Origami of used toilet paper (and nude sunbathing flatmates)

Sanaa Travel Blog

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View from the front of the house.

I arrived in Sanaa after four flights (two of which were full and uncomfortable) ... firstly from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu, then to Hong Kong, then to Dubai and then finally Sanaa. 

  1. I had a 10 hour transit in Hong Kong which I put to good use by going to the city for the hardest (best) massage in my life.
  2. But the transit in Dubai was just a tad over the minimum connection time ... enough to grab a bottle of bubbly from the Duty Free.  If I had known Sanaa customs would be so lax with grog, I would have got the full allowance of two litres :-(

I was met at the airport by Marie (my host-to-be) and my my new teacher.  We immiediately called by my new school (YIAL, Yemen Institute of Arabic Language) to formalise my course arrangements.

View from our terrace ... breakfast is served here daily :-)
  Marie had accurately conveyed all my requirements to the teacher already so there wasn't much to be done.  She's even organised the teacher to do house-calls for the both of us ... we never have to go to school!

Then off to my home for the next month!  Marie had rented the top two floors of an old Yemeni home, complete with modern bathrooms and a terrace overlooking allotments used for growing vegetables.  My room was very nicely set up already meaning I didn't have to buy blankets, pillows etc.  She had actually bought me a blanket with a teddy bear ... I will decline to give that bear a name in case I end up in jail as in the case of that English teacher in Sudan!

Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding there is no spare room and Marie has moved into the mafraj or Yemeni penthouse lounge.

Our breakfast terrace (excuse the slanted view ... odd angle to fit everything in).
  The view is to die for but it does mean some inconvenience for her ... including moving out of the lounge when I have my classes twice a day. 

There is a small price to pay for being in a historic building:

  1. Despite the modern bathrooms, the plumbing (as in Greece) aren't set up for toilet paper.  As in some parts of Europe, we have a bin next to the bog ... I've taken up origami of used toilet paper before depositing them in the bin ... for aesthetics and hygiene reasons.
  2. Much of the hallways are very low ... I cannot stand up straight.  And doors are about shoulder height.  Instead of walking around, there is a lot of shuffling around in a stooped fashion.
  3. I have to plan my movements carefully (eg. to buy water, to let the teacher in etc) as I'm four floors up without lifts .
    View from our terrace ... breakfast is served here daily :-)
    .. and initially also have to cope with the altitude.

Our top flat is shared with a German girl ... a semi-separate lower flat is let out to two American girls.  There's been a bit of bother because some of our flatmates like to sunbathe in the nude.  This is a problem with a male Yemeni (our teacher) spending so many hours in the house each day for lessons. 

In fact, with the teacher coming, we have to announce his arrival to ensure that our flatmates are adequately covered (eg. legs, shoulders or arms if they feel the need) even if they're not sunning the privates.  In fact, in this region some houses are equipped with a door knocker for men and a separate one for women.  Residents can discern from the sound of the tap as to whether the visitor is male or female and cover-up appropriately.


hexli says:
i have been there twice. (last time in march 2010)
i will go there again in ocotber 2010. and for sure this will be not my last trip to this wonderful country.

i totally love this place ! the people in yemen are amazing hospitable and friendly. sanaa is just a fairy tale ! pictures can never describe the feeling which you have by walking this old narrow streets .....
we never felt unsave there !!
on the way to the airport my friend was crying. she sayd, this have been the best place she have ever been. and she will miss this friendly people we met EVERYWHERE. (we where travelling around with car and driver, but without guide. so we got in contact with the locals easyly everywhere. and i strongly recomment everyone doing the same. just hire local people at a place. they know much more than your guide from the city. i know what i say .....)

just avoid going to high risk areas in the far north and south as well as marib.
Posted on: Aug 18, 2010
nanie05 says:
I'd love to go to Sanaa..but I've read that it may be unsafe.
Is it really as beautiful as the pictures make it seem to be?
Posted on: Jun 29, 2009
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View from the front of the house.
View from the front of the house.
View from our terrace ... breakfas…
View from our terrace ... breakfa…
Our breakfast terrace (excuse the …
Our breakfast terrace (excuse the…
View from our terrace ... breakfas…
View from our terrace ... breakfa…
View from the mafraj (or penthouse…
View from the mafraj (or penthous…
Much of the hallways are very low …
Much of the hallways are very low…
My bed ... or Maries bed which I…
My bed ... or Marie's bed which I…
Ceiling above my bed ... note the …
Ceiling above my bed ... note the…
photo by: philippe84