NO CARAVAN TIP
I was talking this morning with the man from the USA that works
at A.I.D. at breakfast. Discussing the pros and cons of transportation
in Iraq. We both agree that a Caravan of cars is dangerous, and that
an older car and not these brand new SUV's is better. He is in with
an Iraqi person that has a 6 year old car.
The Caravan is an obvious target if you are wanting to make a statement.
It is hard to know when a normal taxi or bus is a good target.
I have mentioned many times in my newsletter over the years that to
be in a rental car or any type of vehicles that is special brings
too much attention to you, and makes you a target for theft.
In most countries the theft or robbery could be a policeman.
The Jakarta bombing is the proof in the pudding that high profile
is a target.
KEBOB IS ON FLAT SKEWERS
The Kebob her is cooked with a long flat skewer.
It is about 3/4 inch wide andy 24 inches long.
They used the same type of skewer in Turkey.
There seems to be Lamb, Chicken and Beef Kebobs.
SULAMANI HAS A LIQUOR STORE ACROSS THE STREET
I am in the luxury area of town.
Not really my choice. The hotel next to me is 60 dollars a night.
Mine is 11 dollars USA.
But there is a liquor store across the street.
Muslims do not drink... hehehe
The other day I ask a man,
And pointing at him.
He shakes his no.
OK, he lives in the Kurdish area or Erbil.
But he does not call himself Kurdish.
So Kurdistan appears to be about religion more than location
and any color of skin or physical characteristics.
I TELL JJ HE LOOKS LIKE A SOLDER HE SAYS I LOOK LIKE CIA
Or an expatriate that forgot to go home...
JJ the guy I met in Erbil was young and in good shape.
He could easily be a soldier. The funny part though is a lot
of the soldiers look out of shape. I think they are national guard.
He said I look like CIA.
But a soldier said,
"There was a couple of CIA In Mosul.
Real fat, and the Soldier asked,
How do they run?"
I would think the CIA would be somewhere...?
I think they are in hiding.
That is out on the streets, walking the markets.
The only foreign people I see is Soldiers.
There is about 4 major dialects as best I can figure in Kurdistan.
This information came from the owner of the Shanan Hotel, plus he
is also the owner of the film processing place directly across the street from the
Shereen Hotel in Erbil.
I am putting a mark above his door as a source of information.
He speak 5 languages. His English is good. Not excellent.
4 LANGUAGES OR DIALECTS OF THE KURDS AND ROUGHLY WHERE.
Iraq - Kanekin
Iran - Kesershirin, Mehababad, Kiran Shah
Iraq - Kerkuk, Sulayminya, Erbil
Iraq - Duhuk, Zaho, Wan
Turkey - Wan, Marding, Urfa, Gazanna
Iraq - Hawrenan, Benjwin, Helabia
Iran - Sine - Bukan, Bana
A READER JUST SENT THIS TO ME
Turkey to Iraq border crossing.
I crossed the above border about three hours ago. It wasn't a big deal. Here's what happens.
The nearest Turkish town to the border that I crossed (there may be others) is called Silopi. It is 15 km's from the actual border. The border facility is called Habur. You can walk those 15 km's if you want to, however, it is really hot right now. As far as I could tell, there is no local bus. Apparently, there are no locals using that border, hence no bus. You can probably hitch-hike without too much problem. There are plenty of lorries (trucks) going that way. If you do take a lorry, you will probably spend quite a few hours at either side of the border as there were literally hundreds of lorries queueing up to cross the border. If you get a ride in a car, then you just whiz straight to the front of the queue.
Personally, I ended up taking a cab. I figured that he could assit me in all the running around. I had heard all these stories about the difficulty of the crossing. I was told that there was a heavy Turkish military checkpoint. That consisted of one guy in very casual gear who asked me why I was going into Iraq. I told him and he just said "enjoy it". I saw no heavy weaponry, no tanks, sod all actually. I was also told that the Turkish passport control was very hit and miss and faxes had to be sent from Ankara and God-knows what else. It was very very simple. As was the Kurdistan/Iraqi side. You do need to take one photocopy of your passport though. If you are press, you also need a letter from your Embassy confirming that fact. I only saw one American at the border and he had just left the toilet and was going into an office where, apparently, there are other Americans. I saw no Americans at all between the border and Dohuk (from where I am writing this).
On reflection, I could have done the whole thing for free if I had wanted, except the bits on the Kurdistan/Iraqi side.
Once at the border, it's just the normal rush of people etc etc. The border is always open, as is the bank there. Once you leave the Turkish side, it's about 500 metres to the Kurdistan/Iraqi side. That facility is called Ibrahim Allir (or something like that). Once you do your stuff there, there are taxis right there or if you walk about 100 metres, there is a bus stand. It costs 1 Dinar (about 10 cents) to go to Zohak which is about 10 km's away. From there, it's 5 Dinar by bus to Dohuk or 10 Dinar by shared taxi.
ONE THING: I have a British passport and perhaps, that made things a little easier. No visa is needed, no AIDS test PLUS I EVEN HAVE ISRAELI STAMPS IN MY PASSPORT. Guess what? no worries at all. How times change!!!
Last night, by co-incidence, I had dinner with a Turkish customs officer. He told me that some nationalities (the non-Western ones) sometimes have to get approval from Ankara. That involves going somewhere there and having them fax permission to the border folks. However, things change and what is so today may be different tomorrow.
I hope this un-biased and impartial (kudos to Sarhot) information assists.
Thanks to the UN and other NGO for being targets.
I will go in the bus here in Iraq, or by colective taxi.
So you can be the targets, and I can be the Hobo... Under the Radar.
Get some horse sense. The world is about rich and poor.
Brand new SUV's is not poor.
JJ. The guy from the USA that arrived in Arbil is still in Arbil.
He is a California guy that now lives in Brooklyn, New York and he has the personality
that goes along with those cultures. I be Indiana Hoosier and people make fun.
That is OK, while they be thinkin I be stupid. I do the Hobo and steal their apple pie.
Kidding but sometimes it is good to pull a person leg. I did not pull his JJ's leg.
I did tell him to get an earlier start in the morning. This is not the place to be arriving
at your destination city late. The hotels are all full. It is boom time for the hotels in Iraq.
I sometimes wonder if the spam that I receive knows me and is taunting. I am receiving a glut of emails on virgins and other types of nebulous things. This is "No Women" territory. What am I doing here!?
There is a lake close to here and my guidbook says you can water ski.
That is tempting just to see, but I am going to go back to Arbil, then over to Mosul, and
prepare for my trip to Baghdad. This city probably has something, but has a too big city feel to me.
In a large long and stretching city close to Iran. Hot and big.
Not very interesting so far. May leave tommorrow unless the world picks up.
I have been told to go here over and over. I think they want me to go to a city
that is closer to being western. This is always a problem. People tend to point you
back to your own culture. They either point at the 5 star hotels or the most modern.
I got it here.
Modern and full of people.. aagh. Mosul come back please.
Bottle of whiskey in the fridge at the hotel.