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

The journey recounted in this archived post is now the subject of the award-winning documentary film Janapar: Love, on a Bike.

Click here to watch the trailer in a new tab →

5 Responses to “Look at Syria”

  1. Stephen Chapman

    Great photos Tom!

  2. Alastair Humphreys

    Really great photos. Your photos seem to be getting better and better even though they’re a couple of years old!

  3. Tom

    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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