[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I arrived in Damascus on Thursday on a bilateral visit at the invitation of Syrian FM Mr Moualem. Singapore and Syria only established diplomatic relations last year. Damascus is the world's oldest continually-inhabited city and has a special character. Its layers of civilization go back thousands of years. The history of Syria told in its National Museum is a longitudinal slice of world history going back to the very beginning of human civilization. Despite US sanctions, the Syrian economy has done rather well in the last few years. There is a middle class air about the place. One does not see the poverty or crowding of Cairo. The people are warm and friendly. Food is plentiful. The fruits and vegetables are fresh and luscious. Some of the eggplants are the size of papayas. As Singaporeans, we feel guilty about leaving so much uneaten food on the table but here in Syria, it is considered normal.

The Umayyad Mosque, one of the most holy places in the Islamic world, is fascinating. It was built on the site of a Christian church which was in turn built on the site of a Roman temple. Huge, it houses two human heads - the head of John the Baptist and the head of Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohamed. Nearby is the modest tomb of the great Saladin.

Damascus is also the story of St Paul. Although Syria is a predominantly Muslim country, its Christian heritage is everywhere. Christian sites are well looked after.

Visit to National Museum

Lunch at Naranj Resutarant

Visit to the House of St Anania

Visit to Old City of Damascus

Visit to Church of St Paul

Visit to the Great Umayyad Mosque


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