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The Beginning Of My Ascendance - My Sister, Nicole Vienneau, Has Gone Missing in Syria
April 22nd, 2007
10:59 am

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My Sister, Nicole Vienneau, Has Gone Missing in Syria

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From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 1st, 2007 04:04 am (UTC)

hope for the best, but-

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I have backpacked all over the world, in places with dangerous environments (natural and political) , but I am adventurous and not crazy. Syria, in the best of times ( and right now they are anything but) is one of the least welcoming to tourist, espescially western women. I hope she is fine and returns home. However, you cannot be too surprise if that is not the outcome when one places themselves in such positions. Yes, I am a Jerk. Yes, shoot the messenger. But it does not detract from the truth of the message.
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From:vienneau
Date:May 1st, 2007 04:12 am (UTC)

Re: hope for the best, but-

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Allow me to quote The Lonely Planet, arguably one of the most trusted travel guidebooks in the world:

"Syria is an extraordinarily safe county in which to travel, and foreign women are generally treated with courtesy and respect."

To provide perspective, their commentary on being a solo traveller in Iraq:

"You'd have to be mad."

Syria is not as dangerous as you think, especially for Canadians.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 1st, 2007 04:50 am (UTC)

Re: hope for the best, but-

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Indeed. I was in Syria in 2005 and found it to be one of the most hospitable places I have ever been (I'm a White American male, by the way). When we stopped at the border coming from Turkey the Syrian guards were super friendly and we took photos with them. When I stopped at an ice cream parlor in Haleb (or Aleppo, if you prefer), I told them I was American and they gave me an extra ice cream scoop for free. I'm sure it would be no different for a Canadian!

Stay strong, brother! I wish you the very best of luck and will keep you and your family in my thoughts.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 5th, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC)

Re: hope for the best, but-

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I am a white Canadian female and I travelled alone in Syria in 1995, including a stay at the Cairo Hotel in Hama. Syria is a very safe place where western women get the safety Syrian women are granted and the freedom western women take for granted. Women often invited me into their homes, and men would offer help saying I was like a sister to them. Syria is safer for women than North America! I dressed modestly and experienced far fewer hassles than I had in Italy or France. I pray Nicole is safe.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 7th, 2007 09:45 am (UTC)

Re: hope for the best, but-

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I'd also like to chime in about how safe and hospitable Syria is. I was there for a couple of weeks bicycling solo through the country right after the First Gulf War and the people were incredibly friendly. I wish that I had kept in contact with the people I met there since one of them was the son of the general in charge of Syrian forces in Lebanon.

Wish your sis the best of luck!!!
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 7th, 2007 10:32 am (UTC)

I too have gone to Syria

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I travelled to Syria in 2004. I had no problems at all and in fact, I have been raving about Syria to everyone about how friendly and kind Syrians are. Restaurants would say you are our guest, eat for free since it is your first tim here. Strangers would pay for our coffee in cafes. I have never met friendlier people. It seemed that they weren't used to many Canadians coming for holidays.

I panicked my mother when I was in Lebanon and never called her when Hariri had been murdered-- she was worried sick cause I didn't see the urgency to call her right away. We all make mistakes like that.

I wish I had some contacts for you, but I don't.

I will keep my fingers crossed for you and your family. All the best!

From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 26th, 2008 08:19 am (UTC)

Re: I too have gone to Syria

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I'm a 20 years old German who had the chance to visit Syria with my girl frind. Syria is a super safe country..I hate to say this, but they treat tourists much better than they treat there own people. I'm sure what happened to your sister could have happened anywhere. Is government involved in that?? I don't think that is true because being a threat for a tourist in this country is a serious crime under the Syrian law. Add to that people are really very friendly.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:June 21st, 2007 11:31 am (UTC)

Re: hope for the best, but-

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Actually, my impression of Syria is that it used to be fairly safe. Right now, however, there are between one and two million refugees from Iraq (and other places), and it seems the authorities are having difficulty keeping track of them consistently. I lived in Jordan during the 90s and there was a surge of crime after the first Gulf War due to an increased number of strangers in the country. It seems that Syria is experiencing something similar. Also, I have heard that some persons involved in kidnapping for ransom in Iraq have been investing their ill-gotten gains in Amman real estate. I'm wondering if anything similar is happening in Syria.
Much of the safety in these countires stems from the fact that people know each other and the authorities keep an eye on people. When those conditions break down, public security suffers.
I truly hope you find your sister and that she is okay.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 9th, 2007 06:09 pm (UTC)

Re: hope for the best, but-

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yeah, you are being a jerk. this isn't what the family needs to hear right now. please be kind.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 22nd, 2007 01:04 am (UTC)

Re: hope for the best, but-

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I hear that brother.

My sis has been backpacking for 3 years now around Asia. I would never want her anywhere in the Middle East outside Israel (and maybe Turkey) right now. Similarly, I would never want her to go to Burma or Laos in South East Asia. There are simply some countries to avoid. Once things degrade to the point where local authorities are essentially gun toting thugs with no accountability and God knows what sort of beliefs or background with westerners, it just isn't worth it.

I've done a bit of traveling, and Mexico is as hardcore a country as I will travel in and not feel like a total fucking idiot, and even then I take a lot of safety precautions. Traveling with males ONLY is one of them. Women are a target for thugs. I recommend people use this story to stay more aware when planning their future journeys. Otherwise they might put their families through the same kind of pain...
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