Syrian Sand

We decided that the crossing from Antakya to Haleb was a bit too kinetic for us and headed further east to the border crossing of Alcakale. We showed up with every expectation to be told a simple no or worse be interrogated about being foreign journalists or spies. Images of hanging by our thumbs in a dungeon did cross our minds. When we actually got to the immigration building we were greeted with bewilderment, they didn’t quite know what to do with us. We were shepherded by a police officer to an office, with another uniformed man. Grab the jump leads and shackles I thought, as we all readied ourselves for an interrogation. Not quite. He asked us a few simple questions like, where are we going in Syria, why are we going through Syria. Standard stuff. Before we knew it we had bought our insurance, and had all our visas stamped. We left the immigration hall elated only to forget that we hadn’t cleared Customs. Before we knew it most of our personal kit was strewn all over the ground at the back of Doris. We had taken care to hide most of our electronics, cameras and especially laptops as we had heard of others having theirs confiscated. Bad move, we had hid Johnnys in a t shirt at the bottom of his kit bag, the official in charge was called over and he said “We’ll let you off with that”. Phew. 5mins later they found Adam’s laptop. Johnny, Adam and the two laptops disappeared into the Police Station. 45 mins went past and I was starting to flap. They appeared and Johnny’s face said it all. We’re boned. We’re being thrown back into Turkey. Johnny came over and said “Get in the car, I’ll tell you on the way”. Johnny then began to tell us that we now needed a police escort to a regional police station in Haleb to get the laptops cleared. That was in the danger zone. Crap. Then Johnny started laughing, he was having a wind up. It worked brilliantly. The laptops were fine. We were now in Syria. Syria is absolutely stunning, beautiful desert landscapes, old ruins, deserted castles and best of all friendly people. Strangers would come up and chat away to us and there was never any feeling of being under threat. Even the Security forces dressed in jeans, shirts, chest rigs and AK47s were friendly and waved and gave directions, never hassling us or questioning us. Until Damascus, security forces there change into stern well dressed and well equipped soldiers posted ever kilometre who question everything and eventually turned us around when we tried to enter the capital. We had a fantastic time in the east of Syria in the desert and at Palmyra where there is a spectacular collection of Roman ruins. Syria was a major way point in the trip in terms of being able to continue, if Syria had turned us away our next option was Iraq, and that wasn’t really an option. We survived and are currently sitting in Amman with tea and medals, well, chai and a packet of crisps.

2 Responses to “Syrian Sand”

  1. Ryan Simpson Says:

    Great blog, keep them coming!!

  2. glad u guys got through alrite! keep the updates coming

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