Thursday, October 2, 2014

Tunisia Trip Day 3

(10/12/2014: updated with photos)

First, we're staying the night in a town called Le Kef, and the hotel is the worst I've ever been in. It's even worse then the RMB120 room Leon put me in last time in Chengdu. They stuck me in a tiny room in the basement with a 9" TV that doesn't work, and a Chinese style air conditioner without a remote to turn it on. The bathroom is a joke with a tiny 3x3 shower, which is too small to move around without the shower curtain sticking to you. Tiny dirty towels too... at least they gave me two towels. The hotel is Les Pins... travelers beware!

3 stars, eh?


I'm typing this in the hotel lobby surrounded by a bunch of smokers and some Arabic talk show blaring  on the TV. There are occasional beeps on the TV so I'm guessing they're censoring Arabic swear words. Anyway, today was a long hot day touring two separate Roman ruins. It's pretty amazing what the Romans were able to build over 2,000 years ago. I was impressed to see sit down toilets, something China still does not have consistently. At each site, I had to pay an extra dinar to get a ticket to take photos so I took a lot of photos.

First place we visited was Bulla Regia, a large archaeological site that was once a Roman city. There are several large villas with underground rooms for use during the super hot summers. Much of the mosaics found were removed and now displayed in museums, though some were left in place. We "hired" a guide to take us around; her English was pretty good. She also told us that they used to get multiple tours per day; after the revolution, they're lucky to even get one group each day.

Roman road from Carthage to somewhere in Algeria

Opening to underground rooms; not sure if this was covered by a canopy or roof when the structure was built

Mosaics are still vibrant after 2,000+ years (the guide splashed a bit of water to bring out the color)


Public bathhouse near the entrance of the site

We then drove about an hour to Dougga, a huge Roman archaeological site. We had lunch on-site (bad) and also hired a guide who said he spoke English (bad). Here we met a large group of French tourists and a few English speaking tourists (not American). This site did not have as many mosaics but was much much bigger than Bulla Regia.

Dougga: World Heritage Site

Not so good lamb couscous... I didn't order it since I don't like lamb meat

Looking up the hillside

Underground tunnel

Looking east... rainstorm coming

The capitol, dedicated to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva

Large theater with amazing views

Along the way we drove about 120 km south, saw many crazy Algerian drivers, and lots of sheep being bought and sold. This weekend is the Eid al-Adha celebration and each family has to buy a sheep, and have a iman perform a ceremony before they kill and cook/eat the sheep. This makes everywhere we visit smell like sheep dung. Nice.

Truck from Algeria carrying gasoline in plastic containers

And the ghetto roadside "gas stations"; we saw a guy smoking a cigarette while "refueling" a car... not smart

Market Day meant bringing all your stuff to sell, setting up in the middle of the main road in town, and blocking traffic

Tired. We're setting out tomorrow at 8am again. We are supposed to visit El Djem later where there is a very well preserved Roman amphitheater. I hope it will be a cloudy and cool day.

Dinner at Les Pins

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