Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tunisia Trip Day 2

(10/12/2014: updated with photos)

First full day in Tunisia started with breakfast at 7am in the hotel. I didn't feel adventurous so I stuck with pastries and colored sugar water (no grape drink though). The spread was descent but most of the fruit came from cans; definitely different from hotel breakfasts in SE Asia.

Do you know the way to Mecca?

Our first stop was the seaside town of Bizerte. Tour driver said that there is a lot less tourists since the summer peak season is over. We drove around a bit and ended up stopping in the town marina. There was a temporary fish market set up in the parking lot. People actually go out into the sea in the morning to fish so I guess everything is fresh. Our other stop today is in Tarbarka, which is only 25 km from the Algerian border. We found a random place in town to get lunch then checked into our hotel. The place we originally booked our reservation had some water issues so we were diverted to a slightly better hotel along the Mediterranean coast. Our driver then took us back to town for more sights, then back to the hotel for dinner. For both nights now, dinner and breakfast have been included in the room rate. Maybe it's standard here. Dinner was buffet style and was pretty good though the fruit selection was once again disappointing. During dinner, a group of college students knew one of our group members so we got to talk to them a bit in English. I also met a few college professors who were setting up a western style business college in Sfax. All instruction is in English so maybe I can put my University of Phenix experience to use. :)

Fishing boats at Bizerte

Fish market

More fried fish for lunch

Mediterranean Sea

Tarbarka coastline

Our 5-star hotel (Dar Ismail Tarbarka) at night; looks nice from the outside but the rooms are just average

One thing I'm noticing is that women's dress code varies quite a lot. I knew Tunisia was more on the liberal side of Islam but was surprised by how western the college students dressed, including t-shirts and short shorts. On the street we do see women in headscarves but it's not consistently conservative dress. Maybe it's due to cultural influences from France and Europe. However, the ratio of men to women out-and-about is super noticeable. We don't see any women sitting at roadside caf├ęs; it's exclusively all men.

Another weird thing for me is the total lack of Asians, so people stare at us a lot. Many people would come up to us and say "ni hao". Still haven't decided if that's innocent or derogatory. Often people would come up and ask if we are Japanese instead. I just say no and tell them I'm American which seems to always cause more confusion.

It's now almost 10pm and I'm dead tired. I took one shower today already but looks like I need another one. The temperature is actually not too bad but still too hot and humid for me. We head south tomorrow so the weather will get warmer though maybe it will be less humid.

Average... touching the drapes made my hands smell like smoke :(

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