Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tripoli, Libya

Ok its been a very long while since I last blogged. No excuses, I have been feeling lazy...and I have lots to blog.
My trip to Libya and Tunisia was quite an interesting experience beginning with the flight to Tripoli. Of all the coincidences in this world I sat right next to another Singaporean on the flight to Tripoli from Dubai. Apparently he and a couple of other S'porean chaps were going to some town in Libya to do city planning.
Our hotel in Tripoli was right next to the old walled city of Tripoli and this got me all excited. This is the view from my hotel room.

Thankfully I had a few hours to kill on the second day we were there so I got to explore old Tripoli with my D80.

Old Tripoli is chock full of history. The walls and some of the buildings date back to Ottoman empire/Barbary pirate times with narrow pathways and arches.

After venturing about 600 metres into the city I came across this fabulous looking Roman archway! I've since discovered that this is the Marcus Aurelius archway built to commemorate the Emperor. I finalky got my chance to lay my hands on some ancient Roman history. There is a restaurant right next to the arch and the dining area is nestles amongst some roman ruins as well. Judging from the ground level of the arch and the elevated streets of Tripoli surrounding the arch, it is probably safe to surmise that the existing city had been build directly on top of the roman city and many more Roman archeological treasures lie beneath the current city!

However to have these excavated would probably mean demolishing an equally historically important heritage of Tripoli.

With Libya accepting responsibility for the Lockerbie disaster, announcing it's plans to scrap it's WMD program and renouncing terrorism, Col Qaddafi in one fell swoop has caused the lifting of sanctions on his country and the welcoming of Libya into the welcoming arms of international community as well as the major Oil & Gas exploration companies. As a result, Libya has become a boom town and is rapidly transforming itself.

However there is still a heavy security presence in the country with armed guards everywhere. I was not even allowed to take photographs of the hotel. Everyone had to enter and exit the hotel at the main entrance and pass through a metal detector and have your bags x-rayed. Adults are friendly but generally wary of a foreigners especially one toting a camera. Thankfully these kids had no qualms about posing for me. Their exuberance is a reflection of things to come for their country.
For my next trip to Tripoli I will plan it such so that I can go visit another set of ancient roman ruins in the desert, Sabratha.

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