This is part of the fifth section of our around the
Complete Trip Overview & Map
Coming from Jordan (via Syria)
25/3/99 Syria border no problems, $US 7.00 for vehicle entry and $US 30.00 insurance (the bank tried to short change me by 10%), no search and 30 minutes. We bypassed Damascus heading for Lebanon. Fifteen minutes out of Syria and no charges to enter Lebanon. No vehicle charges or insurance and we were given a two day transit visa for free (15 day tourist visa $US 17.00). When moving quickly through a few countries the differences stand out, some small things like how clean and well finished Jordan is relative to Syria and Egypt, no dead plastic bags floating around the countryside where the strong continuous winds allow branches to only grow on one side of trees, where the flatlands of egypt grow to small mountains and wadi's of Jordan and large snow-capped mountains running right down to the Mediterranean in Lebanon. We rode through Beirut where there are still unrepaired bombed out buildings left over from the civil war which ended in 1991, though they are disappearing amongst rapid redevelopment, the roads crowded, unable to keep pace with rising wealth, the most aggressive and arrogant drivers in new expensive cars showing "new money" in the society. Here we encountered our first police force riding Harley Davidson motorcycles, dating from around 1994 and used to control the city traffic. We avoided the Hezbollah south camping at Byblos on the north coast.
26/3/99 You have to be ready to change plans at short notice like today when heading for Baalbek we were advised the road was still under one meter of snow passed Bcharre. So we spent the day above the snow line at a small patch of Cedar trees, some 1500 years old, the only ones surviving logging dating back to Egyptian times and the national symbol of Lebanon. Once totally frozen we warmed up in a small tavern before descending to Kadisha Gorge where many tombs, retreats and monasteries are carved into the rock walls. Politics and religion are still contentious issues particularly with the current bombing of targets in Yugoslavia by NATO bringing back the thoughts of religious wars so recent in Lebanon's past. Talk in taverns is all on the right or wrong of the Yugoslav conflict, the question of its religious basis and who is siding with whom, old war wounds are opened, stories retold and opinions openly expressed.
27/3/99 Bodily functions take on a different priority while travelling, with the constantly changing water and foods, frequency also changes, nothing for a few days to an almost hourly squat. Locals view this weakness of the stomach as a western problem and have little sympathy, great apathy and feel superior in their hardened stomachs. To have a bout arriving at a border crossing, totally devoid of toilets, escape impossible and every second lasting an hour, becomes a worst fear. Only the stench of total embarrassment can prompt an embarrassing confession of you problem to the guard who promptly relays your discomfort to his mates before slowly escorting you to some area back of the border post. Word is out on your return, with everyone knowing your predicament.
Move with us to Syria
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