Turkey

Istanbul, and a few tips on curing impotency from the Hittites

Written by Tyler Cole | 07 July 2011

istan

 

Since Istanbul was such a huge city, we decided to take an overnight bus from Bergama instead of hitchhiking like we had in the rest of Turkey. The bus was stuffy and crowded, and I was glad we had hitchhiked through the rest of the country since I much preferred the lack of certainty and barely-intelligible conversations involved in hitchhiking over a packed bus and knowing when/where I was going to arrive.

We crashed in a sketchy hostel the first night, then met up with a friend Anna had met in Nepal, Osi. We stayed in her place for a few more days before Anna flew out and I hitched toward Bulgaria.

The touristy parts of Istanbul were really touristy since it was the summer vacation time for a lot of people. There were streams of cruise shippers and bus loads of Asians arriving in droves, and it was easy to forget you were even in Turkey.

 

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Giant carved heads, incredible valleys, camping on the Mediterranean, and a heavy dose of Roman ruins

Written by Tyler Cole | 01 July 2011

nemrut

 

I’m feeling a bit lazy and nothing of spectacular interest has happened since leaving the Kurdish areas, so I'm going to cram a lot of places into this post. It’s pretty much just been hitchhiking (ridiculously easy) from place to place, seeing really cool things, and liking Turkey and Turkish people more and more.

After visiting Nemrut, which was an ancient burial place on top of a hill for a king with remnants of huge carved heads visible today, we went toward the uber-tourist destination of Goreme. The formations of stone in the valleys of Goreme were pretty astounding (including realistic-looking phallic formations), but the profound tourist stench of the place made it a little less interesting. After there, we decided not to go to another major tourist draw in Tukey, Pamukkale. We took a stop in Konya, famous for the museum dedicated to the Sufi poet Rumi.

 

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Lessons from a Kurdish-Swede rapper about Kurdistan, and finally getting my hands on an AK-47

Written by Tyler Cole | 15 June 2011

 

bdpAfter hitching into Kurdistan and camping for a few days around Lake Van, we set off to visit the mountain town of Bahçesaray en route to Mardin. We also hitched there, but waiting took a little longer since there were not many cars and the sun was pretty strong. We got a few nice rides, took a pause on a mountain pass still covered with snow, and eventually made it there in the late morning.

It was pleasant enough, with a strong river flowing through the nicely wooded center. We were called in to drink tea by everyone that saw us and eventually sat with a store owner for some difficult, yet jovial, conversation due to the language barrier.

One of the Kurdish militia came in to the store to stow his AK-47 while in town, and I gathered up the courage to ask him to have a look at it. He gladly obliged, and fondling the well-lubricated Kalishnikov in the household supplies store led me to wonder how many people had been at the receiving end of it (I hoped none). It was much smaller than I expected.

I wanted to buy a scarf to cover my neck, and the shop owner sold me one with the Kurdish colors of red, green, and yellow. I didn’t know it at the time, but wearing it as a foreigner would quickly gain me goodwill and plenty of freebies from just about everyone we came across. It was actually the colors of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which according to Wikipedia is considered a terrorist organization in the United States.

 

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Hitchhiking into Turkish Kurdistan

Written by Tyler Cole | 15 June 2011

 

vansunsetWe got up early to leave from Akhalsikhe in Georgia to cross the border into Turkey by bus, but found out the only bus to the Turkish side wasn’t until the late afternoon. So, we decided to hitchhike.

I was a little wary since I was with Anna (I would have done it alone without a second thought), but she seemed game and we took off walking down the road towards the border about 20 kilometers away.

The worst case was that we would get no rides and go back to the bus station in the afternoon, but after a few minutes of flagging cars, a bus toward the border town of Vale stopped and gave us a ride without charging for it. From Vale it was another few kilometers to the border, but luckily there was a border guard on the bus with us who brought us with him to the border.

We walked across the border, which was fairly isolated and unkempt but with beautiful surrounding hills, and did the whole Q and A thing that happens at every border. There wasn’t much car traffic once across the Turkish border, but after a few minutes of waiting the first car that came stopped and brought us to the first town of any size on the Turkish side, Posof.

The driver was actually a Georgian taxi driver who really liked George W. Bush and America in general and would prefer the US to give nuclear weapons to Georgia so they could bomb

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