Ok I admit. I am either so lazy to write a picturesque guide to Syria or so busy with MBA and work . Well I know you won't go to that country either so you don't need a deep down guide. As you already know The Turkish Invasion Team had a brief getaway before the rest of the Turkish pour down like spring rain to capitalize on the recent cancellation of visas between two countries and start offloading cash to chinese made ornaments sold in oriental bazaars.
The strange fact is that one can find almost every good aspect of Syria (food, scenery (most of it desert), chinese products and history) in Southeastern Turkey without adhering to Syrian Hygene and Language. Since Turks are recently behaving like a caged animal because of the visa barriers that almost every civilized nation in the galaxy is imposing, now Syria, with no visas and daily tours, seems like a hot tourist destination. I am sure that many eager tourists will be disappointed to see local sights and sounds that they loathe in their own country and even pay money for this nonsense.
Another thing is the brief moment (what I call a Turkish Hesitation) before introducing yourself to locals. In Russia and Ukraine (and Belarus) the first reaction to my nationality is a mixture of feelings of dislike (I don't blame them after what we have done after 1991), in Europe it is something like fear (mixed with a bit of disdain) but in Syria (in direct contrast with another Arabic country Egypt) the feelings were almost friendly.
It is true that the distance to the imperial capital always counts in vast empires (like Ottoman Empire) and Syria, which was no less decently governed than an Anatolian region seems to have benefited more than average because it lies as a borderland between the Arabic Realm and the Turkish lands and a first foreign post and watering hole on the way to Hadj. One can see this from the blossoming architecture and the attitude of locals to Turks. In Egypt, where there was a vain vassal state, Ottomans or their puppets ruled with iron fist (with "take all,give none" policy) whereas Syrian locals and merchants benefited from the graces of the imperial trade and culture. That may explain our rather mild conversations with the locals (including the indigenous Turks who were born in Syria but schooled in Mother Turkey).
I am already so bored about writing this country and out of ideas so let's get to the part where I had most fun. The Q&A's
Here come the questions bombarded so far to my inbox:
So is Syria a dictatorship? (by Kemal)
Yes. Since no Arab country is a full fledged democracy or a sensible place to live a sensible life, Syria doesn't break the rules. Nevertheless, the people seems to be so happy with the government that the millions of state induced photo billboards of Essad family do not suffice the citizens that they handpaint their faces on every stone wall (and some of them look more like Obama than Bashar Essad). Although Turkish Invasion supports democracy or Jedi rule, I think we must leave the Syrians be happy with the demi-god Bashar in office.
What is the best gift from Syria? (by Ekaterina)
A safe return home without the bacteria that is yet to be discovered by modern science. Syrian Hygiene, especially in the toilets, defy any scientific achievement that mankind has made during the last three centuries. If you can manage without toilets, handshakes or touching any hard surfaces, the next best gift would be the Aleppo Sweets (a stylized version of baklava)
When is the best time to go to Syria? (by H20freak) (I loved that name)
Can you compare Russia with Syria? (by Jules)
An English friend once said "Russia is the Zaire of the North"...I can say that "Syria is the Zaire of Middle East" (without reference to Iraq, which is de facto an American enclave). Think of Israel; delete all Jews (Syrians would love that idea) and abolish all science and production; add dirty toilets and ta-daa you have Syria.
Can you compare Ukraine to Syria? (by Jules and John Sinclair) (My old comrade John is Ukraine's No1 fan because he thinks Ukraine is more corrupt than his inner mind)
Ukraine has better looking women and Syria does not have women. We recognized that we were not in an artificial male community when we saw some highly colourful women underwear in the local market. (I still think thet they are worn by men though.)
Can you compare Belarus to Syria? (by Jules)
Belarus cannot be compared to any country. It is Belarus (and I love it there)
Is it true that they have "pound" as a currency? (by Anonymous)
Yes but they prefer to call it "Suri". Don't worry if you have some Turkish liras crammed up somewhere in your pocket; liras rule in Aleppo. The only foreign land where Turkish lira is makes mroe value than the paper it is printed on.
Are there camels in the street? (by Ali)
Yes (really) they even butcher camels in the middle of the market so beware of the blood stains on your sneakers after a ride in the market (or Souk as they call it)
Are there livebombers in the street? (by John Sinclair)
Maybe but they prefer to stay lo-profile before their final exams in Israel.
What is the best food in Syria? (by Lelo)
Hummus. I guess this is the best food between Ankara and Addis-Ababa. No need to say that it is vegetarian. The other option is the falafel (deep fried vegetableballs)
...ask Turkish Invasion any more questions and I will be adding to this post.