Walid's Wanderings

Reflections on life, good-and-evil, family, humanity, and anything else that occurs to me, usually when I travel. Right now I am on a 6-year trip through Lebanon, the homeland I had never really lived in before.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Here's another way out

A friened of mine wrote :
I went to Syria on a bus hired by the travel agency Five Stars Tours in Hamra. We left Beirut around 14:30 on Monday and got to the Syrian borders in Masna3 around 17:30, through mountain roads and side roads. We passed by Jamhour power plant and Mdeirej as they were being hit. The borders would have been a piece of cake except for a problem we had. My understanding is that we had some Lebanese onboard who had entered Lebanon with the Lebanese passport but were trying to leave with their Western passports in order to use those again at the Damascus airport. Their passports had no Lebanon entry stamp, so it was hard to let them through, but it worked eventually. If you decide to leave, please sort this out with the agency. Don't say I told you it may be a problem :)) The owner of the agency is my neighbour, and he will insist it is no problem, but sometimes it can be. He will know the exact details if you out-insist him!

The bus is changed at the border, and we went with the second bus into Damascus. It was going to the airport, so we went down and took a cab to a local taxi office which took us to Jordan.

Now the trip to Syria can be hell if the Israelis shell the road while you're on it, especially when you have children with you. You may want to wait for some kind of cease-fire if you are safe right now.

Also, the high demand and supposed risk have caused the prices to skyrocket. The tripby bus to Damascus costs 125$ or five time its usual price (hence the name five stars :P). My friends took a cab with this guy who charged one of my friends $300 (total of all passengers, but she went alone) for a cab ride from Beirut to Damascus, and then the next day asked two of my friends for 400$ total because the road had been hit the day before, so I am not sure how much he charges.

I also shared the 200$ cab to Amman with a friend. This cab usually costs about 30$ for 4 passengers.

As for hotels, Syria's are full, but Amman still has some places. My friend is staying at the Beirut International Hotel, a decent 3-star place in Abdali in Amman. He just walked in and got a room. He's paying 70,000LL per night for a single room. Of course, you'll get better prices if you reserve before arriving.

You may want to check (johotels) or the hotel ( itself)


Personally I'd advise you to stay put if you feel safe. Things may work out in a couple of days. Of course, you and your family may want out and all, but please be careful. The roads are getting hit daily, and are only statisically safer than some parts of Beirut, but, for now, not than Ras Beirut or the mountains.


I guess I should copy all this info to a blog :) anyway this is all i can think of right now, let me know if you need more info. I hope it makes sense.

1 Comments:

  • At 18/7/06 9:49 PM, Anonymous barb said…

    Walid,
    When did you leave? What made you leave - were they bombing the university? What did you and Jetti bring with you? Are you trying to get out? Are you safe, OK?

     

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