Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Living It Up In Beirut

If life in Algiers is like season 1 of Prison Break, where all the action was cooped up in a restrained area, then my visit to Beirut is like season 2 of Prison Break - where the action just keeps getting better and I'm moving from places to places all the time. ...bear with me, I think I'm overdosed on Prison Break...

Anyway, I'd been back in Beirut for two weeks now. Beirut is my first whiff of freedom after months of being cooped up in Algeria with nothing to expect but work. This mediterranean city is constanting boasting of nice places to eat, shop, hang-out, club. It is full of vibrancy and life that one can only dream of while in Algeria.

They told me that Lebanon is still suffering from the unstable situation since last year. Downtown Beirut looks a bit quiet and deserted. But the bad situation didn't stop some business from running nor spoil my appetite for good Sharwarma. (Arabic skewered meat)
As expected, there are no lack of places to hangout in Beirut.
Watermelon @ ABC Mall, Asharafieh was enjoying a full crowd when I visited with Xinyi. Nice thing about the restaurant? It's theme colors, menu and waiters' uniform changes according to the four seasons.

Their table mats have some liquid goo inside. They look so cool that I wish I could take one home to use as a mousepad. We were on diet and so we ordered some wings to share...

...and a salad, that's really big! (check out the depth of the bowl!)


Located not on the European continent but in west Beirut, this little pub attracts a young crowd from the nearby American University of Beirut. Since me and my colleagues were staying nearby in Hamra, we like to pop by this pub after work for a dose of Almazar, a local beer, or their Nakad house wine.

er... camera 'buay' steady after 3 Almazars...haha...

City Mall

City Mall can be found 10mins out of Beirut by car at Dora (pronounced dow-rah). The first time I heard about this place I thought ... Big Deal ... sounds like my friendly neighbourhood Lot 1 kinda shopping mall, where you can see the quinessential aunties struggling over each other to dig out from the pile, the last remaining piece of maroon and green bedsheet going at $9.90.

It's not a big place compared to Takashimaya but big enough. Familiar labels like Springfield, Timberland and Nike can be found there. There's a huge Carrefour style supermarket, Geant Casino, to complete the store line-up. All in all, there several good reasons to go there to shop.

But now there's a better reason to go there after I learned that their 9 theaters cineplex has already opened for business. I've been starved of my fair share of going to the theaters when I'm in Algeria to the point of desperation. Maybe desperation is an understatement. The experience of going to the movies armed with a bucket of pop-corn (half buttered, half caramel please....) simply cannot be replaced by watching DVDs at home, unless your system is THX certified but mine isn't. Anyway, it's the big screen, big sound or nothing while I'm in Beirut...

Look ma! They also have big cineplexes in Lebanon!

Hard Rock Cafe

HRC promotes Open Wings Open Beer all-you-can-eat every monday nights. We went there on the monday night before the Labor Day public holiday, and saw the biggest crowd that I have ever seen.

I spent a really good time there with my colleagues that night. The music ranged from vintage rock anthems to latest dancey pop helped to spice up the party ambience. And I'm pretty sure the beer helped too...


Faraya is a popular Ski resort in Lebanon for a good reason: European standards at a fraction of the price. But when we went to Faraya, it wasn't ski season anymore.

The snow was already melting. But we went up anyway to the InterContinental ski resort...
To enjoy tarts and hot chocolate...

Sadly, I couldn't find Bob, the snowman that I built when I came here last year. (I will miss you Bob~ )
But it was most definitely had been a very chillout trip for us...

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