Archive for April, 2011

We’ve just returned to Australia after a wholly entertaining – and inspiring – trip to Syria. Here are some photos of our travels.

Top places for me were Aleppo – an orientalist fantasy (that would be mine, then) of Arabs, Kurds, and Armenians living together around a mesmerisingly old and enchanting old city and souk. Syria’s second biggest city, it was not an incredibly easy place to be with a small child (creaky hotel room, slightly more vibey than other Syrian cities) – but I it was breathtaking all the same.

Aleppo at night

Then, Palmyra, with its modern Arab city of Tadmor stuck to it. These ruins in the desert are no normal ancient collection of rock; sand for miles around, the desert becomes littered with debris left by Greeks, Romans, Arabs, whoever. Hard to keep up with all of them.

Palmyra

But perhaps the most interesting part of the trip was the timing. With uprisings across the region, we though twice, indeed thrice, about heading there with our 16-month old son. But having covered the issue extensively at work in the newsroom, I felt on top of the decision to continue. In Syria, all eyes were on Libya. Faces were glued to Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya. Newstands were plastered with Gaddafi. Yet most people were not keen on speaking about Syria – unless, of course, they were prepared to back the regime of Assad – or ‘Bashar’ as he is often affectionately known. The undercurrent of discontent was very difficult to see. But, as events across the country would soon confirm- including Alawi-strong Latakia, where we spent two rain-soaked days overlooking the harbour from which two Iranian warships had just departed – discontent there clearly is. We’re just glad we left in time, and wish the warm-hearted people who made our trip so much fun, all the best.

And the food on the trip – my god, the food. Syria – once it’s calmed down, a brilliant place for a holiday.

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