Gule gule to Turkey (blog)

Trip Start Apr 06, 2007
Trip End Nov 18, 2007

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hopefully this current spell of blogs isn't overkill but I'm seizing the moment. I am never sure when the opportunity will come again, maybe tommorrow, maybe next month.

We find ourselves in Doggybiscuit today which sits beneath Mt Ararat (biggest mountain in Turkey) and is the last outpost before Iran. Tanks and armoured vehicles are everywhere (post Kurd-Turk civil war precautions) and the area doesn't support any tourism bar the main attractions (eg 150BC fallen stone heads atop Mt Nemrut) where the the tourists were all Turkish anyway. Yesterday enroute to Dogubayazit from Lake Van we stopped to have a snow ball fight, great fun! Consuming a fair share of alcohol recently before going dry for two weeks in Iran.

Being off the tourist trail (not out right though - we are on the old Silk Route where the occasional overlanding truck does pass through) the locals unreservedly stare. The children crowd round, going crazy for photos and speaking what English they can (typically yes, no, my name is etc. Some of them selling cigarettes, hankies, having your weight measured on some scales...! (Will get photos up as soon as.) It is a surprise to have this celebrity attention so early on in the trip - we have only just left Europe - some of the group were even invited into a local school!

Turkey has been a huge surprise. The landscape varied from snow capped mountains to endless plaines, green hills and valleys to rock covered ones, deep turqouise coasts to pale mountain top lakes - it is fantastic for landscape! Istanbul was exotic, beautiful, unique and sprawling and Ankara cosmopolitan, modern, bland but much more real with minimal tourist support. The people are very friendly - waving to the truck and always replying to a merhaba (hello). On various occasions they would even jump out from behind their counter, walk a short distance to show me where to go. Though women are few and far between, it not being odd to drive through a town, see scores of men sat in cafes drinking tea but only five women (Ankara the exception). The men are leery, one of the girls was even groped on a busy tram in Istanbul, but other than that nothing the girls couldn't handle.

You may (or may not) be interested in the general day to day lifestyle I have adapted to in the past month. Roughly speaking we have two days on and one day off the truck but days on the truck can be as short as 3 hours. Rarely there is a 12 hour day (two or three so far) but knowing everyone well now there is always chat in addition to a library of books, my MP3s and of course the passing landscape (which is incredibley diverse in Turkey, one of its best attributes).

Once every 8 days my group (of four) is on truck duty which consists of cooking dinner and breakfast for 34, cleaning the truck and emptying the toilet (nice!). So yeah, it aint all shits and giggles! We always have lots of veg with a healthy helping of whatever staple to go with the chicken/beef/lamb. Occasionaly bone out weighs the meat but overall it has been good. Breky is either porridge, pancakes or museli with a decent helping of fruit, served at 7 or 8am (so 6 or 7 rise!). And I always have seconds (thirds and fourths not unheard of either)!

My tent is one of the smallest and quickest to erect. Withstood a complete downpour yesterday (first time it has rained properly so far) so I am chuffed. I have slept without the fly sheet on a few occasions with just a mesh above me ("beneath the stars") but nights have been a bit too cold to do it often.

Some of the campsites and the hotel in Istanbul have been interesting (perhaps for the wrong reasons). For example the (empty) campsite we are in at the moment isn't in the best area but the owner has a series of SUV's (the only decent cars for miles around) and said to some of us he was a drug dealer and gave us some weed. The hotel in Istanbul was had a few working girls hanging about it and when we asked the owner why he had a 9mm he said the area we were in was mafia territory. Also when waiting in the taxi outside the hotel with Louise the driver locked the doors for the same reason.

Right, I'm off to get myself a 35p kebab (after paying 50p for an hour and a half on the internet with two glasses of complimentary tea)! :-p (Sorry, couldn't help but mention prices!)

Iran tommorrow so let me just say it was nice knowing you all. Only kidding, I will be dispelling the hideously wrong Western perception of this (from what I have read) amazing country. Last years trip voted it best country (even next to Thailand!).

Gule gule!
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grantrough on

Celeb Status
Hey man, good to hear you are still having a great time and you are now classed as celebrities, does that mean if I say I know you I can get free stuff? No? ok. Well I hope Iran is as good, and you don't get killed or anything. Speak to you soon

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