68km Damascus to Abu Shamat

Anyone want to go to Iraq?This wasn’t our best day on the bikes. It started with a few niggles and ended with a real scare.

Perhaps the first clue that things weren’t going to plan was from our hotel manager who was snoring on a mattress in the reception area when we went in search of breakfast. Nothing new there really. We’ve found this is to be expected in most hotels in Syria and Turkey; no one seems to be a morning person and breakfast suffers accordingly. With the chef deep in dreamland we returned to the courtyard and struck up a lively conversation with the other guests until food finally arrived an hour later. Next we went to check our email one last time before setting off for the desert town of Palmyra but the owner of the internet cafe was also running behind schedule. The doors were firmly shut more than two hours after it should have opened.

Oh well. These are not major disasters but it was now late in the morning and we were keen to get going. We headed out into the traffic of Damascus, putting ourselves into city driving mode. We worked together to hold our lane, forcing traffic to take a wide berth around us. It’s an exhausting process, which includes constantly checking our mirrors and watching vehicles parked by the side of the road to make sure they don’t pull out in front of us. In the middle of this someone threw a glass bottle from a passing car directly towards us. Intentional or not we’ll never know but it did give us a shock as the bottle flew in front of our noses. There was a real sense of relief when we reached the turnoff for Palmyra and eased onto a quieter road. We passed through the dusty town of Dmeir, the last one of any size for about 100 kilometers, and then soaked in the desert scenery unfolding in front of us. Houses and land took on the same beige colour and the road ran straight ahead as far as we could see.

We’d just started to relax when something happened that really shook us. It began innocently enough. A passing truck stopped in front of us and the driver motioned for us to stop. This happens often enough and usually it’s to offer us a ride or give us something like oranges but this time something felt different. There was no smile from this man, just a cold look on his face as he emerged from the cab and said hello. He started to talk intensely to us and we couldn’t understand a thing so we just thanked him for stopping and carried on.

Not thirty seconds later the same truck passed us and again stopped in our path. The conversation was repeated but the body language and tone of his voice made us very wary. Still not understanding a thing, we got back on our bikes. A third time the truck blocked our path and now the man started talking directly to Andrew and trying to grab his goatee; a step too far and we forcefully used our voices and hands to tell him this behaviour was not acceptable. Twice more we pedalled on and twice more the truck got in our way.

By the fifth time we were really starting to feel harassed and threatened so we stopped our bikes some distance behind the truck and flagged down a passing car, intending to ask them to call the police. The actions of the truck driver said it all. As soon as we waved down another motorist (the first person we signalled to stopped, a lovely young man who spoke some English) the truck sped off into the distance and we never saw him again.

We still aren’t sure what he wanted but we are sure it wasn’t good and it made us very uneasy about pitching our tent in the wilderness tonight. Even in the desert there is always someone around so we found a small military base where a guard is stationed throughout the night and asked to place our tent nearby. It wasn’t a problem and gave us some security after a very unusual day. We still feel a bit funny about the whole thing but also realise that this odd incident was only one episode among thousands of wonderful encounters we’ve had. Here’s to a better day tomorrow.


  1. Nancy Sathre-Vogel
    9th December 2007 at 4:37 pm #

    SCARY!! I had something similar to that happen in Egypt while I was out biking alone one afternoon. I ended up actually fighting him off, and (fortunately) a bus came by right then and the driver stopped. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that – and it happened 13 years ago!

    I’ve been popping in and out of your blog for the past few months – sounds like you’re having some wonderful adventures. We will be taking off on our own adventure in six months – our family will be pedaling from the ARctic to Patagonia!! Our boys are just about to turn 10, and they are thrilled to be heading out for a 20,000-mile bike ride!! You can read more at http://www.familyonbikes.org

  2. sarah
    9th December 2007 at 7:43 pm #

    Oi. Sounds scary, but I’m glad that I’ve not read too many stories from you. I really hope tomorrow is better.

    Thanks, by the way, for your continued and regular posting. I wonder if you find it a bit of a heavy task sometimes? It’s so interesting to read.

  3. andrew
    10th December 2007 at 2:29 pm #

    Road notes: We followed the motorway out of Damascus towards Homs, taking the turnoff for Palmyra some 25km out of the city. It is well signed and you have a couple chances to stock up on food before things really thin out past Dmeir. You should stock up on water and food as getting any after Dmeir isn’t guaranteed, although there are a few scattered houses and military posts if you really need help.

    What we spent: 215 SP groceries

  4. Brock
    10th December 2007 at 7:33 pm #

    I wonder what on earth his problem was? Perhaps it was just a bit of general anti-cyclist road rage that went a bit far when you didn’t beg forgiveness for holding him up for a few seconds?
    Sounds like you handled the unnerving incident very sensibly in any case.

  5. Cami Halıları
    2nd August 2022 at 12:01 am #

    cami halısı

  6. pg shoes
    23rd October 2022 at 10:32 pm #

    I simply wanted to appreciate you yet again. I am not sure what I would have used without the actual recommendations provided by you regarding my theme. It has been a very frightful scenario for me, but viewing this specialised mode you dealt with it took me to weep with gladness. Now i’m happier for the help and thus have high hopes you comprehend what a powerful job you are doing educating others through the use of your webpage. More than likely you haven’t met all of us.

  7. kobe sneakers
    23rd October 2022 at 10:33 pm #

    I must voice my love for your kindness giving support to those individuals that absolutely need help on your question. Your special commitment to getting the solution around has been rather good and has always permitted associates just like me to achieve their goals. Your own warm and friendly information means a great deal a person like me and still more to my peers. Regards; from everyone of us.

  8. kobe byrant shoes
    27th October 2022 at 1:10 pm #

    I precisely wanted to thank you very much yet again. I am not sure the things I might have followed in the absence of the hints provided by you over such a industry. It previously was an absolute alarming difficulty in my position, but seeing a well-written way you solved it took me to weep with delight. I’m just happier for your advice and even wish you really know what a great job that you are providing instructing people today all through a site. More than likely you have never got to know any of us.

  9. curry shoes
    1st November 2022 at 12:44 am #

    I wanted to write you one very little note in order to give many thanks yet again for the stunning strategies you’ve shown in this article. It was certainly generous with you to give unhampered what exactly many individuals would’ve offered for an electronic book to get some profit on their own, certainly given that you might have tried it in the event you desired. The tips additionally worked like the fantastic way to recognize that some people have a similar zeal just like mine to figure out much more regarding this problem. I know there are thousands of more pleasurable instances ahead for individuals that see your site.

  10. off white clothing
    8th November 2022 at 6:55 am #

    I would like to show my admiration for your kind-heartedness giving support to persons that really want assistance with your niche. Your special dedication to getting the solution up and down came to be remarkably valuable and has without exception permitted folks just like me to achieve their endeavors. Your amazing invaluable instruction means much a person like me and much more to my peers. Thanks a ton; from each one of us.

  11. off white outlet
    8th November 2022 at 6:56 am #

    I simply desired to thank you so much once more. I do not know what I would’ve created without those advice revealed by you about that topic. It became an absolute frustrating situation for me personally, however , taking note of the very professional avenue you handled it took me to leap with contentment. I am thankful for your advice and as well , wish you really know what a powerful job that you are accomplishing training many people with the aid of your site. I am sure you’ve never met all of us.

  12. off white
    9th November 2022 at 8:52 pm #

    I have to voice my passion for your kind-heartedness giving support to individuals that absolutely need guidance on in this matter. Your very own commitment to getting the solution up and down appears to be exceedingly interesting and have in most cases empowered some individuals like me to arrive at their dreams. Your own interesting information denotes a lot to me and a whole lot more to my office colleagues. Thank you; from everyone of us.

  13. off white clothing
    9th November 2022 at 8:53 pm #

    I intended to create you this little bit of note just to thank you so much again over the striking thoughts you have shared in this case. It was quite unbelievably generous of you to supply publicly what exactly a number of people would’ve distributed as an e book to end up making some dough for their own end, even more so given that you could possibly have tried it in case you wanted. Those concepts additionally served to become a good way to be certain that other individuals have the identical dream really like my own to know the truth very much more in respect of this issue. I think there are numerous more pleasurable sessions ahead for many who scan your site.

  14. kyrie spongebob
    12th November 2022 at 12:29 am #

    I would like to voice my love for your kind-heartedness supporting visitors who need assistance with that concern. Your special commitment to getting the solution all-around became wonderfully important and have consistently enabled guys like me to arrive at their ambitions. Your personal invaluable tips and hints can mean a lot to me and far more to my office colleagues. Many thanks; from each one of us.

  15. off white clothing
    16th November 2022 at 6:33 pm #

    I must show some thanks to you for rescuing me from such a dilemma. After looking out throughout the the net and finding principles that were not helpful, I was thinking my life was well over. Living without the presence of strategies to the problems you have resolved as a result of your good guide is a serious case, and those that could have in a wrong way affected my entire career if I hadn’t come across the website. Your good ability and kindness in maneuvering every item was priceless. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t discovered such a stuff like this. I can at this moment relish my future. Thanks so much for this high quality and result oriented help. I won’t be reluctant to suggest your site to anyone who ought to have care about this problem.

  16. kd shoes
    21st November 2022 at 3:35 pm #

    I would like to point out my appreciation for your kindness in support of individuals who actually need help with your area of interest. Your very own commitment to passing the message across appeared to be extraordinarily beneficial and has all the time made professionals much like me to get to their pursuits. Your personal valuable recommendations signifies this much to me and still more to my mates. Thanks a lot; from everyone of us.

  17. bape hoodie outlet
    21st November 2022 at 3:36 pm #

    I intended to create you the very small remark in order to thank you again for your personal exceptional tactics you have featured on this page. It was really seriously open-handed of people like you to deliver easily all that many of us could have sold as an e book to help with making some profit on their own, most importantly now that you could possibly have done it if you wanted. These suggestions in addition acted to become easy way to fully grasp many people have similar fervor just like my very own to know more and more in terms of this issue. I think there are many more pleasant moments ahead for folks who check out your blog.

  18. yeezy 500
    22nd November 2022 at 3:48 am #

    I needed to send you this tiny note to finally thank you so much again with your precious solutions you’ve featured at this time. It has been certainly pretty open-handed of people like you to convey freely just what most people could possibly have marketed as an e-book in making some cash on their own, precisely considering the fact that you could have tried it in case you decided. Those pointers in addition worked as the great way to be certain that other people have the same dream just like mine to see a little more when it comes to this matter. I believe there are several more pleasurable opportunities up front for individuals who scan your website.

  19. Golden Goose Deluxe Brand
    25th November 2022 at 10:04 am #

    I intended to create you this bit of observation so as to say thank you over again with the spectacular thoughts you’ve discussed on this site. This has been shockingly open-handed with people like you to convey easily precisely what a few people might have supplied as an ebook in making some cash for their own end, most importantly considering that you might well have tried it in case you considered necessary. Those guidelines additionally served to be a fantastic way to understand that most people have the identical interest much like my very own to learn very much more when considering this issue. I know there are some more pleasurable opportunities in the future for people who take a look at your site.

  20. golden goose
    3rd December 2022 at 9:42 pm #

    I would like to express my gratitude for your kindness in support of individuals that require guidance on this one niche. Your very own dedication to passing the message all through had become really practical and have continually encouraged women like me to attain their dreams. Your amazing interesting suggestions signifies this much a person like me and further more to my peers. Thanks a lot; from everyone of us.

  21. twitter etkileşim
    18th April 2024 at 10:24 pm #

    Takipçi sayınızı arttırmak için doğru adrestesiniz! Sosyal Mavi ile hedeflerinize ulaşın.

  22. notebook adaptör
    18th April 2024 at 10:32 pm #

    Emeğinize sağlık, içerikleriniz çok değerli.

Leave a comment