A few VT’ers have seen my Camel Crossing sign and thought it was a bit of a spoof. I can assure you it is not. There are quite a few desert/dry areas across the Middle East and Bedouins do cross empty roads from time to time. If you are on a long boring road - do be vigilant. Hitting a camel would definitely damage your vehicle. Driving is challenging enough with lunatic drivers, but don’t forget about the animals.
Please note: Sometimes camels die in the road and are just left there. Do not slow down, the bodies attract very bad flies and this will cause you a lot of issues. Make sure your windows are closed.
http://www.gaijinpot.com/bb/showthread.php?p=700813#post700813I am thinking about buying these cigarette filters and maybe one of these cigarette water filter pipes to try. Has anyone ever tried one of these? www.LDUcompany.com has them on thier tobacciana page. There are two or three different types of cigarette filters and I am not sure if they are right for me. http://www.liangdianup.com/tobacciana_1.htm is the page with all the smoking things. I would like to learn a little about these before I place an order. I heard that these are the next best thing besides quiting smoking and I ain't quiting.
demonstrations and subsequent chaos, much worse in Libya than Egypt were not counted upon. Both were thought to be safe countries for tourists..
I was very surprised to hear that there are demonstrations in Oman, another autocratic state in the region. When it comes to autocracy, you cannot beat Syria, so an eruption there is a probability and even a possibility. At this stage you cannot worry about it, since it is only four weeks away: anything and nothing may happen, but the Arab world is more than volatile at the moment: from Algerie et Maroc in the far west to Oman in the East and Yemen in the South!
Nowhere were the tourists targeted during demonstrations, in fact before the demonstrations there were tourist targeting in Egypt, but they took great care not to bother the tourists..
Keep your fingers crossed..
Also know as the long drop. At some point you are going to have to face up to this challenge. I suggest that you do 2 things. The first is practice. The second is plan in advance. There is a very good chance there is no toilet paper and water all over the floor already. The locals clean themselves with a small water hose or a cup from a bucket rather than paper. Figure out where you are going to put your things and how you will position yourself so you can get the job done and not slip and make a real mess. Also plan on there not being any soap to wash your hands once you have completed this big challenge.
The receptionist in my hotel In Yemen saw me taking photos of women walking by from well inside the lobby entrance. He said “They will kill you” in a mixture of resignation and friendly concern. I am not sure how accurate he may have been and I suggest you do not try and find out. Across the Middle East you will see women dressed in a veil. This is because Islam dictates modesty for women. Their clothes should cover their feminine features, hair and sometimes their face. Sometimes even the eyes are covered which caused several minor accidents I have seen. That’s because the ladies involved couldn’t see where they were walking.
If you want to take photos, then do so out of your hotel window or very discretely from your waist so it looks like you are not taking photos. In photo no. 2 here you can even see 2 men waving 2 women out of the way so I could take a photo of a school class visiting a museum. It can be frustrating when you want to take photos of the local culture, but it’s their rules here. With a bit of creativity you can probably get better photos than I did.
Inside someone’s home is a very different story. Ladies can wear quite fashionable, even attractive clothes. Always ask permission, but you will probably find ladies a lot more willing to have their pictures taken at home.
So can you get killed in Yemen for taking the photos? Considering just about every man has a Jambiya, or huge dagger, on them you may be in fear of your life if caught.
This is the only danger that comes to my mind. This is espically true for the elderly and the young ones. Drink plenty of fluids, wear light stuff with light colours. SStay away from the sun esp. during noon time.
One of the biggest concerns for travellers is the weather and when is the best time to go to the region? The ME as a whole can be warm year round but Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iran can get chilly and see snow from time to time. (I was in Jordan in January and it was bloody freezing). There are places you can go skiing in Iran and Lebanon from January to February.
The Gulf is usually hot year round and the temps are as follows:
September is about 25 to 30 degrees. October is about 25 degrees and November around 22 degrees. December is around the same and January dips into the teens to around 15 to 18 degrees. March starts to warm up and by April the daily temps in the Gulf are around 35 degrees again. May sees temps around 40 degrees while June cracks the low 40 mark. July and August are hellish with temps reaching 50 like it is nothing (eventhough the Govts will never admit this because they are supposed to shut down after 50 deg). Syria , Jordan etc dont reach 45 + but they can be boiling during the summer. Anyway, the best time to visit the Gulf is in January and February. The best time to visit Lebanon, Israel etc is in November or in April. Enjoy :)
Terrorism after 9/11 has scared a massive percentage of travellers away from the region which is a double edged sword for most of the travellers actually backpacking the region. It is a shame that most of the travellers stay away in fear and miss out on what this wonderful region has to offer but it actually allows some of us to travel more freely and on a fixed budget. Governments tend to give this part of the World a negative image and there has been several terrorist attacks in Saudi, Yemen, Bahrain as well as Egypt, Jordan etc. Since 2004, attacks have taken place in the form of bombings, drive by shootings and kidnapping. Western expats, workers and journalists were among those targeted but the number of deaths for an entire region the number is relatively low. People get kidnapped in other parts of the world on a daily basis and drive by shootings happen daily in the USA. I can honestly say after living, working and travelling in the region as a 6ft 2inch Westerner, Ive never felt threatened or in danger and I dont live in a fantasy. I take the proper pre cautions and check Embassy homepages weekly and travel in safe areas ie ( areas of Yemen and Israel/Palestine are off limits). Terrorism has had a psychological damaging effect on the region and the world and it will be a long time before people consider the ME as a safe travellers den which in the end is quite sad and disappointing.
Yes we talk loudly,and we express ourselves with hands(kinda like sign language)....to a non middle eastren it seems that there is a fight going on between two people talking,but really there isn`t.
Don`t freak out ;-)
Your are in the heart of Islam, respect that. Avoid any legal entanglements like the plague. You don't want to have to deal with 'the law' although foreigners are not subject to the same laws as citizens (removal of appendages, heads, etc...). Do not provoke the attention of the Matawa (religious police). They run unchecked by the real law and will make life very unpleasant for you. You can avoid them by dressing properly. For men, no shorts. For women, very conservative...no legs showing, preferrably long sleeves, and absolutely no cleavage!
The Abaya is not required for foreign or non-muslim women although some will wear one like a moo-moo. Being completely covered has been known to actualy cause more problems for western women because the Matawa might assume she is Saudi or Muslim for which the expectations of female behavior are far more strict.
Saudi has the strictest and most thorough Airport custom procedure you'll ever see. Do not bring in or leave with Alcohol, videos, porn, icons or texts from other religions like bibles or crosses, stars of David (although if you are Jewish and daring visit Saudi Arabia you're a braver man than I).
- show the sole of your feet to somebody else (e.g. when you sit on a chair, feet crossed)
- don't try to shake hand with somebody from the other sex as long as he/she does not strech out his/her hand towards you
- do accept that especially in traditional areas men and women have their own role in family/society and if you don't want to get into trouble, don't try to be a cultural imperialist
- accept invitations, even if they are just on a cup of tea, cafe, water
- make compliments about the land you visit
- be freindly and polite
You know the song by The Smiths ?
It goes like this, "Some girls' are bigger than others...Some girls' mother's are bigger than other girls' mother's..."
To the girls : In some Middle Eastern countries, please don't flash the size of your boobs ! They (the size of your boobs) are offensive to the local people.
At least, carry a shawl to cover a bit (if not much...ahem !) of your boobs !
When going into the mosques, you can cover your hair or you can have a special attire given by the care-taker of the mosques.
For men, we can only cover the area between our navel & our knees ! It says in The Qur'an !
Nevertheless, dress smart is more proper.
In my humble opinion, please secure your visas even before reaching any country in The Middle East ! Sure, guidebooks & even your friends (who have been there...) could say that visas are available at the borders or at the airports, but you will never know when the visa regulations would change.
In addition to that, some people pay different prices for their visas, also depending on their nationalities.
The best way is please be well-informed about the visa before you entering any country in The Middle East or you could be denied entry !
IF YOU HAVE ISRAELI STAMP ON YOUR PASSPORT, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO ENTER MOST MIDDLE EASTERN COUNTRIES.
So, make sure you make Israel as your last destination in your trip to The Middle East !
There are some areas around The Middle East are still 'under dispute'...They still like to wedge wars on one another just because they want that piece of land !
Nevertheless, some of these areas or regions, can still be visited but with a permit issued by the police.
Get to know where you are going & make sure that your passport is always near you if your vehicles are stopped by the police.
There are also many checkpoints that you have to go through especially in Jordan (near The Dead Sea), the south of Lebanon & along The Nile Valley in Egypt...
If you want to ride the donkeys or the camels, make sure you don't put your money in your back pockets !
These animals could gallop & most of the times, the owners would ask you to manouver their pets...which is great, if you want my opinion.
At the same time, while we are busying manouvering their pets, the owners would slip their hand in our back pockets & there goes our money ! NOT OUR WALLETS !
The trick is they would say later that we dropped our wallets but when we check inside, don't be surprise if our money is gone !
Can you blame them ? Do you have any proof ?
Housed in a former Ottoman prison, The Four Seasons in Sultanahmet is anything but. It is the...more
Probably the best hotel I have ever stayed in. Service was amazing including your own personal...more
Without doubt, the King David Hotel is the most famous and prestigious hotels in Israel and possibly...more