Having stopped overnight in Antakya we headed for the Turkish/Syrian border, all went smoothly until we came to the Carnet for the bike's, the Syrian border gaurd's seem most put out that Syria was crossed out with red ink, this we assume is because the AA have no arrangement with their Syrian counterparts, Certainly other people (Saudi's I think) were able to
use their Carnet du Passage. After parting with $149 we went on our merry way into Syria. We rode to Latakia as this was the nearest large sea-side town, however, on arriving we decided that it was too big to comforatbly stay in. This was not helped by the fact that Cliff had gone into a hotel to enquire about the cost of a room and came back some time later explaining that it was dirty and he had given up waiting for the man on reception to finish his prayers before speaking to him. We had also attracted a gathering of around 12 men in this time all fascinated by the bikes, and us. It was here that we came across real Syrian helpfulness - perhaps a little too helpful - we stopped a traffic policeman to ask how to get out of the town ( as the roads were dug up everywhere ), he couldn't really help but another man stopped on his way to the airport and said that we could follow him out to the right road. We followed. After he made several stops ( one included stopping at a shop and producing drinks of Pineapple Juice for us ) we made it to the motorway and waved him goodbye.

On we went to Tartus - another sea side town but which looked smaller on the map. We found sea front accomodation for $12 per night - not too bad considering we were expecting around $20. There was no swimming to be done here - we decided against it when we noticed that the locals all swam only in full clothing - including the women in the full outfits with scarf - very odd. At 6 p.m. each evening the police blocked the road outside the hotel and a huge market started at the end of it with loads of food stalls along the main sea front. This provided serious amusement on our first night - watching the problems the two police-bikers had trying to keep people from driving down the road. We wandered around the old city the next day - mish mash houses slapped together on top of the old city ruins. A group of kids decided to follow Cliff around whilst he was videoing watching the LCD screen with awe.

New style in swimwear - available in Paris, New York and Tartus
Cliff's newly formed Fan Club

From Tartus we went to Damascus. The city is filthy - the river full of rubbish. The people were friendly enough although this is the first place that anything went missing from the bikes - Cliff's cigarette lighter was taken from the socket - not major but a pain as water can now get into the electric's of it - altough I suspect that if we run out of lighters this will become a major hassle if we need a fag !!! Although the Moque was impressive the shrines dotted around the city were better - possibly as we had not come across this type of building before. The most impressive of these was one that was covered in a mirrored mosaic on the ceiling.

We also visited the Crac des Chevaliers Castle - the most complete Crusader Castle left in Syria. This was very complete and impressive with its central castle surrounded by thick battlion walls which in themselves would have been inhabited as a small town.

We leave Syria for the moment and head to Jordan - although we will be back through here after Jordan to reach Turkey again.

Mirrored shrine to a Princess ( we think )
Crac des Chevaliers - from around 10 km away by road
Old vs. new building in Damascus
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