Crossing Syrian/Turkish border:why can't it be eas

Trip Start Sep 09, 2008
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Trip End Sep 15, 2009


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Flag of Syria  ,
Sunday, May 3, 2009

We thought we had it all figured out...
We thought we were prepared....
 
But sadly we just can't win.
 
We bought a bus ticket from Aleppo into Antakya, Turkey for Sunday May 3 a whole day in advance - just so we could be on the safe side.
 
But sure enough, the morning of the third came and we went to the bus station only to discover that the bus was cancelled (if there ever was one to begin with) and that a taxi would take us to Antakya for nearly twice the bus fare.
 
We were caught in the same boat with 2 Japanese girls and a deaf Japanese guy who were also seeking passage into Turkey via Antakya.  Communication was interesting between the group.  The girls spoke somewhat meager English while the boy wrote all of his Q&A on a pad of paper in Japanese to the girls.  So the five of us were successfully able to haggle the taxi price down to something a little less "fleecing"...we even made sure that the taxi driver would take us to the Antakya bus station.  But we forgot one small and somewhat simple detail...the size of the car.
 
Originally there were two taxi drivers vying for our party of two and the Japanese party of three.  By combining forces we actually left us with one seat short.  Then just as we were about to squash into the car, the driver makes us an "offer" to bring a kilo of "tea" per person across into Turkey.  We looked at each other and quickly and adamantly said no to the request.  So to all you international anti-drug enforcement agencies out there...you might want to check a little smuggling route from Aleppo to Antakya via foreign backpackers.

We then cram into the car (four in the back and one in shotgun) and make the three hour journey to Antakya. 

Checking out of Syria was not as graceful as checking into Syria.  We were pointed to several wrong counters to pay the Syrian departure tax when we were supposed to pay at the"Complaints Office" (silly us).  We finally paid our penance and could leave the good people and hospitality of Syria.

Entering Turkey was as easy and welcoming as walking into your own country, minus the $20 visa fee.

Conveniently we were dropped off at the Antakya bus station and could walk to our next hotel.  We said a parting goodbye to our Japanese friends as they would continue onward to Cappadocia.  Meanwhile we were going to get our first taste of Turkey.... 
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