Yemen? Yeah, man.

Travel writing is usually at its most interesting, in my opinion, when it takes us to places we’ve never been, and especially to places where we’ve never thought of going. Like most travel-lovers, I daydream constantly about visiting scores of different places, but I can confess to never having given much thought to the country of Yemen. That’s why I was so interested to read a new feature article in the New York Times travel section, “Yemen’s Exotic Secrets.”

The author paints a vivid though somewhat disturbing portrait of the Middle-Eastern republic, a country plagued by an unreported war, religious and political extremism, and consequentially, a poor reputation among tourists. Indeed, the only thing I associated with Yemen before reading this article was the bombing of the USS Cole that occurred in a Yemini port in 2000. Still, the author of the article maintains that, despite its poor reputation, Yemen is a place well worth a visit:

“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. Indeed, few attacks on tourists have taken place in what I consider Yemen’s two most spectacular draws: the Old City of Sana and the eastern oasis of Wadi Hadhramaut.”

Be sure to check out the excellent slideshow that accompanies the article.