March 11: Heiny

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

1. Even the airport is a shopping mall. At 5am, I had a make-up consultation. Then I found lots of great magazines in the bookshops.


2. Held up at the airport, a rush of excitement every time new passengers arrived. Naps curled up sideways on benches. Being at the eye level of a three-year-old, children approached me freely. I will always remember the affectionate little Syrian girl in the big, furry banana-yellow cape and the little Indian boy who spoke to me very matter-of-factly in Hindi and made lots of scrunched-up pig faces with me, snorting more than was really necessary.

3. Heard, over and over again, at the Souk: ‘For you, everything for nothing!’ After a final run for Arabic scarves, off to Oum A's to say goodbye. Then adieu on top of the mount overlooking the city. Despite the late-night fatigue, I was offered a 2am ride to the airport. Thanks! ‘No thanks for duty.’


I'd never have thought to visit were it not for my lovely friend Audra, my exquisite hostess! I'm so glad I did; it's an overlooked destination. Syria is so rich in history – Damascus is the world's oldest inhabited city – and it badly needs an image update.

Syria was safe. Everyone spoke English (or French). People were very friendly. I was never, ever ripped off. I drank mind-blowing smoothies. I ate mouth-watering food.

I had a happy heiny!