The Tank Graveyard
Last Friday me and Nataly decided that every Friday we would go on an "adventure" and try to discover Kuwait. With that in mind today we decided to visit the Tank Graveyard. I first heard about the Tank Graveyard from Kiwi Nomad's Flickr picture. Right after the Gulf War in 1991, the Iraqi's left behind a lot of tanks and vehicles, for a while they had them on display at the Michrif Fair Ground but later on they were moved somewhere else. Turns out they were moved into the desert so I asked Kiwi Nomad for directions and he emailed them to me. These are the instructions I was sent:
Head out on the 6th ring road until you see turnoff for Ali Al Salem airbase. You peel off to the right but then the road takes you under the 6th to head more south west (I think this is the road to Riyadh). Continue until you see another turn to your right to Ali al Salem airbase. Not far from this turn is a security checkpoint. Just wave & smile to the guard (I guess it helps if you're western looking). Continue on this road and past the airbase and another checkpoint and then you'll start seeing fields of Iraqi transporters/equipment on your left and field guns on your right. Continue on past and around a bend, then you will need to go offroad to your right and the tanks are in an area that is hidden by a berm/dirt bank… so you can't see them until you drive up to the dirt bank and walk over it.
So at 1PM we left Salmiya and headed to the Ali Al Salem air base. Before we left I had did some research and was able to find a map of Kuwait with the location of the airbase on it and a site filled with Satellite photos of the base. It was a long fucking drive, I didn't know the 6th ring road went that far. We got to the first check point maybe 40 minutes later and it was unmanned so we continued driving, a few hundred meters later there was a sign for the air base that pointed right and I could see a checkpoint, I figured that can't be the second checkpoint Kiwi wrote about since that would take me into the base and the directions said drive past the base. So we drove off west, and we drove, and we drove. Around 40 minutes later we had reached far out into the desert, the furthest I have been anywhere in Kuwait. We had reach Salemy (which I later found out is right beside the Iraqi and Saudi border, we had past 2 other military camps, the 35th US Brigade (something like that) and the Kuwaiti Land Force base. Thats when I realized I took the wrong road and we started heading back.
On the way back Nat spotted some camels in the desert, she asked if we could drive up to them and I told her no because if the sand was soft we would get stuck. Then I looked at the side of the road and the sand didn't look soft at all, so I was like lets go see the camels and I dorve off the road. Big mistake! 5 meters after driving off the road suddenly the wrangler is stuck in the sand. I was like shit this is NOT happening. I get out of the car and my foot sinks into the sand, it was soft and I fucked up. So I needed to plan my escape. I checked the road in front of the car and the sand was all soft, the only way out would be from the road I came in from. I looked around for something to stick under the jeep wheels and for some odd unknown reasons, I found a bunch of 30x30cm flat sidewalk blocks half burried in the sand. I took two and shoved them under the back 2 wheels, got into the jeep and slowly started reversing, finally the car started moving and a few seconds later we had reversed our selves out of my stupidity. Thats the last time I drive off road.
30 minutes later we arrived outside the Ali Al Salem Airbase. We drove up to the checkpoint expecting to see Americans but turned out to be mounted by Kuwaities. I started talking in english to the checkpoint guy but he didn't understand anything I said, then he asked me for our civil id cards. I figured he would realize we spoke Arabic since Nats civil ID card says Lebanese, so I ask the guy in Arabic how I could get to the tank graveyard. He told me it was 15 minutes further up the road but I wouldn't be able to go to it unless I had special permission to be able to pass this check point. He asked me why I wanted to go there and if I wanted to take pictures. I told him yeah I wanted to take pictures, he told me if the US military saw me taking pictures they would pull me in for questioning. He then started asking me more about Lebanon and stuff, and then he kept saying he really couldn't let me pass, but I felt if I pushed a bit harder he would have let me. I was tired and exhausted though from the long trip, it was 4PM by now and I hadn't had lunch. So I thanked the guy for being helpful and we drove off back to the real world. It was a great trip, the military bases looked really cool from the outside, like Area 51 style so I wasn't all that disappointed. Now I just need to think of a way of getting past the checkpoint to the grave yard...