Preparations for Syria and Lebanon

Today I started to get ready for my trip to Syria and Lebanon, upcoming this week. 

There’s no way I want to be out of contact.  Getting my mobile phone to work is more of a challenge than it should be, because of the greed of the mobile operators.  Being told it will cost $1.50 a minute to receive calls is absurd.  I toyed with the idea of buying a local SIM card, but on a package tour you’re not as free to wander as you might be.  Instead I bought a “global SIM card” from GeoSIM.  This should reach me early next week, in time for me to go.  It allows me to receive calls for free in Syria (although not in Lebanon, annoyingly — I only just found that out), and reduces the extraordinary charges of my normal provider to $1 a minute to call home.

I’ve only bought a small amount of credit, until I know whether the thing will actually work as claimed.  There’s a scam about holiday SIM’s which I got caught by when I last went to Libya.  You go into some shop and purchase a SIM at home specially for use abroad.  Your own provider has no coverage, so you buy theirs.  You load it up with credit, and then find it won’t work where you wanted it to.  When you return and complain and ask for your money back, they smilingly deny saying that it would work, and tell you to use the credit instead at home — far more expensively than your normal deal.  I got swindled like that by T-Mobile when I went to Libya, and I have always regretted not hitting them with a court summons.

My hip is getting better every day, but I’ll take a retractable aluminium walking stick in hold luggage, just in case.  Likewise a hot water bottle; every hotel will have a kettle in the room, and it’s a simple way to apply heat to the hip if need be.

I went into town and bought some guidebooks today.  Also some new shirts; they’re very cheap and flat-packed is the easiest way to transport them!  Also some sun-block, and various pills and potions including anti-diarrhoea tablets and rehydration salts.  I always get hit by a change of water, so best to be prepared.  I’ve also ordered a few books to read while I am out there from Amazon.   Finally I’ve bought several packets of unsalted mixed nuts and raisins.  You can stick some of them in a plastic bag with a tie  and have them in your pocket.  When your energy flags, miles from anywhere, they can be a blessing!

All this can go in the hold luggage, and be there and available in the evenings when I get there.  When I stay away from home here, I tend to carry a car-full of stuff with me.  Pity I can’t do the same overseas!


5 thoughts on “Preparations for Syria and Lebanon

  1. A few tips for Syria:

    I wished to buy a local sim card so that my parents could reach me in 2002. I was told that it cost outrageously and that I needed a local Syrian to guarantee it. I just resorted to buying phone cards and calling my family every three days in case anything happened. After 4 weeks in Syria for some reason my phone started roaming. The price they are giving you is very true for Syria, this was what I was charged. But this is a Syria problem, when we were near the Lebanese border even during the days when I had no Syrian roaming I did have Lebanese roaming.

    You can find cheap clothing in Syria provided you have somebody to take you to the proper market place. On the other hand it is difficult to find there guide books in English on anything

    Handicapped access in Syria is between rare and non-existent.Lets hope your foot gets better

    If there are any questions ask me, I will answer to the best of my abilities.

    PS Ice cream is very cheap in Syria. You should try it…

  2. One of the places I would like to visit in Syria is the village of Maaloula where they still speak Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke. I envy them, and would like to know more how they managed to retain their language.

  3. Stephan, I will remember Deir Ali if I can. I wonder whether the inscription is still there, tho — it sounds like the sort of thing that might be removed. That Wikipedia article is a little dodgy.

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