Wednesday, 8 September 2010

No.385 Of Journeys Long and Eventful

Finally, I managed to get a tour last night of the Hezbollah area of Beirut where Terry Waite was held hostage for five years. Previously, two (presumably Christian) taxi drivers had refused to take me there on grounds of their own personal security. It actually looked a lot better than some parts of Beirut and certainly better than I was expecting. After the Israelis bombed the district 6 years ago much of the housing has been rebuilt or redeveloped. I couldn't help but draw parallels with the IRA's bombing of Manchester which actually led to substantial redevelopment and improvement of the town centre.

This morning we arrived to Beirut bus station at 7.30a.m. to start our journey back to Syria. The day did not go well. The bus we were waiting on broke down so we transferred to a mini bus. This dropped us in an unknown part of Damascus and not the bus station we were hoping for. We then took a local bus which we were assured would terminate in the bus station. It didn't. It terminated half way there after it pranged a pickup. Picture if you will a bunch of Arabs in the midday sun gesticulating and blaming one another for what has just happened while passengers wait to see whether they're getting a bus journey after all or a long walk on foot.

We then took a taxi to the bus station only to be told that there were no seats available on the bus today to where we wanted to go due to the Ramadam festival when everyone wants to travel to be with their family.

We then chartered a taxi for 5,000 Syrain pounds (about 50 quid) to take us to Palmyran. This is in Eastern Syria about 100 kilometers from Iraq and features some of the oldest buildings in the world dating back two millenium.

Last full day tomorrow before heading back to Damascus and then London.

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