Talking of in-depth intellectual coverage, I have to make a quick foray back to the Guardian Unlimited Travel site, which is encyclopaedic – covering many destinations you just wouldn’t find anywhere else in print, or on the web.
When casting around for islands for Unforgettable Islands To Escape to Before You Die some of the decisions were made just by looking at an atlas and seeing which looked interesting! Yes, it is possible to judge an interesting island from an atlas – I believe that much of the British Empire was picked with such a strategy, and I have heard rumours that GW’s foreign policy follows similar lines. Once I had found an interesting looking candidate, I would then do a quick search in Google to see what the place was like. On one notable instance, I just typed ‘Island +Ganges’ into Google and discover the ancient and fascinating Indian festival – the Ganga Sagar Mela, but maybe more of this on a later posting.
One of these fascinating looking islands was Socotra off the coast of the Yemen. A Google search found pretty little, in general, but on the Guardian Unlimited site there were two recent features: The Galapagos of Arabia and The Land That Time Forgot
Ignoring the cliched and dopey hyperbole of the titles, Socotra is a largely untouched cultural and ecological haven. Steeped in the very best traditions of Arabic hospitality, it is humbling and gratifying to know that places like this still exist in such a crowded, busy and facile world – a bit of a metaphor for the Guardian Unlimited Travel site itself.
It is not just the travel site that will educate about Socotra. Plant Crossing on the Education site talks of the threats to the diversity of the island.
Interestingly, bearing in mind my Ethiopian story on the Perceptive Travel Site there is also a disappointingly inconclusive exploration into the paralell claims of being the birthplace of the Queen of Sheba by Yemen and Ethiopia in Mystery of an African Queen
Images and words © Steve Davey 2007