Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Shitty in Saudi


Today my blog should be called Shitty in Saudi.

My usual upbeat mood has taken a dive.
Today I'm sick of being considered the weak gender in need of protection and too useless for words.

Today I just wanted to jump on a bike, any bike, and ride.
The boys can.
Hubster and Mr Finland went riding off on their big arse Harley's and Motoguzzi's this morning - something they can do anytime they want.  Why the hell can't I?

Today, when men rode casually past me on their bicycles and scooters I had to fight a huge urge to push them off so I could grab their bikes and ride up the road, round the corner and off to any place I darn well please.   Today I pouted and swore and huffed and cursed and was shouting anything but 'Serenity Now' because today, for some reason, it annoyed the heck out of me that 50% of the population here (that's the half that call themselves 'men') can do whatever they want, if they choose, no questions asked.
And I can't.

The Husbands less than sympathetic attitude was not helping.
He was only making me mad.
Every day I listen to his ranting and raving about his 'Saudi issues' at work.
Every day!
Every day I'm sympathetic and supportive.  Every now and then I offer suggestions that I know are pointless, but hey!  I'm listening.  I'm there with him.

Once in a blue moon I go off and what do I get?
Nothin!

Mr Finland thought today I looked like I wanted to hit someone.
I did end up whacking a few tennis balls into a concrete wall.
It didn't help.

Today any male telling me to calm down, cover my hair, go shopping 'cos that's what women are good at' or go visit another coffee shop and eat another piece of cake can take a flaming hike cos today I'm seriously shitty living the Saudi Male interpretation of a woman's fabulous life!

Usually Sent wishing you a fabulous day - but today I'm just a little bit off!


Ka Kite,
Kiwi

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Don’t get too excited about Jeddah’s new aquarium


I spent this morning chuckling over an article by Sabira S Jawhar in the Arab News - Don’t get too excited about Jeddah’s new aquarium.  Pertinent pieces of text, which had very little to do with the aquarium itself were read to Hubster as he sat at his desk attempting to start his day, but being distracted by moi who was finding the item quite entertaining.

The article targets some subtle criticism at Saudi's Virtue Promoters who tend to be guilty of poorly considered, rather backward behavior that is in stark contrast to the goals of Saudi's current hierarchy in their attempts to move society forward.   It's Saudi's version of a tug-of-war.  Enjoy the read - Don’t get too excited about Jeddah’s new aquarium.





Ka Kite,
Kiwi





Wednesday, 23 January 2013

What Do Men Wear in Saudi Arabia?


It's common knowledge that women can't step out in Saudi Arabia without an abaya on, but what is acceptable clothing for men in this Islamic country?

Expat men can wear whatever they want so long as it's not Stubbies.  Islamic protocols dictate that the more acceptable form of clothing for covering the lower half of the expat male should be long pants.  Knee length shorts will, generally, be tolerated.  Hubster has only been approached twice regarding his choice of attire as he wanders down the street in his long shorts.  Given that he doesn't actually own many other forms of pants those approaches have been for nought.

Photo credit: www.theinspiration.com
Every now and then we have seen a bloke jog down the road in sports shorts which turns a number of heads, though I'm not sure if that's the shorts, the shock of seeing legs in public or the fact that someone is running for fun!

To cover the male torso, long sleeved shirts are preferred though T-shirts are very common.  I've never seen singlets.

Men from the South Asian part of the globe wear their own form of national dress.
Saudi men wear thobes.  Thawb is an alternative form of spelling, but as 'thobe' tends to be pronounced similarly to 'robe' then that is how I spell it.

Usually, Saudi thobes are white in color though, during the winter months, Saudi men have the option of a color change to brown, blue or even black to better suit the season.  Why women are not afforded the luxury of different colored abayas during summer months has been a question on my lips for some time.  An answer is not expected.

Expats tend to be less than complimentary regarding the Saudi male traditional dress.  'Dress' being the basis of most of the taunts.  Because we back home tend to run around in grass skirts on special occasions - if you ever get to Waitangi or Polyfest you're sure to get an eyeful of grass covered or, often, bare Maori butt - as far as this Kiwi is concerned, what Saudi men feel comfortable wearing is fine with me.  I just wish they'd quit dictating women's fashion!

My nephew at Polyfest
Personally I think most Saudi men look quite dashing in a thobe.
All white and pressed and sparkling clean.
Whether or not Saudi males know how to wash and press their own thobes is something I've often contemplated.  My guess is not many, so well done all you maids and dry-cleaners out there.  The men are looking good!

The thobe, like the abaya, tends to hide the effects of over-indulgence in the sugar loaded food so popular in this country although there comes a point when fat just cannot be hidden!

The Saudi male costume also involves a 3 piece head set - a cotton hat, a folded piece of fabric (more commonly called a Shamagh or Gutra) and an Igal, a thick black cord, that holds everything in place.

Saudi men seem to constantly play with their Shamagh, throwing it over their shoulders, just like a girl with long hair would do.  Or rearranging their head pieces.   As a fellow countryman said, they look like they're poncing around.  No doubt some of the rational for Shamagh flicking is vanity or grandstanding for anyone watching but I'm not going to hold that against them.  This article 'Vanity and The Modern Man is an entertaining look at what is going wrong with the modern male and his relationship with his own appearance on a global scale.

One of Hubsters Saudi friends says it's quite difficult keeping the Shamagh steady on your head - its like attempting to balance a book on your crown all day, hence the constant fiddling.  He also says the headgear gets a bit heavy as the day wears on, so he chooses to go bare headed when he's in the office.

Completing the Saudi male ensemble is a cloak that can be worn over the thobe.  I call these The Flowing Golden Capes as they're often trimmed in gold coloring.  The cloaks are usually worn on formal occasions.  Just tonight at the Aussie Embassy National Day function (which was very good, by the way - big ups to the Aussie's for this occasion) a number of Saudi guests were wrapped up in their capes.  The capes looked warm and snugly and the men looked quite regal.


What do Saudi men wear on their feet?  I admit to not actually knowing the answer to this question because looking at Saudi men's feet has never been on my list of things to do.  Hubster, on being asked what his friend H wears on his feet, replied 'Shoes'.  How undescriptive is that!

If you're interested, this website, Discover Saudi Arabia., has a nice page explaining in more detail the traditional muslim clothing of the men and women of Saudi Arabia.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Saudi Family Farm v Kiwi Farm

Last month we were invited to visit a Saudi family farm just outside Riyadh.

Saudi's do love getting out of the city.  They are tribal desert dwellers at heart and most of the Saudi's we know have family owned date farms back in the desert hinterland.  We love getting these invitations because it is nice to join Saudi family's as they relax in surroundings that they thrive in and I can understand their sense of affinity with the land.  It's similar to how we Maori feel when we return to our home lands in New Zealand.

Here'a a photo collage of the similarities and differences between a Saudi family farm and our family farm back in Kiwiland.

View over the back fence.
The major difference, and one we have taken a long time to adjust to, is the brown barrenness as compared to the lush green pastures and forest.  Note the football field at the Saudi farm.  We tend to just throw rugby balls around in the grass.
The livestock
Well, what can one say.  Camels, ships of the desert versus cattle, potential steak meal - and Wagyu steak at that!

Water Storage
Water is piped in or pumped up and is such a precious resource in Saudi Arabia.  It is still a precious natural resource in Kiwiland, but we tend to have more of it lying around.

Pigeon roost versus chook house.
In any back yard farm, in any country, the birds always seem to get the house that looks like it's been whacked up in a hurry out of bits of stuff that were lying around.

The accommodation
Simple country quarters.  The building in the Saudi shot is the men's house.  The ladies one is similar but down the other end of the property.  The Pink House is an old corrugated iron beauty.

The kids playground
These two boys are about the same age.  They both like to run around in the great outdoors and are always on the look out for food!
Future drivers
Both of them also like to get driving lessons from the whanau when they are out visiting the family farm. Really, when you get right down to it, although there are differences between the landscapes, the people, for what is a place without people, whether from Saudi or NZ are, in essence, much the same.


  Ka Kite,
Kiwi

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Execution of a Maid


There is no nice way to say beheading - execution, executed, beheaded.

Sri Lankan maid, Rizana Nafeek, 24 years old, was beheaded a few days ago.  Her crime - killing a child left in her care.  At the time she was 17.  She had been in Saudi Arabia for one week.

Apparently her documents had been falsified by the agents who sent her here, stating she was older than she actually was.  She went to work as a maid and nanny in a Saudi home, having never worked in either role before.

Since her imprisonment there have been calls for clemency, proof of Rizana's true age has been presented and Saudi was reminded of the International Conventions it is a part of, particularly the Rights of the Child which states that no child will be subjected to torture and no participating country can impose capital punishment or life imprisonment without the possibility of release for anyone under 18 years of age.

But all of that was for naught because in 2005 a mother lost her baby and, as is her right according to Saudi law and based on a date printed for all to see in a legal Sri Lankan passport document, she refused to pardon Rizana and accept blood money.  So a young woman was sentenced to death and now another mother, in another country, is feeling the anguish of a lost child.

If I was walking in the Saudi mother's shoes, would I have made the same choice?
I'm glad I've never had to know.
I hope I never have to find out.

A Memorial to Rizana is a thoughtful piece that looks at all parties involved in the execution of a maid in Saudi, from the culture and laws of Saudi Arabia through the politics of poverty and corruption in Sri Lanka and beyond.


Ka Kite,
Kiwi

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

In Hediards in the Dark


Hediard was plunged into darkness in Riyadh this evening.

Someone turned all the lights off. Sure it was salah but does that mean we need to be completely hidden while the Hai'a cruise the streets shooing everybody off to the mosque with their loud speakers.

It turns out, thankfully, that someone made a blue and much flicking of switches behind the cake display unit meant the mood lighting was soon taking the edge off the darkness, though a torch was still needed to read the menu.

This welcome, plus the smell of fried food assaulting the nostrils as soon as we entered what is supposedly a French restaurant, made us consider reconsidering our decision to come here.  We were, early on a Friday evening, the only two customers in the circular shaped family section with its large windows leaning out over Tahalia St.  The lack of other customers meant service was rapid.


Hediard must have been a beauty in its day with its French style chairs of dark wood and white upholstery against red decor and heavy timber dividers.  It has, of recent times, been going down the gurgler due, so we heard, to a falling out between Hediard HQ in France and the local Saudi partner.

The menu was more Middle Eastern than French.  We were after a light meal so decided to settle for starters only.  Hubster had Mushroom Soup that he described as 'nothing outstanding'.  I had Kibbeh - an Arab dish that is basically a minced meat croquette.  Having been raised on minced meat in all its many forms, Kibbeh is a food that reminds me of my childhood so I'm quite comfortable consuming it. The accompanying sauce was thick and fruity.

Our drinks, a lemon mint for myself and juice for the other half, were served in quirky glasses that Hubster took a fancy to because they were shaped so you could, literally, pour the liquid into your mouth.


The weather outside was cold, so we decided to stay for dessert and coffee.  The coffee, I have to say, was very nice and a decent sized serving in chic cups.  However, the Tiramisu was out of the frij and still damp in places - it's the only Tiramisu I have never finished.  Hubster's caramel slice was better quality - it must have been, he ate it all.


Hediard used to be a happening place on Tahalia.  We have passed it many times over the last three years, its cone shape towering over the single section patio has quite an imposing presence.  Perhaps the cold weather was keeping everyone away this night, though I tend to think people vote with their feet when food quality is not up to scratch.

There is an upstairs terrace at Hediard's which, for thermal reasons, we didn't go and investigate though, because I do like a good coffee out in the open air, I'm prepared to go back and suss it out when the current cold snap has settled down.

Location of Hediards


View Dining Out In Riyadh in a larger map



  Ka Kite,
Kiwi

Saturday, 12 January 2013

New Year Snow in Saudi


It's snowing in Saudi.
Up in the northern regions.

The locals have come out in force to enjoy the unusual weather.  This picture from the Arab News is exactly what I'd expect to find on a snow covered road in Saudi - cars strewn about the place on purpose.


And as this news clip on English al-Arabiya website shows, Saudi's are taking the opportunity to do what they do best - picnic and be Flamin' Galah's in their cars.  Good on them, I say.

('Flamin' galah' is an Ozzy term for someone who is a bit of a fool, but in a loveable way.  For more information on Galah's visit The Australian Galah).

Galah
The cool temperatures have even reached down here to Riyadh.  It's so chilly in our apartment I'm trying to find my slippers!  Socks aren't doing the trick warming my feet.  Apart from the fact most of the soles are threadbare with holes at the ends threw which my big toes peek, our floors are cold, hard slate tiles so the chill is going through my socks.  Not that I'm complaining.  Oh no.  I'm grateful I'm indoors.

This cold snap isn't limited to Saudi.  Most of the Middle East is in for a freezing, which isn't good news for residents who remain in wore torn Syria, nor their fellow countrymen living in refugee quarters across the border.  Spare a thought for them suffering in this New Year snow.


Ka Kite,
Kiwi




Photo credits:
www.theatlantic.com
www.birdsfreewallpaper99.blogspot.com

www.nzpounamu.com




Friday, 11 January 2013

Dance Fitnez in Riyadh

DanceFitnez-Logo
Are you looking for after school activities for your kids?  Did your New Years resolution include the words 'Get Fit' or 'Lose Weight'.  Then Dance Fitnez, a new comer to the Saudi expat scene, is for you.

DanceFitnez provides Hip Hop dance for kids (5 and up) and teens. The classes are all about fun, excitement and encouraging kids to express themselves through dance.  Kids learn some of the latest, and hottest, dance moves while grooving to popular songs.

DanceFitnez-Riyadh

For adults, fitness classes are in a Hip Hop dance format.  Adult DanceFitnez sessions are uniquely designed to maximize fitness, toning, weight-loss, and enjoyment.

It doesn't matter if you've never danced before.  Dance Fitnez classes are for all skill levels. Their well-trained instructors break down the moves into easy, simple steps so anybody can participate.  Before long you'll be able to break out your dance moves at Embassy get-togethers.

Keith Alexander, founder and director of DanceFitnez, has a wealth of experience behind him.  Growing up in New York City he was exposed to the many fun and exciting fitness options available and, after seeing a gap in the Saudi market, was inspired to provide a similar experience for expats here in Riyadh.

Adult classes are held on Sunday and Wednesday at 8pm. Kids classes are currently on Thursdays at 3pm and 4:30pm. If demand is high then Keith will look at opening more classes. The cost for an hour long session is 40sar.

To get details about location and up-to-date information about space availability in the classes call, or email, Keith on:

Phone: 054.682.6891
Email: dancefitnez@gmail.com 
www.dancefitnez.com



Ka Kite,
Kiwi

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Bowling Venues in Riyadh

Bowling-Riyadh-UBC

It's always a fun evening Ten Pin Bowling with friends in Riyadh and, surprisingly, there are a number of bowling venues available that women are able to use.  (It's been almost four years since I arrived and still the emotions get a little rattled when I have to add the phrase 'available for women'.  But moving on....)

The other night Hubster and I went back to UBC, the Universal Bowling Center on al-Ma'adhar St, for a couple of games with a lovely Canadian couple.  This time there was no issue with a segregated car park and we had a good time.  And Hubster was on fire - damn it!

UBC is not the only bowling center in Riyadh but I like it.  The Family Section is spacious - you don't feel closed in - it has a relaxed atmosphere, there are plenty of lanes plus, there's a well equipped games arcade for the kids if they get bored with the bowling.  What they lack in phone etiquette they more than make up for in delivery of a good night out.  What do I mean?


Expats jest that Saudi's are clueless when it comes to customer service and the following scenario is a classic example of why.  To ensure we had our lane pre-booked the UBC website was Googled one morning and the advertised phone number dialed   The soothing sounds of Koranic verse were playing over the line - obviously, no-one was at the office yet so I hung up.  

Sometime later my phone rings and, at the end of the conversation, I couldn't help but think that whoever returns inquiring calls at UBC could benefit from some phone training, learning something along the lines of, 'Good afternoon, it's So'n'So from the UBC bowling center.  I'm returning your call', instead of this conversation:

Ring, ring:
Me: Hello
Him: Hello
(Silence).
(Oh buggar!  Don't tell me this is another Male-In-Saudi fruitcake randomly dialing numbers looking for love!).
Me: Can I help you?
Him:  You rang
Me:  Errr, I did.
Him:  Yes.
Me:  Ummm, when?
Him: Today.
Me: (racking my brain, who did I call?).  Are you the bowling guy?
Him:  Yes.
Me:  From UBC?
Him: Yes
Me:  Ohhhh.  OK....

Mystery Man identified!

 It turns out, reservations are not required at UBC Family Section if you're going bowling early in the evening, though peak times after last salat and weekends may be a different matter.  The UBC number, in case you're wondering, is +966 505 269 788.

If you'd like to go elsewhere for your bowling, then here a some other options -

Bowling-Riyadh-Price

Ten Pin Bowling is available at the Intercontinental Hotel, also on al-Ma'adhar St.  They re-opened a couple of lanes to women fairly recently, however to bowl there women have to be happy being stuck behind a wooden screen which, in my mind, is not conducive to fun and relaxation.  According to the bloke at the counter, the Intercontinental venue is often used for bowling tournaments or booked out for groups so it always pays to phone first to check availability. (The Intercon number is 014655000).

Al Khozarma Hotel also has a bowling alley within its bowels though I hear (because I've never been) that it is very small - only 4 lanes. However, if you get a group together you can book the whole place out and enjoy your own private bowling party, which does sound like fun. The front desk at Al Khozarma can be reached on +966 11 465 8576.

The Ritz Carlton houses Strike Alley which, as one friend told me, is just like being back in the States.  But it only opens it's doors to women on a Saturday or Tuesday.  All other times are men only.  Strike Alley operates on a 'first come first served basis'. For further information call The Ritz +966 1 802 8020.


The other bowling location in Riyadh is at Marina Mall.  It's a small, seven lane alley right next to the food court upstairs which means it's for men only.  (Woop-de-doo!  Nuff said about that place).

Women are expected to remain 'appropriately dressed' at all bowling locations (possibly with the exception of the Al Khozarma).  And, yes, that means leave the abayas' on.  Does this impede your bowling style? Well, I guess that would depend on what your style is.  The 'toddle up to the line and throw' style probably wouldn't be terribly affected by an abaya.

However, if your style is anything like the guys in this vid, which, by the way, is quite informative re: how to bowl properly, then no, an abaya is not the best gear for bowling.  I can tell you from personal experience...
(Really?  
Yeah right!)
...that a fast moving, swinging arm easily gets hung up in a loose, robe-like over garment; and the ground hugging nature of said garment often causes one to stumble mid-slide on the way to the foul line; and you can imagine how difficult it is to get height and/or width on your follow through leg wearing an abaya.


As a completely different issue I ought to mention this 'thing' that has happened every time we've gone bowling in Riyadh.  We use house balls when we bowl and, for some reason, other people who turn up for an evening of bowling think it's OK to walk up to your ball rack, assess the balls sitting in it and then pick up, and walk off with, whichever ball has taken their fancy without asking if your group is using said balls, which they are, which is why they are in the ball rack at the start of our bowling lane!  What's with that?

 Anyway, if you do decide to go bowling at one of the bowling venues in Riyadh, the centers don't open till 4pm, which is a bummer because I reckon a Ten Pin bowling coffee morning every now and then in Riyadh would be a lot of fun for we female types.

Location of UBC Bowling Center


View Kiwi In Saudi: Tiki Tour in a larger map



Ka Kite,
Kiwi

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Falconry in Saudi Arabia

Falconry-Saudi-Arabia

A falconry display in the Saudi Arabian desert on a beautiful, cloudless, blue sky day attracted a large contingent of expats.  The trip was organised by the American Community in Riyadh (ACRSA or, more commonly known as ACR).

As our group congregated at the meeting point in town, the local constabulary began circling about nervously in their cars.  Large gatherings of any description tend to by eyed suspiciously in the Magic Kingdom.  We were requested to move on ASAP.  Fortunately, our Saudi guide and falcon expert arrived to settle the nerves of all parties before we followed him, convoy fashion, out of town.  (A word of warning to more sedate drivers - Saudi's do not drive slowly, so when joining a Saudi convoy be prepared to flat foot it to keep up!).

We didn't have far to go.
A few kilometers from the edge of Riyadh we left the tarmac and bounced our way across flat, barren had desert to a spot our guide considered perfect for a falcon display.    Anticipation was in the air as we visitors left our vehicles and began milling about.


Eventually, some local chaps  rolled up in their desert vehicles and began laying out Arabian carpets, lighting a fire and setting large kettles of water to boil on the flames.  A fold up table was dragged from the back of a ute and  huge dishes of local cuisine were set out across it.  We hadn't expected to be fed at this shindig so had bought our own food, but a good Kiwi does not turn their nose up at hospitality - so we ate and drank qahwah, and watched as a number of hunting birds were carried from the vehicles to perches pushed into the desert sand.

Falcons-Riyadh


After we had been sufficiently fed and watered it was time to take photo's of the hooded birds waiting patiently in the shade provided by parked 4WD's.   Our host called us all around for a talk on what is now considered the sport of falconry, though in the past the use of falcons to supplement a sparse desert diet was considered more essential than sport.

Falconer-Saudi-Arabia
Our falconry host surrounded by paparazzi
We were told that the best raptors for hunting are wild falcons, caught when they are a couple of years old  to ensure they have naturally honed hunting skills.  Training a falcon takes time and patience and if you want more information on exactly how that is done head over to Arab Hunter for their take on falcon training.

With the talk over it was time to see the birds, and their masters, in action.  This required live bait.  If you visit the Pet Souq in Riyadh you will find pigeons for sale.  Pigeons are eaten in Saudi - by people, (take a look at my post on Eating Pigeon For Lunch) and by falcons.

Falcon Food
A couple of parents were a little shocked with the use of live birds for our entertainment and wondered where to hide the children.  The children received a rapid education on the cycle of life as it pertains to birds of prey that sounded something like this - falcons are hunters; birds will be chased and aerially attacked; such is life.

falcon-saudi-araiba

Whilst perched on the arm of their trainers, with talons gripped around a thick, protective leather glove, the falcons look beautiful.  Once the falcon's hood is removed they easily spot the movement of a bird in the distance and take flight with only one thought in mind.  They gather speed quickly, rising into the air above their prey, altering course as the bird locked into their radar attempts to escape, before diving in to attack.  Escape is futile. Usually.


Actually, on this day, a couple of pigeons did escape.
Who knew they had brains?
Instead of flying off into the empty blue yonder which, lets face, is certain death for a pigeon with a bird of prey on its rear, they flew straight under the utes and wouldn't come out to play.  The pigeon that did high tail it over the horizon wasn't supposed to get that far and a 4WD had to give chase to collect the released predator before it ate it's downed victim and flew off into the wild blue yonder, never to return.


Because the pigeons were not all co-operating by flying into the bright blue sky, and there was insufficient wind to lift a kite into the air with freshly slain meaty treats attached to the line,  it was decided to swing a lure around so we could see the birds more closely.  There would be photos of this activity but my skill with the point and shoot camera doesn't extend to capturing falcons diving at speed, so I'll leave that to your imagination.

But, here's a couple of other pics from our day.

Pots on the fire
Salah

Waiting for some action
Falcon-Eats-Pigeon-Saudi-Arabia

The folks at ACR should be able to put you in touch with our Falconing guide if you think you have falconing in the blood, so pop over to their website, www.acrsa.com, and drop them a line.

Hubster loves Falcons, a couple of sculpted pieces are included in the decor in our flat and he is forever on the look out for more.  I swear, if he lives alone in his older years his home will one of those that will freak out any visiting youngsters because of the garish pieces of birds of prey hanging from every vantage point!   Today, he was totally chuffed we had a chance to watch Falconry in Saudi Arabia.


Ka Kite,
Kiwi

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Maya for Chocolate.



If you're a chocoholic then I suggest you visit Maya Chocolaterie, at the eastern end of Tahaliah Street.

Although I'm not a chocolate lover Maya is one place I would go for chocolate treats.  I find most chocolate products these days are sickeningly sweet because they're loaded with sugar to try and disguise the cheap palm oil they're made with.


Hubster, who loves chocolate, encouraged me to try a morsel of his dessert the night we decided to stop in and I was impressed.   Maya chocolate tastes chocolaty - obviously there is a bit more cacao in the mix than can be found elsewhere, resulting in chocolate that tastes the way I imagine chocolate should.


Everything on the Maya menu has chocolate either in it or on it.  No carrot cake to be found.   There's hot chocolate drinks, cold chocolate shakes, chocolate pastries and a Maya signature chocolate fondue.  The least chocolate item on the menu was the babka, but even it didn't escape chocolatation.



The first night we went to Maya the eating area was packed with young women. Maya, a friend informed me after I told her we went there to satisfy Hubster's chocolate fancy, is a family only eatery - no Singles Section available.

As one of the few males, and the only westerner in the diner this evening, Hubster was not hard to miss in the crowd! There are no booths (at least none that we saw) but screens can be provided.  The lack of space between tables meant those behind the screen didn't get much elbow room to relax and enjoy.  Suffice to say, there was only one screen in operation the night we went and the staff were kept on their toes though, by then end of the evening, found time to stop for a collective photo.



The decor at Maya is chocolate related, hardly surprising, with two large vats of chocolate - one milky white the other a rich dark brown, greeting you at the entrance.  The restaurant has large panels of black glass surrounding it and little else dressing the windows which means the lighting is kept dim.  Perhaps this is meant to create an ambiance of chocolate romance, but for those with failing eyesight it makes it difficult to see the menu.

Romance and loving eyes aside, if you're a chocolate lover and plan on heading to Maya for chocolate desserts you will not be disappointed.

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