a community serious about adventuring
To ring in 2011, we decided to hop on a night bus from Groeme, Cappadocia to Antakya Turkey with hopes of making it into Syria, successfully, without a visa. Syria is one of those countries that wears a big question mark as far as visa entry into its city goes. Researching a Syrian visa will leave you as bewildered as trying your hand at a foreign keyboard. Official sites will tell you to get it in advance of your entry into the country, but many people have said that they’ve been able to walk up to the border and buy a visa on the spot (with the . So, we risked heading to the border visa-less and praying for some new year cheer to help us make it in. If the cheer wasn’t enough, I was banking on our good luck rocks or our evil eye (both gift given to us on our travels to help bring good luck) to make things happen for us. That’s when the whistle blows. Fowl play, offside, illegal tackle, what have you. We were denied entry.
To enter Turkey you can buy a visa at the border, no problem. The only set-back being, it’ll cost you if you’re Canadian. Some diplomat somewhere said something blasphemas about Turkey’s unfair treatment of Armenians in their country and ever since Canadians have been punished. While all other nationalities will pay from 10 – 15 euros for an entrance visa, Canadians pay 45. Well, as the fruggle traveller wanting to feel like I’ve scored a deal in absolutely every way possible, we decided to rely on yours truely, the Limey and the Yank. Feeling like we’d scored big time, little did we know that this simple act of logic would be the same reason we’d be turned away from the Syrian border.
We handed over our passports to a man in small cell away from the visa holders. Searching for our Turkey stamps and not finding them amongst the collage of stamps that we’d attained through the last three months, he demanded our Turkish stamp. Begrudgingly handing over our other identies. Grimacing at the faces peering up at him from the government issued pages, I knew almost immediately that this wasn’t going to be a good day for the Limey and the Yank. After a few moments the one leather jacket clad guard, who looked like he belonged to the cast of the Sopranos rather than his fellow Syrian officials, ushered us into another office where the head officer quickly told us he would not allow our entry. He said that even if we had Turkish stamps in our Canadian passports and no visas, that MAYBE we would be allowed entry. But as he flopped the Limey and the Yank out onto the table and sneered, it was very clear that he had made up his mind based on international relations that were out of our hands. Morgan tried to reason with the man while I kept silent (not knowing how accepting they would be to a forward thinking and argumentative woman), but he wouldn’t budge. Feeling depleted and totally stranded since our bus had already continued on with the accepted ones, we walked back to Turkey, but not before getting some pictures of the little Syria we did see.
If it is at all possible to “ruin” yourself (over exposing yourself to too many histroical ruins and sites), then we definitely were ruined and the only cure called for a change of scenery; new food, new faces, new daily adventures, new weather. Turkey is a fantastic place, and in the last few days that proceeded our Syrian border experience, we had some of the most rewarding travel days we’d had since the beginning of our trip, and although older historical sites (from the world’s first claimed city) and cheaper kebab weren’t enough to keep up from quickly deciding to head to South East Asia.
Trekking back into Turkey found us hopping on a plane back to Istanbul and booking a flight to Bangkok for the next day. Although we were very eager keep the adventures of the day rolling and play airport roulette by hoping on the cheapest flight to Asia, we decided to save ourselves $500 each and fly our the following day.
It is quite possible that we’ve been flagged and will face potential hassle upon another attempt at entry into Syria, but the answer will have to wait till our next adventure to the Middle East.