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The Big O.E An epic adventure across the world, backpacker style :)

Middle East Musings

SYRIA | Sunday, 8 June 2008 | Views [1141]

Eye of protection anyone?

Eye of protection anyone?

I started writing about Petra so many times and just found that it was way too hard to explain. It's an amazing site and I think we'll just try and put on some photos to show you what we mean! Same goes for the vast desert landscape at Wadi Rum. It was the first proper sand dunes streching as far as you can imagine desert that I had been in. It was hard work walking up to the top of a scorching red sand dune in the desert sun, but it was totally worth it to be able to scream down the other side! And I was so proud of climbing monkey styles up a rock face in bare feet to get to the top of a "bridge" between two cliffs. I promise to get that photo on as soon as it gets sent to us.

Tourism in Jordan is completely controlled by the government. Independent travel is practically impossible. So I'm really glad we chose to do it with Intrepid. Once we moved out of Egypt, the numbers of travellers dwindled smaller and smaller. By the time we hit Syria there was virtually no one left. The ruins of Palmyra are probably the most spectacular in the world, and they have a grand total of 8,000 visitors a year. Compare this with Petra's 200,000 odd or the Eiffel Tower's tens of millions. It's sure off the beaten track. Even facebook is banned in Syria because the CIA own part of it. Apparently.

And now here's a test for you. What common English words are these? Woodgeg. Humbrgr. Creep frouit.

Found on a menu in Madabar, Jordan. I'll tell you what they were actually supposed to mean in my next blog. Talking about food, how I would love to eat a carrot. Or some broccoli. Even a green bean. But veges need water and here there is none. So more flat bread and meat (no sauce. Just hunks of meat. Eugh). Breakfast is the saddest meal of all. Flat bread. Hard boiled egg. Plain yoghurt. Strong, bitter black tea. Delicious. Not!

I so enjoyed bobbing around in the Dead Sea too. I lay on my tummy and propped my head on my hands with my feet up. No wonder they told stories about Jesus walking on water. It's totally possible. I got all muddied up too (James was too chicken). The mud was slick like oil and we got a pic of our group all blackened up doing the haka. I reckon it's the first time Jordan has seen that! And the mud works even better than sun block. Once I was all rinsed off (quite an effort) I jumped in the swimming pool and almost drowned. In the normal un-salty water I just felt so super heavy like I was always sinking. No more bobbing around like a cork. But on the upside, no more super-extremely salty mouthfuls of burning poison either.

Arriving in Syria was quite a shock. I wasn't prepared for the change - not quite second world to third world, but close enough. Which is a good thing because I reckon less developed = more exciting. Not to mention better value! My favourite Syrian city was Aleppo. Talk about covered markets. Damascus think that they have the longest in the world, and Aleppo think they have. I'm inclined to go with Aleppo on that one.

And all along the way of this Middle Eastern adventure, James and I have been quietly plotting our next moves. We're going to explore a bit of Turkey down towards Olympos, and then Greek Island hop up to Athens. Then we're back off to the pretty wee Isle of Wight for a few months work to save for the next big adventure - South America.

Oh, and I almost forgot to tell yo about my new favourite doll - Fulla. It's actually Barbie, but the Middle East Muslim version. I so would have bought her if I didn't have to carry all my worldly posessions on my back... Fulla comes in a black head scarf. Truly. So her hair is all covered in the box, and they've made her eyes brown too. Not sure if they changed her hair colour (because it's hidden under the scarf of course) but one Fulla comes with "inside clothes". I guess all little girls like dressing Barbie and brushing her hair. But if you're a little Muslim girl, then you have to make sure Fulla is not in the presence of any men when you do. I didn't see a Ken doll, but I bet he would be called Mohammed. Or Abdulla Ishmael :)


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