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*As requested, here's my Syrian trip. Please keep in mind, this trip was a few years ago. Things were bad over there, but not as bad as they are today.

*A note on language: I've studied Russian, and Spanish. Those languages are a piece of cake compared to Arabic. The best I could do were phrases, and random words. This was made even more difficult, due to the fact that language sources usually teach traditional or Egyptian Arabic. So, in Syria the dialect was another barrier. I was reduced to 15% speaking, and 85% body language. For those of you who can speak Arabic, I tip my hat to you.

My goal was to find, and live with for a short time, the nomadic Bedouin people. I landed in Aleppo, and headed south to Hama. I only spent one night in this city, since I wanted an early start in the morning. I had a few hours to kill in the evening, so I walked the town to take some pictures.

Here's where I'd like to talk about the hospitality of Syrians: My trusty 35mm camera broke. Yes, I prefer them, and still use them today. The wheel was jammed, and my shutter wouldn't open. A man on the street saw my plight, and walked over. Once he found out the language barrier was too high, he called over a random kid (there were many playing in the streets). He spoke with the kid for a couple minutes, and then gave him some money. The kid took my hand, and led me to a bus stop. The money was for the bus fare. I wasn't sure what was going on, but I went along. The bus took us across the city, where the kid led me to a small shop. The best I can describe it as is a variety shop of sorts. Inside the shop, the kid pointed to two disposable cameras sitting in a bin with other miscellaneous items. He picked up the cameras, walked over to the shopkeeper, and told him I wanted them. I paid the man, and I was back in action. Since it was the evening, the kid must have thought I was hungry, so he took me to a small street venue selling batatis rolls, and bought one for me.

*This was my experience with Syrian hospitality. When I returned from the desert, I was taken into homes, and actually given more food than I could possibly eat. I never paid for a single meal until I returned to Aleppo to catch my flight home. I've been all over this planet, and to this day, I've never met a friendlier people. They have a saying: "The only enemy is the desert."

In the morning, I left Hama, and ventured east into the desert on foot. I wasn't sure how long it would take to find the Bedouin, but I was traveling light. Other than the dishdasha I was wearing, I had an extra layer for the cold nights, compass, map, light, food, multiple water bottles slung across me, and a head cover from the sun. I had no shelter. Tents are useless in the desert, unless they are large open shelters with poles. Tent stakes just sink in the ground (unless it's a mixed terrain desert). If I had to, I was prepared to sleep on the ground, using my shoulder bag as a pillow, and wrapping myself up in the dishdasha. I'm not scared of too many things, but I did have one fear. It wasn't the environment, and it certainly wasn't the people. It was the Death Stalker. This scorpion is small in size, and blends in with the sand. Trust me, you don't want to get nailed by one of these guys.

During my traveling, I hitched rides with semi-nomadic people, who lived in what's called "Beehive huts". They ride 100cc motorbikes, and were always welcome to give me a ride. I would replenish my water, and keep going. Their rides helped quite a bit, as now I was deep into the desert.

As luck would have it, by the end of the first day, I came across some open tents in the distance. I had found them, and was eternally grateful I didn't have to sleep in the sand. They were extremely welcoming, and very curious of me. Their dialect was even further different than in Hama, so language was basically zero. However, it didn't seem to matter too much. I showed them some items in my pack, and they showed me their tents, and the inside of some ruins they were currently staying in. The goat is very useful to them for milk, and meat. I was surprised at how many goats they had with them. Their most precious commodity was water, and they shared it with me, as if it were a fine wine.

The girls in this group had beautiful eyes (I couldn't see much else). Now a word on Bedouin girls: If you want to travel for girls, go to Central and South America, where it's like shooting fish in a barrel (trust me). Over here, the Bedouin Muslims are very religious. It's extremely disgraceful if they aren't virgins for when they get married, and you have to respect that. So, I wasn't pursuing the issue. It might be a little more liberal in the cities (can't say, as I really didn't spend any time there), but out here it's pretty strict. Besides, think about it: How pleasant do you think you'd smell after who knows how many days of traveling through the desert under the hot sun, without a shower? I know I was pretty ripe, and it hadn't been that long.

I stayed with them for three days, before they moved on, and I started back west. I slept in the ruins. Not the most comfortable, but it was a roof. The goat meat was good, but I couldn't stomach what I thought was goat cheese. Also, the goat's milk is right from the tit: warm, with a layer of fat floating on top. I may have lost a couple pounds during my stay. However, my favorite was the zaatar spice, really good.

I can't really recommend going to Syria now in good conscious. If you do go, get out of the cities, and the good people will take you in. It's the politicians who destroy it, the people are the best you'll find.
Highly awaiting O.P.'s next instalment:

North Korean Gulag

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I find this data sheet lacking. At the minimum I expected some info on night life in Raqqa.
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On topic the more I see and hear about Syria pre civil, the more I think Hillary tried to fuck us by getting rid of a future favorite RVF destination.
^You seriously think any nightlife mentioned in Raqqa will be around post war?

Timeliness is very important when it comes to datasheets, though this one is appreciated.

I had a friend go to Syria. She spoke Arabic and was a quintessential granola liberal. I think she secretly hoped she would be Ottomon'd into a harem or something.
@the Beast
The first part (Raqqa) wasn't serious, there was supposed to be a smiley, but it didn't work.
Very cool journey!
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Wow, PNG Highlands and Syrian desert, goes without saying that you have some balls man. Good luck on your adventures and stay safe.
These are the type of stories I wanna hear about and the type of members I wanna meet. If you haven't done some extreme travelling in your life, you are missing out as a man. No better way to get to know yourself than when you are on your own in a distant land, between people of a strange culture, with no one to count on but yourself.
I'm always surprised how the people who live there are completely different than the ones who come to Western countries as 'refugees'.

I think it has something to do with society. In countries like Syria you have no welfare, so you're dependent on other people. Your friends and family are your safety net when things go wrong.

Here in Western countries you have the government that takes care of you, so you don't need anyone.
This is a million times more interesting and entertaining than yet another datasheet about Kiev or Warsaw. The traditional spots have their merit for sure, but there is absolutely something to travelling to places like these. I will never forget flying through the Himalayas, running from a rhino in Nepal, being fed by complete strangers in Jordan, and almost getting my ass kicked by an entire room full of people in Morocco. You just won't have experiences like this in most tourist-heavy spots.

The only unfortunate thing is that after having experiences like these, I find it kind of hard to relate to people back home. The most exciting thing that seems to happen for a lot Americans is going for a sports game or getting fucked up on the weekend. It's hard to talk about these experiences without sounding like a complete douche.
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