mr. khairul showed me the pictures of his trip there and yemen is beautiful!
this awesome sight of a building, perched seemingly precarious atop a potruding rock formation in suq al-wadi is 'dar al-hajar', belonging to imam yahya who once ruled yemen gloriously but died in a shocking assasination. he built the 5-storey 'palace' circa 1930s in sana'a, yemen. now the palace is a proud symbol of yemen and opened to public as a museum, dedicated to the ruler.
the imposing palace is visible from every angle of suq al-wadi, and upon getting closer, it's really high up and you have to tilt your head far back in order to admire its beauty.
i personally think it looks so cute! really, and i told mr. khairul it looked like a european doll house. really! actually most buildings of yemen has similar characteristics - dirt brown brick walls, windows and edges line-painted in white - beautiful!
this is another interesting spot to mr. khairul, and it's right on top of dar al-hajar, which also doubles as a look-out point for a large part of sana'a. it's an interesting spot because the place where mr. khairul was sitting, was exactly where imam yahya used to release doves to send messages.
a keeper of the musem had a real sense of humor when he said, last time imam yahya used doves, now you people can sit there and send sms!
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here mr. khairul took a picture with an elderly yemeni with a dagger strapped at his waist, called 'jambiya'. it's commonly known as an arabic dagger but most associated with people of yemen. mr. khairul said almost all yemenis were seen sporting this jambiya at their waist - even those as young as 13!
nowadays yemenis wear jambiya as an accessory to their clothing, but it's still a weapon. also, jambiya is used in performances and dances during weddings. the sheath of the jambiya is some sort of a status symbol - from plain leather, to a sheath adorned with semi-precious stone.
i'm so proud that we have the keris as a unique symbol of the malays! eh, tapi bayangkan pakcik-pakcik kampung suma selit keris kat kain pelekat diorang? hihi.
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ah nasi mandi. and yemen is the absolute place to have a plate because it's the birthplace of mandi rice! as expected, mr. khairul has only good reviews about the mandi rice there. he really wanted to try one specifically to make his mandi-freak wife jealous! huh! but i'm glad to know that he said dubai al-tawasol's mandi rice is not far-off in terms of quality in taste.
alright, then! phew! so i don't have to fly all the way to yemen to get the best mandi rice in the world! read about my mandi rice addiction here.
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after a hefty heavy plate of rice, the yemeni would indulge in possibly the most popular after-meal 'snack' - the qat. chewing qat seemed to be the main activity as they hang out with friends of just for time being before dinner. macam kita kunyah sireh kot!
the leaves are chewed until all the juices have been sucked out. ideally, one would be in a state of 'ecstasy', while some may even develop hidden super-strength! one old-timer of yemen related a story of how one man was able to lift up a big refridgerator all by himself after chewing qat!
well, mr. khairul said he chewed for hours. he neither felt 'high', nor did he turn into superman!
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in this picture coins are used to weigh a product. and if you're wondering, the crystal-like candies are actually the earliest known man-made mint chewing gum! yup! mr. khairul bought some, which is wrapped in a cone-shaped arabic newspaper (much like if we buy kacang putih dulu-dulu) but i've yet to try any - tapi bau dia memang sedap!
this shop is one of many in 'suq al-milh', a popular market selling all sorts from spices and raisins to pashminas and belts! this market is situated inside the walled up 2,500 year-old city of sana'a (declared one of 'world heritage cities'), and the famous 700 year old main entrance to the walled old city is called 'bab al-yemen' - or gate of yemen.
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it is said that the best honey in the world is produced in yemen. who in their right mind, goes to yemen and not buy honey? well yes, dubai global village is already open and one can get similar yemeni honey over there. (read about our honey-purchase at dubai global village here.)
however, nothing beats the real, original, non-imported thing, right? ok, i'm off to eat some spoonful of honey with buttered waffles!