Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Damascus to Aleppo by Bus - Just Like Boarding a Plane

Travelling from Damascus to Aleppo by bus was like boarding a plane - procedure wise, that is.

First of all, when we got to the Pullman Bus Station in Damascus, we had to get our bags scanned just like at the airport. There was no body search or else I would have laughed my head off. 

I didn't snap any photos of the bag scan machine cause cameras were not allowed in the area. In fact, when we were waiting for the bus to leave, I went around snapping photos. And then a guy who was walking by said it's forbidden to take photos in the station. Weird ... but I think it's a security procedure.

Anyway, the Pullman Bus Station is not a bus terminal in a single building, but rows of shops selling bus tickets, food, drinks and all sorts of stuff.

 Rows of shops at the Pullman Bus Station.

Like a typical bus station from an emerging nation (I'm thinking Puduraya here), many guys were shouting out names of places and trying to get passengers to buy tickets from their counter.

After asking around a bit, we decided on a company whose bus was leaving shortly. A one-way ticket to Aleppo costs 200 Syrian Pounds (SYP) and we had to show our passports.

This is how the VIP bus looks like:

Reminds me of school buses in Malaysia.

Notice the guy standing beside the bus in the pic above. He was the bus attendant who had the job description of a flight attendant.

After the bus rolled out of Pullman Bus Station, he drew all the curtains, and made sure they stayed that way throughout the journey.

 Drawn curtains always makes me sleepy.

He also distributed mineral water and biscuits and went from row to row with a plastic bag to collect rubbish. Just before the bus reached Aleppo he made sure all the seats were in an upright position; exactly like what flight attendants usually asks us to do just before the plane lands.

Mineral water and biscuits are distributed free to all passengers.

I was glad the journey to Aleppo took approximately 3 hours. Otherwise I would have to nurse a numb butt.

When the bus reached Aleppo, we didn't know which station it was or exactly which part of Aleppo we were at because all the signages were in Arabic. Moreover my Lonely Planet Middle East was an old edition with outdated information, fml.

So we asked around and was directed to take a bus to the city centre cause taking a taxi would have costs us an arm and a leg. That 30-minute bus ride was probably one of the cheapest bus rides I've ever sat - flat rate of SYP 5 only.

We got off at the last stop and navigated our way on foot to the clock tower and Sheraton Aleppo Hotel area where we kamikazed our way to Hotel Radouan.


alloushblog said...

Waiting the next part :)
I like reading about my city in the eyes of a guest.

Julie Lim said...

Hi Alloushblog,

Thanks for dropping by. I too like to read about my own country from the eyes of a foreigner :-)

Stay tuned!

khengsiong said...

With terrorism getting rampant, in future even riding bus or train may requires bag scan.

P/S Just back from Java ^^

Julie Lim said...

Kheng Siong,

You may be right. But it's gonna be one hell of a hassle to do bag scans at the bus or train station.

How was Java? Did you enjoy yourself?

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