Crossing from Turkye into Syria at the Reyhanli/Cilvegcizu - Al Hawa/Dana border (from Antakya to Allepo).
When we arrived at the Syrian side of the border, we found a big building on the left side, before the actual border gates, so we figured we should arrange our papers in the building first, before crossing the gate. (which was a correct assumption). Inside the building we found it had two sides, one side for immigration and the other side for customs. So first we went to the immigration side to get our visas stamped. On the wall there where some instrucions: 1. Fill in the application form, 2. If you have a visa, get it stamped at the counter, 3. If you don't have a visa, go to this and this office. We already had a visa, so we filled in the form and went to the counter. There it was the usual frantic struggle with everybody waving their passports until an official would take it into proces, so we did the same. It took us about 10 mins. before we could give our passports and then it was 5 mins. before our visas where stamped and everything was OK pretty quick.
Now our 2 motors... We figured we needed to be on the other side of the building (customs) (this assumption was also correct). On this side we also found instructions on the wall: 1. If you have a carnet de passage, get it checked at the border gate, 2. Then pay the entry fee of 9 dollar, 3. If you don't have a carnet de passage, you have to pay 100 dollar. These instructions where far from complete we later noticed, because it does not talk about insurance and the whole process has a few more steps. We took out our carnets, but where to go now? This side of the building had several counters: Insurance, Bank, Personal ... (Entry/Exit). The insurance and bank counters where pretty clear, but the other counter confused us a bit, but we figured that this should be the customs counter, as they had seperate entry and exit counters. So we wanted to go to this counter first, but here again there was a frantic struggle of men (truckers mainly) to get the attention of the officials to get their carnets processed. One of the trucks pointed to the back of the "queue" (although it was barely a queue), so we went over there. But then 2 other guys (who just seemed to be hanging around) told us in pretty good English that we first needed to go outside to have the carnets checked/signed at the border gate. So we went outside and after asking, some guy asked us where we had our motorcycles. When we pointed them out, he put some writing on the entry receipt of the carnet and told us to go inside again. Inside we weren't sure where to go now (customs first? insurance first?), but the same guy that told us to go outside, now accompanied us to the bank counter. He told us we needed to pay 40 dollars per motor (28 dollars insurance per motor, 9 dollar entry fee and we got 3 dollars back). We started to realise this guy was a fixer and we needed to pay for his service. Actually we didn't want to, but as this was the first time we crossed a border with motorbikes like this (outside Europe) and the first time we ever used a carnet de passage, we thought it might be worth the cost. So I kept a 2 euro coin ready, because we didn't want to pay him more. So we paid our 37 dollars per motor and got a receipt for 1300 Syrian pound (28 dollar) and 1300 Syrian pounds in cash and the fixer took us to the insurance counter. (we didn't realize that we didn't get a receipt and the Syrian cash for the 9 dollar entry fee yet, imagine...). At the insurance counter we gave the receipt, the 1300 Syrian pounds and our passport and vehicle papers and we got our proof of insurance, but not after we had to pay 100 Syrian pounds extra per insurance to the official behind the counter (this was clearly a bribe). Now the fixer brought us back to the bank counter, where a receipt of 400 Syrian pound (9 dollar) for the entry fee and 400 Syrian pounds cash were waiting for us (now we realized that we completely forgot about the 9 dollar we paid before, so confused we were...). With this cash and this receipt we now had to go to the customs counter, where the frantic struggle of the truckers was still going on. But the fixer jumped right in and handed our papers to the official. Again we had to paid 100 Syrian pounds extra (bribe) per application. The truckers protested that they were in line first, but soon they just accepted that the fixer put our papers in before theirs. We felt a bit asshamed, but it seemed the truckers didn't make a lot of progress in the last 45 mins, so if things would go quicker for us, we were happy and ready to pay for it. In the next 5 mins. our papers where guided through the customs process by the fixer. (who was now also BEHIND the counter, actually "helping" the officials, putting stamps, dealing out the money, etc. Weird situation...) After 5 mins. the fixer came back to us at the front of the counter and told us that the carnets where almost ready, but first we needed to pay a final bribe of 100 Syrian pounds (or we could pay 2,5 euro, but we had Syrian pounds, so we preferred this) for yet another official. We told them that we would pay the bribe, but to be sure it was really the last, we told the fixer we would only pay the bribe when we had the carnets back in our hands, processed and all. So happened and 1 minute later our carnets where ready and we paid this last bribe. We realised that the fixer would cost us a bit more than 2 euro, so I had 4 euro in coins ready by now. The fixer told us we where finished and could go, so I thanked him and handed him the 4 euros. First he refused, offcourse claiming that is was not enough. He then asked for 10 euro and lightly threatened that if I would pay him 10 euros "there would be no problem" (implying that there would be A problem if I paid him less). I insisted with 4 euros, but he started to walk away. Then his companion suddenly appeared and told me 5 euro would be OK. I insisted with the 4 euro I had prepared and then they accepted. We left the building with the carnets and jumped on our motorcycles to proceed to the border gates. The fixer and his companion then walked by and where all smiles and said "Welcome to Syria", so apparently the 4 euros were enough after all... At the border gate, 25 m further, we stopped to have someone check our carnet and/or passport, but nobody was interested. Finally the guy who did the very first check of the carnets at the gate saw us and told us to drive on. "No problem, finished, welcome in Syria!". Indeed we could drive on and there was no problem. After 500m was the final border gate and we only had to show our passport with the entry stamp, so no papers for the motorcycles and no bribe. From there we continued the drive to Allepo without problems and with many friendly greetings from the Syrian locals. So finally after all, our first not European border crossing was not as bad as we would expect before, (specially after we read a lot of stories from other travellers, who had more bad experiences) Because we did not really know what to expect?, the bribes also could have been more money then "only" 6 times 100 Syrian pounds, and instead of 10 euro the fixers could have asked for 50 euro, than for sure they would not be happy with the "only" 4 euro and the insurances was only 28 dollar, we had read before that it could be 80 dollar! So.....everything went better and quiker than we thought before
PS. Luckily we changed about 20 Turkisch lira (10 euro) to 600 Syrian pounds before the border on the Turkish side, this was just enough to pay all the bribes at the Syrian customs (3 times 100 Syrian pounds for 2 motors). This is an exchange rate of 28 Syrian pounds for 1 Turkish lira, which equals 56 Syrian pounds to 1 euro, while the going rate was 63 Syrian pounds to 1 euro.
PPS. We had some Turkisch money left, which we used to pay for the petrol in a village about 10 km after the border in Syria itself. The Syrian petrol station was happy to be paid for in Turkisch lira and the exchange rate yhey gave us was OK (the same as before, 28 Syrian pounds for 1 Turkish lira).