November 13, 2009 GMT
A Syrian Motorway

- or -

The Road To Damascus

(As far as Hama)

Our journey south from Aleppo has shewn us some unique and redeeming features of Syrian motorways.
Most noticeable are the tea stalls dotted along the hard shoulder, complete with coloured flourescent illumination so you don't miss them. Tea is never far away.
If you do miss your favourite stall, no matter, these motorways have handy U-turn points every few kilometres, with neither underpass nor flyover to make your manoeuvre longer than necessary. Just a clearly signposted extra lane to the left of the third lane, turning directly across the grass divide into the third lane in the other direction.

Then we see a feature even better. We spy quite a few motorbikes coming the other way along our hard shoulder, so clearly we don't need to use those dangerous U-turn lanes, we can just flip round to the right and nip back to our missed tea house along the hard shoulder. Keeping well to the left of course to avoid oncoming cars having a breakdown. This is all facilitated by there being absolutely no white lines anywhere, except those marking the U-turn lanes. Good to see basic safety features in place.

There are more useful features. Up ahead at the turn-off for Anno'Oman is a bus stop. Very thoughtful of the road planners to put the bus stop right there making the walk into town as short as possibly.

Then we are a little deflated. Coming the other way on the hard shoulder is a tractor, pulling a tilling attachment so wide it takes up half of the righthand lane, which we just happen to be in. So we don't, after all, have exclusive use of the hard shoulder to go back whence we came.

But what's this coming towards us? Something to retrieve the situation?
A 125cc Honda is making valiant progress towards us in the outside lane. Hard up against the central reservation making plenty of room for the 160 kph Land Cruisers overtaking us. So there's a good chance that we have exclusive use of the outside lane to go back the other way, if not the hard shoulder.
The number of times we've forgotten stuff and had to go back a considerable distance for it (twice so far) that'll be very handy, thank you very much.

Posted by Ken Thomas at November 13, 2009 08:43 AM GMT

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