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Agence Future Logo 4.5: Aleppo

Martial arts films in abundance

While Bram and our French visitors enjoyed cycling part of the way from Capadocia into Syria, Maya had to take the bus. At the border we would all have to be careful about our stated purpose of travel. The Syrian government does not welcome independent journalists in the country and even the concept of academic research could cause difficulties for us here. So Bram took the video camera and Maya carried the laptop discretely. During our stay in Syria we would have to keep in mind to represent ourselves merely as interested tourists rather than professional travellers.

on the road between Turkey and Syria the Baron Hotel making friends

To get used to the idea we spent the New Year period in Aleppo, visiting the tourist sites and getting acquainted with our new environment. In the company of our French travel companions who were truly on holiday this was a pleasant introduction to Syria. We slept one night in the charming but decrepit Baron Hotel where many famous people once stayed. New Years eve we partied the night away at the magnificent Hotel Beit Al Wakil, where Nico was treated to an encounter with the bellydancer and we enjoyed the beat of a traditional Alepine ensemble (not to mention the bubbles of course).

Communication from Syria turned out to be more problematic than from Turkey, where our mobile phone had worked and where we could use our own computer to go on-line anywhere a phone line was available. After a few days, Maya learned how to use the Internet in Syria. The Internet has only been introduced to the public two years ago and the government limits the use of web-based e-mail. On her first attempt to access her Belgian e-mail account, Maya found herself on a page stating: 'Access to this page is expressly forbidden'. The same happened when trying to access our hotmail and yahoo mailboxes. But at the caf two young men showed us how to go through a proxy server that guards anonymity while surfing and that lets you surpass local restrictions without any trouble or fees to be paid.

Read more on Agence Future's adventures in the middle east:

<< 4.4: Capadocia | Index | 4.6: Damascus >>

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Last changed: May 20, 2012