Paris in the Middle East - Beirut

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Flag of Lebanon  ,
Sunday, February 28, 2010

I was not quite sure what to expect from Beirut (or Beyrouth) before I came to Lebanon, coming with the civil war and bullets in the news all the time, but also knowing Beirut was very fashionable, trendy, modern, home to ceder trees, famous clubbing and Lebanese food is one of the most authentic cuisine in the region, that's all.

And despite what was the news talking about, finally I am in Beirut. This day is one I have been looking forward to the most. I am not sure if it is because there is so much sad news about Beirut.

The Emirates Airlines A330 plane flew over the harbour of Beirut into the runway, it was 4 hours flights from Dubai to Beirut, after my 18 hours flights from Hong Kong and Australia, so I was extremely tired. My flight to Hong Kong and Dubai was on Cathay Pacific and the flight was smooth. During my few hours transit in Dubai Airport, I collected my backpack and transferred to massive Terminal 3. On the flight to Beirut, they served Cheese wrap with minced Lamb and Chicken Potato with mixed vegetables, which is well written on the menu they passed prior take off. I personally never eat lamb in my life so the only choice I can take which is Chicken with Potato. When the steward asked me for the choice and I said "No Omelette please" and he passed me the Vegetables instead, I slowly balanced the chicken brest and a piece of sliced carrot on the spoon, I smelled and tasted and realzied the meat they served was not chicken but lamb, I was asking and figuring out what was going on and finally they found out they just simply passed out the wrong menu but the fact was, they were actually serving Chicken Omelette and Lamb with Potato. Despite their massive networks, huge orders of brand new A380s, I was wondering how this stupid airlines becoming 5-stars without any apologize and I have recently checked from the inetrnet, Emirates has actually gone down to 4-star airlines, which is good news to me.

My first impression of Beirut is quite confusing, it's hard to understand this large city if you never wiki them. They have Christians and Muslims living there, I saw many bombed buildings with bullet holes from the civil war earlier, right opposite of the huge, upscale luxurious service apartments, with loads of European brand shops such as Louis Vuitton and Bottega, while some parts of the city are extremely modern and others are completely abandoned. However, reconstruction is everywhere throughout the city.

I also got the feeling that the Beiruti want to be French, people love to greet me with Bon Jour rather than Salam Maleykum, and the same goes for the car number plates, which is very similar to most EU countries.

In contrast with Yemen and Jordan, most people in Lebanon wearing western clothes, while ladies are not required to put abaiyah, and you can get wine, beer or whiskey everywhere, unlike in the UAE you must flash your permit when you buy.
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