While traveling in Iraq I noticed some interesting things that didn’t fit into any of the articles in my series. Some of these observations may be obvious to those more familiar with the country, but odd first impressions are one of the fun things about travel!
1. The traffic police have these cool kiosks that imitate their uniform. Looks like this guy left his tie at home.
2. Spongebob Squarepants is popular here. The best photo I didn’t take was of a woman in an abaya at Kadamiyya shrine, one of the holiest spots for Shia Islam, carrying a Spongebob balloon. No child was in sight!
3. The TV commercial for Vaseline Healthy Soap shows a mother washing her son in the bathtub. In an almost identical version the child in the tub is a girl and she’s wearing a bathing suit.
4. None of the hotels I stayed at had plugs for the sink, but the caps for the mineral water bottles fit perfectly.
5. There were many imitations of Western snacks, such as Mountain Rush soda and Wrinkles potato chips. Oddly, these were made by Western companies and distributed by regional ones. I suppose that was a way to get around copyright infringement.
%Gallery-170776%6. Most restaurants only serve the same half-dozen meals: lamb or chicken kebab, chicken tikka, roast chicken with rice, and roast chicken without rice. They’ll often have a nice long menu listing lots of other meals, but you won’t be able to get them.
7. The various security services have a bewildering variety of uniforms. Nearly all of them are available for anyone to purchase in the various shops in the Baghdad souk.
8. Arabic music videos have credits.
9. Iraq uses three types of outlets. Most are UK style, some are EU style, and there’s a third plug that’s unlike any I’ve seen anywhere else. You can see one below.
10. No Iraqi I met thinks Obama is a Muslim.
You might also be interested in my ten random observations about Ethiopia and Greece!
Don’t miss the rest of my series, “Destination: Iraq,” chronicling my 17-day journey across this strife-ridden country in search of adventure, archaeology and AK-47s.
Coming up next: “Visiting Iraq: The Practicalities!”
[Photos by Sean McLachlan]