Oct. 16, 2007
I have lots of things to talk about Syria but I'll keep it short and simple.

5 Reasons why you don't want to visit Syria
(Aleppo, Damascus)

  1. Syrians are always ready to cheat you.
    - Taxi drivers, street kebab shops, bus promoters will offer foreigners at least 10 times more than locals pay. (ex. Taxi driver I met in Aleppo offered me US$150 to Damascus. Later, I went there by VIP bus with US$4)
  2. Nobody speaks English unlike neighbor countries.
    - You'll see how much the language is important in human life unless you speak Arabic.
  3. Nothing is written in English.
    - Even numbers as well, so you can not figure out how much is one kebab. Only two buildings I saw were written in English, Sheraton hotel and Ministry of Tourism.
  4. There is no tourist office at all but flying rubbishes are everywhere.
  5. You can not find a non-smoking place.
    - Immigration officers, bus drivers, chefs, even barbers smoking in work place. My ear almost got burned after the haircut. I think it should be ICU at least to be a smoking free space.

If you would like to visit Syria in spite of all these conditions, please read tips below carefully.

4 Tips to big time adventurers in Syria
  1. Whatever you do, don't deal with local people directly.
    - Go find receptionist in 5 star hotels(speaks English) or cops(use your body language) and ask them. They are only people who can trust in Syria and willing to help you with common traveling matters.
  2. They love USD and it works everywhere.
    - Even babies will come and talk to you 'Dollar, dollar' which is pretty sad. But every time you use USD, you lose money. Go find one of private money exchangers on the street(unregistered) with best rates and use Syrian Pound. Don't even think about to find ATM, bank or place you can use credit card.
  3. Always make agreement on taxi price before you get in
    - Otherwise you'll be amazed with sky high amount of fee. It's always better to ask bellboy in hotels to call a taxi which you can trust.(doesn't matter if you're staying in the hotel or not) If you trying to blew a cab alone in the middle of night, you can meet taxi driver who probably drive the cab very slowly and continuously suggest you to come to his place and sleep in his bed together with rubbing your lap. Yuck!
  4. Make sure to know how much is VISA cost for your country before get to the Syrian boarder.
    - They don't have any official VISA fee chart for foreigners and even don't care. The immigration officer I met, changed my VISA fee like follows within two hours. $43 > $34 > $16 > $23

Good luck and may Allah be with you...

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Syrian boarder에 있는 유일한 영어 안내문. 외국인을 띄엄띄엄 보는게 갈수록 느껴진다.

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이름 모를 로컬 맥주. 한병도 다 못마시고 바로 뻗음 ㅡㅡ;

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호텔 베란다는 되도록 열지말자!

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그 유명한 알자지라 방송(한글로 적으니 이상하네 ㅡㅡ;)

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시리아 자동차 번호판...

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오늘로 내 Currency Converter가 한 화면을 꽉 체웠다. 이제 위에서부터 다시 시작이다.

Aleppo/Damascus, Syria: Antakya에서 부터 택시사기를 당하고 Syria 입국시 비자비 뜯기고 버스 도망가고 3시간 낭비하고 Aleppo 도착해서 택시에 돈 또 뜯기고 겨우 호텔잡아 잤음. 약 3달이 넘는 여행기간중 가장 힘든 날이었음. 형 편지를 오늘 읽었는데 겨우 진정하고 잠에 들었음.

물가: ★★★★✩ (외국인들에겐 무조건 뻥튀기하니 별 네개. 실제로는 한개 이하 일듯)
경치: ✩✩✩✩✩ (버려진 도시들 같음, 유명한 곳들은 가보지 못했음 ㅜㅜ)
재미: ★✩✩✩✩ (난감한 상황이 겹치고 또 겹칠때 단물처럼 베어나오는 재미랄까?)
친절: ✩✩✩✩✩
위험: ★★★★✩

숙소: Aleppo 타운내 Sheraton hotel 옆에 조그만 XX hotel

Located in city center? O
Party hostel? X
Dorm(=cheap)? X
Free wifi? X
Self-catering? X
Breakfast included? X

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