parked under this old railway track in Jounieh and got online with my MacBook while tethering to my iPhone and the connection was great. I used to hate coming to Lebanon because of the terribly slow internet connection but now it’s suddenly become a joy. I also have 3G up in my house in Seheili (around 10 minutes after Jeita) which is also great. So right now I’m extremely happy with my 3G on MTC Touch.