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[_] Miss anything?

Matt Kane ascorbic at
Wed Apr 30 10:55:58 BST 2008

On 30 Apr 2008, at 10:41, Dan Brickley wrote:

> Matt Kane wrote:
>> Hi [_]ers,
>> I'm back from my epic tour of the Middle East (did anyone even notice
>> I'd gone?). I spent 38 hours on a train, explored more World Heritage
>> Sites than you can shake a stick at, was forced to smuggle goods
>> across borders, discovered N95s (not mine) cannot be taken into  
>> Syria,
> Oh, that might be good to know! Got any more detail? What happened?

Quite a palaver. Got the train from Istanbul to Syria (amazing trip!).  
At the border they didn't search the bags of "westerners" but asked us  
all to show our phones and cameras. They glanced at them all quickly,  
checking the brand ("Nikon, ok. SonyEricsson, ok"). One guy had an N95  
and they led him off the train. His sister informed us that they'd  
said it wasn't allowed in Syria, and that if she knew her brother he'd  
not give it up without a fight. Despite being on contract, he argued  
with them for an hour and a half, even calling the embassies in  
Damascus and Ankara. In the end he gave it up, with a promise that  
they'd send it on to the airport from where he was leaving. A few days  
later we're chatting with a barman and spot his phone - an N95, and  
yes, he got it in Syria! A few days after that we found out the full  
story from our hotel owner in Damascus. Apparently the CIA gave a load  
of bugged N95s to high-ranking Kurdish officials in Iraq, many of  
which were then smuggled into Syria and given as gifts to various  
shady characters. After the Hezbollah guy was assassinated in Damascus  
a few months ago, the Syrians set about trying to root out spies,  
which led to this ban on bringing N95s into the country. Apparently.
> The world demands photos! [clicks your url] fancy panoramic photos!

I took quite a few panos but haven't stitched them yet. Regular pics  
are here:

>> But what did I miss here?
>  It fell on saturday this year.Errrmm.... dunno how to tell you this,
> but you missed summer. Sorry man..

Ah well. After a few ~40 degree days I may have had my fill of sun.