Saturday, June 10, 2006

3-days backpacking: Syria & Lubnan

- anyone can help me!!! how to eliminate that date?! -

11th, 12th & 13th May 2006

Cancelled all classes on Thursday ‘coz we’re going to Syria and Lubnan for the weekend. Were supposed to catch the bus at 10:30 a.m., but the bus left. Why? Because we stopped by to get something very important from a friend but nobody was punctual. Promised to meet at Baab Shimali of al-Jami’ah al-Urduniyyah at 9:45 a.m. We reached there couple of minutes before 10:00 a.m., but that friend was not there. Called, but the phone wasn’t answered. Waited and waited, tried to get her through her roommate, she finally gave us a call, informing us that she’d meet us at 11 and is still at home, unready.
I was furious, for that wasn’t the first time. Good gracious her apartment is just ‘a little walk away going up the hill’, we hiked to her home, and still had to wait a minute or two before the door was answered.
Alright, I’m not trying to backbite here, but the first lesson everyone, including me!, should learn from this is BE PUNTUAL AND TRAIN OTHERS TO BE PUNCTUAL. If you wish to be late, at least inform the one waiting so that s/he will expect to have to waste a little bit of time or try changing plans.

Ba’din (then), we took a cab to Mujamma’ al-Abdali and realised that we were 3 minutes late. Another bus will depart at 3 p.m., but who wants to wait? Alhamdulillah there’s a taxi waiting for 4 passengers to fill up the 8-seater car, we joined the group and started the 3-day backpacking officially.
The journey to Syria was quite dreadful. The car wasn’t comfortable (but at least we have a car alhamdulillah!), and what was worse was that the other men smoked in the car. Dah la takde tingkap kat belakang, and diorang tak biasa turunkan tingkap rasanya, turunkan tingkap pun brape inci je… Had very little oxygen supply and the air was really stuffy and pretty hot. Halfway to Syria, I realized that a fever is coming.
Agaknye sebab-sebab kurang selesa ni doa-doa orang musafir mudah dimakbulkan...

Reached Syria at about 14:30, and Miqdad and his friend welcomed us. We went to Kak Nusaibah and Ustaz Akmal’s house… Lunch was ready: masakan melayu [ade sambal belacan yg sangat-sangat-sangat pedas!]. After the very late lunch, we went to Suq Hamidi, near Umayyad Mosque. The Souq (market) has a long ‘main-road’ with small shops on its left and right and branches of small ‘roads’ in between them, linking the ‘main-road’ to other small shops. Man, sorry for the very bad explanation. And all the way before reaching Umayyad Mosque, the Souq is roofed, just like the one in Istanbul. It was beautiful indeed.

I was restless. The headache kept throbbing and my body temperature went up and up and worse: there’s no way of getting rid of it. I had no choice but to continue on because then I’d be wasting time and money going to Damascus if I stayed at home (Kak Nusaibah’s home). Went from shops to shops but I didn’t buy anything, oh I really wasn’t in the mood of looking around for jubahs or table-cloths. Ate very late dinner, and returned to Kak Nusaibah’s apartment near midnight.

The next day we took a bus to Lubnan and headed straight to Beirut. Went to Downtown and some historical sites but many were under maintenance so we couldn’t get in. That evening we went to the shore and witnessed sunset in Beirut. We traveled on foot to save money. I don’t know how far exactly, but I tell you it is very far from one place to another. By 9 p.m. we were exhausted. Plus, Beirut’s a city and we couldn’t figure out what else to do but rest. It’s very expensive there, by the way.

Early next morning, we checked-out early and headed to Sabra & Shatila Refugee camp. It’s really different from the city of Beirut. I just can’t describe how unsettling were their conditions. Even you can tell the difference when you look at the pictures, right? We couldn’t linger there longer ‘coz we have to catch the bus back to Syria. So yes, we returned to Syria.

As soon as we reach Syria, went to Kak Nusaibah’s (again) and had late lunch (again). Then we went to Souq Hamidi and Souq Towilah for more shopping. The nicest thing was that all went with us! Kak Nusaibah and her cute daughter Syifa’, Mashitah, Najihah, Zubaidah and Amal. Kak Maziah and Cik Nurul bought some lovely table-cloths and jubahs for their family, relatives and friends. And I- didn’t get anything. Coz Abah warned not to bring home many things. Uh-oh! Plus, I only had USD100 in pocket for the whole 3-days backpacking. Alhamdulillah I still have a mild remainder (enough for a week or two) when we returned to Amman.

Ah yes, I bought some postcards in Beirut. Two had been posted home by the friends in Syria and another two still in hand. Will post ‘em to Malaysia in few days nsyaAllah. I also ordered some name stamps (with Arabic fonts!) for myself, for my brother Yusuf and for someone special. I hope they’d like that for a birthday present.

Late that night we took a taxi back to Amman. Many said (alhamdulillah they said this after we returned or we would have to stay in Syria for another night and skip classes the next morning) that we shouldn’t take a cab especially in the middle of the night because it’s very dangerous – the Arabs could do anything to harm us. Alhamdulillah we reached home safe and sound – but really exhausted.
Lubnan (two pics below):

Shabra & Shatila Refugee Camp (four pics below):

Suq Hamidi:

Umayyad Mosque:

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