I typed in “Exotic Destinations, Cheap Accommodations” and Yemen comes back as an alternative. To be sure, this is no easy VaCa destination, so old fogies should consider a different holiday destination. That said, Yemen has a lot going for it.
Getting there is a bit a of challenge. Yemenia Air has a so-so track record. But I hear that a new airline, fully backed by the US Air Force will be available for young Americans in the near future.
If one gets their holiday kicks from lying on a beautiful beach soaking up the rays, then you can’t beat the Red Sea. Travelers should consider a stay in Al Mukalla where the beaches are almost empty, and the sun always shines.
If ancient culture is what floats your boat, then the old city of Sana’a is for you. This city is 2,500 years old, and has some of the most unusual architecture in the world. The following is a pic of an ancient building. It should be on everyone’s itinerary. Note that this structure was built high on a rock to keep ‘unwanted’ guests from calling. The folks in Yemen learned how to keep the riff-raff out centuries ago.
When visiting Sana’a consider a stay at the Sheraton. This review says it all!
Alcohol is a bit a of problem for tourists. The locals frown on the evils of liquor, but that should not deter those that are out for some fun and need a temporary ‘lift’ . Khat, is readily available at all of the markets. The leaves are chewed and the result is a sense of excitement and euphoria. A pic of Khat so you know what to look for:
The locals who chew Khat are quite noticeable from the bulge in their cheeks.
Khat is not illegal in Yemen. It seems that just about everyone is taking a Khat break:
Yemen is a cradle of civilization. The country is the home of the Queen of Sheba and it’s also where Noah’s Arc floated off. Travelers should consider day trips from Sana’a to visit the archeological sights.
For those that are truly adventurous and want to see one of the great wonders of the world a trip to Rub al Khali (the Empty Quarter) should be considered. This area of the Country is the largest sand desert in the world. At 250,000 square miles (the size of Texas) there is plenty of sand and virtually no water. But there is oil under that sand, and it’s that oil that will eventually get the USA to “invest” in the country.
Of late, much has been made of the temporary political problems in the country. But savvy travelers should not be concerned. It was just recently the President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry sat down with Yemen’s President Hadi at the White House. The big O was “pleased” with the cooperation that the US has been getting of late:
There are some minor problems that tourists should be aware of (no different that Chicago). Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been causing some disruptions of late. Generally speaking, US tourists should avoid contact with AQAP members as they have a bias against Americans (and Belgians?). Two rules that should be followed by tourists:
1) Avoid overnight camp sites at mud huts as these locations may be subject to Predator Drone attacks.
2) Avoid motoring in white Toyota Land Cruisers as these vehicles are often targets of Hell Fire missiles.
Before departing from Yemen, travelers should stay a few days in the capital of Aden. A favorite destination is Elephant Mountain (it really does look like an Elephant, right?) From the peak, one has a wonderful view of the Red Sea and there is a buoy off shore at the site where the USS Cole was attacked.
No trip to Aden could be complete without a visit to the Souks (open market places). There one can get a last minute supply of Khat for the plane home and there is the chance to get a Jambiya. This is the traditional dagger that is worn in the belt of many men in Yemen. Note that it is the custom to always have the curved blade pointed to the right. These weapons are generally not used against tourists, so don’t be intimidated by them. While Jambiyas are acceptable carry-ons at Yemeni Air, the fussy guys at Heathrow frown on them, so it’s best to put them in the luggage for the trip home.
Even teens have daggers!
I fully expect that tens of thousands of young Americans will be visiting Yemen in the near future. After all, Yemen has bad guys and oil – that has proven to be a draw for America’s youth over the past decade.