Blowout!

Point, shoot, leave.
Lost Soul
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Re: Blowout!

Post by Lost Soul » Mon Mar 21, 2016 11:58 pm

Thanks, Glimpet.
IMPRISON BUSH!

INDICT HILLARY!

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leela
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Re: Blowout!

Post by leela » Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:16 am

I only just came across this. What a great thread.
Pass the wine...

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GLimpet
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Re: Blowout!

Post by GLimpet » Mon Apr 11, 2016 1:38 pm

Here are some more pics.

Two nondescript pictures of Al Furat (The Euphrates to us), showing something of the narrow fertile strip along the valley floor.

There are some islands too. One enterprising local travel agent, despite all the obstructions of living in a totalitarian socialist state, managed to make a little business of taking people on boat trips which culminated on a barbecue on one of the reedy islands.

To give you an idea, if you wanted to pay him by credit card, he would send the card by bus to the country's one (1) modern(ish) bank in Damascus, where they would process (and no doubt investigate) the transaction and you would get it back approximately one week later. That's how we booked our flights home.

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GLimpet
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Re: Blowout!

Post by GLimpet » Mon Apr 11, 2016 1:46 pm

Here's my driver posing proudly outside his house.

I can't remember his name and I suspect awful things have happened if they were still there.

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GLimpet
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Re: Blowout!

Post by GLimpet » Mon Apr 11, 2016 1:51 pm

Goatherders' bothy at sunset, or maybe sunrise. It was surprising to see how many goats they could run on such barren-looking land.

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leela
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Re: Blowout!

Post by leela » Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:56 pm

GLimpet wrote:Here's my driver posing proudly outside his house.

I can't remember his name and I suspect awful things have happened if they were still there.


So sad. It's photos like yours, that make the whole thing so horribly real.
Pass the wine...

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VinnyD
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Re: Blowout!

Post by VinnyD » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:52 pm

I went to the Syrian embassy in Amman in 1988 or so to get a visa, but it was such an unholy mob scene I left in disgust and went back to 'Aqaba.

Ah well.

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Stephen_Dedalus
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Re: Blowout!

Post by Stephen_Dedalus » Wed Apr 13, 2016 11:48 pm

GLimpet wrote:Here's my driver posing proudly outside his house.

I can't remember his name and I suspect awful things have happened if they were still there.

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Yeah, driver

If you grew a moustache you'd be doppelbrothers.

No need to change your outfit.

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GLimpet
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Re: Blowout!

Post by GLimpet » Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:08 am

I can't pull off that look.

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simon_in_exile
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Re: Blowout!

Post by simon_in_exile » Thu Apr 14, 2016 6:25 pm

leela wrote:
GLimpet wrote:Here's my driver posing proudly outside his house.

I can't remember his name and I suspect awful things have happened if they were still there.


So sad. It's photos like yours, that make the whole thing so horribly real.

Yep - this thread inspired me to look through all my Syria photos last Sunday. It's going to be at least 10 years or so before it's possible, but I would return for sure.
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GLimpet
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Re: Blowout!

Post by GLimpet » Thu Apr 14, 2016 10:43 pm

Post em up Simon.

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Re: Blowout!

Post by simon_in_exile » Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:11 pm

Lingerie shopping in Aleppo
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Helps to have the blessing of the boss: shop in Aleppo souk (now totally destroyed)
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There used to be a tourist trade in Aleppo
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Re: Blowout!

Post by simon_in_exile » Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:30 pm

One of many roman mosaics in Bosra, down south near Jordan. I'm not sure how well these will have survived.
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Bosra ampitheatre
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Souq al-Hamidiyya in Damascus old city. The holes in the roof are courtesy of the french air force in 1925. The Umayyad mosque at the end of this passage is one of the holiest in Islam, especially for Shias. It also contains not only the Head of John the Baptist(!) but also the Tomb of Saladdin. Shia tour groups would walk down the passage towards the mosque, and you could watch all the women peeling off from the main group to visit the underwear shops lining the street (the only place I've seen musical bras and knickers for sale), leaving only a few survivors actually making it to the mosque. The mosque (which used to be a huge church) is now damaged by the war.
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Re: Blowout!

Post by simon_in_exile » Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:39 pm

Umayyad mosque
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Dr Evil, in the hills behind Damascus
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Nasrallah and Assad - best buddies for life
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Re: Blowout!

Post by simon_in_exile » Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:49 pm

Structural field course stuff in the Palmyride mountains, NE of Damascus
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Fieldwork between Homs and Hama - explaining transtensional rifting to the local kids
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How the Dead Sea fault works
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Re: Blowout!

Post by simon_in_exile » Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:01 pm

Bloke on an old bike
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Water wheels of Hama - Norias, originally built in the 400s AD on the Orontes river, and amazingly I think they're still intact. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norias_of_Hama
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Town in the mountains between Hama/Homs and the Mediterranean coast, near Latakia. It's gorgeous countryside, and was a mixture of christian, druze and alawite muslim communities. Maybe it still is, because they're all allied to some extent against the sunni groups.
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Apamea. Roman city repeatedly destroyed by earthquakes. Now it has been thoroughly looted. Not to do a clickbait trick, but you won't believe how thorough the looters are - check out this link to show how to systematically plunder and fuck up an archaeological site. I was agog looking at the before and after photos (yes, those are all dug holes): http://traffickingculture.org/data/data-google-earth/looting-at-apamea-recorded-via-google-earth/
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Last edited by simon_in_exile on Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Blowout!

Post by simon_in_exile » Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:19 pm

Serjilla - a deserted (except for me and my two friends) Byzantine "dead city". I loved this place for exploring.
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Roof terrace in Serjilla. The place isn't in the news, so perhaps it's not been too damaged. But I'd be surprised.
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Re: Blowout!

Post by simon_in_exile » Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:26 pm

To Palmrya. This was 2008 when Iraq was a mess, and fighters were travelling this route to Dier-a-Zour then turning right. Little did we know that the flow would be reversing direction.
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Baklava takeaway for the car journey.
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Re: Blowout!

Post by simon_in_exile » Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:42 pm

Palmyra. ISIS haven't been kind to this place.
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Anyway, a flavour of the rest of the country, circa 2008. It remains one of the most hospitable, friendly, diverse (landscape and culture) places I've had the luck to visit. It felt like a potential tinderbox back in 2008, simply because of the history of the region and the fact that it was so diverse and yet somehow remained fragile but coherent. The extent to which the country has imploded is heartbreakingly staggering - barely a week goes by when I don't think of this trip and feel powerless and gutted about what is happening there.
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Re: Blowout!

Post by simon_in_exile » Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:08 pm

Serjilla, which I posted about above, is currently a makeshift refugee camp. The article is interesting - pretty harsh on the people there, although it makes amends at the end, but at least it is objective in terms of the damage.
http://en.arij.net/report/war-in-syria-destroys-the-forgotten-cities/

And http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/130109/cultural-heritage-casualty-of-war
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Re: Blowout!

Post by Chip_Oatley » Wed Apr 20, 2016 2:05 pm

Thanks for posting these, Simon.

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Re: Blowout!

Post by GLimpet » Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:03 pm

Excellent photos.

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leela
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Re: Blowout!

Post by leela » Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:14 pm

Thank you, Simon. Wonderful photos. And yet sad to look at now.

On a selfish note, I'm so sorry I never made it there. It was on my list, but...
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Re: Blowout!

Post by polardude1 » Thu Apr 21, 2016 12:38 pm

It remains one of the most hospitable, friendly

So I hear, but then I take note to the brutal reality. But they're beautiful photos. Sadly I would never have been able to travel there. Even on an US passport there would have been an off chance that I would have also been suspected of being a citizen of the country on the other side of the border.
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Re: Blowout!

Post by simon_in_exile » Thu Apr 21, 2016 2:53 pm

You mentioned that before, but in Aleppo and Palmyra we bumped into a 40-something year-old Jewish American couple who were traveling round the country just like us. They hadn't had any problems, so yes you could have travelled there fine, perhaps accepting that there would be a slightly elevated risk of someone hassling you.

As for hospitable friendly people turning on one another...human beings, hey! Over the past 100-200 years, these barely a society on earth that hasn't imploded: all it takes is a combination of unfortunate events to occur and we're all too ready to devour our neighbours and former friends. Syria is just another place that's testament to this.
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Re: Blowout!

Post by polardude1 » Thu Apr 21, 2016 3:01 pm

Obviously I would not carry the passport with me, but I do have Israeli citizenship. Not to sound paranoid, but if someone wanted to, they could try to find that out. Before doors opened to Jordan for Israelis , I traveled there in under my US passport and I was asked randomly by someone if I was Israeli. My accent has not always come out as being American


As for hospitable friendly people turning on one another...human beings, hey! Over the past 100-200 years, these barely a society on earth that hasn't imploded: all it takes is a combination of unfortunate events to occur and we're all too ready to devour our neighbors and former friends. Syria is just another place that's testament to this.

Like Iraq, I view Syrian society as something tightly wound by a brutal dictatorship. It was due to unwind one way or another. Don't forget, there was a bloody crackdown in Hama in 1982 with 10,000+ dead
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Re: Blowout!

Post by GLimpet » Thu Apr 21, 2016 9:21 pm

Polar, I was working there again in 1997 with my Jewish-American colleague who has a very Jewish name.
Seriously, the locals in town didn't give a fuck.

But it just takes a small number of well-armed psychophysically violent fanatics to coerce people and then they'll be too scared to stand-up against anti-semitism or anti-Christian or anti-westerners, even if they don't feel that much themselves, so I do get where you're coming from.

relatively recently, I used to use a small serviced-apartment complex for business trips to Perth, Australia. The manager there is/was a young Syrian from Aleppo and he was close to tears describing what it has become.

the massacre and persecution and imprisonment of fundamentalists, suspected or otehrwise at Hama and also Homs and Palmyra was well-known but only spoken about in private when I was there. A real police state.
So there would have been residual sympathy for the fundies, as vile as they are.

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Re: Blowout!

Post by polardude1 » Fri Apr 22, 2016 12:42 am

Its not an issue of anti Semitism. I would be a bit paranoid seeing as I quietly have Israeli citizenship, Sure it's a malll chance of that getting exposed, but i would not risk it
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Re: Blowout!

Post by NorthAmerican » Thu Jun 07, 2018 2:38 pm

I had dinner with friends last night, one of them a woman who had returned two weeks ago from a visit to family and friends in Syria and Lebanon. Her husband was a colleague of mine, so I'm guessing that I met her in the mid-1980s.

The woman described herself as "catatonic" when she returned to this country; last night was her first time out of her house. Why? Because she spent a few days in Syria staying with her sister, who lives in one of the major cities. One morning, she said, she was awakened at 2 a.m. by a bombardment of the city that continued non-stop for two hours. Her sister lives in an apartment building that suffered serious damage during the bombardment, part of its foundation blown out.

Once she was out of bed and dressed, she and her sister had coffee, after which they went out for a meal. They did this despite her own objections; she said she just wanted to continue on to Beirut, where more family members live. But there they were, at a restaurant on the waterfront where it looked as if the whole population of the city had gathered for a party. Bombed during the night, life back to "normal" within hours.
I enjoy reading NorthAmerican's posts. So well-written and interesting except for the dull parts.--Nines

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Re: Blowout!

Post by Klara » Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:39 am

Excellent photos, Glimpet and Simon.

Interesting story, NA. I suppose that's how you stay sane under such difficult circumstances.

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Re: Blowout!

Post by andybox » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:05 am

Awesome pics Glimpet, and great accompanying words.

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Re: Blowout!

Post by simon_in_exile » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:27 pm

I forgot I’d posted these. Ten years ago but it feels like another life.
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