A trip of a lifetime Mount Sinnai, Petra, Damascus, Krak des Chaveliers Allepo and Cappadocia.

Phil Cooper

East Midlands
Rotary, U3A, possibly Probus, schools could be a consideration
30th January 2018
Syria | Crusader Fortress | Petra | Damascus

Some may well have visited Egypt and Turkey, but these days it is obviously difficult to visit Syria. Dasmascus is the oldest inhabited city in the world and is where the mausoleum to Saladin is located.The Ummayad Mosque is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world and considered by some Muslims to be one of the holiest places in Islam. My favourite place in Syria is Krak des Chevaliers, a crusader fortress, with Kurdish origins. It was developed by the Knights Hospitaller in the 1140's, before falling to Sultan Baibars, the Mameluke in 1271. It was described by TE Lawrence as 'the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world,' Allepo has an impressive citadel and boasts one of the largest souks in the Middle East. For me it was sad to see scenes on the television of late of damage to the area from explosives such as barrel bombs. The people of Syria were very pleasant and more reserved than some areas of the Middle East and its sad to see what has happened to the country. Jordan of course has many memorable sights. If people have not been to Petra, originally developed by the Nabateans (4th C BC) or Wadi Rum, the desert area where TE Lawrence had his headquarters during the Aradb revolt, they might wish to know about it. Others sights include another crusader fortress, Karak and Mount Nebo, where Moses is reputably buried.

The trip in its entirety was Cairo to Istanbul, which included sights such Mount Sinai in Egypt and Cappadocia in southern Turkey. I am of course willing to customise the talk to focus and areas which people might find of particular interest and might have had experience of.

About Phil Cooper

I am a former graduate Biology teacher and also coached cricket for 24 seasons. mainly in New Zealand and Scotland. as a professional. I currently spend the early part of the year in New Zealand and I have delivered several talks, often in New Zealand, which of course I also have an extensive knowledge of having visited the country 14 times.

I continued to travel once I retired. I am prepared to give talks relating to my travel experiences to places, often with a historical background and often not readily visited. These include the Silk Road in Central Asia and Western China, Syria and Jordan, India, Cuba and Peru.

The last trip I undertook was to Northern India and the wildlife reserves in Assam, such as Kaziranga, where there is a large variety of wildlife, including the vulnerable One Horned Rhino. This is the basis of a talk which was well received at Havelock North Rotary Club, Hawkes Bay New Zealand in February 2018.

I look back at my trip in the Middle East - from Cairo to Istanbul and reflect on what I saw then and what I see currently in places like Aleppo. However the highlight for me was the crusader fortress of Krak des Chevaliers, which is shown on the photo I have included. This was described by TE Lawrence as "perhaps the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world".

I research the topics thoroughly and I provide a narrative and background to illustrated talks. I operate on a voluntary basis and am prepared to travel within reasonable distances from my home in North Nottinghamshire.

 Central Asia Talk Feedback

This part of Central Asia included in particular Kunya Urgench, Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand. The buildings are simply stunning and the area is historically very interesting. It is the arena where the Great Game was played out, the political and diplomatic confrontation between Britain and Russia in the 19th century, which was described by one of the audience as fascinating.

"Very interesting talk. I could hear every word. I knew nothing about this area and learnt a lot. Pleased I came!!"

"A very interesting and thought provoking talk."

"Managed to tie in a wide land and historical areas in a concise and interesting way. Gave a wider understanding of the history of these areas which I had not come across before. Would have liked photos of the surrounding countryside."

Some felt there was perhaps a lot of information to handle, others would have liked more information about other areas such as the geography. The word interesting cropped up many times.

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