DAYS 14-15: Adana to Gaziantep to Damascus

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NEWS FROM THE ROAD...

DAY 15 – Sunday Dec 20 ’09

11pm: It’s a sign…

At govt-run hotel complex by #Damascus after crazy drive. Fab dinner. Lovely room. Swim pool. Pillow. Duvet. Shower. Surreal! … Have seen signs this evening to Baghdad and Lebanon as well as Damascus. So evocative and so tempting! – @Joti2Gaza

10pm: Tail end of Convoy approaching Damascus + we found a new member of the Convoy’s Tweeterati, @Grant69…

Arrived safely in Damascus to a wonderful reception, lots of press and hundreds of people. Viva Palestina is gaining momentum. Over 220 vehicles and over 450 people representing many countries. @Grant69

Silhouettes of hills looming in the darkness, stars bright in clear sky, + the lights of Damascus spread out below. Fantastic – @Joti2Gaza

Finally arrived at Sahara Hotel- the 1st on our trip. Another amazing reception one guy kept breaking into poetry during Kevin’s speech. – @Pal_S_Campaign

Stop Homs, coffee cake speeches rapturous welcome. Chat 2 local Pals – politics, football + of course Gaza. Now 70 mi 2 Damascus@YorktoGaza

VIDEO! Two new videos from Turkey


Turkish border & Istanbul (GG@2m47s)

Arrival in Konya & Adana (Tony@37s)


NEWS! World Bulletin: Syrians hail Viva Palestina Convoy… (w/pics)

7pm: Syrian Government is really taking care of our Convoy…

We’re in Damascus! Border crossing was slow because some cars’ papers were not in order. But us Masian passport holders went through easily. SYR gov have gone all out for us. All visa fees waived! And we’re staying at a reasonably posh hotel all paid for by SYR gov. SYR tryna outdo TUR with hospitality. Well we’re gonna sleep well tonight! Alhamdullillah, no sleeping in cold parking lot for 2 nights – @juanajaafar

Arrived Abo Al Alaa city. Grand reception, hospitality + speeches. Syria is with us! We r the REAL international community!@Joti2Gaza

At the Sahara Hotel in Damascus, being very well looked after by the Syrian Gov. Already met several Palestinians who’s families were forced out in 1948 and have been unable to return to their homelands since. @linsayc

6pm: Looking forward to Syrian hospitality and the Highway Code: Mirror, Screeeam, Manoeuver:

The quality of the driving seems to have massively deteriorated as we get closer to Gaza! Pretty hairy here. – @Pal_S_Campaign

What an amazing place… Looking forward to Syrian style hospitality and press. @linsayc

5pm: Snowballs in Syria?! & lead group arrives in Damascus!

Really warm welcome in Syria at a reception off motorway. Speeches, drinks and now back on the road. – @Pal_S_Campaign

Just hit Damascus… Nothing more fun than a big city at rush hour and no idea where you’re going! Got Rick in a cab…. the driver knows who we are! Viva Palestina! @linsayc

Snowball effect. Starting w Greece, crowds have kept increasing. Using blue lights & sirens. Great fun & both drivers & kids love it@YorktoGaza

VIDEO! @TheSitch: “The Convoy Thus Far”, London to Gaziantep

… In 3 days we made it through a bit of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and northern Italy. Everyday was cloudy. Everyday was freezing cold. Each day though we met knew people and laughed at new jokes. Even amidst animosity amongst people, you’ll find them feeding each other or opening up to a different perspective. We don’t always know where we’re going until its time to go and we don’t always get there when we’re supposed to. However when we do finally arrive, conflict and frustration seems to whither. Gaza is the goal.” – Watch and read more…

NEWS! Syrian Radio and TV report… + Turkey hasn’t forgotten you! Adana #1, Adana #2 & Gaziantep News and Al Jazeera…

DIARIES! More updates from London2Gaza and Pal Telegraph:

Diary #9: Thessalloniki to Alexandropolis » #10: Alexandropolis to Istanbul » #11: Istanbul to Konya » #12: Konya to Adana » #13: Adana to Gaziantep

2pm: On the road to Damascus… 500km to go…

Really smooth border crossing into Syria – lots of single red roses given to us – now driving to Damascus 500km away – @Pal_S_Campaign

Crossed into Syria with lots of support. Heading to Damascus – @linsayc

Huge welcome both at border and in towns along the way. On the road to damascus lined with school kids. @YorktoGaza

12pm: مرحبا Syria!

Great talks with young Red Crescent volunteers at #Syria border. Now on road 2 #Damascus. Locals lining streets to cheer. – @Joti2Gaza / PICTURES! Joti2Gaza’s updated Flickr page…

QUICK FLASHBACK!
Edited interview highlights of the arrival in Turkey… contact us if you can ID the crews:

11am: TV interview! Try online, Airal TVOrient TV

Still inside border crossing. Can hear music, see pp with Pal flags waiting for us. All given a small flag 2 put on window on turk side. Just came on cab 2 remove. It is Egyptian. Provocative – @YorktoGaza

Just got interviewed for Syrian TV. Apparently will be on 3.00pm and 9.00pm news. URL anyone? – @Joti2Gaza

10am: Lining up at the border, good sign(s) of things to come…

The whole convoy is lining up in no man’s land between turkey and syria for the border crossing. Must say – we make an uplifting sight! @Pal_S_Campaign

Signs at Syrian border post read: Masses of Syrian people, leadership and people, welcome the convoy lifeline (3).… Second sign reads: Long live Palestine, led by independent member of parliament Mr George Galawi. @Joti2Gaza

9am: Early starts all round

Early start at 6am, on road to syrian border. Will miss the Turks but looking forward to mtg ppl at next stop: Damascus :) @Pal_S_Campaign

On the road early today. Now at Syrian border doing the paperwork thing. Every1 seems v friendly so far :)@Joti2Gaza

6am: Sadly, the last day in Turkey… but onward to Syria!

Hope to set off early. Lining up. Kevin thinks border will be easy. Heading 4 Damascus. Promised 2 nights at Sahara Hotel… So far on convoy have met Malaysian, Australian, New Zealand, Belgian, Swiss, Turkish, Polish, English, Scots, Irish, Welsh, US. @YorktoGaza

Good morning everyone. We push off to SYR today. Enter Arab world and closer to Gaza! Keep the pressure on the Egyptians! – @juanajaafar

Last day in Turkey… sad to leave the wonderful support and friendship of the people and the IHH :( Next stop Damascus! – @linsayc

DAY 14 – Saturday Dec 19 ’09

2 reports for those that Question why this Convoy is on the Road:

“Childhood in ruins – Last December, Israel began a 23-day bombardment of Gaza, killing around 1,400 people. One year on, a generation of children is growing up amid the wreckage of that attack, traumatised – and radicalised – by the experience.

“Gaza one year on: The aftermath of a tragedy” – To mark the anniversary of the offensive which left hundreds of innocent civilians dead, Donald MacIntyre revisits the scene of one of the most horrifying conflicts of our time.

11pm: Night stop in Gaziantep, planning for Syria tomorrow…

In Gaziantep tonight. Had the first (and possibly last!) kebab courtesy of Sakir and Hedrat. Well worth the drive. Discussions around crossing into Syria in the morning – either as far as Hama or all the way to Damascus. @Zhat

We cross over into SYR tomorrow. Will be starting early as border checks may take a long time. Some are worried bout their visas. Hope us Msians won’t have any probs. The convoy will likely head to Hims and stay the night but the PGPO may go directly to Damascus to meet with More PGPO colleagues joining the convoy! Yay! – @juanajaafar (the reigning Queen of Super-Tweets has some comedy gemzZz over on her Twitter page today… go check them out!)

7pm: More arrivals for a tour of Gaziantep

just got into gaziantep, lots of rain mud and fog. city sports hall sleeping venue. – @PGPOrg

Hi, we’ve just got into Gaziantep. Phew, drove through heavy rain. Again, we’re bringing in gunk into the hall with the mud from parking lot – @juanajaafar

Morn parade thru Adana: local traffic gridlocked, incredible reception. 1 van full of sisters followed all t way 2 Gaziantep!… Reception/food @Gaziantep. So much love 4 #convoy + #Palestine- v humbling. Lots of photo reqs/baby kissing. Touring town now… – @Joti2Gaza NEWS!Turkey Gives Rapturous Welcome To Gaza Aid Convoy

4pm: Flat out in Gaziantep… puts our ‘easy’ days in perspective… go kiss a baby!

Getting tyre fixed in gazientep after mishap on the road. And today was supposed to be an easy day – guess there’s no such thing for us! – @Pal_S_Campaign

2pm: All clean in Gaziantep… yet again, IHH go above and beyond… oh! don’t forget to visit Burhan at İmam Çağdaş

IHH have a laundret on standby for our arrival in Gaziantep… what are they trying to say? Crazy drive through town 2 get 2 mechanic. Ambulances in for repair, Disco in for a wash, us in for a feed. – @linsayc

WORLD NEWS! Egypt’s Bikya Masr: “Viva Palestina receives warm Turkey reception

11am: More heartwarming welcomes and a little insight into the ‘campaign’ trail…

Feels like real convoying today… vehicles to repair, people to please and a late departure. Did have 4 hours sleep though! – @linsayc

No hospitality like turkish hospitality. Arrived in Adana to hundreds cheering in sport complex. Blanket media coverage here in Turkey. Level of support here is kind of surreal. Had my photo taken with locals and at one point handed over a baby to take pic with.@Pal_S_Campaign

10am: TV interviews and project ideas…

Just done the morning news live from Adana. Locals handing over their jewellery and money to give to the people of Gaza. TV Net Turkey. – @linsayc

Mild. Later than usual start. Today to Gaziantep. Being urged to look for Gaza projects to adopt & support. Will talk, look, listen & ask. @YorktoGaza

9am: Leaving Adana for Gaziantep… website to check out: Life in Palestine

leaving adana for gaizantep in ten mins. lots of paperwork for border crossing to syria tomr – @PGPOrg

Having tea with Rachel and Paul from Cumbria. Please look at their website: Life in Palestine

morning everyone. we just had morning brief and reminder for vehicle checks. we leave for GaziAntep after breakfast where we’ll be taking off from this hall and go for a cruise across town to wave at people, and then hitting the highway east. GaziAntep will be our last TUR stop.

if you look at the world atlas you’d se how huge TUR is. well, we feelin’ the huge-ness. like, we drive for ages and still tak habis-habis TUR. and for those reading in Msia, Karak Hwy ain’t got nothin’ on TUR hwys. barely any shoulder on the sides no street lights, so good luck going up and down mountains with heavy 16-wheelers zig-zagging between you. good thing we got ambulances so some of us turn on the disco lights [minus sirens] so our friends at the back can see the lanes and convoy.

wondering if @PGPOrg team Tweets are first to get media coverage in Msia. we are overwhelmed by the support [daily stories!] and would like to thank the press for following our chatter. – @juanajaafar

Ready for our trip to Gaziantep, where we’ll have an afternoon to wash vehicles so we’re look good for our crossing on Sunday am to Syria! Well done Kevin for another excellent, moral boosting briefing. You’ll get us there one way or another! – @linsayc

We got mentioned in the Bristol Evening Post

We got mentioned in the Bristol Evening Post via Bristol Gaza Link

1am: IHH are incredible hosts… check out IHH’s Gaza website…

In a giant sports hall in Adana – @YorktoGaza

Video via Filistin Konvoyu, border crossings and driving through Istanbul from the helicopter!


Border crossing #1 VIDEO INTERVIEWS…

Border crossing #2

Helicam #1

Helicam #2

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