Unexpectedly solo

Sana'a Travel Blog

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I had a week off work and wanted to go somewhere in the Middle East. I was thinking of Syria, or maybe Jordan. An internet friend recommended Oman, and then said he would be stopping in Sana'a for a couple of days, with his wife, as a stopover on their RTW trip, at the same time that I would be travelling. I knew very little about Yemen, but after looking into it a bit I decided to go there and meet up with them. Two other people from the same forum said they may join us. Turkish Airlines had reasonably priced tickets with a free stopover in Istanbul, so I decided to combine 4 days in Yemen with a second visit to one of the greatest cities in Europe.

Then, not much before my trip, the internet friend said he wasn't going to Sana'a after all.

And the others who said they might join, didn't either. So there I was, a lone girl in Yemen, not quite planned. I was fine in Sana'a. Sure I was stared at, and proposed to, and asked where I was from etc. a million times. But noone really hassled me. Even in the busy souks, nobody tried to touch me. I felt very safe. Still, I didn't quite have the guts to go on a daytrip out of the city on my own.

Not that there was any reason for that. I quite happily spent four days wandering around Sana'a. The old town is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. Not just the architecture, which is splendid, but also just the scenes of life. Young women, completely veiled, with trendy jeans and sneakers underneath. Men chewing quat. The salesman at the Bab-al-Yemen, who seemed to have nothing but one pair of glasses for sale. A prospective customer tried the glasses, was given a piece of newspaper to test them, then took them off and started speaking angrily and gesturing at the salesman. The items for sale in the souks, from traditional daggers to everyday household items to sexy lingerie.

I am very glad I made the trip, solo or not. They started shooting tourists in Yemen shortly after, and then the civil war flared up again, so if I hadn't gone then, I most likely wouldn't have until now. And who knows when it will be deemed safe again. I would very much like to go again and explore the country beyond Sana'a, though.

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photo by: alexchan