it’s a Socotra, it’s said to be one of the
most alien looking places on earth it’s not near really anything it’s an
isolated island it’s controlled by Yemen but it’s 150 miles east of Somalia and
240 miles south of Yemen and it’s not that small concern it’s isolation it’s
80 miles by 31 miles so it’s a decent sized island and with the population
about 60,000 people kind of in the middle of nowhere and that’s what is so
awesome about visiting it I’m not a person that’s huge in the plants I don’t
go around taking pictures of trees or flowers actually I never ever do but
when you go to socotra it’s like you’re entering a dr. Seuss book
well when I was a kid and saw the images of dr. Seuss and the drawings that he
would do that’s socotra it’s unbelievable it’s
amazing it’s crazy how these plants and an animal not really the animals were
more the plants and how they they don’t even seem real and that’s why again it’s
called the most alien looking place on earth so let’s talk about why I went to
socotra and what my interest in the culture was well as much as you probably
want to think that it’s because I love plant life and wanting to see the exotic
place no I wasn’t that clever basically I wanted to visit every country in the
world and so I needed to visit Yemen and I went to the Embassy in Malaysia
because I was living in Singapore at the time and there’s no embassy in Singapore
I went to the embassy in Indonesia I went to the embassy in the UAE and all
three places told me that I had to be a part of the United Nations if I wanted
to get in which really frustrated me because I’ve done a lot of service work
as an international dentist and doctor and I’ve gone to multiple countries and
I thought for sure they’d let me in because they want they need work right
they’re going through a crisis and yet no even though they need the country is
in dire need of doctors a doctor that wants to volunteer and go there they’re
not even willing to work with or treat or do anything come on it was it was
absolutely ridiculous but regardless I ended up finding out about socotra
because that was one place you could get a visa on arrival
so that was my next job was to get to socotra where all the requires a visa on
arrival and that’s why I decided to go there because then I could say I visited
Yemen so that was my problem ah no because I
knew I wanted go to socotra but it’s so isolated and I knew if I got there I
would have a visa on arrival everything would be good the problem is all the
flights were canceled because Yemen was in a crisis and basically when I had
contacted people about going to socotra they all told me that hey it’s
impossible right now because there’s no flights and you won’t be able to go
until the crisis is over so I couldn’t go to Maine Yemen because there was a
crisis and they won’t let me in and I couldn’t go to socotra which is also
Yemen but it’s an isolated safe place because there’s no transportation that’s
like a get there I’ll be fine so all I had to do was figure out a way to get
there and so that’s what became this crazy
crazy adventure so basically I just used common sense I realized in today’s world
we have to have connections every place even the most isolated places in the
world are still connected and I figured there had to be boats going there even
the small boats there had to be trade and things happening with them in the
rest of the world and so I started looking where if there was a boat to go
to socotra even though however rare it would be where would it go for and again
we talked about 150 miles from Somalia Somalia would be the closest but if
anybody has done research on Somalia it’s not in we’ll be doing an episode in
the future put Somalia it’s not the most stable country right now so for it to
have a big port probably not gonna happen and also when it’s 150 miles from
Somalia where the area of Somalia is from is just desert it’s not near any
big capital city no large city is 150 miles from socotra the capital is much
further away and towards the south so then the next thing was Yemen because
it’s a Yemen you know it’s a part of Yemen but again there was no large
cities and number two Yemen was going through a crisis so I figured hey it’s
not go it’s not Yemen either and then it looked at the map in salsa Lola and
there it was because so Lola is I believe the third biggest city and
Oman’s second third biggest city in Omen not just that it would be by far the
largest city that is near Socotra and it had a huge port because of its
ideal location and because omen is a very stable country and I didn’t know
this at the time but captain Phillips the movie captain Phillips they deport
from Salalah before he gets bombarded by the pirates and everything so yeah it
made total sense the coach or Salalah was going to be the place that would
supply the culture with all its supplies whatever it would need stuff and so I
contacted the port the Salalah port and asked do you have boats going this
culture and their response was is this a serious question and then like you know
and then obviously explained my situation and everything and they said
yes we have boats but they’re very irregular which would make perfect sense
when I got there and so I contacted every single tour group in insa culture
who had told me I couldn’t come yet and said I am willing to take a boat I
don’t care what’s on this boat I don’t care if it’s not fancy I’m willing to
take a boat just figure out when there’s a boat and so basically they started
doing their looking and and again there was probably like eight different groups
and there was only one person that had a friend in salalah and he contacted me
with the friend in salalah and said if you go to salalah omen he’ll look every
day with you for a boat and you’ll be able to take a boat and so that’s
exactly we had to wait till the right season when was the busiest season when
we knew there would be boats now the busiest season means there’s a boat once
a week that’s the busy season but there’s two seasons there’s a windy
season when there’s zero boats for one to two months so I didn’t want to go at
that time and I happen to arrive at 2 a.m. to the airport and the guy picked
me up from the airport and I don’t know if I just get lucky he literally said we
have a boat leaving tomorrow which it was 2 a.m. which meant today we have a
boat leaving later today in the afternoon or not even that afternoon in
the morning and so basically I ride the 2 a.m. by the time I get to my hotel
it’s 3 a.m. I knew there was gonna be a boat so use the Wi-Fi to download
different like you know ebooks Kindle books and different things
because the boat rides gonna be a long boat ride and there’s going to be
nothing to do on the boat and I probably got like two hours of sleep and then he
picked me up at 8 a.m. so as you can imagine I got no sleep but
that’s fine we went to the ATM because I take out a lot of money because I’m
socotra I knew there’s probably no working ATMs and then after that we
basically went down to the dock and so we got to talk about 9:00 a.m. and the
boat was already getting was very close to deporting at that time but they knew
I was coming and and everything and so yeah the boat we left at 10:00 a.m. and
this boat do not expect this boat to be this super fancy boat this was an Indian
boat there’s a crew of like six six or seven and it was no electricity on the
boat no high powered boat and then this boat even make it worse the boat was 90%
cement so the passengers just had a little area to go and that’s all we had
but I was very very happy I got on the boat and the boat was so tiny and so old
that we had to climb over two boats to get to this boat this boat wasn’t even
docked on the dock it was docked two other boats and so we had to climb over
we had to go onto one go and then go over the deck to the next boat to go
over to this tiny little boat because I guess the tiny boats have last priority
for docking so again we docked we left at about 10:00 a.m. it would take we
would go the entire day the next day and the entire day the day after that but
then I’d be be sleeping at about I think believe it was 1:00 a.m. when a guy woke
me up and it was my tour guide in socotra or and my guy who had organized
everything for me it was kind of cool exceed is the same age as me or right
there around and also let’s talk about this boat though this boat was not your
typical boat as we’ve talked about if you wanted to go to the bathroom no
going to a toilet no you went on a oh you went over the deck in this little
box that came up to your knees so hopefully they hit a wave and follow the
box and go overboard and anything and there was just a hole on it
so you’re just supposed to squat squat down and go into the bathroom in this
tiny little hole and then all your bathroom contents just went right out to
the ocean so it was crazy and it was an experience that that I won’t forget and
then also on on top of the boat so to sleep you had the the one area with the
big steering wheel and other gadgets for navigation and then for the beds you had
to go on top of that you had to climb up a ladder run on top they just had a few
blankets that you would use and that’s where you would sleep so if it would
have rained there would’ve been no place to sleep at night luckily I think rain
the two days I was there on the boat but anyway as I said it was to it 1 to 2
a.m. when I finally arrived and my guy had come and got me and I’m the guy that
organized my entire visa and we took he had taken a small canoe and we took the
small canoe to socotra and we had finally arrived okay so let’s talk about I arrived in
socotra my guide and visa organizer picked me up at 2:00 a.m. and it was
kind of funny because then he was so exciting he was so excited to have a
tourist you got remember they had no tourists in over two years on this
island so they were so excited to have a tourist that he goes knocking on all
these doors at 2:00 a.m. to try to have these shopkeepers that have snacks open
up so I could get a snack which at the time I just really wanted to sleep but I
was just so happy to be in socotra I could care less so that’s kind of how it
started now the next morning was a big crazy situation so basically the
government didn’t really know that an American had been coming so when I
arrived and I went to the their government the next morning to get my
visa on arrival they basically said no you can’t get a visa you need to go back
because the laws have changed for Americans because I’m I don’t know
politics some America had probably doesn’t something that upset them and so
the Yemenis government didn’t allow Americans even to see culture anymore
with a visa on arrival but my guide basically then pleaded they were doing
this in all Arabic and trust me they are not very diplomatic how they do it
everybody’s yelling everybody’s yelling in Arabic at each other and I’m just
sitting there no idea what’s going on but eventually after about an hour and a
half of arguments they come in the government guy tells me okay here’s the
deal because he could speak some English he’s like you just need to take the next
boat to leave which might sound bad but you got to remember I’m in an isolated
island I knew I’d have a few days and what it was actually next boat left
sooner than we were anticipating I had I got four days there but four solid days
in socotra was pretty good considering that I wasn’t even supposed to be there
and after this they banned anyone from coming they talked to Roman immigration
to not allow anyone to go to Yemen unless they already had a pre-approved
visa so because of me that entire rule cut let’s talk about my trip so there’s a
lot of really fun things that we did we I went I remember we went scuba diving
and the craziest thing is the scuba diver instructor I guess you could call
him hadn’t used his equipment in two years he hadn’t seen a foreigner in two
years so it was a little nerve-wracking that you know the equipment might not
work or something it was actually incredible the obviously there’s not a
lot of tourists there there’s tons tons of different types of fish and things
that was amazing to see with the scuba diving I wanted to ride a camel in the
the middle of the desert and so we had to drive outside the capital city to
where the desert was and the first of all the camel guys home was really
unique so it they’re all one story and it’s like a kind of an open area with
like three different rooms so unlike a house with an open living room they’re
just open open right like there’s no the middle area is just sand and that’s like
the the yard and then their main home or like they have dinner and stuff it’s
just basically toonstone walls with sand in the middle that they put a carpet on
on on the ground when they have guests over so you know they just lay out the
big carpet you sit on it and that’s where we ate and the food was we had
camel and we had oranges and we had rice and it was kinda you know everybody kind
of touch it no no utensils at all and everybody kind of touches it and and it
was it was a neat experience and what else was I gonna say so we had a so
camel guy says oh well I don’t really have I let my camels roam freely on this
island so I don’t know these camels were actually hiss and he said if you want to
ride a camel you’re going to have to catch a camel so that’s exactly what we
did eight of us because again they didn’t have many tours so me hanging out
everybody and again because of the crisis and stuff there’s just not a lot
to do a lot a lot of people to have jobs and stuff so everyone came out to hang
out with me and we all have to circle one of this can’t want one of these
camels and push it towards the two people with the ropes I was one of the
guys actually holding the rope and how it works is camels
jump camels can traverse so as soon as they go and get pushed towards this one
area and it hits the rope they’re stocked and caught and that’s how we
caught our camel okay and so let’s continue this story all right so we
caught the camel and so now we have to ride the camel and if you don’t know how
camels work because you’re not from a place with the long camels he is
basically you have to have him go on their knees so they get low enough to
the ground so you can actually get on them and to ride but this camel would
not go on his knees the camel the camel guy I guess you could call him would
grab one of his legs but he uses other three legs to keep standing and he just
refused to go on his knees and then he eventually like they tried to take off
front two legs and then he would just go on his knees on his front but stays
standing with his back legs so like he was just a very stubborn camel so the
only way he got me on the camel was tying his legs together force him to go
on his knees on his front and then tying his back legs together and force him go
on his knees on the back so he had to get tied up just so I could get on the
camel then we untied the camel which I like was very scared I held on really
really tight because I was afraid he was gonna go fly I’d go flying so the camel
go off running and just stood up really quick and then he didn’t do anything and
he just ate the tree right next to the guy so he didn’t really care and because
there was a one small one small plant Oh nearby where we had caught him so then
then of course I took him to because we were very near the desert and I took him
over where the nice sandy hills were and I was able to ride a camel through the
desert like I saw in the movies and that made me happy so I got that done now the
thing that was really interesting with with this guy was he told me about that
he had seven daughters and he told me how three three really beautiful
daughters but his beautiful daughters had teeth just falling out and at first
I thought it was gum disease I thought you know maybe
had cavities or whatever the normal reasons most people did so I didn’t
think much of it but when we went to his home and we saw his daughters
I was absolutely it was unbelievable so like for example one of the daughters at
the time they’re granted this was about three years ago one of his daughters was
18 years old and she only had two teeth left which were were her wisdom teeth
she had lost every other tooth in her malt which at 18 years old is is
unremarkable that you never happens and then he had a ten year old who had lost
all her baby teeth which normally not all your BFI tends some of your baby
teeth but now all your baby teeth should be missing and her front two incisors
which come out when you’re about eight they were already loose and you could
tell they weren’t gonna be in her mouth a year from now and those teeth were
only two years old they you know her adult teeth had just erupted two years
ago and he had a six year old who also was having a lot of problems again the
six-year-old at six years old had lost all her baby teeth and her only teeth
she had in her mouth was her adult teeth her six-year-old molars obviously had
came in and her front teeth had came in but like it was just unfortunate and
they had scaly scaly skin on there especially on their hands and feet it
was it was unreal well anyway I had thought like maybe this was a rare
disease maybe I discovered something that that was new because we were so
isolated and and everything and I went through all the different pathology I’d
learned in school and I couldn’t remember it at all so I emailed but
amazingly enough they had email service here well not at this village where the
the camel guy was but back in the capital city and I emailed my professor
my oral pathology professor from dental school several who had you know several
years ago and of course he got back to me right away and told me it was
Papillon lefur syndrome and it’s a very rare disease he told me that we never
covered in class because it’s so rare he never expected any of us to ever come
across it and we ended up writing a paper on the disease because to find
three people in the same family to have it is so except to just see the disease
one time is extremely rare and to find three
people with it is is unheard of so we ended up writing a paper on it with him
but that’s besides the point the other thing that’s really unfortunate is
there’s no cure to it because it’s genetic and it’s it’s very like I said
very rare to get and it happens in very isolated communities which makes perfect
sense you would find this in socotra socotra is an island that very few
people leave and come back right it’s an ice law island where you born you’re
born raised and died on this island and then to add to it this camel guy was in
the desert so he wasn’t human the capital city was an isolated tribe far
far removed from where the capital was so it’s just a not a lot of people there
not a lot of diversity and genes being mixed around so that’s helped cause his
daughters to have this so anyway the problem is there’s no great cure for it
and and really the only thing you can do is dentures now implants have been tried
and sometimes have been successful but don’t forget we are super isolate so to
do dental implants here is almost probably would never happen but of
course I did work with the local doctor to make sure that they got dentures and
I just wish there was a better solution because many of the men are afraid to
date those daughters especially the 18 year old obviously the younger ones
isn’t such an issue but the 18 year olds now 21 and none of the men want to date
her because they’re afraid she’ll give those genes to their children so it’s
just I don’t know it’s kind of kind of sad and but that’s the situation okay so
let me take a quick break and kind of explain the format’s in this since this
is our first video that I’m recording so as I mentioned I’m doing this because I
don’t believe all my relatives have podcasts or I’ve ever listened to a
podcast so I’m also recording this so they can see me on Facebook and get it
that way or YouTube easier ways for my relatives to hear about my travel
experiences and obviously anybody else that wants to hear it but and I was told
by my friends that when I talk and read from a script about my stuff that
happened to me I feel very robotic I’m not able to put any motions and
excitement and every thing like that so that’s why right now
I have no script as you can tell I’ve been doing it all for memory but when I
get to the end like where I am right now I will look over my notes and see if
there’s anything I miss so that’s what I’m gonna do right now so on this scene
I will be looking away from the camera sometimes but I’m not gonna look at
camera in the first place anyway so let’s go okay so one of the things I
wanted to mention is the coolest thing with going to socotra was it was like I
was going back in time again because it’s so isolated because really it’s
only communicated main communication is small little tiny Indian boats you it’s
like seeing what the Gulf used to be like back you know 4050 years ago before
they discovered oil and got rich and made fancy buildings it was like what
what the Arabic world was like 50 years ago which is incredible it’s a beautiful
place and it was incredible back then and it’s still incredible so I really
really love that the dragon blood tree so again I’m not into plants at all and
I I just you know I’m not a guy that that I’ve never taken pictures of trees
or flowers or things like that that’s not what excites me when I travel but
even for you people that don’t like flowers go to socotra you’re gonna be
amazed because like I said in the introduction it’s like a dr. Seuss book
it’s on freakin believable so these dragon blood trees are literally imagine
on a tree that looks like an umbrella that’s what it looks like and it’s only
in Yemen and okay so I’m gonna be talking about a lot of stuff here and
just quick sidenote and so I think the best way I’ll do is if you at least have
facebook or you have Instagram I’ll probably this Instagram is a good limit
so each episode I will talk about a place I will be posting ten photos on
that place because Instagram only allows ten and so you can see the ten photos
from the talk and I’m gonna try to pick specific things we talked about in this
presentation so you can see it and so you can check it out if you want to and
then all the ten photos one will be in so you can at least see where it is and
then the other nine photos will be something significant about the place
especially if it was mentioned in the talk so you can visually you know you
can actually visualize you don’t just have to imagine me you can actually
visually see what it looked like so this will be one of them obviously will be
these trees so the the dragonblood trees what happens is when the bark comes off
it’s red and so when Westerners discovered it they thought you know they
call it dragon blood tree because they thought the redness looked like blood
and so like a blood of a dragon so those who are unbelievable but and that’s what
everybody knows but just going to see them on the way we plat past these other
I don’t know bushes and plants that were straight out of a dr. Seuss book which I
just I could not believe it so I’ve photos with them too and it’s just
incredible plant life it that’s why the coach is called the most alien looking
place on earth and that’s why I recommend everybody to go there besides
that what else would I like to tell you oh when I did leave it I took another
Indian boat that was a different boat that was leaving and a lot more people
were out there because we were leaving two in the middle of the day so tons of
people came and so it’s a much bigger commotion when we left when I arrived it
was only 1 or 2 a.m. but as much as I’d like to say everybody came because of me
they also had four local people from the island leaving so they probably most of
them were there for them but I like to take some of the credit saying that you
know they were excited to have the first tourist in two years leave and but the
other thing that was really neat is that the boat guy the at least this time when
we left the guy could speak a little bit of English the captain so it was really
nice and like like when he’d have dinner he’d always invite me to have dinner
with him and he’s just such a nice nice he’s an Indian guy in an Indian boat and
just such a nice guy and it was just you know it’s I think they they don’t get
many crazy people jumping on Indian boats that really talk and interact with
them so it was it was just really nice to to make I felt like we made friends
um even though obviously I was using the boat to that for transport um it was you
know I think we all had a good time one of the sad things is that they have the
cot plant so it’s just think of it as any other drug it’s like smoking it’s
like smoking would let smoke is the best
example where people know it costs money people know it’s harmful but people
still do it that’s the caught plant no it’s not as
harmful but unlike smoking caught costs a lot of money and people it just
destroys their the economy of Somalia and Yemen and so this is because the
silence between the two places it destroys this island – so the reason I’m
saying that is when I gave my guide money you know I paid him for the feasts
I paid him for all his work because and you know he put in a lot of effort to
get me there first thing he spends his money on was cotton right and every day
he went and did that as soon as they get money they go and buy it and so it’s
just unfortunate because you know you could use that money for so many useful
things for investing in a business or doing other things projects I mean the
country needs money and the little bit of money that they actually make
everybody just uses for this plant and so they’re never going to advance which
is I guess one of the nice things that they don’t advance is you still get to
see what the world was like many years ago but still you just feel bad because
this confident country could use and this island could use some
infrastructure another thing was about the the women the women all were burkas
and so that was because again the Muslim religion which is pretty strict there my
guide was dating Russian so he his wife didn’t wear the burqa she hated it she
hated wearing a hijab and she would complaining attend she went out in
public was she would have to put the hijab on but they allowed her may
because she’s a foreigner maybe all women are allowed to or only required
only the hijab and not the full burqa but she was the only person I saw that
only wore hijab if they were woman and were over the age and say like 15 and so
oh and gas for the car is done with a funnel so you know no normal gas
stations you literally put a funnel to your ghat gas tank and then have to drop
in gasoline that way oh and their dress was very like like I said was like going
back in time because their dress was just like it used to be back in the good
old days and in the Gulf and you know the Arabic world the
the guys that were like skirts it which is kind of I mean that’s what they used
to wear tied with a rope and just like a t-shirt on top so that was absolutely
fascinating so this has been my first episode first full episode I hope you
enjoyed it please leave comments and suggestions please let me know if
there’s things that I should do differently I’m not an expert at any you
know I’m a toothpick sir I am NOT a podcaster a youtuber so I may not be an
expert on how to do this so please let me know what I should do differently and
number 2 let’s talk about next time next time we’re going to be talking about the
Falkland Islands which had a war in the 80s which a lot of people there who are
our adults were there when the war happened so it was it’s a really unique
place it’s the best place in the world to see penguins and we will be talking
about that next time so see you next time

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