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December 22nd 2004
Published: December 22nd 2004
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and a river runs through itand a river runs through itand a river runs through it

The Euphrates river, as seen when it runs through Deir Ez-Zur. The suspension bridge is for pedestrians (and bicycles and the occasional motorcycle) only and makes for great afternoon excursions for the entire family.
I finally have pictures.

I decided to splurge on the hotel last night, paying $6 rather than $4 for a room with private shower and cable tv. There was a really loud noise emanating from a water pump which threatened to cause hearing problems, but the manager assured me it would be over before 7pm, so I head out to explore. I got back around 1am and the noise was still going on. I asked the guys at the reception to turn it off and they were like "oh, sure, yeah we'll do it right away", so I go back to my room... 10 minutes pass, nothing. Back downstairs to the reception: "what's up?" "oh, right", and someone gets up and goes to the electrical shed, so I figure maybe they were just dragging their heels the last time, and head back up to my room. 10 minutes later, still no change. This time when I head back down the guy I had been speaking to is gone, and the only guy there doesn't speak any english. He explains that he's unable to turn off the pump but that it will automatically turn off at 1:30. I think "fair enough,
Castle in the DesertCastle in the DesertCastle in the Desert

This is a castle on the outskirts of Mayadin, about 80km from Iraq. The surrounding landscape is, as you can tell, true unmitigated Desert.
I'll brush my teeth in the meantime" (ahem, yes, brush my teeth). At 1:50 I head downstairs again to ask why the noise hasn't stopped, only to find that the reception light is off and they've dragged a table in front of it so I can't open the door... unbelievable! At this point I'm fairly pissed off and start knocking on the door and thinking what my options are at this time of night, especially considering I already paid them, when the sound magically stops. I finally hit the pillow at 2am, after a full hour of being ignored.

I wake up at 8am to the same sound of the water pump. I'm not sure, it may have started earlier but I was probably too tired to notice before 8am... I put on clothes, head downstairs and try to explain that this is completely unacceptable, it's only 8am, the noise barely turned off at 2, and could they please turn it off. Again, "oh, sure" and someone gets up and goes into some closet somewhere. Still naive, I head upstairs. Of course, there's no change. I finally remember my earplugs, manage to screw them on and shut out the
Desert DwellersDesert DwellersDesert Dwellers

The Bedouin are apparently gone for good. The occasional black tent remains, and they still tend sheep but they are apparently no longer nomadic and only venture very short distances into the Desert. The camels, also, have been replaced by motorcycles. This sort of house seems much more popular these days. Note how the house almost blends in with its surroundings, giving everything the same uniform tone of brown.
world and get in a couple more hours of decent sleep.

The shower didn't have hot water and the TV didn't work... I promptly packed up my stuff and moved over to the cheaper hotel.

The rest of the day was spent visiting an amazing crusader castle. It's simply unbelievable how much the region resembles the Marmara region in Turkey (around Bursa and especially the Bursa-Balikesir region which I now know so well). In the evening I met some young people on the street and hung out with them for the rest of the night. They assured me there would be a street party here on christmas eve (a couple of them are christian) and that it would be totally worth my while if I stay in Lattakia, which actually doesn't sound like such a bad idea. I met a guy who was headed for Bethlehem for christmas eve, an excellent plan except it's too soon and too far away...

Enjoy the pictures.


Additional photos below
Photos: 10, Displayed: 10


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Ruined MosqueRuined Mosque
Ruined Mosque

I couldn't resist... The mosque basically sits on the border of the desert and, as you can tell, makes for very dramatic photography.
Blue on BrownBlue on Brown
Blue on Brown

In one of my blogs I mention the bizarre contrast the Euphrates makes when it cuts through the Desert... It's almost too blue to be true.
HalabiyyaHalabiyya
Halabiyya

There's a ruined Byzantine castle (from which the picture was taken) midway between Deir Ez-Zur and Rakka... Quite dramatic.
AleppoAleppo
Aleppo

I didn't take many pictures in Aleppo, although the citadel in the middle of town is truly picturesque. Here you see shoe-shiners at the foot of an ancient building in the Souq, huddling for warmth. In general I would get excited everytime I saw a building with the Ottoman seal on its facade...
A man a boy and a donkey... er, wait, noA man a boy and a donkey... er, wait, no
A man a boy and a donkey... er, wait, no

Lattakia on the coast. The landscape is completely transformed from what one sees in the east... olive and citrus trees, forests, boys on donkeys...
Crusader CastleCrusader Castle
Crusader Castle

This is crusader-land. I went out expecting it to just be more "old stones", but this castle really blew me away... It's perched on essentially its own hill, surrounded by a natural ditch (riverbed), and just really really impressive.
The citadelThe citadel
The citadel

I don't want to bore you to death but I went picture-crazy this afternoon at the castle... This is a picture of the "Tower of Leadership"... talk about a cool name.


25th December 2004

Christmas
Just a quick note to say that Christmas was fairly anticlimactic (possibly due to the rain), and my plans for par-tay'ing fell through miserably. OTOH I got to attend/crash a Syrian/Maronite wedding and Midnight Mass at a "Latin" church (naturally in Arabic lightly sprinkled with Latin) which made for an interesting experience.
26th December 2004

it's mothers day
OTOH in ne anlama geldigini merak ediyodum, ve simdi cozdum, Orospu Timsah Oglanlar Havzasi yanilmissam duzeltiniz
15th May 2007

Fantastic photos!
20th April 2008

Thanks for Sharing the Great Photos
I appreciate your sharing these great photos. The more we can share other places the more we can understand our world.
8th January 2009

loving the blogs and the photos! you are an amazing photographer (something else to be *proud* of...)

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