Qalansiya might not be world renowned, but it is the second largest “city” in Socotra, perhaps the most underrated, unknown and off the beaten track places on earth. But, is there a street food scene in Qalansiya?
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Qalansiya and Socotra
Socotra is an island off of Yemen, technically. In fact it is pretty far from Yemen, being geographically part of Africa, but “owned” at least by Yemen.
Which Yemen owns Socotra? Well that is a whole other question entirely. It was formally part of the Marxist Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen), before joining the unified Republic of Yemen.
Then it kind of got forgotten before the UAE and Saudi took and interest. Currently it is covered by the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC), under the very watchful eye of the United Arab Emirates.
Qalansiya is ten second largest city of Socotra with a population of about 2000, this is no metropolis, but it is very much worth a visit when you tour Socotra.
The Qalansiya Guide
Located but an hour from Habidu the capital of Socotra it is next to a former Soviet military base, which means playing with tanks, as well as a current UAE one. The main reasons to visit Qalansiya are to see the fish market, as well as, or visit perhaps the most beautiful beach in the world – Detwah, which will certainly get its own article.
Detwah as well as having an amazing beach is also where we personally camp for the night, climb some mountains, visit a guy who pretends to live in a cave and take a boat to Shuuab, the second best beach in Socotra.
There are no hotels, nor places of extreme interest in Qalansiya, but it is still worth a look and gold can be struck if you really look hard enough.
Street Food Qalansiya
I’m still the street food guy, so I still gotta do my SFG guides, and while Qalansiya didn’t exactly set the planet alight, we did find street food and better still end of having an amazing experience.
Qalansiya town is small and there are no restaurants here. There are reports of a fish and chip that was in Qalansiya before, but alas it was long gone when we arrived. Quite the shame as I had been looking forward to Socotri fish and chips!
The main street though does have shops and again is well worth an explore. The shops again don’t have all that much going on, but you can buy drinks, such as mu Bert obsession Vimto, which was not only sold as a cordial, but was to my amazement also bottled in Yemen. Yemeni vim article? Perhaps…..
So, street food Qalansiya? It consisted of two guys selling two things, samosas and circular spicy potato things. I wish I could give a better explanation, but hey I can’t. Both though cost 40 cents a piece, tasted great with the Socotran hot sauce and caused a panic when we bought some for there local kids. This also drew the ire of the son of the ex-governor of Socotra, a men without too many redeeming qualities it would appear.
Praying in the Qalansiya Mosque
The best experiences are usually the unexpected ones and that is exactly what happened to us here! Smelling bread we took advantage of our Arabic speaking friend to try and get some.
A chain of events was set off, w which would lead us not only to a local
Qalansiya home, but also the local mosque. Here we were welcomed, invited to pray and told about life in the area, which by all accounts sounded pretty tough.
And at the end the payoff, that bread we had smelt! Presented to us before we went back to camp on the beach. Free of charge by our hosts it was as fresh as bread you could get a little sweet, but also very good, particularly as an accompaniment to our locally caught fish.
Street food Qalansiya might not change your world, but if you can make the effort to step off the beaten track, while already off the beaten track then you might just have a great time in Qalansiya.