A Travellerspoint blog

A Good Scrubbing

And the Ensuing Friendships

Despite the Harry Potter-esque title of this, I'm not going to say that my "stomach turned" whilst I pulled out my "wand". Suffice it to say that at the hammam, there were several wands out as the loin-cloths that we were given to cover ourselves were quite pitiful. I've also learned a couple of new words - 'baksheesh' which means 'tip', and another which means sexy. The two weren't connected, so don't worry.

After my scrubbing I chatted to a few guys who were hanging out in the hammam - now I come to think about it, one of the more dubious places a group of lads could be found to be chillin' but I didn't mind at the time. They were all from the Uni of Aleppo studying various sciences and they invited me to hang out with them for a while. Naturally, I took them up on it and so me and the three guys trawled the streets for about two hours whilst they persuaded me in broken english to 'jump' any relatively attractive girls that we passed - my fears of rape were subsided when I realised they just wanted me to talk to them. Not really certain why I had found myself on the other end of a unwitting blind date set up, we continued until they realised that my profuse refusals to chat up random girls from the street ("tell her you english! nice, eh?") were consistent, at which point we decided to go back to the Uni, where we continued, at their lead I might add, to just sit and stare at girls who went by, with them occasionally urging my to jump these ones or those. Never mind Cocos, this was professional lechery. Not that I minded. We parted ways as I was pretty knackered from the night before, despite their most profuse protests and offers of falafel sandwiches (which was pretty tempting) but having promised to call them when Nic arrived. More leching to come, inshallah!

Since my expensive first meal, my diet has been nothing but falafel, fresh blended fruit juice smoothie things, and shwarma. Awesome as that may be, it has given rise to one crucial downside - buying a phone as my one does not work, the guy quotes something like 1000 pounds. I immediately (I say that, in reality it was after quite a while having to do the mental maths and so when I said it, it made little sense) blurted out "that's 50 falafel sandwiches!" Prices by the falafel - killer. A great idea as surely it would strip down materialism by the shed load - "That bag costs 2,500 falafels? You're joking"

Have left the Baron Hotel now - historical splendour mixed with indifferent neglect makes for a good bed for the night, yet a little expensive (160 falafels a night!) so not in my own pocket range. Walid comes up to me and wails "You're leaving?", adding "Your friend come stay here?" a little forlornly. I'd have been tempted to pull out a sympathetic face if he hadn't tried to charge me 7 falafels for a call to Nic which whent straight to answerphone. Old sly dog.

Posted by kmaw 01:22 Archived in Syria Comments (0)

Diesel and Rain

Two factors which make up a good day

So as I write this in the internet cafe, my brain is slowly melting due to the crazy smell of diesel which seems to be eminating from behind a screen next to me. I assume this is a generator, as a little while ago it revved up and the power went out. Either that or there's a guy in a car having a laugh.

Serious amounts of rain today. I woke up completely disorientated, not knowing what the time was and hearing thunder from the window and a battering from the door. Turned out that was also just thunder - reflected sound or something scientific. Maybe the sound came through the crack in the door... The rain adds another degree of hazard to meandering the streets. As if it wasn't enough dodging cars who are dodging other cars and not really fussed about hitting someone, now there is the extra element of avoiding the puddles. Trivial as it may seem, no one likes to get wet.

Picked up from the airport by Walid in his Buick - slightly aging guy with a big beard and bigger wads of cash in most currencies in his wallet. He is very keen a) to change money with me (though I checked and he was giving a better rate than the bank..) and b) to drive me to San Simeon.. The excitement by this point had begun to set in; perhaps it is linked to the physical effort of running from arrivals to the gate in Turkey. Perhaps even the prospect of having two plane meals in quick succession...

In the bar of the hotel in the evening, got chatting to these guys and subsequently invited back to one's house along with another for some food (at midnight) and despite the fact that there were only 3 of us, a plate of rice big enough for about 10 was brought out, along with about 20 smaller dishes of various other things.. Having gorged ourselves and finished off with some tea, I got back to the hotel at about 3.30am.. A solid effort for the first night.

Must try to go more budget than I am currently - yesterday I spent about 1500 pounds, so not much left. Which equates to around 20GBP, having to get used to this same-named-currency-shabang. Breakfast of a falafel sandwich for 20 is what I'm talking about - my intention to live off nothing but falafel and tea is coming to fruition! BJ arrives on friday so I'm just filling up my days until then. Bookshop was closed (melancholy music) so I guess it's off to the hammam. Nobody point on the juxtaposition of that with going "more budget"...

Posted by kmaw 07:14 Archived in Syria Comments (1)

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