Thursday, March 29, 2007

Common Misconceptions

I just wanted to clear up a few common misconceptions that I keep running into out here.
1. I am not rich. Not even close, and yet everyone (including half of you guys) I meet and talk to seems to think I must be some kind of millionaire to be travelling for so long. So here is the truth: In buying my flight out of Yemen, I have just now spent $10,000US since my arrival in Hong Kong. That money got me through 42 countries and about 22 months of travel or just over $15/day for about 650 days. It included 10 flights (9 international) and about 10% has gone to visas for various countries. It really doesn't have to be that expensive. True, I am cheap and I have had tons of help through various hosts (thanks to all of them) and just friendly people along the way but financially that is where I stand. I wish I had that much more to keep going.....
2. I am not alone nor is this a lonely road. I have been "on my own" since Bre left about 4 months ago (Mom and Savannah 5) but I have just realized that here in Sana'a is the first time ever on this trip that I have been completely alone. In a single room, don't know anyone or have anyone to talk to, alone. First time. There always seems to be someone, be it another traveller in a dorm, a host or whatever to keep you company. In a way it is nice to give my mouth a rest and not have to talk to anyone but really it has been great to meet so many people of different backgrounds, experiences and ideas.
3. It is not dangerous here. In all honesty, the middle east is by far the safest place to travel. I kid you not, I have never felt safer in my life (with the exception of Turkey, which I would not classify as the middle east, and Lebanon because it has tried to hard to become western and feels very different from the rest). Most of Asia comes in second. The west, well, it's full of greedy, drunk bastards that are all a little sketchy. Really, I've seen and heard more violent problems out of Europe or America than Asia or the Middle east by a long shot. So stop thinking they are all terrorists here. Yemen is really the only place where people regularly carry guns and they are really nice. Think of it as the same as when Europeans all carried dueling pistols. There were strict rules and guidelines on when you could actually use them.
4. Muslims do not have the moral high ground. For all their strict rules and condemning of western immorality, the system here is a huge joke. The longer I am in it the less respect I have for it. It's all about the image of morality but the reality is that everything goes on as it does everywhere else, if not to a greater extent because they figure we are still worse. Sex, drinking, corruption, etc. It's all here and the hipocrasy is driving me crazy.
For the record, I said before that all of this is starting to look and feel the same to me but Yemen is actually quite different from everywhere else. The architecture is very traditional, in a style very unique in the middle east. The clothing is also rather strange. The men tend to wear suit jackets and longyis (the skirt thingys like in southern India) with their ceremonial knives in front on a huge belt. I've heard that the look of the handle is the important thing rather than the blade itself. They don't even look that sharp in the shops. In the event that there is an argument on the street and a fight begins, everyone nearby very quickly separates the participants so nothing ever really happens. I've seen a quarrel or two but nothing major.


At 4:36 AM , Blogger Barış Parlan said...

It's great to hear from you that you are return to ways... Im sorry things get a bit harder here but soon i'll read your journal. It was sad to see you at home 4 month (: whatever, take care Ammon... really...

Baris Parlan

At 2:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ammon
your freedom is almost gone the rest of your companions are just about to leave, I justv talked to your mom and they were geting ready to head for the airport. good luck on te next adventure


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