Culture Vulture | Fire Station Museum

Culture, Lifestyle, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

The art movement in Qatar is in its infancy but it has a lot of potential.  Not only that the government is very keen in amassing a good wealth of artwork from all over but is determined in developing talents within the country.  A perfect example of this is the Fire Station Museum which originally housed the fire brigade.  The idea of recycling a Civil Defense building to become an art hotspot is superb!  But it doesn’t stop there.  Qatar’s Museum Authority uses this hub to hone emerging creatives thru their residency program which I believe is what needed to propel the country as an art destination.

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Photo Credit: Veronica Yu

Last week, we made a quick visit (my first) and on display is the German Encounters exhibit.  It’s a very interesting collection of works that range from photographs to paintings to the mundane (stovetop?).  According to the museum’s website, these pieces are from the Deutsche Bank Collection.  I am neither an art critic nor enthusiast but I appreciate the idea and effort they put into this.

Here are some photos I took during my visit.

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Just looking around…

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There’s a section where you can submit words from your native language as well.  I spotted some Ilocano (a dialect in the Philippines) words in the mix.

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I don’t know but this reminds me of those beach hats Koreans wear when travelling in the Philippines. 

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That girl is working it!

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This can be a good fabric print!

There’s also Cafe #999 in the compound for when you need a break from all the walking and looking around.  They serve breakfast so this can be a good option during the weekend .  Next to the cafe is an art supply store where you can buy all the stuff you need for your next masterpiece. LOL.

So, have you been?

B3W

In Photos | Christmas 2017 In Doha

Culture, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

For the fifth consecutive year, I’m celebrating the yuletide here in the sandpit and away from home.  Some of you who have never stepped foot in this part of the world may think that Christmas in the desert is not the same as in the Philippines or Europe or in the US.  It may be true to some extent (Qatar is a Muslim country so Christmas is not really considered a holiday—yes, we work on Christmas…and New Year’s too) but most of the things you enjoy or traditions you do back home to make this season memorable can be replicated here as well.

Oh, and cheat week (month is more precise?) is enforced.  Yay for turkey!

Dinner at the Mestarihis

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But first, photo op…:-)

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and another one

(Early) Media Noche Feast at Sabai Thai

The lobby at Westin Doha.

And then, gluttony (I love my Asian food).

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Welcome drinks at Sabai Thai

Care for some papaya salad?

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Taking a break

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Cheers to all the hardworking expats in Doha!

Night Out at the Souq

Shisha? Turkish coffee? Souq?  Sign me up!

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Bring it on 2018! I’m ready for you!

***

It was a great week despite the fact that I was alone at home—a first in five years I’ve been staying in Doha.  I would have gone out more, maybe visited some museums, but I was too lazy.  Must be the weather.  LOL.  I had fun and I hope everyone enjoyed theirs as well.

Cheers!

 

B3W

 

Bargain Eats | Bin Mahmoud, Doha

Lifestyle, The Hitlist, Tummy Adventure, Uncategorized

Let’s establish some truths first.

Fact number one: Expensive doesn’t always mean good food.

Fact number two: Everybody loves to eat.

Fact number three: Everybody loves to eat cheap!

Bin Mahmoud is sort of like an oasis to a foodie.  It will satisfy most of your cravings and you’ll never get bored as there are plenty of options.  No exaggeration.  Here are some of the best bargain eats in the area.

Tofu House

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Who’s hungry? (Photo: Facebook)

The king of Al Jazeera Street.  This Korean restaurant is the best in the area IMHO.  Their jjampong and chicken wings (Korean style) are enough reason for you to visit this joint. They recently expanded and now has a bigger dining space but is usually packed in the evening so it is best to call and reserve a table in advance.

Khao San

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Sawadee khrup! (Photo: Facebook)

The new player in the vicinity.  I had the green curry tofu when I first went to this restaurant and it did not disappoint.  I love it mak mak.  It gives you that feeling of being in one of those eateries in Bangkok.  The staff (who are mostly Filipinos I believe) are very attentive and they engage customers in small talks (so you don’t feel alone when dining by yourself lol).

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I want my Mango Sticky Rice now…

Falafel Al-Akawi

On a tight budget?  Then Falafel Al-Akawi can be your best friend especially during that critical week before month-end.  A basic falafel sandwich from this joint is four riyals.  Yes, FOUR.  Service is quick, food is tasty, prices are super affordable.  Plus many say this is one of the best falafel places in Doha.  And did I mention they are open 24/7? Go now.  No judgment here.

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Empty tummy no more! (Photo: Facebook)

Silversticks

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Why did I give up meat again? (Photo: Facebook)

Who doesn’t like shawarma?  C’mon, it’s the ultimate comfort food (Khaleeji-style).  And for a small price (12 riyals), you can have a big chicken shawarma sandwich which again, in my opinion, is really yummy (my pretentious plant-based self is aching to have one at this very moment).  They also have grilled meats and seafood in their menu so choices are not limited.

Al Aker Sweets

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Ricotta overload!

Craving for something sweet?  It was only recently when I found out about their branch on Al Jazeera Street and now it’s just a short walk from home to get fresh from the oven knafeh (the best Middle Eastern dessert IMO).  Lucky me!

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So give those fancy schmancy restaurants a rest and go cheap.  There will be no need to dress-up and your bank account will sing you praises if you do.  But just because it’s affordable doesn’t mean you have an excuse to eat two servings.  Everything in moderation, please.

 

B3W

 

 

The Last-Minute Holiday Planner | Veronica’s Cypriot Adventure

Lifestyle, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

I haven’t posted anything in a while (been busy) so I begged(I’m exaggerating, LOL) my dear friend, Veronica, to do a guest post in my blog.  She obliged (thankfully) and did an article about her recent trip to Cyprus.  Here you go.  Read up and be inspired.

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It is almost the year-end so I thought it’s time to use up some of my annual leave and have a quick, short escape from Qatar.  Not having the luxury of much time to plan the trip ahead, I had a look to see where I can get some sun and warmth in mid-November within a 5 hour flying time from Qatar.

There I found Cyprus…

The Larnaca-Limassol Experience

Flying to Larnaca from Doha takes around four hours direct.  Landed in Larnaca, picked up the rental car and there the adventure started.  Within a 20-minute drive from the airport, we reached the centre of Larnaca.   Being an island, Cyprus benefits from its coastlines; Larnaca focuses their developments along the sea front with restaurants, cafes, ice cream shops lining the promenade and lounge chairs along the beach.  It is a nice stroll around the city centre with a mix of old and new.  We turned a corner and came across the late ninth century AD Ayios Lazaros Church.

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Ayios Lazaros Church

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The old

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and the new

The next day we started our road trip around the island, with Limassol being our next stop.  Limassol is Cyprus’s second city and has recently transformed itself into the definition of laidback Mediterranean living.  It has a brand new Marina development, and the town is bustling with cafes, bars and restaurants that are as popular with locals as with visitors.

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Relaxing in Limassol

Nature Is Calling

For a bit of change from the city, we ventured into Troodos Mountain which is around an hour drive from Limassol.  We stopped at the open market full of fresh fruits and vegetables.

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Where do I start?

The hike to Kaledonia Waterfall gave us an opportunity to exercise, breathe in the fresh air and be one with nature. The beautiful colours of autumn can be seen along the hike, along with the stream running down from the top, it was a refreshing and scenic hike.  There were a couple of times where we had to cross the river and hop on and off slippery stones, but making to the top did not disappoint us.

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Kaledonia Waterfall

To stick with the nature theme, we opted to stay in a Village House for the night. It was a bit different from the usual hotel stay, but making our own fire for the fire-place kind of made it cosy and all ok though we were in fact staying in the middle of nowhere.

Going Back In Time

The next impressive destination is the ancient site of Kourion. The site perches dramatically on a hillside overlooking the sea, it is one of the most important archaeological sites on the island. The ‘House of Eustolios’ was originally a private villa that was turned into a public recreation centre during the early Christian period. The remains of the building has been kept very well and it was obvious where the columns, the baths and the mosaic floors were.  I can only imagine how beautiful it must have been during the time.

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Remains of the beautiful mosaic

Then there is the magnificent 2,000-seat Greco-Roman amphitheater overlooking the sea. The theatre has been well restored and is still used for open air musicals and theatrical performances in the summer months.

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Very impressive

Are We Still In Cyprus?

After a few lazy days in Paphos and Ayia Napa, we crossed the border into the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. There have been mixed reviews on the internet about venturing to Northern Cyprus, given the presence of the military, razor wire and guard posts.  Anyhow, we found Northern Cyprus added to our travel experience.  The difference between Northern Cyprus and the remainder of the country was immediately felt as we crossed the border.  It could be because of the fact that we have visited Turkey before and so it was not such a ‘shock’ to us as to many described on the internet.  On the other hand, we felt that the place has its own character and charm.

Girne

Girne (Kyrenia) is a beautiful harbour town in Northern Cyprus. The Byzantine Castle is stunning, with a horseshoe-shaped inlet filled with yachts and fishing boats and the narrow twisty lanes of the Old Town, it gives a relaxed atmosphere of the town.

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Kyrenia Harbour

The City With Two Faces

Nicosia is the divided capital city of Cyprus.  A border crossing is available for pedestrians off Ledra Street, which is a popular street for shopping, eating and drinking.  Wandering around the Turkish side of Nicosia made me feel like I was back in time in an old Turkish bazaar.  The Selimiye Mosque was also an interesting visit.  It used to be a Cathedral (St. Sophia’s Cathedral), completed in 1228 and was converted to a mosque in 1570.  The mosque as it stands now, features architecture of both mosque and cathedral and these characteristics are blended into one large impressive building that has survived the test of time, including numerous earthquakes.

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Selimiye Mosque/ St. Sophia’s Cathedral

Not to forget to mention is that in Cyprus, olive trees are everywhere.  Hence, its famous for home grown olive oil, olives and associated products—all full of flavours.

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Green and black olives!

During this trip, we get to learn something new – carob.  We have been told that this is a super food and people have been using it for health benefits for over 4,000 years now. Some say carob has a similar taste to chocolate hence sometimes it is referred to as its substitute.  I tried it and I have to say that I still prefer chocolate!

Overall, we enjoyed the trip to Cyprus lots.  This island has so much to offer – the sun, sea, beach, city life, sleek restaurants, trendy bars, ancient ruins, harbours, impressive architecture, villages, mountains, waterfalls, fruit trees, great tasting food, and friendly people – all on one island.  We managed to experience something different every day due to the close proximity of places of interest to one another.  It even felt like we have been to different countries at times! I would love to go back to Cyprus again one day for sure.

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I’m sold.  I am putting this on my list of countries to visit.  How about you?

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You can follow Veronica’s travel adventures in her Instagram page.

For The Love Of Hookah

Culture, Lifestyle

Shisha is part of Doha culture and the Arab world in general.  I wouldn’t say it’s integral but no one will say shisha or hookah without picturing the sands of the Arab world.  I remember when I first came here four years ago, the first place I went to was Souq Waqif where most of the cafés and restaurants serve shisha.  I tried smoking this back in Manila but it was different when I first had it here.  It was stronger and packed more flavor.  Or maybe it’s the souq and the fact that I’m in Qatar which made the experience more authentic.

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Photo taken in March 2013, Souq Waqif

While buying your own water pipe and setting it up at home is more practical than going to shisha lounges, it is more enjoyable to do this sitting with the locals and other expats.  I guess it gives me the feeling of being part of the culture.

Now having spent several years in the sandpit, there are places where my friends and I usually visit to get our fix.  Other than the lounges in hotels around Doha, I prefer the standalone establishments for two good reasons—you’ll get better quality (based on experience) and it won’t hurt your wallet.  The following are three of my favorite hookah hangouts in the city.

Downtown Restaurant

Back when West Bay was home, Downtown is the most convenient for me as it’s walking distance from where I live.  The whole staff is nice and the service is great.  The food they serve is not bad either.  My Lebanese friend even commented that they serve one of the best tabbouleh in Doha.  As this is located in the business area, it’s the perfect after-work option to meet with friends where you can have hookah and a pleasant dinner.

Orient Pearl

This restaurant is situated along the Corniche and very easy to locate (re: dancing fountain).  This place is huge and has good interiors.  This is great for families as they’ve set up a playground where kids can play while the grown-ups do some adulting.  LOL.  They serve some of the best Arabic dishes IMHO.  There are performances every now and then especially during Ramadan which makes this a must-visit during that time of the year.

Souq Waqif

This is a no-brainer.  Located in the heart of Doha, this souq offers a lot of things.  There are dozens of shops selling a wide variety of items, a lot of food options, street performances, art galleries and there’s a museum too. You can literally spend an entire afternoon (or evening!) walking and exploring the alleys of this Qatari market.

Any of the outdoor cafés or restaurants in this area is a perfect spot for shisha and peoplewatching.  Al-Bandar, Damasca and Le Gourmet are excellent examples.  And at 35 riyals, it won’t burn a huge hole in your pocket.

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Other than these three, Layali at Lagoona Mall, Eatopia at the Gate Mall, Burj Al Hamam at the Pearl and Shisha Garden at La Cigale are very good options as well.

My usual combo of shisha and green tea

So go now and have a puff.  Just keep in mind that like cigarettes, shisha smoking can be detrimental to your health so do it sparingly.

 

B3W

Friday Catch-Up With Friends At La Spiga

Lifestyle, Tummy Adventure

There is no better way to spend Fridays in Doha but to de-stress after an entire week spent in the office and meet with friends for lunch and do a bit of gossiping (yes, we love to do that like everybody else).  We decided to meet at La Spiga in W Hotel because we felt it will be the perfect place to talk and catch-up (nice and quiet) as most people will be brunch-ing in other restos.  And we can use our Entertainer vouchers so that’s a bonus.

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Veronica having a moment with the menu

Since this is not our first time dining here plus the fact that Veronica and I are (sort of) following a pescetarian diet, it didn’t take long for us to pick what we wanted to have for lunch.  We went for the sea bass and hamour while Rica and Justin, the meat eaters, opted for the beef mains.  We all had dessert of course because meals are never complete without them.

As for the interiors, we still can’t seem to grasp the idea of photos of Hollywood icons hanging on the walls considering it’s an Italian restaurant.  Maybe they have a reason for that, who knows?  The place is cozy and nice although the dim lighting gives off a snobby ambience.  Overall, food and service considered, La Spiga is a great choice for eating out in Doha.

 

B3W

A Throwback to Summer 2016 | Nice-Ibiza-Barcelona-Rome

Lifestyle, Travel

One advantage of working in the Middle East is its proximity to Europe making travelling there less exhausting (16-hour flights?) especially for someone like me who hails from the Far East.  Oh, and it’s a lot cheaper too.

Every year, I make it a point to visit places I’ve never been to.  Sort of like a treat for myself.  2017 is a different story though…don’t ask.

Tendu 100%

I miss it already 😦

 

B3W

 

 

Will You Grow A Moustache This November?

Fashion, Lifestyle

You should.

To raise awareness of men’s health issues, an annual event is being held and ran by the Movember Foundation since 2004.  The organization’s aim is to reduce the number of preventable deaths among men—be it cancer or mental health issue—by increasing the rate of early disease detection, accurate diagnosis and effective treatments.  Their website contains a wealth of information—from the causes they are pushing for to interesting trivia to styling and grooming tips—so do me a favor and click this link.

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The idea is simple:  Show your support and involvement by signing up at https://ex.movember.com/ , growing your moustache (not your beard!) for 30 days and helping to raise funds for the (worthy) causes the foundation is advocating.  The task is not difficult.  You just need to stay away from your razor (or clipper) until the end of November.  That’s it!  Minimal effort required and you get to promote awareness among family and friends.  Not to mention the money you will save from buying creams and aftershave cologne—it’s a win-win!  Hehe.

From a style perspective, the mo is making a comeback and currently a fashionable look for guys (please don’t wear it with flared pants or you’ll be in retro land!) .  It may be off-putting to some (hello, creepy) and have a dated quality to it but if you manage to pull this off, you’ll be the coolest guy anybody would want to hang out with.  I can see this look good with pieces from H&M’s collaboration with Erdem—a perfect contrast of masculine and feminine.  But since having one can be a hit or miss, the Movember initiative is a great way to determine whether the ‘stache is for you or not.

Here are some styles you may want to try.

Try out the chevron or if you want to unleash your inner hipster, go for the handlebar (the latter may require you more than a month to grow so that means commitment).  Yalla! Make the month of November count.  Grow those whiskers and be the difference in a man’s life.

 

B3W

Let’s Get Physical | How You Can Burn More Calories In 4 Hours

Lifestyle

No, this is not a post about the latest diet fad or exercise routine. I just have this silly question lurking in mind: Why is it so difficult to commit to working out regularly but we can walk miles and miles without complaining when we are at the mall? Case in point, my sedentary self usually averages 4,000 to 5,000 steps per day which covers almost everything I do at home and in the office. Yesterday I ended with 8,662 steps—-the most I did within the last three months!  It is crazy to think that checking out goods at Doha Festival City (something I wouldn’t consider a physical activity) made me walk four miles!  I know that’s not a lot to some but imagine my surprise when I made a milestone in my tracking app.

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I use Moves to track my daily activities

It’s my first time to visit DFC Mall. It is huge and has a pretty good collection of shops and restaurants so you won’t notice the time passing so quickly while you hop from one retail outlet to the next.  Considering this is one of the (massive) malls that just opened this year, there are stalls that are not yet in operation but what they have now is enough for anyone to visit and have a fun time.

And then there’s IKEA  next to it.  Now don’t be fooled by those arrows being projected on the floor.  I’m guessing you thought they did this to maintain order so people would know which direction to go?  Well, think again.  It’s a marketing ploy to trick you into walking the entire store and buying more things (you don’t necessarily need) as you navigate through all their products.  Trust me, I am a victim too.  LOL.

So the next time you step into a mall, be ready because it’s going to get extra physical.  Can you imagine the walks you’ll be doing between the stores’ display sections and changing rooms?  And the stretching that goes with trying on clothes and shoes?  A lot, right?  Good thing there are several coffee spots where you can hang out at when your knees start to beg for rest.

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In conclusion, mall-ing (Pinoys favorite past time) is the perfect combination of leisure and sport.  Yes, sport.  My tracking app doesn’t lie.  Numbers don’t lie.  Period. 😜

 

B3W

Weekend Rundown | Lazy Day Friday to Sugar & Spice to Dana’s Farewell

Lifestyle, Tummy Adventure

My Friday can be summed up in two words: TV and bed. Don’t judge me but after a busy week at work, I decided that Friday is going to be a lazy get-up-from-bed-only-when-I-need-to-pee kind of day.

Yesterday is a different story though—the roomie and I sort of had a long day.  Our first stop was at Sugar & Spice for a quick and “healthy” (read: no dessert) lunch with Pam and Aya.  In my opinion, this restaurant is the best reason to visit Aspire Park (as opposed to running or anything that involves sweat). It has a homely ambiance (the good kind—very shabby chic), comprehensive menu, and very good service.  The owner of this establishment really did his homework IMHO.

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My wannabe vegetarian self ordered the Quinoa Kale salad (will try to replicate this at home!)


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Trinkets galore! I would love to have this at home but I doubt it will look this chic.  Imagine the upkeep this chandelier requires…not for me…LOL

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This button-studded lamp-shade is super cute. Mmmmm, and Aya, too.

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Is the sun bothering you?

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Our very own Gucci girl, Pam

We headed to Villagio to get some Starbucks and do some window shopping (read: broke) after lunch.  There were a lot of walking because girls.  By the way, do you know how frustrating it is to look and find something you like and not able to buy it?  VERY.  At that point I started to direct my thoughts to my bed and how I miss it already.  Hehe.

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In the evening, we were bound for Dana’s farewell dinner.  Our sweet girl is getting married soon and she’ll be settling in the US with the husband.

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Pretty in pink!  We will miss our future Mrs.  Thanks for inviting us!

Like the ones you see on Pinterest, the table set-up is really cute.  Props to Yasmin!  Yay!  Just look at those lemons! LOL.  This can be a good catering business idea, no???

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Are we having lemonade after?

Here are more photos from last night:

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I have mixed feelings when I got home.  I had a fun weekend but at the same time can’t help but think it’s Sunday the next day and that almost always ruins the vibe.

So how did your weekend go?  Did you do anything fun?

 

B3W