Yemen - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly


Jun 23rd, 2013, 11:49 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 23

Not too much to say here, not lux by any stretch of the imagination. Hotels all had wet type bathrooms - remember to take the toilet paper out of the bathroom before showing - no toilet seats on the toilet, electrical woes meant that hot water was sporadic, AC also intermitten and was frequently left in the dark, found headlamp invaluable. Constant noise from traffic and generators. Sheets iffy, bring a sleeping bag liner. Pillows ranged from what felt like a bag of concrete mix in a pillow case to 2 inch foam in a rectangular shape. Beds seemed quite short. I am 5'6" and my feet touched or hung over the footboard. Certainly livable, but not anxious to revisit any of these "hotels".

Spent one night on the beach in Socotra which was interesting. I am very familiar with camping having spent 3 months in a tent as I traversed Africa, and frequent camping trips in Ontario and the US. My idea of camping is a private tent with mattress and sleeping bag. Camping in Socotra is different. There was a lean-to type shelter constructed from plant material. During the night it was quite evident that the structure was for shade from the sun and did nothing to keep wind out. When I first saw it, I was in awe of the beautiful view, white sand stretched in front of me concluding at the azure blue Indian Ocean. Local fishermen were throwing nets or preparing their boats for night fishing. The owner of the "campsite" came down with a single mattress, we were three people, myself and two guides, I was struggling to work out the logistics of this lone mattress. There were already several pillow like objects in the lean-to. I was allocated the mattress and several of the pillow shaped objects. During my comfort test I noticed a strange odor. Thinking perhaps it was related to sea air, I didn't really give it much more thought. The campsite owner came down with a tray of tea and sat and chatted. She was quite upset that ad my advanced age I was neither married nor did I have children. Some of her brood joined us and I became a bit agitated that my sleeping champer appeard to be the local hang out. We were treated to a beautiful sunset and after prayers a plate of food and more tea appeared, as did more children. At this point the source of the strange odor was revealed. Goats wandered into my bedroom and were shooed out. The visits by people and liestock continued. Flashlights provided illumination, supplemented by a clear sky, free of light pollution with bright stars shining through. I began to get tired. I performed my pre-bed ritual, and prepared myself for sleep. The pillow like objects offered no comfort what so ever. Mother Nature also conspired against a restful and restorative night's sleep as strong winds and sand buffeted us throughout the night. In the morning, all of us shaking sand from our hair and ourselves, we were again visited by the campsite owner and her eldest sons who were returning from an overnight fishing trip. They offered us fresh fish, joined us for tea and chatted. Eventually we reassembled ourselves and went on our way.

Would like to share my pics but Photobucket and are and not communicating effectively. While I have created an album, none of the links seem to work.
Worldnomad is offline  
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Jun 24th, 2013, 08:40 PM
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Thank you. Fascinating reading.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
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Jun 25th, 2013, 06:39 AM
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Now that is traveling close to the ground. Thanks for sharing your experience...I'm loving it.
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Jun 25th, 2013, 10:08 AM
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What an interesting trip! Thanks for sharing it with us. I would love to hear more and see your pictures.

I camped in Ethiopia but in a real tent and without livestock or sand. I'm not sure about your beach camping.

Yemen packing list (so far)
sheets or sleeping bag liner
wet wipes
hand sanitizer
toilet paper
strong stomach (I watched them wash our cups after we had coffee in E. and wondered if we would have any ill effects but we didn't)

How long were you there and what was your itinerary?
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Jun 30th, 2013, 10:19 AM
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My trip was 12 days in total. First night San'aa. Then 4 nights on Socotra, back to San'aa for two nights, touring the old city, the Jewish Quarter, the presidential palace and the new Grand Mosque. Then to Taiz for one night, interesting villages on the way, surprised to see terraced farms in the Middle East, surprised at the hospitality. Next to Haidibo, which I hated it was far too hot and humid and this from someone who lives in the Middle East. Left for Zebid, a World Heritage Site, driving through Tihama. Another extremely hot desert environment. Quickly, and I do mean with undue haste, saw the old buildings then retreated to the mountains of Mukalah. Very quiet here, after dark the only sounds are from generators. Very interesting small villages as well as the village of Hajjarah. Unfortunatley very sandy when I was there so pictures quite murky. From there to Shebam and Kawkaban then back to San'aa. Because my ankle precludes me from climbing (scrambling) up and down donkey paths the itinery was modified to allow me to see the most. There were medievil castles and buildings perched on rocks. Obviously a very feudal society.

As for your packing list if you are male short sleeve shirts / t-shirts ok, preferably with no offensive slogans, writing etc. Longish shorts ok, but long trousers preferred. If you are female, loose trousers or long skirts - nothing fancy, 3/4 sleeves and nothing low cut for blouses. I had an abaaya and wore it in the larger cities, but when we reached the extremely hot places I refused. I had previously spoken with several Yemenis who advised that foreigners do not need to cover although it is considered a sign of respect. For the mosques females will need to cover their head with a scarf. When driving and sight seeing I work a denim hat to keep my hair from tangling (windows open, no ac except when driving through Hades). My guide praised me for being respectful, I didn't have the heart to correct him. It is said ignorance is bliss.

I also took five books, which I read and managed to trade one at a hotel. Have not yet embraced e readers and with electricity being unreliable not sure they would be of benefit. I also took laundry detergent in a zip lock bag for washing clothes. There were no plugs in the hotel sinks, but I employed one of the numerous plastic bags as a washing vessel. No shower railing, but plenty of doors and chairs.

Still struggling with photobucket, not so technology friendly. If I get it figured out will share pics.
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Jul 23rd, 2013, 06:26 PM
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So wonderful to read about your trip. Yemen has been on our list for years. I would love to see Socotra.

Thanks so much for posting.
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