29 December, 2007

Yemen’s Exotic Secrets.....

As viewed by the The New York Times - Travel: December 2006 The New York Times - Travel, the best and most definitive and most extensive travel guide of all, had a very fascinating report on the wonders of Yemen; early this year, the same site gave a very absorbing article on Socotra. Today, they have this very interesting article from which I take the liberty of copying, below, a few excerpts from:

Yemen offers a pleasure that comes from getting lost in the flow of life, not from visiting long-dead or just-hatched places peopled only by touts and tourists.

Yemen was long ago crowned Arabia Felix (Fortunate Arabia) because it was covered in fertile fields that made it the richest place in the land. Market cities like Sana grew fat from trade in incense, coffee and foodstuffs. But black gold and natural gas now trump frankincense and myrrh, so Arabia Felix has become the pauper of the peninsula — a stark contrast to the bling of Dubai and the luxurious beach resorts of Oman.

SO why visit a place this volatile? I came to find a complete and ancient way of life that is still largely intact. Moreover, despite the country’s problems (and a need for tourists to be both alert and cautious), the place feels surprisingly safe.

The crown jewel of Hadhramaut, the longest wadi, or fertile valley, in the Arabian Peninsula, is supposed to be the town of Shibam.

Finally, I rounded a bend, pushed out of a lush palm grove, and beheld Shibam. Its tall, narrow mud-brick tower houses are packed together so densely inside the city walls that the English traveler Freya Stark back in the 1930s christened this city “the Manhattan of the desert.”

For those interested in visiting or touring Yemen, read the whole three page report from The New York Times. Any one interested, too, in exotic and unique tourist's destinations, will find the article and the other New York Times reports on Yemen: fascinating, absorbing and educative.