Beirut is a beautiful city indeed, but unfortunately, beauty does not equate to ease of navigation. If you’re a driver, the total disregard for traffic laws and pothole-riddled roads don’t make commuting any easier. Looks like the best way to get around is on foot, right? Not quite…

1. Sidewalks are Basically Obstacle Courses

(Photo via Beirut Public Space)

Here in Beirut, sidewalks are more than just sidewalks. They’re dumps, with bags of trash oozing God knows what heaped onto an old mattress that reeks of cat piss, lovely parks, with trees sprouting right in the middle of the thing and weeds popping out here and there, and even, parking spots, with cars hoisting themselves up onto them when the parking lot across the street is all Tetris-ed up. Walking down a sidewalk is more like traversing a rigorous obstacle course.

2. The Sidewalks Belong to Us… and Motorcycles

(Photo via Flickr)

At least while maneuvering down the sidewalk you can rest assured that you won’t be run over by any vehicles of any kind. Why would you even worry about that! Cars and motorcycles have the whole road to themselves after all, what more could they want?: the sidewalk, that’s what. Motorcycle riders will not hesitate to just zoom around on sidewalks dodging the aforementioned obstacles, including you (if you’re lucky that is). On top of that, they get all indignant if you obstruct their path.

3. Looking Both Ways Just Doesn’t Cut It

(Photo via Flickr)

As children we were frequently told: “Look both ways before crossing the street”; sound and sensible advice. However, due to drivers’ utter indifference to traffic laws, that principle loses some of its effectiveness here. Say you’re looking to cross the street: the traffic light is red, traffic has halted, you look left, you look right, and the all is in order. Just as you step onto the asphalt, a motorcycle rider (these guys again…) decides to whiz past you: against traffic, while the light is red, probably making a dash for a nearby sidewalk.

4. Inconsiderate Pedestrians

(Photo via Teach in Spain Blog)

It’s not just cars and motorcycles that make it tough to get around, even other pedestrians want a piece of the action. There are many kinds of troublesome pedestrians: The Hobbler, The Texter, and more (so many more). But out of all of them, the most distinctly Lebanese has to be: The Gandalf. This is the person, who in a situation where both of you can easily slide past one another and be on your way, instead chooses to just arrogantly stand there, waiting for you to move aside; the equivalent of proclaiming: “You shall not pass” (now do you get it?)

5. The Stares… Oh The Stares

(Photo via Leave Your Daily Hell)

This one can be found in almost any aspect of life in Lebanon, but it sure does make walking around suck a whole lot. It is of course, that ever-irritating habit people have of shamelessly staring and gawking at one another. Those in cars have the luxury of closing their windows and motorcycle riders are too fast to really be bothered by this, but pedestrians have no choice. By choosing to walk, you automatically subject yourself to unwanted scrutiny by everyone from the bewildered old lady who has never quite seen a haircut like that, to the neighborhood jagal who just doesn’t approve of your taste in shirts. Everyone’s a critic; and they want you to remember that.

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