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Turkey was a welcome relief after Kurdistan. This is not to say that Kurdistan was a bad place, far from it. But there was always that lingering feeling that you were in a war zone and it was good to be out. Let me give you an example. Imagine a Forest supporter at a Derby game (God knows why). If you didn't say anything, or cheer when Derby were losing, everything would be fine, even if you didn't like sheep, like many Derby followers. But even then, once you left the stadium you felt much safer. Well that's how I felt when I left Kurdistan. Not like a sheep, but like a Forest fan (top of the league at the moment - come on you Reds!)
I digress. I arrived back at the same bus station from where I had departed to Kurdistan. I hopped on the first bus outta there; I was eager to avoid the irate taxi driver who had tried to rip me off just one week earlier. My destination was Mardin, a small, picturesque Turkish village.
It was perched on a hill near the Syrian border and was beautiful, a great place to relax and reflect over the last week. I ended up staying here for 3 days smoking nargila, chilling with Muco, the waiter who spoke great English, and catching up with friends back home. Then I decided it was time to head to Syria.
With no visa I went to the border and with a lacklustre smile I got turned away 3 times in 3 hours. But by total coincidence my travel buddies from a few weeks earlier happened to be in the neighbourhood. They too attempted to cross the same border a few hours after me, but they also failed because the border had shut. They would wait until tomorrow and I would chill with them.
And so I spent the night with them and took it easy.
The next day they went to Syria and I went on a 6 hour bus ride to the nearest Syrian embassy to see if I could get my visa here. With a fake letter from the UK government (cheers Bhai) I was slyly told that I couldn't get a visa there but that I could go to the border a few hours away, and that I would get through no problems.
So I did. And despite the 9 hour wait at the border, where I ate with the guards and got my first glimpse of Ramadan in a Muslin country, I was finally let into Syria. I had heard many great things about this place and couldn't wait.