The following day, we planned to go somewhat early to the Dibeen Reserve, one of the less-developed of RSCN’s nature sanctuaries, hoping to avoid the fees associated with the parks that have more facilities for visitors. I asked the hotel owner where we could get some foul, a question which prompted him to lead me once again by the arm to the window, whereupon he gesticulated wildly in a manner that almost seemed to be a formal sign language in order to try to communicate to me where it was. A few Arabic words were thrown in for good measure, though they made little sense without a full understanding of the sign language. Nevertheless, I felt like I had a reasonable idea of what he was trying to communicate and we headed off in search of breakfast. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘tourism’
Getting out of Damascus ended up being rather more complicated than we had expected. The staff at our hotel had given us rather specific times—five of them, in fact—at which busses leave from the Sulmariya station on the outskirts of town to Amman. We were aiming to catch the 3pm bus and arrived at the station after having ridden the 12km through Damascus and its suburbs at about 2:15. We were beckoned by one fellow to the window of a particular company to get tickets. I was a bit dubious, being under the impression that there were competing companies with service to Amman, but it turned out that this company actually had no spaces left, it was leaving at 2:30, it was the only bus of the day, and this was the only company offering service to Amman. I called to hotel to verify the information and make sure that there wasn’t something that I was missing. Maybe there were departures from another station, or another company whose window was not yet open. The woman at reception simply insisted that there were five departures per day from the company which had just told me there was only one and seemed unwilling to accept that her information might need to be updated. (more…)
Our day in Damascus was slow, easy and relaxing. We wandered again around the old city, visiting the palace of As`ad Pasha al-Azem, the 18th century governor of Damascus. It was bigger and more elabrate architecturally than its smaller cousin that I wrote about in Hama, but the latter had been more carefully restored and, on a purely aesthetic level, found it more impressive. This Azem Palace in Damascus was more like a museum, with the focus being on the objects filling the rooms, and less on the rooms themselves. The cheezy dioramas were still there, and there were a great many artifacts that had been left in the old house or recovered from elsewhere. There were copious signs detailing the historical context of this period of the Ottoman Empire, although there was only passing mention of the diversion of resources (including the cutting off of Damascus’s public water supply) that was necessary to build this magnificent palace. What mention there was of such matters was left unexamined, while other signs made note of all the luxurious appointments built into the palace, such a retreat and respite being a virtual necessity for a man holding such grave daily responsibility as the Pasha. What a bunch of hogwash.
Perhaps the reader is thinking, “and what about you, o intrepid traveler? What has been so taxing about three weeks of vacation (and two more to go), wandering about the countryside of Syria, treated as a guest of honor wherever you go, that you should be in need of such ‘rest and relaxation’ in Damascus?” Touché, dear reader, touché. And it is not without a twinge of guilt that I announce that I’ll be giving up on the part of this trip that has been genuinely challenging: the cycling. Between my bum knee and Elaina’s “delicate constitution”, as she puts it (with a touch of irony, I presume), cycling through the much less hospitable (in terms of the terrain and the elements) territory of Jordan seems like stubborn folly. Instead, we’ll be doing the unthinkable: renting a car. It’s a little more than we’d like to spend, but will allow us to visit the sort of out-of-the-way places we might have hoped to have seen by bike, and is certainly cheaper than a knee operation.
With that in mind, the only obligation we spent the day attending to was figuring out how to get ourselves to Amman via bus (it was not possible to rent a one-way car to al-Aqaba from Damascus). The rest of the day was spent wandering, resting, relaxing and generally vacationing, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Try not to let your jealousy get to you.
We dawdled a bit on the way out of Lattakia—getting up late, having a leisurely breakfast—mostly because we thought we’d have to take care of some bureaucracy to extend our visas, which meant we would want to leave after the worst of the mid-day heat had passed anyway. It turned out however, that we could wait an entire month before we had to renew our visas, despite what the entrance stamp and other sources said. We might have waited for another day, but our guide books indicated that our next destination of Qal`at Salah ed-Din was closed the next day. So, we made a stop for coffee and then headed up the hill to the castle at around noon.
How wonderful of Egypt and the International Community to come together to construct this museum to depict the lives of a disappeared culture as a monument in honor of…their own generosity. (more…)
Embarrassing as this fact is, this was my second cruise on the Nile in only a couple months. It’s shockingly easy to live a posh middle-class lifestyle in this country with the right connections and a modest (by US standards) income. But this is not what I wanted to talk about (hopefully I’ll get up the gumption to be that reflexive about my place in this country in a later post). This cruise was part of the class on the Nile River that I and Adrienne are in. I’ve written extensively about the Nile cruise previously, here, here and here, with pictures from the trip in four previous posts (1, 2, 3, 4) so I’ll be keeping this somewhat short and condensing the four-day trip into one entry. (more…)
Our trip to the Nilometer and the Egyptian Museum was quite different than the one the previous day to the Egyptian Agricultural Museum. The Egyptian Museum is a stop on pretty much every tourist’s itinerary and is hence tended to by the government with all due care. I had been told that the Egyptian Museum was underwhelming and aged and dirty, but this was not my impression, perhaps because of my experience the previous day. The Egyptian museum lacked the smell of mothballs, the signs were legible, many of the displays were vacuum sealed (a rather more effective form of preservation than mothballs, I’d suspect) and we were blessed with Chahinda Karim as a tour guide. (more…)
On December 25th, Adrienne and I decided to go for a stroll through Cairo. It didn’t have anything to do with it being Christmas, really. We just wanted to get out. (more…)
In the early 19th Century, Muhammed Ali, often credited with bringing Egypt into the modern age, effected that modernizing project in no small part through the use of antiquities, either a) as more-or-less direct payment for the services of foreign experts, b) as bribes or c) to curry favor with Western notables easily charmed by shiny old things (sort of like “The Pilgrims” trading beads with “The Indians” for food and clothing, but in reverse). (more…)
A conventional industry, whether based in manufacturing or agriculture, involves organzing people to produce. Mass production relies upon all the well-known methods of recruiting and disciplining a workforce, organizing their use of time, their movement, and their arrangement in physical space, and developing systems of instruction, supervision, and management. Mass tourism, by contrast, involves organizing people to consume. It relies upon similar methods of managing flows and timetables, arranging physical space, and instructing and supervising, to maximize the process of consumption. (Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts, p.199) (more…)
Ths is the last batch of pictures (at the jump). This includes the pre-dawn bus-ride from Aswan to Abu Simble, the temple at Abu Simble, Lake Nasser, the High (Diggety) Dam, Philae Temple and Elephantine Island. Once again, some commentary is included in the photo captions, but more will follow within the week. Enjoy! (more…)
Here we go with yet more pictures (after the jump) from the AUC-organized Nile Cruise. Featured here are the Temple of Horus at Edfu, some more Nile River shots, the Temple of Kom Ombo and a few more shots on-board the cruise ship. In case the reader is browsing here out of order, I just want to clarify that I intend to turn a much more deliberately critical eye to the material here in subsequent posts about Egypt’s tourism industry. In the meantime, enjoy these pictures, with commentary in the captions. (more…)
Here are some more pictures (gallery after the jump), this time from the second day of the ALI trip along the Nile, starting with a tour of the Karnak Temple in Luxor and ending at the docks at Esna. Some commentary can be found in the photo captions, but be assured that I won’t let a lot of the sickness and madness evident in this sort of tourism slide by without challenge. More to follow within the week. (more…)