Entry Info

15th (Sun)
Aug 2010

[day115] Some meetings at Hama

As I enjoyed Damascus fully, I decided to go to the next destination, Hama, located in the northern part of Syria. Many travellers stay there long time for its convenience as a location to the other important sites around the area although the town itself has only huge waterwheels for the tourists' attraction. The long distance coach was quite comfortable. It has only 3 columns(1:2) and I could sit on the one without neighbours. After feeling drowsy for 3 hours, I noticed the bus arrived at Hama.

The best cheap hotel in the Middle East

I checked in to the Riad Hotel recommended by Iyo that I met in Damascus. According to her, many travellers praise the hotel as the best cheap accommodation in the Middle East. As it would be safe, unusually I made a reservation by email beforehand. (Though they don't have a website, you can contact with them by email "riadhotel@scs-net.org") In fact, the quality of the hotel was quite high. Although I would argue the accommodation in Damascus had a better atmosphere since the Riad Hotel is in an ordinary building, I liked this hotel very much for its absolute cleanness. The price for a single room with no bathroom was only 600SYP(13USD). Though it was quite a small room with a single bed and a little desk, it looked enough for one person. Incidentally, the ensuite double room even had a private fridge, which is quite rare in this class. I can recommend this room to couples who are travelling.

After checking in, I walked around the area to find a nice dinner but there are somehow few restaurants on the streets. Usually every town has bustling streets with restaurants and local people. However the receptionist told me there are no such streets in this town. Although there were plenty of cloth or grocery stores, I could find only a couple of Kebab shops and I bought one Kebab sandwich from them then took it away to the hostel. I began to feel bit tired of Kebabs as I ate one almost every day.

Meeting again (and again)

While eating the sandwich, I heard a very familiar voice. Oh, Shin and Tomoko, who had parted at Damascus, came again. Counting Dahab and Damascus, this is the third time to meet them. Likewise the case in Damascus I felt really comforted by seeing friends' face. Since the Riad Hotel has some private tours to the surrounding area, we decided to go together with a Japanese man staying there at the same time. I'll write about this episode later as it takes bit too long.

Serendipitous meeting

We had one more wonderfully unforgettable meeting at Hama. When I walked with Shin and Tomoko to go to a hammam we lost our way at the old town. The map of the Japanese guide book didn't help at all and the night had already started falling. It's a theory to ask passersby when we get lost. Therefore, we started asking people randomly in English. Although most of them not understanding English looked just bewildered, luckily one young guy using his mobile phone responded positively. He could speak English a little. I told him that we are looking for the hammam and he offered to lead us there as it was very close to where we were. In fact, the hammam was located at just on the middle of a narrow passage connected to our original location but I suppose we couldn't have reached there without his support.

He is a university student in Saudi Arabia and came back to his home town here. His name is "Obada". Before going to the hammam we decided to go to dinner together as he suggested he could take us to a nice local restaurant. The meal was grilled whole chicken which we ate in Damascus too. It was quite a large amount and actually delicious. What's more, surprisingly he paid for all of us. I hadn't realised his intention when he withdrew some money from the ATM on the way to the restaurant. Obada said, "Isram has a rule 'Be Gentle to Travellers' Never mind you are my guests." We accepted his kind offer.

On the next day, after coming back to the tour we met again and Obada gave us a walking tour around Hama old town. He took us to some very local spots like the back of the waterwheels and small market. He looked very proud when he was introducing his town to us. During the walk we talked a lot about our country, religion and business. As he is learning programming, we took our opportunity to work together too. Besides, he treated us to dinner again. Though we tried to pay, he stuck to his custom. In this case, we have to treat him with delicious Japanese meals when he has a chance to come to Japan. We should keep this friendship for a long time though it was just a coincidence to meet him at first.

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12:25 16th Aug 2010


Jaime said:

Great story. I can not wait to travel through the Middle East. Seems like everything is going smoothly & that you are having a great time!

07:13 3rd Oct 2010


obada said:

I appreciate this expression of the sweet talk you and I will tell you this thing that I am of Arab customs and you are my friend until death and will never forget that I came to Syria once again how much I hope that we meet a new friend     obada

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In order to present well organised articles, this blog is not updated on real time base. (You can find "Entry Info" on the left panel, "updated on" and "travelled on") Regarding to the current information about me, please follow satoshionoda_e on twitter. I'm tweeting almost every day.

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