Hama to Safita, Syria My driver/guide Khaled Alloush is a rare gem. He speaks excellent English, does everything he can to make sure I see everything on my list - which is not easy - and more importantly he is also very humorous. He likes Arabic coffee, barely drinks water and can go for hours without eating, but when he does he likes to eat well so he knows all the best places. This pretty much sums up my traveling style so we get along like a house on fire. I long ago discovered that when you are going to be spending entire days together on the road - getting along with your companion whoever he or she is, is imperative to the success of the venture. Anyone wishing to travel independently in Syria can contact him at +963 93567229. (Maximum 6 persons.) And so today we set off for the ‘Castles of the Assassins’. Khaled has only visited two of them and the rest are remote, so this promises to be interesting.....The Assassins who were Ismaili Muslims, and who formed a dissident Fatimid (Shi’ite) sect among the Sunni orthodoxy, originated in northern Persia in 1090. The English word ‘assassin’ derives from the Arabic “hashasheen” meaning ‘those who eat grass’, because legend has the adherents being drugged then being led to a garden and subsequent visions of paradise, before being sent off on their missions to kill specific targets.