Shibam, "Manhattan of the Desert" just has to be an anticlimax.
You see the pictures and cannot believe that anywhere quite so
extraordinary can actually exist...must be Photoshop! But
after a few days in Yemen you start to realise that all those
amazing images are actually photographs of real places, not some
surrealist fantasy construct. However, even after those few
days in the country, Shibam is still fairly awe-inspiring.
We arrived in the sleepy afternoon of Ramadan,
watched the sunset from the mountainside across the wadi, then spent
the evening wandering the streets in sodium-lit, eerie half light.
The town was buzzing with the life of the Ramadan post-fast, kids
pleading for their photos to be taken, old ladies pleading for their
photos not to be taken, all the men chewing khat in a stupefied