Published: December 23rd 2009December 13th 2009
My Yemitco bus leaves 9am for Sana'a, on my last night I hang out with Seb a French dude that teaches French at a University in Aden, he is also a Couch Surfer host, I wish I contacted him earlier but too late now, he is good fun, in 2 hours of walking the streets in the crater souqs he reminisce about Kazakhstan where he lived for couple years and one of my favorite countries in Central Asia. He laughed when I told him how uneasy it makes me feel when locals stare at you on the streets here in Yemen, he said he is used to it by now. We had a good dinner of some bean dip thing i cant remember the name, right next to the hotel I am staying, he said it is his favorite place in the area.
There were 2 buses departing at 9am not sure which one is which, I approached one that is already loading luggages, Sana'a I mentioned to the porter and he nodded, looked at my ticket and put my luggage away.
In the bus I have to wait for a long time for people to vacate my seat area,
My room at Golden Dar
they are not sure where their seats are but they politely gave up mine and I settled in. Guy next to me chats me up in broken English, offers me his water his snack, nice fellow. We did not leave until 30 minutes later for whatever reason, we got stopped out of Aden, police came and asked for my permit copy and passport, again he doea not seem to know what to do with them but hushed us away in no time. Am the only tourist in the bus and the driver directs the police to me right away to save time.
We had a lunch stop near Ibb, everyone got off, i did not feel like eating a local meal so I settled for snickers and pepsi and went back to the bus, beggars follow me like flies mostly children and they are very persistent. We started going up the mountain and the view is spectacular , qat terraces, green patches of vegetation, old villages a lot of which are nestled atop hills really cool. Once past the mountains we suddenly stopped in this junction for 15 minutes, i cant figure out why, then a van turned up
and a few people came on the bus, we are waiting for them, I believe relatives of the bus driver, annoying. On we go again then another stop this time so the driver can buy his qat! All the men in the bus got off as well to buy their own. The dude next to me aoffered me some I refused politely.
As we get passed the mountains we had a mishap, our driver was trying to overtake a big cement truck but did not make it on time so have to squeeze in the lane to let the opposite traffic pass and in the process we brushed against the truck. 30 minutes later we stopped in a small town and we waited for a long time for them to assess the damage, lots of traffic mongers milling about, mostly kids with nothing else to do. Took a good half hour before we resumed. The trip was supposed to be only 7 hours, it took us 9 1/2! Dark already arriving in Bab Al Yemen station, I got a taxi, dude seems to be friendly, he did not know where my hotel is and his friend gave him directions,
Bab Al Yemen gate
its only 5 minutes away really, i could have walked it but heavy with pack. once at Golden Dar the taxi driver demanded 2,00 rial($10) for a 5 minute trip. I refused, Amin one of the staff told me to hand him 400 should be ok, driver refused so Amin told me just get up to your room then, took the keys and left.
Amin fetched me saying the driver is still downstairs and to settle the bill, if he refuses, the security dude will accompany me to the police station to complain this driver. Again he refused the money, this hotel security dude came and asked me where did I pick the taxi up, Bab al Yemen I said, he grinned and said it should be only 200! Get inside the hotel and I will deal with this fella, he said to me annoyed. Took 1/2 hour arguing, the driver is not getting his money, finally he asks for the 400 but the security dude refuses! In the end we relented and taught the driver never to dupe tourists. He got scolded and mocked by the local staff. One of the staff took me for dinner to a
kebab place I was starving , no lunch so I ordered 2 plates of grilled meat, fantastic! Then off to bed, I was tired.
The next morning I headed to Bab al Yemen to do some last minute shopping, I managed to get a good deal on a couple of cool jambiyas, took me 1/2 hour to get them to agree to my price, then a guy accompanied me to his store where I bought some skull caps really cool, typical Yemeni caps handmade, then to his brother's store to look at some jewellery. I was knackered by then and went back to the hotel to take a nap. In the afternoon, back again to the crazy souq, I just love getting lost in the maze and trying to find my way back and while doing so finding some interesting bits here and there, most of the merchants know me already as I do this everyday, one dude wanted to give me some rosary beads but I refused, I feel bad for the fella he should be making a living by selling them, I told him I did not like them anyway but maybe it' s bad to refuse
a gift, told him I will come back but never did cause I can't find the street anymore! Had dinner at my favorite kebab joint the owner knows me well now, I just sit and he serves me whatever and I'd eat them. Someone was welding something late at night and I can hear it from my room, can't sleep well with all the noise.
Good morning, lots of sunshine, Amin served breakfast late, then I went for my usual walk to the souq heading to Bab al Yemen, a few tourists I encounter, sounds Russian from what I can hear. There was some musicians walking the narrow streets so I followed them a bit, locals dancing to the beat of the drums. I bought fried fish and went back to the hotel to chill and fell asleep. in the afternoon I remember I need to call Ibrahim a couch surfer so we can meet up but power is out so phone does not work, I have to walk to the souq to find a generator operated phone booth. Ibrahim told me to take a cab to Yemen Mall. On my way out of the hotel a Japanese dude
asked me if I want to catch some dinner, I told him I am meeting someone so i directed him to the kebab place hoping he'll find it.
At the Yemen mall I met Ibrahim, we had a good talk while walking to this chic place called Coffee traders, he refused to slplit the bill, he treated me for a snack, very gracious for his hospitality. An English teacher, his accent is better than mine! Lived in Egypt for awhile he works for the UNHCR i think and he gave me the background of his work, very interesting person, one of the modern Yemenis I met, I have to explain to him how my travels in Yemen was an adventure, a bit difficult but made it through it all. He gave me a gift of necklace and a ring he say typical design for Yemenites, traditionally Jewish community in Yemen but most left now and the remaining converted to Islam, I did not know there is a difference with them and Yemenis.
We decided to walk toward the huge mosques, crossing the huge streets is scary, it was dark and vehicles zoom by very fast, we made it
but the guards wont let us in I took a photo from outside and it's like Disneyland! Beautiful mosque and even prettier inside says Ibrahim. Anyway we went back to the Yemen mall and we visited his home great view from the top, he got a call, another CS member, another Ibrahim is coming to meet us we communicated in CS as well but he was out of the country but now he is back I finally met him, this dude is always smiling and has good sense of humor, the two Ibrahims plus their friend took me to a great kebab place then from there we went to a special tea place where they serve it with milk, my tummy reacted to it and I did not feel so well. These two young Yemenis by the way are very open minded and wanted change in their society, they meant well and hope they will be successful with their goals in the future.Oh the other dude has this cool car, they have money these boys! First time Ive seen a screen in the car where you can see the back so you can back up safely, geez all these technologies!
I got dropped off at Bab al Yemen and the streets are almost empty at 10:00pm, i was nervous as my tummy is rumbling and I dont want to get lost now, going through the maze I was able to find my way home yay, straight to the toilet! great night out will local Cs people hope to see them again in the future.
There are more photos below