The journey

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Wrexham, Wales, United Kingdom
For the past 5 years, me and my best friend Nathan have talked about the possibility of travelling around the world by land and sea, and so finally we have a route, savings and time to set off around the world. What we are doing is living out a dream, a dream we share with many people worldwide, a dream of travelling this vast, diverse, beautiful and interesting planet, but unlike the many others who keep it as a dream, we have the tenacity to make this dream a reality.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Days 17 & 18 - Syria

Day 17

With the Landrover fixed we were back on the road through Syria, without a map. We travelled first to Crac des Chavaliers, a huge crusader castle that stands high on top of a hill in the west of the country.

With the diesel costing around £0.28 (€0.31) per litre, it was proving a lot cheaper than Turkey to fill the tank. The next drive was to Palmyra on the far east of Syria, through Homs and out into the huge expanse of nothingness in the Syrian Desert.

The old ruins of the classical temple complex lie just on the edge of the new town that has been formed nearby, and we arrived just before the sun was setting. Hundreds of columns still remain intact and upright, with one huge ‘monumental’ arch still also standing.

Our plan was to ‘stealth camp’ in the desert for the night, and so after wandering around the ruins, we headed out on the main road into the desert towards Damascus to try and find a track into the flat arid land that surrounded us, somewhere we would not be within reach of civilisation. We found a track nearly 2miles (3km) from the nearest farmhouse, and 600yards (1km) from the main road. We had set up camp for the night in the Syrian Desert, closer to Iraq than we were to the capital Damascus.

Day 18

We awoke at sunrise to get going just in case the owner of the desert land we had camped on spotted us in the morning light. We hadn’t slept well, the wind had howled all night, and heavy rain had left the normally arid land slightly moist.

After half an hour of being on the road to Damascus, the rain started again, and didn’t stop all day. The desert roads were covered in water, we couldn’t believe it - we were in the middle of the desert and it was pissing it down. [We found out the day after that the whole of the Middle East had received 200mm/4inches/a years worth of rainfall in one day!]

We arrived in Damascus with the traffic worse than we could imagine. We knew the city traffic would be chaos here, but the flash floods had left sections of the roads impassable. We found a hotel and went to get some food, trying the local Falleh - a really tasty and filling local dish.

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