I lost in the labyrinth and don't want to be found

Aleppo Travel Blog

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Transported back in time
The time that the bus supposed to take off at 8.30 dragged till 10. I didn’t have any clue what was the problem. The seats were more than half empty. Earlier that morning I saw some western travelers boarded the other bus that departed on time. Soon after half an hour journey something was wrong with the bus and pulled over. Damn another problem. The bus driver said he had to wait someone from the bus depot to bring something to fix the engine.
Finally the bus arriving at Turkey check-out point and everybody got off to be stamped on passport. Well for me as I didn’t see the rest of passenger queuing with me. They were resident of those regions so the bus driver/attendant pulled their entire passport for the whole process excluding foreign traveler’s passport as other issues may be involved that the bus company not liable of.
He offered me half of his bread !


It was smooth anyway, that the officer asked routine question where I was from, how many days staying and how much money had been spent in Turkey.

Passing through Syrian border we were again got off and I was asked by the bus attendant to head to immigration counter. The line up officer’s counters with old computers checked my passport and immediately directed me to go straight to console officer room next to it. At the door there was big sign saying ‘ Please report any difficulties and we are not responsible of any issues beyond this point’.

That kind of scared me a bit.
Inside the officer was checking a bunch of passports and they were more than 6 people waiting too. I showed him my Malaysian passport as nobody speaking any English. It kind of annoyed me when people come and go with their passport granted visa where else I was waiting like moron.
Simply stunning!
This part of the world nobody is queuing. If you manage to talk to the officer and convince him to process yours, you’re lucky. Forget about courtesy of queuing.

Finally the officer checked my passport and said NO VISA NEEDED! Phheeww what a relief!

I was so surprised and happy. Being from Malaysia and a Muslim nation has an advantage travelling to Middle East. That reminds me some of my Malaysian countrymen bitch about our Malaysian passport holder that a hassle to go anywhere else and worthless.

At that moment I thought it must be similar when I’m entering Jordan next couple of days.

Around midday the bus finally reached Aleppo. I hadn’t book any accommodation knowing that Middle East isn’t typical tourist trail for sun-searchers heaven and there must be availabities.
Tempted not to say no for picture and I tempted for a shai (tea)
Lonely Planet guide book was my biggest source. So I browsed in and decided to go to Al Gawaher Hotel which wasn’t far from the place the bus dropped me off. I could navigate myself easily.

Upon arrival at the hostel there was Italian couple waiting to be checked in. There was room available. I made small chat with them. Massimo and wife were on their Italian summer trip. They just got married last May and went to French Polynesia for their honeymoon. They had spent a very long flight on their honeymoon so decided to go somewhere closer for their summer holiday.

I began to realize why I’ve been meeting a lot of Italian throughout as August is holiday month in Italy. Nobody is working there and everybody’s flying out.

The old city of Aleppo ( Haleb in Arabic) seems like an evocation of The Thousand and One Night.
The Great Mosque
Once lost in aleppo’s magical and labyrinthine souqs, I didn’ t want to be found. It runs for 1.5 km from the 13th century Bab Antakya to the citadel in the east, makes the Old City one of the Middle East’s main attractions. This partially covered network of bustling passageways extends over several hectares, and once under the vaulted stone ceiling I was swallowed up into another world, transported back in time of medival bazaars. Simply breathtaking ! Clamour, commerce and smells that hard to forget.

While I lost myself wandering inside I stumbled into cul-de-sac leading to Al-Bahramiyya Mosque. There was a kid at the courtyard and he offered me half of his bread on his hand. Syrian people is the most welcoming and very friendly but not in a pretentious way. Nowhere in the world that a stranger come up to you and says " Ahlan Wa sahlan" means Welcome! I gestured him to take a picture with the mosque as a backdrop.
Hard to see this anywhere else
He tempted not to say no to.

At the end of the souq was the majestic Citadel. It was dusk already and I headed back inside the souq and got into the Great Mosque. I prayed Mahgrib prayer there and the mosque was stunning.


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herman_munster says:
Yep no Visa needed for us :). Other Nationalities - form & 2 passport photos but I didn't see them handing the photos. Everyone is charged to pay departure tax but I forgot how much was it.
Posted on: Sep 10, 2009
RH122 says:
Just to reconfirm. For Malaysian, No Visa required! Bestnye! How about entrance/exit fees, do we need to fill in any forms and any photos required.
Posted on: Sep 09, 2009
Nabilah23 says:
Great blog amin!
Posted on: Sep 06, 2009
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Transported back in time
Transported back in time
He offered me half of his bread !
He offered me half of his bread !
Simply stunning!
Simply stunning!
Tempted not to say no for picture …
Tempted not to say no for picture…
The Great Mosque
The Great Mosque
Hard to see this anywhere else
Hard to see this anywhere else
Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo Souq
Aleppo Souq
worlds oldest city
world's oldest city
locals
locals
Middle east gem
Middle east gem
Aleppo
Aleppo
Busy streets
Busy streets
Clock tower
Clock tower
Al-Asmar
Al-Asmar
Aleppo
Aleppo
Oldest city
Oldest city
Syrian
Syrian
Worlds best gem
World's best gem
Aleppo
Aleppo
Bab antakya
Bab antakya
Bustling passageways
Bustling passageways
locals
locals
The Citadel
The Citadel
Aleppo citadel
Aleppo citadel
Aleppo by night
Aleppo by night
Aleppo by night
Aleppo by night
From my hostel balcony
From my hostel balcony
Twiterring birds
Twiterring birds
Aleppo
photo by: Stigen