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Trip Report Yemen - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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Yemen – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

The Good
Airport is small and services, such as visa collection and currency exchange are clearly labeled. Staff speak English and are helpful.
People are extremely welcoming and generous. I was invited to four weddings and to join families for tea or a meal. Although desperately poor, people were proud to offer hospitality. At no time did I feel unsafe, although I did heed my guide’s advice not to venture out at certain times or to certain places.
The sites are unique and plentiful. Restoration work is underway at several key sites and I was able to speak with a team from Italy restoring a mosque. Villages themselves are awe inspiring as their architecture changes from region to region and it is mystifying how several buildings were built on top of small mountains.
Small villages were quiet and relaxing.
Since I was the only traveler, the itinerary was quite flexible. My guide was very knowledgeable about the region and was able to make changes easily.
Western toilets available in each of my rooms.
Most roads were paved and level.

The Bad
It is very noisy. In the large cities there is a constant din of traffic. Prayer call was between 0330 and 0345. I believe the speakers were directly outside of each of my rooms in order that I was awake for first prayer. While I did say some words to God at this time, they were not prayers.
Electricity is unreliable. Flashlights are essential. Charging phones etc can be a challenge. Most hotels had generators, but these are dependent on people to start and feed.
No toilet seats, just the porcelain bowl.
No soap in restaurants, hotel rooms. Bring your own.
Toilet paper seldom supplied. Bring your own.
Each driver seems to have his own rules. Not sure which side of the road they drive on, we seemed to be in the middle for long drives and where ever there was space in the cities. If there is a system, I did not figure it out. Horns are used frequently. Motorcyclists have modified their mufflers to obtain maximum volume.

The Ugly
GARBAGE IS EVERYWHERE. Children play in garbage, people live and eat surrounded by garbage. There does not appear to be a waste management programme other than dropping your trash wherever you want.
Child labour. Young children and women toiling in fields while men laze around chewing qat. Children begging and selling items on the roadway.

Overall had an excellent time and would not hesitate to recommend to the more adventurous traveler. Much of life is conducted at floor level, eating, toileting, socializing, (sometimes sleeping) so not for anyone with joint or back problems. In smaller centres life does not appear to have changed for hundreds of years. Farms work fields with donkeys or cattle, wells are still used, abodes are simple and the design has not changed, although concrete blocks are replacing stones, which are still cut by hand. The people are the friendliest I have encountered, and most welcomed me to Yemen. Although the exit from the airport, hundreds of men, most with the traditional knife, crowded around the doorway was intimidating, once we left the airport it was not so intense.

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