Middle East & Africa 2009 Photography

Look at Syria

Apparently some bad stuff has happened in Syria recently. I hope that those I met and who helped me so memorably on my ride through the country are doing O.K. — but then they’re the probably the lucky ones, living in the rural regions rather than the political hot-spots.

The Syrian-Turkish border

Rainy days

Of all of the Arab nations I rode through, Syria was my favourite. The hospitality was so enthusiastic that I was once physically dragged to the family home of a passing motorcyclist, hanging on to my handlebars for dear life — I was lucky to escape the following morning at all as they demanded I stay a second night!

Syrians in the barbershop

Syrian coffee cup

Dinner table

La Elaha Ella Allah, Mohammadan Rasul Allah

Nargile at home

Plant pots


Bicycle travel is often about knocking preconceptions on the head. Rather than a barren desert, Syria in January was rainy and cold. It wasn’t long before I got sick of the weather and headed inland — where I did indeed find a barren desert, as well as a mountain of Roman ruins, though entirely unmolested by the tourist hordes of Rome itself.

Shepherds' camp

On the road in Syria

Syrian street scene after the rain

Following a tractor into nothingness

Misty morning in the Syrian desert

Sunset in the Syrian desert


…for comparison…

Roman Ruins in Palmyra / Tadmur

My "friend"

Tea break in Palmyra / Tadmur

Sunset in Palmyra / Tadmur

It was a real struggle to head back to the coastal regions, where it was still cold, damp and foggy. If only neighbouring Iraq hadn’t been off-limits…

Foggy re-entry to Damascus

5 replies on “Look at Syria”

[…] 1. Look At Syria ‑Tom’s Bike Trip […]

Cheers guys. This year so far has been a really fascinating darkroom (Lightroom) experiment, and a great excuse to re-evaluate those old stacks of raw pictures. A really powerful part of the creative photographic process that I’d always previously overlooked. More on the way!

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