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Intrepid Journeys

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Paul Holmes: Yemen




Photogallery: Paul's trip to Yemen

Paul Holmes is no stranger to war zones and political hot spots. The Intrepid Journeys producers realised his trip called for a different challenge - sending Holmes to the Middle East certainly delivered. Trouble at the border, trying to send Nigel the goat to New Zealand and a mad drive through Al Qaeda country were just a few moments in a trip Holmes describes as "a revelation."  

"People said to me, 'where are you going to go?'  I'd say 'Yemen' and people go oh gosh, are you going to be all right.  The last tourists killed here were killed just a few months ago," Holmes said.

Yemen is in the Middle East on the Arabian Peninsula and is one of the oldest centres of civilisation. It is an Islamic state and all laws are based on the Qur'an. 

"We think Al Qaeda, 9/11, and the USS Cole. My mother was very worried," Holmes said. "But the amazing thing is I cannot recall ever going to a friendlier country than this.  Even people who are taken hostage report that they're treated beautifully by the people who have taken them hostage. So they're welcoming even when they're holding you prisoner. Fantastic."

Holmes packed in a diverse itinerary. He tried to adopt a goat called Nigel. He suffered through several nights of uncomfortable camping and even went undercover to get a sense of daily life for the women in this culture. 

"You rarely see women, you never see their faces. You either see the fully covered head or you see just the eyes. You never see men talking to women in the street."

Having missed a connecting flight back to the capital San'a, Holmes braved a road trip across the Ma'rib desert. Travel advisories put this area on the same warning level as Baghdad and it is a road trip not to be taken lightly.

This Middle East adventure did have a serious brush with the law. The crew's equipment was confiscated on arrival, a first for the Intrepid Journeys production team. 

"I'm thinking what a great start, I've been here half an hour and the camera has been confiscated," Holmes says, "welcome to Yemen."  


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