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Middle East & Africa 2009

Jordan, The Dead Sea and The King’s Highway

From the Syrian oasis settlement of Palmyra (known locally as Tadmur) I faced 260km of empty desert to Damascus. Resisting the temptation to turn left for Baghdad, I pedalled furiously for two days, with only a couple of French motorbike tourists breaking the monotony, and arrived in the outskirts of Damascus early in the morning on the third day.

Camel Racetrack in the Syrian desert

I didn’t really feel like getting lost and stressed in a big city so soon after leaving Istanbul. There was nothing of particular interest to me there; I knew I would find another cosmopolitan environment to contrast the simple, conservative living I’d encountered in the countryside, and I am not in the habit of sightseeing for the sake of it, in fact I generally avoid tourist areas like the plague. Maybe when I’m older and my knees have disintegrated I’ll have more reason to follow the well-worn trails, but not right now!

Categories
Middle East & Africa 2009

Across The Desert To Palmyra

I’ve spent several days struggling southwards through Syria on the highway near the coast. I had picked up a cold and fever, and the constant headwind and persistent rain were making riding a real chore. Add to that the fact that my legs are still getting used to their new exercise regime, and it is easy to understand why I chose to turn off the main road and head inland.

I soon left the dark clouds, rolling hills, red soils and olive groves behind me, and the skies began to clear. A mild tailwind and the thankful diminishing of my annoying illness helped me to yesterday cycle the 130 or so kilometres to Palmyra, out east in the Syrian desert and about a day’s ride from the Iraqi border.