After leaving Dubai at 7:15am, the 2.5 hour flight landed at 8:45am local time.
After exchanging my visa letter for a the real one in my passport, I was through to customs at Sana'a International.
With my passport stamped I had officially entered Yemen.
I was picked up at the airport by my driver Mr Abdul Hameed and guide, Mr. Mohammed.
It was Friday morning (i.e. the Islamic 'Sunday') but the streets were still quite busy.
We the headed to the nearby village of Wadi Dhar.
On the corner.
Girl & family.
The kids were happy to see a weird looking guy with a camera, so would come up saying "Soura, Soura", or photo in arabic.
And even the adults too.
The village houses were all in the traditional Yemeni style, and was quite a sight to walk around in, especially after jumping off the plane from Dubai.
Mens typical cothing was a thobe, or 'Zenneh', along with a suit jacket on top.
Smile and a frown.
Next to the village was the Dar Al Hajar, or Rock Palace, where the old ruler of Yemen, Imam Yahya, used to reside.
On Friday's in the palace compound the local men gather for traditional dancing.
Near the top of the Rock Palace looking west. Note the dancing on the lower left.
And looking east. The tree's on the far right are Khat, the local narcotic of choice.
One of the colourful windows inside the palace.
The balcony on top where the Imam used to relax.
The 700 year old tree at the base of the palace.
Roast corn vendor.
We then drove up to look at the valley below. The Rock Palace, is just in the upper left. Apparently fruits & vegetables used to be grown in the valley, but has been largely turned over to the cultivation of khat as it is more profitable.
We then headed back to Sana'a and checked into my hotel in the old city, and was also built in traditional Yemeni style.
The room was nice and clean and pretty good for $30 a night.
We then went out for a walk to get some lunch. Some locals about to have an afternoon munch.
A cup of tea and a bag of khat.
At the restaurant we went to for lunch, which was famous for its roast chicken.
Lunch for three
Mohammed adding some spices to the tomato & yoghurt.
I normally have to ask/hassle to take people's photo's, so was great to be asked first.
After lunch we headed out to the old Jewish village of Bayt Baws.
The village was largely abandoned in 1948 when the State of Israel was formed.
Although still a popular spot for the (few) tourists who visit, no effort is sadly being made to preserve it.
Hence with the exception of a few homes being lived in by poor residents, the village is now slowly disintergrating.
Looking out over the now encroaching city of Sana'a.
The two hills in the distance are named after the arabic word for a ladies bossoms.
We then walked down to the city below.
At the bottom, with Bayt Baws in the background.
After driving back to the hotel and having a bit of a rest, we headed out into the old city again. At the Bakery.
Some of the local lads.
A couple of the local ladies. Head to black, including the face covering niqab, was the standard uniform for all ladies in Sana'a.
Me looking out over the old city from the roof of the hotel.
Having a chat with a local shopkeeper.
At a tea shop we stopped at for a cuppa.
I had mine 'Yemeni' style, i.e. with mint leaves and lots of sugar.
Some of the locals also enjoying a glass.
Beef kebabs for dinner before retiring after a long but very interesting day.
Tomorrow, off to visit the souk, fish markets and Saleh's Mosque.
After breakfast we went for a wander in the old city. Some Al-Akhdam, or lower caste Yemeni's, sweeping the streets.
Almonds, pistachio's & raisins.
Most of the portraits were by request, no need to ask.
We then stopped for a mid-morning break with juice freshly squeezed from some local guava.
Next stop was the military museum. The cars used to belong to the Imam Yahya, the former ruler of Yemen.
From the Temple of the Queen of Sheba.
Mohammed then took me up to the top of an old hotel that had closed for a look over the city again.
Back down in the old city, a Camel. We would see him later again, hard at work grinding sesame seeds.
The 1,000 year old Bab Al-Yemen (Gate of Yemen).
A man singing religious tunes just inside the gate.
Nuts & candy.
In the old city markets.
Stopping for some Naqe'e Al Zabib, a cold raisin drink.
Eggs to go.
We then jumped in a share taxi to catch a ride out to the fish markets for lunch.
Fresh from the Red Sea.
After buying some fish, shrimp & crab, we took it to be cooked.
The next batch ready to eat.
An Al-Akhdam girl waiting for some lunch.
Our lunch finally ready to eat
Stopping for some water.
Being close to Africa, there were quite a few Somali migrants in Sana'a.
Missing people from the various conflicts in Yemen.
In the afternoon we went out to Al Saleh Mosque, one of the largest in the world and cause of some controversy.
Inside were 99 lanterns, for the different names of the Prophet.
We then headed back into the old city. For the second night, I was upgraded to the Dawood hotel.
After a rest at the hotel, we headed into the old city again, first to the metal working area.
Angle iron & rebar.
Hammer & Anvil.
Garlic & beans.
Sandals & Shoes.
On the corner.
More ladies out shopping.
Sussing out a Jambiya to take home.
We then went up to a rooftop restaurant to see the sun set.
Some of the more affluent locals, and perhaps more liberal, without the face covering niqab.
The camel we saw earlier, now doing laps to crush/grind sesame seeds for the oil.
Another of the locals with the khat cheek bulge.
At a street market for dinner.
Having a feed after a long day.
Tomorrow, into the countryside to visit the villages of Thula, Hababah, Kawkban & Shibam.
Breakfast on day 3 at the Dawood Hotel...
...and the cool view. The hotel was right beside a communal garden in the old city.
After picking up our Police permits, we headed out into the country side. An old village built on a rocky outcrop.
Some teenagers off to school.
Looking down into the valley. The terrain was quite dry and rocky, but still with some agriculture.
Stopping to buy some Khat. Thankfully the Khat sellers were keen for a group shot, and even invited us for lunch. Unfortunately with the busy day ahead however, we had to regretfully decline.
Two local boys keen for a 'Soura'.
The old town of Thula, and one of five towns in Yemen on the tentative UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.
The town water supply for washing, feeding animals etc. You can see a lady near the steps carrying a bucket on her head.
We then set off for a hike across the countryside.
A farmer and his donkey carrying some of the latest harvest.
Another farmer with his trusty stead.
The main crop grown is Sorghum.
Sorghum is a grain used for bread.
We hiked for about an hour at an easy pace, enjoying the views and scenery.
Our next stop, the village of Hababah.
Some locals hanging out by the town reservoir.
Some kids who wanted a photo taken by the weird looking visitor.
We then stopped for lunch. My driver, Mr. Hameed and my guide Mohammed.
We then set off again in the car, driving up the mountains, and stopped to admire the Wadi below. The carefully planted trees are khat.
At the top, we stopped for a visit to the ancient town of Kawkaban. The elevation was about 2800 meters, so quite cool in the late afternoon.
An old lady in the town.
The view from the town was amazing, and could see the town of Shibam below, and Thula & Hababah in the top left.
There was lots of graffiti or propaganda about. Not all the locals were keen on it however, and had tried to remove some of it. The words on the right roughly translate to "If you try and remove the graffiti, you are pro-US".
We then walked down from Kawkaban, descending down into the village of Shibam.
A local boy in Shibam.
Some more graffiti, and was a bit of an eye-sore on the beautiful building. Roughly translates as 'God is great, death to Israel, death to USA, Christians & Jews, freedom for Islam'.
My guide Mohammed with a local lady in the background.
Some more of the local kids fascinated with the camera I was carrying about. After a long day exploring the countryside, we headed back to Sana'a at about 5pm.
After having a bit of a rest at the hotel, we went for one last walkabout in the old city. Back in the metalworking area.
At the local hardware shop.
Three local guys.
At the spice souq.
Dinner for my last night in Sana'a.
Dates. There was a power cut, so generators and gas lamps were being used.
Buying some local sweets to take home to Dubai.
Back at the airport for the flight home the next day.
Departing Sana'a after an amazing 3 days!