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So sad to leave

View 2002 Russia & Europe via Lebanon & Syria on alexchan's travel map.

We're leaving ... And leaving behind the many pleasures of the region:

* freshly squeezed juices of oranges, blood-oranges and grapefruit, right in front of your eyes
* lots of nuts like pistachios sold cheaply by the bagful or in cakes, dessserts and cookies
* the souks or markets ... Aleppo's is most authentic (truly working market) but Damascus' is more glitzy
* the hammams or Turkish Baths ... I certainly needed the exfoliation and pumelling back into shape.

And the contrasts:

* Bedouin tents with air-con and satellite dishes in the middle of the desert
* numerous lingerie shops when people are so conservatively dressed.

We're very pleased with how everything has gone on the trip so far. People are extremely helpful and friendly. The Arab hospitality that travellers talk about was well and truly a myth to us before this trip ... we've seen camel drivers in Cairo set a rate for getting up a camel, and demands a second payment for getting down!

In Lebanon and Syria, people rush to help you with absolutely no hidden agendas (like trying to sell you a carpet). We had a man appear from nowhere to help us carry BOTH backpacks and take us to the Tourist Info office, then disappeared as quickly as he appeared (leaving our bags still with us, thankfully).

People want to take photos with us and shake our hands incessantly I'm a bit more popular than Kim because he's more common ... more European visitors, and doesn't look too different from some locals (yes, we've seen plenty of natural blonde, carrot-topped and blue-eyed Arabs). Or maybe they relate me to popular martial arts movies.

I get very worn out walking down the street, having to respond to people in Arabic with greetings and niceties. Nearly second nature now.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Syria

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