Monday, 11 August 2008

Pilgrimage from Tripoli to Batrun 08/08/08

Wanting to get going early the alarm goes off at 7am, but after the beers last night it's not going to happen. The alarm gets turned off and it isn't until 9am that I make a move.

I still don't have a map of Lebanon but knowing I need to stick to the coast till Beirut I'm not concerned. Hopefully I can't go too far wrong...

Not knowing what to expect as I head out of town, I'm slightly nervous making my way down the highway. It isn't long before I hit my first checkpoint, sandbags, APC, .50 calibre machine gun and all...

Taking a deep breath

Here we go again... :)

One of the best things the French left behind in Lebanon is the patisseries. Spotting a huge bakery I can't resist stopping for breakfast. A wonderful treat which gives me all the energy I need to continue.

Hitting the coast I'm pleased to say everything looks normal. Apart from that one road block there is very little military presence and with the relaxed atmosphere in the air I feel at ease. Let's hope it's like this all the way to Beirut...

Stopping for a drink I have to laugh at the sight in the car park. A mini-tank is parked with the cars :) Just to let me know things aren't completely normal... ;)

Getting another craving for spaghetti the Gods are smiling on me. I glance up to see a big sign "Pizza and Spaghetti" not 100m ahead. Perfect... :)

But it's not to be...

"Sorry, we only have pizza" :(

So, pizza it is and after a good rest I continue around the coast. The walk is nice, the view is magical and I'm feeling great.

I purchased some more Arabic lessons from the internet but all the connections so far have been too slow to download them. An internet cafe comes into sight and I go to try my luck. The download starts at a reasonable speed but I watch in dismay as it gradually gets slower and slower. But oh well, it's got to be done somewhere so might as well be here...

Four and a half hours later it finally finishes! What a mission!!! But what made the wait all worth while was chatting to the owner of the cafe. The whole time I was there he's on a flight simulator and I go to find out what the story is...

Turns out there is a complete virtual world you can get your plane license in and fly around...in real time! This guy has spent a total of over 1600 hours flying and over 150 hours being a flight controller. Yes, that's right...even the flight controllers are real people! The other planes in the air are all flown by real people and by all looks and appearances it is almost identical to flying in real life. You even have to complete all your safety checks yourself before taking off! Incredible!!!

I have been told there is a huge street party on in Batrun, where I was hoping to make it to tonight. But now I'm running late I will have to walk in the dark to get there. Not something I would be so keen on doing North of Tripoli but down here it feels a heap safer.

As it gets dark the buildings end and I'm left to follow the road, winding it's way around the headland. For some reason the smell of brown sugar is in the air and with the cool sea breeze the walk is magical. The occasional car zips past destroying my peace but all in all I'm glad I took this road rather than the highway. It may be a kilometer or two longer but well worth it.

The loud "thump thump thump" of the music can be heard well before I make it to the center of town and the streets are packed. Now I'm really wishing I came earlier to find a place to stay. The party is awesome but with my backpack I'm not keen to venture inside, finding a nice little bar to the side I stop for a drink.

The guys at the next table lean over for a chat and after finding out what I'm doing shout me a beer and offer to buy my ticket to the party. Champions!!! But unfortunately with nowhere to dump my bags I have to refuse. They let me know there is a quiet beach a kilometer north where I can camp so around 2am I drag myself away...

Locating the beach is easy and finding a perfect little clearing perched over the water I resign myself to the fact I will probably only get a few hours sleep. Being this close to such a huge party I'm sure there will be a crowd down here in the morning to watch the sunrise...

2 comments:

lesslie said...

ohhhhh i so want to be there!! enjoy it!!

Ben :) said...

Yes, it's wonderful :)