Tuesday, December 29, 2009

At Mar Musa


At Mar Musa, people usually leaves after breakfast. They arrange service (taxi) from the nearby town Nabek, or they walk across the rocky mountain and hitchhike at the stone mine. In either way we say goodbye. Sometimes we hug and kiss, wishing each other good luck for their forthcoming journey; most of the time we don't even know each other's name; we stand and smile as if we really mind and care, or as official as we can, or as polite as we want.

A lot of people left today, a lot of new faces, again. People usually stays for a night or two, this is my fifth night here, a lot of nights to come though. Seeing the flowing of crowds I am a bit uneasy, how can people treat gathering and separation so easy when there is no interest/ profit involved? I don't like the feeling at all. Deep inside. I knew the uneasiness came from the separation with Gabor Csonka, my travel partner for the past three weeks.

Gabor left yesterday to Damascus, continuing his journey to Jordan. I decided to stay longer in Mar Musa, read a bit and waiting for year 2010 to come. To be frank I have no where to go, especially during the festive season, I don't want to stuck in Beirut, not finding a host, stay in an expensive dormitory and cook instant noodle for dinner. At Mar Musa, at least I know I can sit with someone who I knew for a few days, greeting each other for a better year, and I knew I am guaranteed three good meals a day. Wasn't able to go with Gabor not only because he doesn't want to go to Lebanon, also because he has someone waiting for him at Jordan.

It was eggplant and zucchini for lunch today, topping with yogurt. I learned how to eat eggplant in Iran and fall in love with it; as I learned how to eat okra in Pakistan and fall in love with it; as I learned how to eat zucchini in Syria and fall in love with it.

Chubby came back after lunch. It was really good for me to see him, I recalled how lonely I was last night during dinner, sitting among a group of Americans I have nothing common to talk about with. He has both of his hands in the pocket of his jacket, sadness in his eyes.

So how are you? I asked.
Sappy. Sad and happy, what is the English word for that?
Is there light at the end of the tunnel?
I guess so, he said.

How about you, how do you feel? He asked me back.
I missed Gabor Csonka.
I think I have never been so honest before.

And suddenly I recalled, making a habit one just need to continue doing one thing for 21 days. Stop smoking for 21 days and you quit smoking; start waking up at 4am for 21 days and you start waking up at 4am. I guessed after traveling or living together for 21 days, Gabor became my habit.

Your always-judging travel partner? Chubby teased.
Yes. My always judging traveling partner.

Do you still want to meet him in the future? He asked.
Yes. I still want to meet him. It is about telling myself more than answering him.
And is there any chance for you to meet him accidentally somewhere? He asked.
I don't think there is possibility to meet somewhere accidentally, but it can be arranged I guessed.

At Mar Musa, time passed easily. After the 8am morning mass we had our breakfast, it is usually bread, olive oil and olives, apricot jam, yogurt and cheese. Occasionally we will have egg and tomato. After the breakfast, chef Pierre will instruct us on how to cut the vegetables, preparing for the lunch. We have really good lunch here, usually with a lot of vegetables, with rice or pasta. Before lunch there will be two to three hours free which I usually sit in front of the computer to type something. Going for a walk is a good idea but I walk too slowly I will miss the lunch. Lunch is at 2.30pm. After lunch we will help to clean up the dishes, sit and chat a bit and the day turned dark. 6pm is usually the time for shower, I will walk the way up back to the new monastery, soak myself in the hot water. Then it is time for 7pm meditation follows by 8pm evening mass. Dinner at 9pm. By 10.30 or 11pm everyone say good night and we are wished sweet dreams.

Father Paulo saw me after the meditation session.
So how are you today? As usual he asked.
Better than yesterday, I said.

And I knew, tomorrow is going to be better.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Back to the City


Arrived at Damascus after sunset last night. Had been traveling with Gabor for the past 5 days. The first night we were sleeping outside a police station, second night in the hotel, third night we wanted to sleep in a mosque but was invited to a local house in a village about 30km out of Damascus, forth night at Mar Musa monastery, and we split up in Damascus last night, sleeping with different couchsurfing host. My host is a British girl who is studying Arabic here; and his host is a Syrian girl.

It was a great experience hitch hiking, sometime in the dark, I will never do it myself. It was a special experience knocking on the door of the police station, ask to sleep inside but they offer us to sleep outside. The police carried us two beds, I guessed it is from the prison cell, with simple blanket. Out of the night we were woken up and questioned by two police traveled for distance to the desert, just because there are 2 foreigners there. They are from the security office, to investigate if we are spy sent by America or Israel. I had a sleeping bag for +23 degree Celsius. In the desert, it is a joke. Most of the time suffering from coldness, always have to run with backpacks, simple bread and sesame paste (i love sesame paste), standing under the rain. But great things happened, of course.

While we were hitchhiking, someone sent us a tea to the highway.. hitchhiking with tea! It makes us warm. The villager who invited us to his house, provide us with good dinner and breakfast, the special people that we met in the monastery out of no where, the wind that try to distort everything almost swept me into the sky.

And my travel partner, I guess you are more interested on that. After few days travel, we still don't know that much about each other, we learned something from each other of course, I learned how to hitchhike, travel cheap and some photography skill; he learned how to communicate and more sensitive in treating people.

We will continue the trip after 2 days in Damascus, spend around one more week traveling before we hit Aleppo, our starting point. After that I will head to Lebanon, and Gabor will be heading to Jordan.

So, finally in the city of Damascus, had good sleep last night on a sofa, warm enough for me. Got to buy a sleeping bag so that I can learn how to search for places to sleep in the wild. You will be surprised that travel can be done under 5 dollar a day. Lesser if there is no internet :)

Take care friend. Till then.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009



Will be traveling with a Hungarian guy who have been traveled for the past 7 years. Not sure if it will turned out good as people tend to be more stubborn and self-centered after long term traveling.. but my motivation is simple -- to see how one can hitchhike for 7 years and what are the differences between his travel style and mine. His motivation can be simpler -- to try a Chinese Malaysian girl who is divorced and has a 3 years old daughter (that's what I told him). Too bad I am not too tempted to try him so probably the 'project' will fail after just one day. Let's see.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ready to Reboot


Sent 2 postcards at Şanliurfa post offıce 5 mınutes ago. At the moment of steppıng out of the post offıce, the story of [Central Station] ran through my mınd, may be the offıcer wıll just brought the postcard back to hıs house, tear ıt or keep ıt, never reached my frıend's post box back home.

It ıs my 10th day ın Turkey. Exıtıng to Syrıa tomorrow, decıded to hıtch hıke, at least to the Akçakale border.

Had refused to learn anythıng regardıng Türkıye, the language, the hıstory, the culture, except the Kurdısh-Turkısh conflıct that came so naturally to me. I told myself I am crossıng Türkiye, so fast that I shut everything down to standby mode. Yea I know merhaba (hello), and tashakor (thank you) of course, but I almost don't use ıt. Most Turkısh cant speak english, the most english that I heard here ıs: hello Chın (chınese), I love you, I fuck you.

Travelıng can be tıred when you need to keep catchıng up wıth the new ınformatıon, new hıstory, new language, new culture, new people, new thought, new system, ıncludıng new prıcıng! Learnıng need to be so fast or you wıll be soon realısed that you are exıtıng the country just seeıng the scenery, wah wah wah so beautıful ar.. other than beautıful you know nothing. Worse ıf you are expectıng the new place to adapt to your need.. ın other word you are changing one place to became more tourısty, that ıs the most horrible thing that a tourıst can do.

Last day ın Şanlıurfa. I am stayıng wıth a gang of people who believe ın dream. Nothing ıs ımportant, only lıvıng. If you read [On the Road], they are just lıke them. So today when I was walkıng on the street, I thought of the 20 thousand dollar that someone promısed me ıf the busıness happened, perhaps I shall gave 10% to these people for theır dream as well. But I dont even sure ıf there ıs 0.001% of chance that I can get the money, so stop dreamıng.

Pei said my english ıs ımprovıng.. HAHAHAHA so happy.. I miss writing ın mandarin..

So Türkiye, bye bye for the moment and I wıll be back to buy tent ın Istanbul before going to Europe!!

..arghh need to start learnıng Arabic... =S