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Travellers' Advisories, Safety and Security on the Road Recent News, political or military events, which may affect trip plans or routes. Personal and vehicle security, tips and questions.
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  #1  
Old 18 Sep 2001
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Urgent information about Middle East

I am presently in Cyprus having had an already adventure filled trip this far. Once you have ridden through Albania I think you are more or less prepared for anything!

Obviously the terrible events in the States has put an edge on my plans, particularly as it seems that military reprisals are only days away.

I am on my way to Cape Town, and my plan is to go from here to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Sudan before continuing down the East of Africa. Anybody got any upto date news/recommendations for these countries and attitudes towards Western tourists? I am travelling on an Irish passport with a British registered bike. How are attitudes likely to change if the Americans start bombing Afghanistan?

All help much appreciated, I have to make up my mind quickly because the ferry leaves for Lebanon on Friday.

Charlie
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  #2  
Old 18 Sep 2001
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Please be carefull.
The whole region is volatile at the moment.
The arab league has condemned the attacks and vowed to join in the fight against terrorism.
The problem is that some local people who you will be in contact with may see you as an easy target to further their political and idealogial agendas.

I urge you to find a safe place to store you motorcycle and gear, let me know exactly where you and I will try and find somebody and get to the local embassy where you will recieve the latest situation reports. Email me directly - my details are at the top of this post an on my site as well...

When I was in Eastern Turkey (PKK) and Syria, I know the GB plates on the bike made me an easy target. My German friend had no issues with the German plates.

Remember that most Arabs and good Muslims and will try and assit, however it is too risky. Trust no one that you do not already know. People may try to befriend you for reasons unknown to you.
You are not paranoid , they are watching you..

I travelled some of the route you wish to travel last year, please check my site, www.muddydlaps.com for route information and a travel log - for your amusment..


take care and good luck

May the force be with you

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  #3  
Old 19 Sep 2001
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Before travelling to the Sudan you should consider the followings facts.

(1) There has been a civil war going on between the Moslem North and the Christian South for the last 40 years. It flares up every so often and then dies down.

(2) The Islamic government has become increasingly extreme over the last few years and is now close to the Taliban.

(3) Bin Laden and similar groups have bases in the Sudan.

I do not think that any Westerner will be safe in the Sudan if an attack is made against Afghanistan. Also, I think that it is very probabable that strikes will be made against targets in the Sudan.

Terry
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  #4  
Old 6 Oct 2001
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Dear Caesar et al

Thanks very much for your offer of assistance and your advice about travel in the Middle East. Sorry that it has taken so long for me to reply, been kind of occupied!

I am glad to say that your fears about the Middle East are completely unfounded. I have now travelled through and around in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and am now in Dahab, Egypt. There is absolutely no problem at all. All the people I have met have been incredibly helpful and kind, there is absolutely no hint of any animosity towards anyone, wherever they are from. Sadly there are few people about, there are reports of cancellations of up to 85%. Terrible for the local economies, but nice for travellers to find that even the more touristy places are quiet and you do not find yourself in queues of tourists all reading from the same guidebook.

As to practicalities, as far as I know, the ferry from Cyprus to Lebanon has now stopped for the year, due to lack of passengers. It was a good if pricey ferry, about $150 US for passenger and motorcycle. Customs at Beirut was a long frustrating process, 5 hours and all in all about $100 US, most of which I am sure was bribes.

The border crossing into Syria from Lebanon was very smooth, although you must buy insurance at $30 US - although my "helpful" assistant tried to relieve me of $60 US, which cost him in the end because I then decided not to give him anything for his help...

Syria to Jordan again no problem, although you must by insurance again, about $30 US.

Very slow ferry from Aqaba to Nuweiba in Egypt, scheduled for 3 hours but takes more like 6. Customs in Egypt is very slow and officious, but at least everything was legitimate. It cost about Egyptian 400, ca $100 US, but everything was legitimate, although they charged $5 US for photocopying... All in all took about 4 hours to come through. We had the assistance of a tourist police officer, for which we paid about $6 US (I am now travelling with Andre, a Danish biker), but it was well worth it in terms of the hassle saved. All passengers on the ferry, car or foot are subjected to rigorous checks, and most of them were still waiting for the process to begin by the time we left.

So all in all, I would strongly advise anybody thinking about travelling to these countries to go ahead. The Middle East is a wonderfull place.

Thanks again
Charlie


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  #5  
Old 12 Oct 2001
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Does anyone have any updates on the canadian, and his Philipino wife shot whilst walking on the beach in kuwait, they were supposed to be shouting something about bin laden.

col campbell
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  #6  
Old 13 Oct 2001
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CTV (Canadian) News reports, Oct. 12:

"Police in Kuwait said there is no evidence to suggest a Canadian who was shot and killed was linked to anger over U.S. strikes on Afghanistan. Luc Ethier, in his late 30s, was shot dead while he was walking with his wife Wednesday night. Ethier's wife, a citizen of the Philippines who has not been identified, is in hospital with non-life threatening injuries after being shot three times.

Ethier was working as an aircraft technician at an airbase in Kuwait. Police said he died instantly after being shot twice from behind.

A spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs in Ottawa said Ethier was shot dead at approximately 11:30 p.m. local time Wednesday. His wife described what happened to staff at al-Adan hospital's emergency room when she was brought in.

'I went out shopping with my husband and somebody shot us; I can't believe it,' a nurse quoted the woman as saying. Ethier's wife reportedly told police that the assailant pulled up in a car, got out, shouted 'God is Great!' then opened fire."


The last comment I have to make on this topic is that, notwithstanding Charlie's good experiences thus far in the Middle East, most of his travel was while there was still a great deal of sympathy for the US losses in the World Trade Center attacks, BUT before the US began bombing Afghanistan. I expect attitudes to harden significantly now, especially in the areas around Afghanistan.

Our advice continues to be, if you can make alternative travel plans, do so. If you're in a volatile area, be vigilant and avoid situations where political violence and demonstrations may occur. And please keep in touch so we know you're safe.

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Good luck and safe travels!

Susan Johnson
Share the Dream at http://www.HorizonsUnlimited.com

[This message has been edited by Susan (edited 12 October 2001).]
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  #7  
Old 15 Oct 2001
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>I am glad to say that your fears about the
>Middle East are completely unfounded.
>All the people I have met have been
>incredibly helpful and kind
>Sadly there are few people about, there are
>reports of cancellations of up to 85%. >Terrible for the local economies

This is very interesting to me. Have you heard any comments about this problem from the local peoples?

It seems to me with the crushing effect these attacks have had on tourism, the long term effects on the economy in the region will be devastating.
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  #8  
Old 6 Nov 2001
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I see from Charlies posting that he had no problems but as Susan states that was before the U.S. bombing started and so attitudes may have changed.

Does anyone have recent info on this area. We are (still) planning a trip that includes Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi, UAE and Oman amongst others.
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  #9  
Old 7 Nov 2001
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Check out the lonley planet, thorn tree section, there is a fairly active middle east forum, and there dosent seem to be to many problems there for travellers

col campbell
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  #10  
Old 7 Nov 2001
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Still in Egypt, desperately trying to leave and possibly paying the price for ignoring Susan's advice about the hassles of trying to fly a bike out of Cairo.

But if you are thinking about coming to the Middle East, I have had absolutely no hassles at all as a result of September 11th or its aftermath, that includes Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Can't vouch for other countries, but can't imagine there will be huge differences in the reception you can expect.

Other than that, hassles in Egypt are as they ever were, beaureaucratic in the extreme.

Charlie
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  #11  
Old 8 Nov 2001
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> This is very interesting to me. Have you
> heard any comments about this problem from
> the local peoples?

> It seems to me with the crushing effect
> these attacks have had on tourism, the
> long term effects on the economy in the
> region will be devastating.


Well, I live in Egypt and I can tell you this: This horrible attack couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Egypt has been in an economic recession for the last few years. The economy relies heavily on tourism, which has been injecting much needed cash during the winter tourism season. Now that’s gone so the prospects are pretty grim. Businesses are closing. I’m personally suspending all my local contracts and focusing on the few international contracts I have and I’m one of the lucky ones. It’s really sad especially when you know that most Egyptians do not approve of the attack.

Anyway, Be sure to email me when you’re heading this way if you need help or otherwise. I’m based in Cairo and travel all over Egypt whenever I can. Maybe you can join me in one of my Egyptian desert exploration trips sometime on bike, or dare I say, in a Jeep .

AB@ShortWheelbase.com
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[This message has been edited by A.B. (edited 07 November 2001).]
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  #12  
Old 10 Nov 2001
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Hi there Jasper. Just read you travel plans on Horizons Unlimited.

I live in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and I have just returned from a trip to Salalaha right in the South of Oman, the US started bombing Afganistan while we were there and on the way back we stopped to have some tea at one of the few tea stops along that long(925km) and boring road to Nizwa.
Sitting outside drinking our tea we were asked by a local Omani driving a truck full of straw where we were from I told him in my limited Arabic that we were from germany and the UK he then went in to a tirade about F*** America no good F*** America no good, you see later America, Germany and UK all MUSLIM!!! F*** America no good .... I think this was an isolated case of some bad feeling but as you can see a lot of the uneducated local population lok at all this shit as a muslim Christian war. Once in Muscat I got a Taxi to the Mutra market (best place to buy old Omani silver) and I got the whole nine yards from the mni bus driver " where you from"? you "Christian or Muslim"? "which is good Christian or Muslim"?

I don't know what to recommend about Oman or the U.A.E apart from I think it's safe as long as you try to keep a low profile and not piss anyone off.(something no one does intentilally I know but it can happen by accident)

I'm off work soon and as I work 1 month and then I'm off for 1 month. I might be traveling to Salalaha again doing it in a couple of day this time on the GS.

Here are my contact numbers if you do make it to Dubai please give me a call we can sort out the worlds troubles over a few cold ones at my house. Have a bed free and a workshop for the bike plus tools if required.
E-mail rdgts69@hotmail.com this one is best as it's the one I check when I'm not at work.
tel# Moblie from Dubai-050-6540981 from the UK-00971505-6540981 home-009714-2844617

Good luck wish I was going with you all the best Richard..

This is an e-mail I sent to Jasper and I thought other travelers might find it useful, The invite for a few cool s is open to anyone on a bike that's traveling through Dubai and need a few days rest. Take care all Richard
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  #13  
Old 19 Dec 2001
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I have travelled in both Syria and jordan and IMHO both will remain safe to travellers.
When asked about the risks in either country my Arab friends there have almost felt insulted!!
Approx 2.5 years ago I travelled thru there when the US & UK were bombing Iraq and even the Iraqis we met were very friendly.

My advice on either of these countries would be to - "go and enjoy" - but do not give you opinions to anyone you don't know well.

Do be very careful if you are a US citizen!!!
Happy travels

ChrisC

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[This message has been edited by ChrisC (edited 22 December 2001).]
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  #14  
Old 23 Dec 2001
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Morocco in November 2001 was full of smiles, welcomes and friendliness.

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