Published: May 16th 2008May 16th 2008
It is really amazing what a few hours travelling will do to change your surroundings!
Syria is SO different: it is really amazing though. I dont even know where to begin to explain it, it is really something you just have to be immersed in to experience. It just seems concentrated: so much culture, dust, dirt, sunshine...and the stares! (you think I would be getting used to it by now...)
The souqs in Aleppo were amazing. I met a law professor from US on the bus and we spent the day exploring together. He was really nice and helped me to find a cheap hotel. I was glad not to be alone when I first arrived because it was a little overwhelming for us both, but we figured it out. There are vehicles everywhere and everything is in Arabic (very few English signs). So we found his hotel (really beautiful and way too much for me to afford), and dropped our things and then checked out the souqs (markets in ancient stone covered alleys) and then went to the citidel (sort of in ruins) which had amazing views of the city. We then got lost again in the souqs (this is the point) and found the Grand Mosque and I recieved much grief from the ladies until I was dressed acceptably to enter. It was really beautiful.
I bought a long dress and a head scarf so I can blend in. I really worked the guy down in price, and Alid (professor- Indian descent) was really impressed and said that he was taking notes.
I have found the the clothes dont help a ton with the stares, but men have been more respectful because they think Im a foriegn muslim...but it is SO hot! Anyway, I'd rather be hot and safe.
I went to Homs today to try to go to the Crac des Chevaliers, but because it is Friday the buses stop early so I will have to go tomorrow.
This city has beautiful ancient wooden water wheels, although unfortunately the water isnt running now. Im sharing a room with a British girl about my age and we are going exploring in a few minutes, now that it is late afternoon and cooler. Everythign closes in this city for the hot hours...well not officially but there isnt much going on.
The computer here is so strange! Windows in Arabic...everything is reversed, even start is on the right side, and the X is on the left...really weird...but atleast the characters are normal, not like in Turkey.
Adil and I may meet up in Damascus, to travel again together which will be nice.
On the bus to Homs I met a local girl who was studying English and we chated the whole way. She was very kind. I always like to meet locals. Once at the bus station, I met another young girl and she also very helpful. Syrians do seem to be kind, even if some do stare to the point where it is rude.