Internet access (or inaccess)

Well, it turns out internet access is a lot more difficult in Lebanon (or at least Tripoli) than we thought. And of course, things went wrong at the office, so I had to have access to fix things, but nothing seemed to work. We tried a few times, from net cafe’s and from Maissa’s sisters house but the connections kept dropping out.

Actually, the guy at the first net cafe was trying to be helpful, but he was obviously quite clueless. What made things worse was that he was quite happy to crap on as though he knew what he was talking about. He said that all the ports were closed except 80 and we couldn’t do anything except surf the web. I tried ssh and thankfully it was open as I needed to move some files around on then cocolo website. When he saw me using ssh, he was like “oh… so do you have a linux server or something?” and I said “yes” and then he asked me if I had studied computing and I said I had done computer engineering. He was like “Oh… me too! I have MCSE 1 and 2” I wonder if he could see the distain on my face. I tried very hard to hide it. At a later stage in my conversation, he told me that his ISP blocks mozilla because it downloads and uploads too much, and they do it by blocking port 5332 or something…. again, I was trying not to let the horror show on my face.

Yesterday, Maissa’s brother inlaw took us up the mountains in a four wheel drive. It was beautiful I have to say. We went up about 3500 meters, above the cloud layer, above the plants even. and there was even some snow up there. His 4×4 is a very old range rover, but he was telling us that it gets such a beating going up the mountains that its crazy to have a new one, and i have to say, it really did take a beating, and he really likes to drive it hard over the bumps. He goes up there once a week with his kids, and he has to change the shock absorbers every 2 months, and after each 2 trips, he has to adjust all the nuts and bolts that hold the car together because they all shift and loosen!

One of the things thats a little depressing about Lebanon is the peoples apparant disregard for the environment. The whole way up the mountain, there were plastic bottles and rubbish here and there, but worse of all was there seemed to be loads of shot gun shells everywhere. Why don’t people pick things up after themselves *sigh*?

By the time we were comming down the mountain, the sun was setting and the view across the hills and valleys, with the evening mist and the rosy pink sun was really stunning. I didn’t take any photos of it though as I couldn’t be bothered, so you’ll just have to imagine it.

Land of contrast

I have to say, that Lebanon is a land of contrasts. I read that in the Lonely Planet guide and its really true. Mountains by sea, rich next to poor, expensive cars driving beside the most claped out car you have ever seen. Its all here, and compressed into a tiny space. Beirut is bustling city, but once we left it, we were straight into mountains and valleys which were very beautiful, and very reminicent of Greece. I’ll try and post some of my photos a bit later.

When in Lebanon, do like the Lebanese

It’s interesting to see the different cultures of different people, and those cultures change and you move around the globe. As we came in to land at Beirut airport, as soon as the wheels touched the ground, about 10 people stood up and started queuing in the isle ready to disembark. The steward was strenuously telling them to sit down and wait till we came to a halt, but they just made out like they were deaf and couldn’t hear him. In the end he had to get up and tell each one, individualy to go and sit down. The contrast between that and landing in Bahrain was quite striking, even though it was the same people on the plane, there was no unrullyness as we came in there.

In the Beirut airport, there were many signs and audible announcements stating it was no smoking, but as soon as we got to the table to fill in our customs form, these two guys (who were not from lebanon) started smoking! Maissa gave them an earful but they just said sorry, and carried on. It seems when in Lebanon, do like the Lebanes.

We’re off tomorow.

Well, its about 12:34 am, and Maissa and I have just finished packing and sorting stuff out for our trip.

It’s been a nerve racking time, sorting out the tickets and planning this trip. We almost gave up on it but at the last moment, our travel agent came through with the goods and got us a great ticket. (thats a whole other story in itself).

Tomorow we just have to finish packing and stuff and we’ll be set to go.