“The awareness that we are all human beings together has become lost in war and through politics. We have reached the point of regarding each other only as members of people either allied with us or against us and our approach: prejudice, sympathy, or antipathy are all conditioned by that. Now, we must rediscover the fact that we – all together – are human beings, and that we must strive to concede to each other what moral capacity we have. Only in this way can we begin to believe that in other peoples as well as in ourselves there will arise the need for a new spirit which can be the beginning of a feeling of mutual trustworthiness toward each other.” — Albert Schweitzer
Our time in Syria is nearly over but before we roll further east we wanted to share some closing thoughts. Those who have followed our journey will know of our unsettling moments in the desert around Palmyra. We wrote about these because we believe it is important to be honest about our experiences and to inform cycle tourists in particular about what they may encounter. Unfortunately this decision to be completely open has led some readers to conclude that Syria is not worth coming to. A few people have come to the conclusion that it is entirely unsafe and we should hop on a plane back to the developed world instead of taking on Iran.
This makes us feel sad because it misrepresents a wonderful country and in fact an entire region whose people and traditions are poorly understood by the Western world.
We will leave Syria with a very strong desire to return. Never have we been treated to so much hospitality from literally every sector of society. Farmers struggling to make a living off the land and doctors driving luxury cars invited us into their homes with equal measures of kindness and generosity. Ordinary people took hours to show us around their towns and cities and truckers repeatedly stopped to load our panniers up with oranges.
Yes, we were unfortunate to meet some bad apples but we know, and we urge you to remember, that negative things can happen in any country. A relative had his van stolen from the streets of New York but we would not cancel our trip to the U.S. because of this isolated incident. Neither would we avoid all skiing holidays even though Friedel once wound up in a cast as a result of one. Why would we judge all of Syria because a tiny part of our two months here were less than perfect?
We think it speaks volumes about Syria that of all the travellers we have talked to about this country – and there have been dozens in the past few months – not one has had another downbeat incident to add to ours. No stolen passports. No aggression. Just many tales of cups of tea shared and wonderful sights seen. The praise has been universally positive.
From the point of personal safety, we have hardly ever felt more secure. It is interesting to note that when we think of cyclists killed or badly injured while on tour (thankfully their numbers are few) all the ones we are aware of have suffered at the hands of traffic in countries including Japan, Australia and the United States. It would be wrong to assume that we will be safe from harm’s way in a first-world country. There is a strong argument to suggest the opposite. We likely ran more risk cycling to work every day in London than by biking and camping on the backroads of Syria.
As we prepare to head for Iran, we leave Syria urging you not to surrender to stereotypes. Come for a visit and we think you will be more than pleasantly surprised.
25th December 2007 at 3:41 am #
Greetings Friedel and Andrew,
I hope you are enjoying a Merry Christmas and New Years sees you safe in Iran.
You will be glad to hear that your experiences have not scared us away from Syria, although I don’t think we’ll be seeing the Eastern parts. We are planning to travel through Greece, Turkey, Syria, and Jordan next fall.
Thank-you for keeping an excellent travel log. I enjoy following your adventures.
Cheers and Merry Christmas,
25th December 2007 at 5:58 pm #
I _love_ Syria! It’s the only place I’ve actively traveled to a second time just because the people were so lovely. Thanks so much for your commentary, both positive and negative. As an American, I find it especially hard to convince people that Syria is a wonderful place to travel. But it’s worth it. Looking forward to reading your bike guide for the Aleppo area.
25th December 2007 at 7:02 pm #
And on the subject of your unwanted police escort: it was almost certainly related to your encounter with the truck driver. The Syrian secret police are pretty much on your case anyway once you enter the country–they just got explicit about it (as a more visible deterrent) once something sketchy did happen to you. Think of it as an Orwellian sort of hospitality–the government would just hate for something bad to happen to you on their watch. It’s for your own good! Personal security is one genuine bonus of a police state. Still…frustrating on a daily basis.
26th December 2007 at 11:04 am #
Just wanted to say Merry Christmas and thanks for keeping up with your journal – it makes fascinating reading.
19th April 2022 at 5:16 am #
26th April 2022 at 4:54 am #
Why is it I always really feel like you do?
7th May 2022 at 1:39 pm #
Why is it I always really feel like you do?
8th May 2022 at 6:42 am #
I was just telling my friend about that.
12th July 2022 at 10:36 am #
I simply wanted to appreciate you all over again. I’m not certain the things I would have followed in the absence of the type of thoughts provided by you regarding such a theme. It absolutely was a daunting crisis for me personally, nevertheless viewing a new professional approach you treated that forced me to jump with fulfillment. I am happier for this advice and trust you are aware of an amazing job you were accomplishing educating the mediocre ones through a site. I know that you have never come across all of us.
12th July 2022 at 10:42 am #
I precisely needed to say thanks once again. I’m not certain the things that I could possibly have undertaken in the absence of these basics provided by you about my topic. It has been a very scary scenario for me, nevertheless spending time with a new specialised fashion you processed it took me to cry over joy. I am happier for your help and even expect you comprehend what a great job your are undertaking teaching others through the use of your websites. Most probably you haven’t come across all of us.
2nd August 2022 at 3:06 am #
I want to voice my appreciation for your kindness giving support to visitors who really want help with your area. Your real commitment to passing the solution all through has been amazingly beneficial and have regularly helped girls much like me to achieve their pursuits. Your amazing helpful tips and hints means much a person like me and still more to my peers. Thank you; from each one of us.
2nd August 2022 at 3:07 am #
I simply desired to say thanks once again. I am not sure what I could possibly have tried in the absence of those smart ideas revealed by you regarding such question. It actually was a real traumatic crisis in my view, but spending time with the very expert style you dealt with the issue forced me to jump for happiness. I will be happier for the guidance and then expect you find out what a powerful job you have been putting in educating many people using your site. I know that you’ve never encountered all of us.
3rd August 2022 at 11:40 am #
I just wanted to write a small note to express gratitude to you for all the stunning tips and tricks you are giving here. My particularly long internet look up has finally been compensated with useful insight to exchange with my pals. I would state that that we readers actually are definitely fortunate to dwell in a decent place with very many awesome professionals with insightful pointers. I feel truly lucky to have discovered your entire web site and look forward to some more cool times reading here. Thank you again for all the details.
3rd August 2022 at 11:40 am #
I have to convey my love for your kindness giving support to people who absolutely need help on this important idea. Your special dedication to passing the solution all-around had been unbelievably powerful and has truly empowered guys much like me to arrive at their desired goals. Your new warm and friendly guideline implies a great deal to me and even more to my mates. Best wishes; from each one of us.
3rd August 2022 at 11:41 am #
I precisely needed to appreciate you all over again. I do not know the things I would have tried in the absence of the type of basics contributed by you about such a area of interest. It became a real intimidating circumstance for me, but looking at the specialised mode you dealt with the issue made me to jump for happiness. I’m happy for your assistance as well as have high hopes you really know what a great job you are always getting into educating others via your site. More than likely you have never encountered all of us.
11th August 2022 at 11:14 pm #
I wish to get across my passion for your generosity supporting men who should have help with your content. Your real commitment to getting the solution throughout became remarkably functional and have specifically encouraged guys and women just like me to attain their endeavors. The interesting publication signifies much to me and additionally to my office colleagues. Thanks a lot; from each one of us.
18th August 2022 at 4:03 am #
I have to convey my admiration for your generosity giving support to all those that require assistance with the topic. Your real dedication to passing the message all over had been incredibly advantageous and has without exception empowered men and women much like me to realize their dreams. Your entire helpful tutorial can mean this much a person like me and even further to my office workers. Thank you; from all of us.
21st August 2022 at 12:10 am #
I simply wanted to appreciate you again. I’m not certain what I might have accomplished in the absence of those solutions discussed by you directly on that situation. Completely was a scary case for me personally, however , encountering the expert technique you handled that forced me to cry for joy. I’m happier for your work and hope you recognize what an amazing job you’re putting in teaching many people through a web site. Most probably you have never got to know any of us.
21st August 2022 at 12:11 am #
I have to show my appreciation for your kind-heartedness for people who have the need for help with this particular subject. Your personal dedication to passing the message all over turned out to be certainly important and has all the time allowed women like me to reach their dreams. Your own important help can mean a lot a person like me and further more to my colleagues. Many thanks; from all of us.
21st August 2022 at 12:12 am #
I want to point out my passion for your kindness giving support to men and women that actually need help with in this issue. Your special commitment to getting the message all-around had become rather productive and have continually made employees much like me to achieve their desired goals. The useful facts signifies this much a person like me and even more to my office workers. Best wishes; from all of us.
23rd October 2022 at 6:46 pm #
My wife and i felt really joyful Peter managed to conclude his basic research out of the precious recommendations he came across out of the web site. It’s not at all simplistic to just continually be releasing tips and hints which usually many people may have been selling. And we also know we’ve got the writer to appreciate because of that. The entire explanations you made, the straightforward site menu, the friendships your site make it possible to promote – it’s most spectacular, and it is letting our son and the family consider that the topic is exciting, and that is exceptionally mandatory. Thanks for all!
23rd October 2022 at 6:46 pm #
Needed to draft you the tiny note to be able to say thanks yet again just for the striking suggestions you have shared above. It’s so unbelievably generous with people like you to deliver freely just what a lot of people would have sold as an ebook to get some bucks on their own, even more so given that you might have done it if you ever considered necessary. Those thoughts additionally served to be a fantastic way to be aware that other individuals have a similar zeal like my very own to realize more pertaining to this problem. I believe there are a lot more enjoyable times ahead for folks who take a look at your site.
25th October 2022 at 10:30 pm #
I have to point out my love for your kindness for those people who need help with that study. Your special commitment to passing the message all through turned out to be particularly productive and have permitted people much like me to reach their goals. Your informative useful information signifies a lot a person like me and somewhat more to my fellow workers. With thanks; from everyone of us.
25th October 2022 at 10:31 pm #
I precisely needed to thank you so much once more. I am not sure the things that I could possibly have carried out in the absence of the recommendations provided by you directly on my field. It was a distressing situation in my opinion, however , taking note of the very well-written way you resolved the issue took me to weep over fulfillment. I will be grateful for the service and even have high hopes you know what a great job your are putting in training most people via your site. Most probably you have never encountered all of us.
28th October 2022 at 10:21 pm #
I wish to convey my gratitude for your generosity supporting those individuals that really want assistance with your situation. Your special commitment to passing the message around turned out to be extraordinarily productive and have without exception helped associates much like me to realize their desired goals. Your personal insightful publication entails much to me and additionally to my colleagues. With thanks; from all of us.
31st October 2022 at 9:19 am #
Thank you a lot for giving everyone an exceptionally brilliant opportunity to read from here. It can be so useful and also full of amusement for me and my office friends to visit the blog on the least 3 times every week to see the new stuff you have. Of course, I’m at all times fascinated for the outstanding thoughts you serve. Some 3 areas in this post are unequivocally the most suitable I have ever had.
31st October 2022 at 9:19 am #
I happen to be commenting to make you understand what a brilliant discovery my daughter experienced using your site. She figured out too many pieces, with the inclusion of what it is like to have an incredible coaching spirit to make other folks without hassle know precisely some specialized matters. You really exceeded readers’ desires. Many thanks for delivering those necessary, dependable, edifying and also unique tips about that topic to Mary.
7th November 2022 at 3:32 pm #
I precisely needed to thank you so much once again. I am not sure the things I could possibly have worked on in the absence of these tips shown by you directly on such a area of interest. Completely was a real troublesome difficulty in my view, nevertheless encountering a skilled manner you dealt with it took me to leap over delight. I am happy for the work and in addition pray you are aware of an amazing job that you are undertaking instructing many others by way of a web site. I know that you’ve never met all of us.
15th November 2022 at 12:50 pm #
I must show my passion for your generosity giving support to men who should have assistance with in this theme. Your special dedication to passing the solution all around turned out to be pretty interesting and has always made people much like me to reach their goals. The helpful useful information indicates a lot to me and a whole lot more to my colleagues. Thanks a ton; from each one of us.
19th November 2022 at 8:34 am #
I must express some thanks to you just for rescuing me from this type of challenge. As a result of looking throughout the the net and obtaining basics that were not helpful, I believed my entire life was gone. Being alive without the solutions to the problems you’ve sorted out as a result of your entire write-up is a critical case, and the kind which might have adversely affected my entire career if I hadn’t encountered your website. Your own personal capability and kindness in dealing with a lot of things was precious. I’m not sure what I would have done if I had not come across such a stuff like this. I can at this moment look forward to my future. Thanks a lot so much for this expert and results-oriented guide. I won’t be reluctant to recommend your site to anyone who wants and needs tips about this subject matter.
19th November 2022 at 8:35 am #
I wish to point out my affection for your kind-heartedness in support of people who absolutely need help on this one concept. Your very own dedication to passing the message along became surprisingly valuable and have always permitted employees like me to arrive at their objectives. The valuable report implies a great deal to me and additionally to my peers. Many thanks; from each one of us.
21st November 2022 at 11:31 am #
I truly wanted to compose a small word to be able to say thanks to you for the fantastic ideas you are posting at this site. My prolonged internet look up has at the end of the day been honored with high-quality knowledge to share with my companions. I would repeat that many of us readers are extremely lucky to exist in a good community with many brilliant professionals with good tricks. I feel really blessed to have used your entire weblog and look forward to tons of more awesome moments reading here. Thanks a lot again for everything.
24th November 2022 at 4:03 am #
I’m commenting to let you be aware of what a impressive encounter my wife’s child went through visiting your blog. She even learned numerous details, which included what it is like to possess a marvelous helping mindset to let many people clearly understand a variety of impossible things. You really surpassed people’s expected results. Thank you for giving the interesting, trustworthy, explanatory and in addition easy guidance on this topic to Kate.
24th November 2022 at 6:17 pm #
I am glad for writing to make you be aware of what a fine experience our girl developed visiting your site. She realized several pieces, including what it’s like to have a very effective helping mood to let many others completely learn certain tortuous things. You really surpassed people’s expected results. Thank you for delivering these invaluable, trusted, educational and also easy tips on that topic to Julie.
26th November 2022 at 9:28 am #
I would like to voice my passion for your generosity for individuals that must have assistance with the subject matter. Your very own dedication to getting the solution around was incredibly valuable and have continually allowed others much like me to achieve their endeavors. This important suggestions implies much to me and additionally to my colleagues. Thanks a lot; from each one of us.
26th November 2022 at 9:29 am #
I precisely wished to appreciate you all over again. I do not know the things I might have made to happen without these ways shared by you over that problem. It had been the difficult crisis for me, nevertheless being able to see the very specialized manner you dealt with that took me to cry with contentment. Extremely happier for this advice and even expect you comprehend what a powerful job your are doing teaching some other people using a site. I am sure you’ve never encountered all of us.
30th November 2022 at 2:07 am #
I would like to show appreciation to you just for rescuing me from such a setting. As a result of looking throughout the internet and meeting opinions which are not productive, I assumed my life was gone. Living without the answers to the problems you have sorted out all through your good site is a serious case, as well as the ones which may have negatively affected my career if I had not come across the website. Your own personal ability and kindness in taking care of every aspect was useful. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I hadn’t come across such a step like this. I can at this point relish my future. Thanks a lot very much for this reliable and effective guide. I will not be reluctant to propose the sites to any person who needs to have support about this topic.
2nd December 2022 at 2:12 am #
I would like to convey my admiration for your generosity for men and women who absolutely need assistance with in this field. Your very own dedication to getting the message along became incredibly interesting and have constantly encouraged workers much like me to achieve their targets. Your entire invaluable recommendations indicates a lot a person like me and especially to my peers. Thank you; from all of us.