A Travellerspoint blog

Waiting for Kim

View 2006 Yemen & Greece on alexchan's travel map.

Kim was supposed to arrive today but is stuck in Dubai due to missed connection. I booked him on Emirates' Airbus service from Singapore to Dubai because it would be more comfortable than their B777. But the airline put him on the B777 at check-in ... then the B777 flight got diverted to KL due to a medical emergency.

Due to the diversion, he arrived into Dubai too late for his connection to Sanaa [Sanaa-travel-guide-1314202]. It's amazing, I was able to look up his revised itinerary and suggest alternatives to what the airline had given him ... all on the internet and by TXTing (SMS) ... even before he knew what he had been re-booked on.

The choices were:

* The same flight the next day (over night in nice hotel followed 2.5 hour flight), or
* Yemenia Airways flight with a stop in Kuwait (4 hours transit then 5 hour flight).

I don't blame him for choosing the former. I think with the delays and night flying, he deserves the Millennium Hotel which the airline has put him up in. While in Dubai, he'll try to meet (for the first time) his new-found aunt ... we had planned on seeing her in a couple of weeks anyway.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Yemen Arab Republic Comments (0)

Enjoying the day-to-day (and ramblings)

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Enjoying the day-to-day

It may sound strange but there's so much to absorb with the day-to-day. Even observing what happens in shops or on the streets.

Today, I walked into a bookshop. There was no one in it except a 10 year old behind the counter ... another 10 year old walks in with a stack of magazines for sale. They start talking; the one behind the counter whips out a calculator and does some numbers. Money and goods change hands. I take it the visitor was the wholesaler! Felt like a scene from a children's movie.

As you well know by now, many people wear the jambiyah (dagger) around town. I can't believe that people wear daggers into banks and jewellers though (but not the Sailor's Club). I can't wait to do my domestic flight here ... I wonder if daggers are allowed? You couldn't feel safer walking around town and dark alleys with so many armed people.

Malaysians Abroad

Walking around the streets here, I can spot other Malaysians a block away (and vice versa). They're all Malay and Muslim. There's something that's common amongst us even if we're ethnically different ... Malay, Chinese or Indian. There's no way they would think they're Indonesian and likewise they wouldn't think I'm China-nese (sic) or Singaporean Chinese.

Few years back, Kim and his parents and I were at the pyramids outside Cairo. I saw a group of youngish people and immediately said to Kim ... "That's our crew for the flight home tomorrow" ... and of course I was right.

You can take Malaysians out of Malaysia but you can't take the Malaysian out of a Malaysian.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Yemen Arab Republic Comments (0)

Visit to the icon

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large_5550_11661289849209.jpgThe palace at Wadi Dhahr is the de facto icon of Yemeni tourism.
Please note that links to external sites were correct when this email was written. However, they may no longer be valid.

It has take over two weeks for me to get here, the icon of Yemen's tourism industry ... Wadi Dhahr [http://www.weltrekordreise.ch/bilder%20ye/33059.jpg].

I've developed an obsession for photographing things that are taboo elsewhere but permissible in Yemen. Such as children as young as two years old doing the traditional dance with daggers. Nowhere better to see this than at Wadi Dhahr where men celebrate weddings (the women celebrate elsewhere privately). There were so many toddlers doing their first moves with waving that dagger. Pround dads (and some mums) all around.

At Wadi Dhahr, I was perplexed that locals had to be frisked before entry ... they were obviously wearing their dagger. I asked in my broken Arabic if they were looking for a second dagger ... no, they were looking for guns. Not allowed to fire guns into the air to celebrate weddings at Wadi Dhahr.

Moving beyond daggers to knives ... I've tried organising a group trip to the gun souk (market) but this appears off limits to foreigners. Maybe we can dress up as Abayah Barbie [http://www.textielmuseum.nl/upload/afbeelding_fotoboek/Barbie%20-%20Fulla3-400.jpg] or Burka Barbie [http://www.marinellafashiondolls.com/fotocalenzano/talebana.jpg]. But then women may not be permitted to enter ...

By the way, Abayah Barbie is very liberal; most women only show their eyes through a small slit (but some have a fine mesh over that slit as well). They wear only black. FYI Burka Barbie is not for sale here ... only for Afghan market ... it isn't black, haha!


Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Yemen Arab Republic Comments (0)

A scandalous weekend

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Please note that links to external sites were correct when this email was written. However, they may no longer be valid.

The Aussie couple living in the building had been invited to a wedding. Upon further enquiry, the Yemeni bride was marrying a Jew. Not sure if it is better that the man was an American Jew rather than a Yemeni Jew.

Maybe the man will feature on this website soon (Jews for Allah [http://www.jews-for-allah.org/]) ... The "Before" and "After" pictures are cool but do need updating. "Jemima" is still there ... that's Jemima Goldsmith (previously Jemima Khan (Mrs Imran Khan) and before than Jemima Goldsmith as well).

At least the conversion will be painless for him (ie. will not require a hospital visit).

Historically, Yemen had a reasonable Jewish minority but many have chosen to resettle in Israel. While Yemeni Jews are held in high regard by Yemenis even today for their traditional skills in silversmithing, they are not held in high regard in other ways. Today, Jewish men are still distinguishable by their two dreadlocks on either side of their faces ... as if for the benefit of my untrained eyes.

Wanna hear the scandal within the scandal? The Aussie couple are not married and are sharing the same room ... the school relaxed its rules for money.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Yemen Arab Republic Comments (0)

Ramblings about Yemen

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Eating has been good but somewhat repetitive. The main meal here is lunch and dinner is quite light ... it can be hard to get substantial food for dinner. Most of us feed up over lunch. The rule here is not to touch rotisserie chicken for dinner as it may be left over from lunch.

For a bread-hater, I find the breads here amazing. So many different kinds, with different names I cannot remember yet. Usually fresh out of the oven around the corner from school and you get only what you need.

Eating here is quite expensive. Eating local dishes without meat in very basic surroundings will cost about USD0.50 With meat about USD1, or if a bigger meal, about USD1.50. This is more than the prices in Malaysia and close to that in Singapore (both in airconditioned foodhalls in the malls). Yemen is one of the least developed countries in the world, and eating simply is costing me the price in a developed country? Not right is it?

For something different, we tried Ethiopian [http://www.queenofshebarestaurant.com/images/restaurant/198x128_food.jpg]one night. Very tasty cuisine ... many spicy dishes served on a one metre wide brass tray lined with a thin bread pancake. Accompanied by further servings of the same bread but in a thicker fluffier format ... the bread has a sour taste to dosai.

Looking after a sick friend

I helped out a sick neighbour over the last few days, getting his medication and lunches. Yemen is a hypochondriac's paradise. You can get any medication without prescription, including codeine-based drugs, anti-depressants ...

I succeeded in ordering my lunch in Arabic as eat-in, and my friend's as take-away. The fun came after I delivered the meals to my bed-ridden friend who was dressed in only a little sarong ... something prompted me to throw / sprinkle the change (coins and small notes) at him. Oooh, what a thrill ... it felt so naughty. Do try it sometime but don't make a habit of it.


I've now adapted local dress, wearing the sarong (know locally as mawa or futa). Certainly had to learn how to sit all over again and remember to wear dark underwear (preferably new too). Its very comfortable and I think it makes me more welcome amongst locals. I haven't started wearing a dagger yet.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Yemen Arab Republic Comments (0)

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