“People that walk have no money.”

Wow, I did a typical tourist thing for 2 days in a row. Arriving at the hotel in Hama not late but in darkness, I met Maren from Germany who just signed in for a guided tour the next day and so did I. I would spend the next 3 days with her and I would not manage to see Hama in daylight. We went for a walk in town and I learned that Maren lives in Berlin, studied in Cairo and is now working on her dissertation with the interesting topic of “Atheisms in the Muslim world.”

Next morning at 9 the tour started with 6 people and driver in a Dacia Logan, the famous 5000€ launch from Renault. It does the job. All day we basically got out of the car, looked at a sight, took pictures, back into the car and so on. The driver was very friendly but spoke little English and did not explain anything. Also at the sights are no signs or other kind of explanations. I guess they are just starting with tourism, which has its advantages, e.g. low prices and no rip offs or hassle. Three highlights of that day: First Apanema, a 2 km stretch of ancient columns, making me wonder if I still need to see Palmyra. Second, that little city we went in for a mosaic museum. I decided to rather go for a walk. Here I was, white, with a big camera around the neck, during the Eid festival, which meant that children gather to celebrate, in a city that rarely sees tourists. I did the mistake of agreeing to one kid’s wish of taking a picture resulting in a bubble of about 30 to 40 children following us everywhere screaming for the next 40 minutes. See the picture and the video. Third highlight was the fact, that I almost spent no money and that I had not to worry about anything as my daily schedule was set up before and by others. We also saw a citadel (from outside) and two dead cities. Back at the hotel we met “Güri” (who inspired me to write my first post in the “fun category” later) and later Shaunt, also interesting.

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Friday, Güri, Mareen, Shaunt and I leave 8:30am for a day trip to “Crac des Chevaliers”, a castle famous from the crusades. It was nice but having seen castles in Europe and France I was not too impressed. Noticeable is however the not existing safety measures. There is nothing to hold on to when 60 or 70 year old French and Spanish tourists clime up the tower or walk next to a 15m drop down, not even to mention wholes everywhere in which kids do fall apparently from time to time.

The very same trip booked would have cost us 10€ each, which is not a lot. As we went on our own, we only spent 2,50€ each on transportation. Using busses and minibuses also has other advantages than getting to know the people. Waiting for one bus to fill up (they don’t leave unless full) Shaunt introduced me to “Shiabet”, a Syrien bakery sweet. I like it.

As it gets dark around 4pm again I walked through Hama seeing the famous water wheels (Norias) only with artificial light and today I also noticed how cold it gets as soon as the sun is down. I had to get my fleece out. At the hotel I met Oliver, a Siemens engineer working on a 3 year project in Abu Dabi. We chatted away on Stuttgart 21, politics and the meaning of travelling. It became 1am.

Saturday I finally took off to Aleppo going into the recommended hotel of Oliver. It’s a bid shady but the owner is very friendly and they washed my clothes for only a little price. I got a very small but single room for 7 Euros which I first liked a lot. But it was one of these days were it depressed me to be alone. So I called Shaunt who was supposed to be in Aleppo now as well. No answer. I went for a 4 hour photo walk through Alepppo, which really is a nice city, with its tiny narrow streets and alleys, the huge souk area and the citadel rising up above the town. Back at the hotel the feeling has not gone away. Then it knocks on the door. Not only is it Shaunt, he also has my batteries and chargers with him, which I forgot in Hama. Great. We stroll through town, eat at a great chicken place and buy a Syrien sim card for my phone (call me at: 00963-957265939, I will be in Syria for about 5 more days). Shaunt, 26 year old American with Armenien heritage, is the kind of guy you like or you absolutely do not. He sells a TV to a blind man. He made a lot of money in ways which some call illegal, others call it smart or clever, including me. He fixes every computer in not time and hacks into wireless networks like a piece of cake. He enabled me to have the best connection yet. But he also agrees that if he was run over by a bus tomorrow there are good chances, nobody would ever search for him. A childhood that made him independent, work, earning money at age 12. He lived in NY but never saw the World Trade Center before it collapsed à “nobody took me there”. You can imagine the interesting talks we had on life and death, politics, multibillion companies, morals and attitudes. Walking in Syria means putting your life at risk. Even though they stop at a red light, they would never do so for a pedestrian. Trust me, walking in traffic in India (which back than I thought was crazy)  now seems like going through a park. “People that walk, have no money and therefore are not worth anything”, Shaunt says. I went to bed at 2am.

Sunday, yesterday, I could very well be alone all day, strange, isn’t it? I visited a Syrian cemetery, the great mosque and the Souks again. Also I watched a movie in my room and uploaded pictures and videos (do it while you can). Today I should head east of Aleppo toward lake Assad. I want to as it will be very different but I hesitate also as it will be very different………………

--> Video Souk Aleppo <--

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  • Gabor says:

    Selling a TV to a blind man is not a question of cleverness – should be a question of morality.

  • Yvonne says:

    Hallo Frank!

    Ich bin begeistert!!! Es ist wunderbar was du alles schon erlebt hast und das du uns daran teilhaben läßt! Deine Bericht sind toll geschrieben und trotz das sie auf Englisch sind (weshalb ich leider doppelt so lange brauche um sie zu lesen) doch sehr gut verständlich. Danke dass du mein Englisch aufbesserst!
    Ich wünsche dir noch ganz viele spannende Abenteuer – aber geh lieber den Katzen aus dem Weg, sonst verhungerst du uns noch :-)

    LG Grüsse von den Osnabrückern

    - übrigens hier schneit es und ist gerade mal -4 °C!!!

  • oli says:

    hey frank,

    amazing pics! :)
    totally another world – even in more contrast to our actually snowhite cologne :)

    i hope you are all right?

    greetings from the team!

    • frank4444 says:

      Thanks Oli and this is a great opportunity to let you know that this site not only works well but also gets a lot of positive remarks by people I meet. Thanks for the support on this.

  • oli says:

    it was a pleasure. you’re welcome! it’s feels good to see the site living!
    enjoy your worldtrip and take care! :)

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