Turkey – 2010 June –

June 25, 2010

Yes, my friends. I went to Turkey. It was FUN! Well, looking back at the photos, it didn’t seem all that amazing… but then, on spot, I was feeling pretty hyper! Blue skies, nice weather? Impossible in Macau!

Day 1 (but I’ll really start with 0)

Since we are from Macau, but the tour group and virtually all flights leave from Hong Kong, we had to go on the ferry that goes directly to the Hong Kong airport. There, we decided to splurge a bit… Cafe Deco is a place I won’t normally go to, because of the price. But I thought, it was a special occasion… that surely warrants some light alcoholic beverage! And an apple cider did I get :3

When the time came, we weren’t really able to find the tour escort, but everyone would go on the same plane anyway, so we weren’t too worried. After we boarded, ‘lo and behold, the tour group! It was an interesting group. The flight wasn’t too exciting, except for the breakfast from Singapore to Dubai… banana pancakes, it was delicious!

The visa to enter Turkey was a bit baffling… I always had the impression that, visas were a tricky thing. You have to sign 10-million forms, submit photos, proof of residence and blah blah blah. But oh no… Turkey… it’s just a sticker… US$20 for a sticker in my passport. My brand new as of yet unused passport. Sticker stuck to the very odd page of 24. WTF!?

Anyway, touring started immediately! The escort showed and pointed many things to us, but the first actual stop we made was at Dolmabance palace (sp?) It was a beautiful place but I wasn’t overly impressed. No photos inside.

After snacking on a delicious chocolate cake there, we went for lunch in a restaurant called Doy-Doy. I had a fit laughing my ass off there. I have a good friend whose nickname just so happens to be Doy, so it was very amusing for me. The food wasn’t stellar though. Soon, we found ourselves looking at some pillars and monuments on the way to the Hagia Sophia. Beautiful! Beautiful! And later on to the Blue Mosque. Beautiful! (that’s all I could say… apparently…)

After which, the tour bus went on a big boat, and we were let out to hang around at the upper deck. So, we were crossing the straight or the river over to Cannakale (sp?). Think it’s the Asian part of Turkey. Asia Minor ring any bell?? Yippie~~ So… nice views, beautiful sunset… I had a grand time! It was a bit windy, but it didn’t bother me too much.

It was interesting to see how looking at the sunset, the sky looked darker than when looking across to where it’s supposedly darker. But yeah… After a long drive, we ended up in a hotel called… (I don’t remember… honestly!)

– = ::: + Day 1 Photos + ::: = –

Day 2

Day 2 in Turkey actually starts with something that always happen in Macau: No, not breakfast, but me finding a stray dog. The dog followed me around whenever I went outside of the hotel… heh… Luckily, Mr. Driver (never got told of his name) saved me. I will later learn that Mr. Driver loves animals ALOT and will always bring some breakfast with him to feed any stray doggies he sees in the sites that we stop at.

Walking around the hotel area felt very much like my days in Austria countryside. Wow. the bout of nostalgia! But then once I reached the seashore it’s Austria no more, coz Austria has no sea… lakes yeah, but not sea :3 In any case, we were heading to Troy! Ya know, the mighty big-ass Horse of Troy? Helen of Troy? Yes, that Troy! We got to see… a fake mini sized Horse of Troy…

We also walked around the site and checked out the different layers/eras of the city of Troy. hm… thank god I never aspired to be an archaeologist. I think I could stomach being a historian, but archaeologist? nah… Following on… Pergamum (Bergama? sp?)… another mightily beautiful place! It’s really a pity seeing these beautiful places go into ruins…

I’m sure along the way, we visited some other small places, made some interesting stops… but I don’t remember too well. Soon we were heading back to the hotel at Kusadasi… to then find out that the hotel got generator problems and we were arranged to another hotel. Interesting place too!

– = ::: + Day 2 Photos + ::: = –

Day 3

The hotel where we stayed at was pretty close to the seaside as well, so right after breakfast, my Sis and I decided to walk over there and have a look. Funny beach, it wasn’t a sandy beach, it was a pebbly beach.

I had a short chat with Mr. Zeya (local tour guide) and apparently I have a rather good memory regarding stuff learnt back in primary school. Mercury = Hermes = the messenger with the winged shoes. Go me! So many things in Turkey (those relating to the Greek stuff) have these godly stories attached to them… it’s interesting!

And we went to… Ephesus… I totally fell in love with that place. Highlight of this Ephesus place? The toilets. Toilets as a social-gathering place. Totally amazing. So people chat and gossip while they take a crap or pee. wow. Even up till now I’m trying to get my mind around that. Nonono… if I’m on the throne, I need to be totally alone and meditate. I’m sure I won’t be able to do my business if I’m surrounded by people. Gross!!

That little story about the first “advertisement”? I’m inclined to think it’s just bullshit! But who knows, like I said just now, I’d much rather be a historian than an archaeologist.

And another long bus trip, and we were heading to the Pamukkale, or what I see the Chinese pamphlets say “Cotton Castle”. I’m still wondering if in English it IS “Cotton Castles”. We went barefoot to walk in there and ow… it was so hard to walk on, I was so scared of slipping and saying goodbye to my camera. Scratch that, I didn’t want to say goodbye to my life. That place was up a mountain! Very soon we just gave up and decided to simple walk around the Pamukkale place. We saw a Japanese TV show group doing their filming. The lady being filmed looked suspiciously like Noriko Sakai 酒井法子, but I doubt it really was her.

And then again, back to hotel for a night’s rest…

– = ::: + Day 3 Photos + ::: = –

Day 4

This day saw us waking up early and visiting the underground Pamukkale… I think. Anyway, that place stank like rotten eggs… yep, sulphur was abundant down there. Surely, I saw Mr. Driver feeding some puppies that were there :3

This day was actually a pretty boring day. I had to spend the day listening to music or watching some replays of Bones that were on my iPod. We were in the bus for 12 hours. I remember stopping in some interesting places but right now, nothing comes to mind.

We did stop for lunch at a Camel Inn. The escort says that these Camel Inns are the inns opened along Marco Polo’s Silk Road so that travelers can make stops and rest in places with some shelter. It looked more like a dungeon to me, so yeah… you can see that in this photos *points left*.

Staff in these touristic spots seemed pretty impressed with our being able to speak multiple languages (I do Portuguese, English, Cantonese, Japanese, and also greetings in French, hehe, while my Sis does Portuguese, English, Cantonese, and German). They all like to chat with us. Here it was the same.

Eventually, we reached Nevsehir… the Dinler Hotel there was wonderful. I totally loved that hotel! I loved the separate blocks for rooms… I loved our room being on the first floor… I loved the view… woohee!

– = ::: + Day 4 Photos + ::: = –

Day 5

This day… we went to see the Cappadocia catacombs (or however they’re called). Cities built inside caves? Highly amusing. We also went to see all those oddly shaped rocks. See that Camel Rock over to the left!

Anyway, we spent a lot of time walking on this day… I had my sandals on, and when it rained during lunch, I almost tripped and found out that… my sandals were falling into pieces! Breaking sandals when you are going to spend the day walking a lot!? I was in deep sh*t!

In the end, I managed to make my sandals last the whole day. We went to see the catacombs, these rocks, more cave-churches, souvenir places…

oh yeah, we were taken to a carpet manufacturing place… god were the carpets beautiful, but man were the carpets expensive! It was an eye-opening experience, but I got no cash to buy the stuff, sorry pal!

We ended the day at a cave pub and watched the swirling dance, the belly dance, and I had one sip of the Turkish alcohol Raki. Yuck.

I spent the better part of the evening feeling disgruntled. It was late, it was time for me to sleep, but I was stuck in that crowded noisy place (yeah, not my thing)

and that is all I’ve got to say about that.

– = ::: + Day 5 Photos + ::: = –

Day 6

We were to drive to Ankara this day. On the way there, we stopped at the salt lake there. Another beautiful place. Really beautiful! Shopped for some souvenirs here and I got a really neat notebook for myself here. I wanted to get some of their salt products for my feet but the lady in charge of those products spoke nothing of English and I nothing of Turkish.

Reaching Ankara, we were first sent to visit Ataturk’s museum (or is that a mausoleum? I think it was the mausoleum). The changing of the guards here was a little different from the other ones I’ve seen (such as in Taiwan and UK). Here they have to yell at each other as if reciting some oath or whatever. Language barrier, ya know…

Then we were left to our devices in the hotel area. Ankara is an amazing place. Ankara is the capital of Turkey, yet, since it is just a business city so to say, the touristic minds of the people are underdeveloped. It’s hard to find someone who speaks English in this city (whereas in Istanbul they all do), and, in their version of fast food stores, they say “This is CHICKEN” (ok, chicken, I get it) and “That is MEAT” (erm… hello? I know you don’t eat pork, but can you specify… BEEF meat or LAMB meat or OTHER meat?). They just don’t get it.

That reminds me, I actually… I braved the world of unknown foodstuff… and tried the Turkish Ayran (however you spell it). It was totally YUCK. Sis says it tastes like some variation of buttermilk, but I will never in my life accept a salty yoghurt no matter what. Yoghurts are supposed to be sour and sweet, no?

A couple from the group toasted with me, because the guy in the pair also braved the land of the unknown… we both decided to never touch that again. Yuck.

– = ::: + Day 6 Photos + ::: = –

Day 7

Talk about a busy day. Another early morning; we had to drive back to Istanbul!

So… once we reached Istanbul, it was a quick lunch at a Chinese restaurant. The Hongkies all loved the food there, and while I admit, the food was not bad, I’ll bet an arm it’s not Chinese… or not the Chinese that I know. And I haven’t yet ranted about the dining etiquette of those Hongkies that I witnessed. Not telling. It’s gross!

After that “difficult” lunch (for me) we went on a boat… a cruise… on the Bosphorus river! It was so much fun! The nice sunshine, the nice breeze, going up the river then going back down… Looking at Europe, and turning around and looking at Asia… oh, it was amazing! (surely to the eye, everything looked pretty Europe to me)

Off to the last museum we would visit… the Topkapi Palace (or Topkapi Museum?)

This was a pretty interesting place. There was a lot to see, there was too many people, but see a lot we did. Looking over the river again, the escort quizzed us, “Which side is Europe and which side is Asia?” and everyone was able to answer that.

And then we walked a long long way… to… The Grand Bazaar.

But, it wasn’t terribly exciting for me. It felt too much like the… underground shopping mall in China, where I go to once in a while during the weekends…

People, people, and people, bartering, trying to make a sale, calling for your attention… it was just too much…

In the end of the day, we were sent to to the hotel…

– = ::: + Day 7 Photos + ::: = –

Day 8

Actually, there isn’t much to say about the last day. We were at the hotel until mid-morning, and then off to the airport. By that time, I didn’t feel like shooting anymore photos… and thus went the flight from Istanbul to Singapore via Dubai, and then changing flights at Singapore to Hong Kong, waiting for 3 hours for the ferry back to Macau.

And thus, ends my trip to Turkey. Thank you!

All the photos from Turkey are right here (just the set from all the above days). At time of posting this entry, I still haven’t gone through checking out all the sequencing and typing all the captions… I’m feeling tired and I’m calling it a day for now. I’ll get around to finishing all the captions within the next week.

So yeah. Happy traveling, hope I get to travel again soon!

Flickr Photos: Set “Turkey June 2010”


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