I’ve clearly been a bit crap with updating my blog while I’ve been in Turkey. One little problem is that I can’t seem to upload photos anymore, which probably means I’ve reached the limit – so I’ll probably try and put together a few online photo albums in the near future. I’m currently killing time in a city called Şanliurfa which is in south-eastern Turkey. We’re almost at the end of our trip around Turkey and to be honest…neither of us are particularly sorry! We’re flying back to Istanbul tonight and from there, flying to Zurich on Friday (which also happens to be my birthday). We’ll spend a couple of days in Zurich and Basel in Switzerland – staying with one of my former uni lecturers in the latter city – before going to Bangkok via London.
It’s a bit of a pity that we’re feeling impatient to move on now. The dry heat is quite overbearing (it got to 38 degrees here today) and it’ll be a long time before we feel like having Turkish food again. It was pretty amazing to start with…but for the last few days, the lack of any kind of sauce with kebabs, and the overall lack of flavour and variety is really starting to get to us. Turkish food once in a while is okay but every day…perhaps it was Syria that really spoiled it for us since there was so much good food there – and also the fact that Lonely Planet Turkey is a load of crap. It’s mentioned a number of times that the south-east of Turkey feels really ‘eastern’ – but it doesn’t really at all, it feels very much like Turkey still even if there are a few more women wearing chadors. One of the only real discernible differences out this way are the presence of Kurdish people – we met a great guy in particular named Mehmet who taught us how to dance while the sun set over Nemrut Daği. That was pretty cool. (Nemrut Daği is famous for stone heads on top of a mountain put there by a megalomaniac king.)
For the most part though, we’ve had great experiences travelling through Turkey and people have been very friendly – well, too friendly in fact! Istanbul is a buzzing metropolis; Safranbolu was very pretty and we got to stay in a really nice Ottoman house; Amasra was a relaxed seaside town teeming with Turkish tourists keen to cool off; Ankara, though not the nicest city we’ve ever visited, did have a paved district called Kizilay which was a great place to hang out; Goreme was a real highlight, set amongst the incredible rock formations of Cappodocia; and Antakya (Antioch) was mostly fantastic because you could actually get Middle Eastern food there (and from there, cross over the border to Syria).
Now that we’ve travelled quite a lot in Turkey it seems that a lot of Turkish people we have encountered are, for the most part, happy to move closer to Europe and away from the Arab world. One guy we met in Goreme even said outright that he generally didn’t like Arabs which shocked us a little bit. However, that’s not to say that they all have the best opinion of Europeans – a few of the people we’ve talked to have quite openly criticised the European countries that they have lived in. One guy we met yesterday in Diyarbakir went on about how much he had despised living in France – and also hated black people too! (He seemed kind of unstable though…). It’s a sad irony that one of the oppressed peoples of Europe – Turks are one of the main minorities in Western Europe – are clearly just as capable of racism as their oppressors. But that’s no surprise, really. Human beings are pretty similar everywhere. One of the greatest lessons you always learn from travelling.
Update at 10am, 22/06/06 The weather makes sooo much difference. We flew back to Istanbul last night and it must be about ten degrees cooler than out east, in no small part due to the Sea of Marmara. It’s so nice to be back in a familiar place…and Istanbul is such a cool city with so much going on. We’re going to try and see a huge Rodin exhibition today that just opened last week…and lots more besides in our last 24 hours here.