Howdy my friends and passing readers! It’s been slightly more than a week since I’ve left Singapore for Turkey, and I am currently in Antalya having passed through Istanbul and Cappadocia (Göreme). The weather is much warmer here, but the air is a little short on moisture as I can feel it from my flaky skin and dry lips. The 3 amigos are all feeling exhausted from the adventures of the past week and today we’re all taking a break and chilling in our nice and cozy little homestay crib. Kadya, the German owner runs a laundry business, which was really great for us to wash and dry our dirty clothes before our bus ride to Fethiye next morning. She’s really lively and animated when she talks, and isn’t afraid say the ‘f’ word while speaking her mind, so yea, she’s pretty cool. In other news, Joshua is still the undisputed king of selfies, Yi Feng farts so much that he can power a turbine and the sky is blue (and I mean really blue).
Let me summarize the 3 places I have visited in Turkey so far based on my some observations and experiences. Istanbul feels like a friendly and welcoming city, where the locals are more approachable and helpful, than say back in Singapore. An intimidating man whom I was standing next to on the train offered me an available seat seeing that I was lugging a couple of heavy bags, which took me by surprise. I joined in a football kick-about along the streets with a couple of kids and I was really impressed by their technique even at a young age. Seems like football really is an international language and can sort of bridge the language barrier. The Turkish seem to love their football very much and it is probably the only sport I’ve seen played both in person and on television here.
The young people in Istanbul generally are more liberal as compared to the eastern/other parts of Turkey. Although Turkey is a secular state, most of the population here are Muslim. In theory, the females are supposed to wear a headdress, but a lot of the females I saw in Istanbul were fashionable and chic and were rather westernized in that sense. Really fascinating that cultures within a country can differ between cities. We met this English guy named David who is also half Malaysian and he a really great photographer. Having met him from our Istiklal hostel, we had breakfast with him and explored parts of Istanbul with him as a travel buddy. At the Otogar bus station we met this Chinese dude our age who’s staying almost half a year in Turkey just to learn Turkish. Woah.
Göreme really felt like Korean town, because we saw Koreans just about everywhere. Not that I’m complaining of course, because they seemed like familiar faces in a foreign place (met a couple of pretty Korean girls during our green tour too). I was really awestruck by the beautiful rock formations and how ingenious the forefathers were to carve homes and structures out of the soft volcanic ash. We did a lot of trekking across the unfamiliar terrain and exploring the old caves and paths. We bumped into a fellow traveler named Francis at our hostel, who was a Malaysian and extremely fit for his age, and we journeyed together across the vast expanse of the Turkey wilderness that is Cappadocia. Over the hills and along the valleys we went, going through crevices and trying unexplored paths.
We even tried to find a way to sneak into the Göreme Open-Air Museum without paying by scouting the perimeter of the huge area. We broke in through a hole in the fence and eventually found a way into the compound but sadly got caught by the security guard. It was a good try nonetheless. We spent the rest of the day risking our lives (a little, yea) to get wonderful pictures on our cameras. I walked until my feet hurt and later discovered I had a blister the size of a 10-cent coin on my toe. We did not try the hot air balloon that Cappadocia is famous for because we are budget constraints, but I’ll definitely come back to try it with my wife/girlfriend in the future because it is an experience not to be missed. One of the highlights of Göreme was this ice path we discovered in the desert which was probably a waterway during the summer. Oh, and I really want to see how Cappadocia looks like with greenery. Another reason to come back!
Antalya hasn’t been as interesting as the previous 2 cities had been. Maybe it’s because the main attractions here involved ruins, which we weren’t particular fond of, and we were tired from all the walking from previous days. We pondered over whether to sneak into another museum, an ancient site called Perge but then decided against it. From what we heard from Kadya, she thinks that the locals here are not as educated and most of the time only care and talk about money. I sensed some truth in that because the shopkeepers treated us like walking moneybags and kept touting us. I also noticed that the locals were more judging towards us, because from some of their stares it is evident that they were less accustomed to foreigners. I really like this hostel though, really love the artsy ambiance and homely feeling it gives.
Food-wise, I haven’t really been blown away by the Turkish cuisine yet. Maybe it is cause we have been surviving on a shoestring budget and haven’t gotten chance to taste the true flavor of culinary excellence. We were told that the eastern part of Turkey had the best kebab, and I was like “damn, too bad we can taste it”. The bread here is dirt cheap and is pretty much the staple food of everything. The price of meals isn’t exactly very cheap either, and the most affordable are the döner kebab which we got sick of. There were a couple of times when we just ate snacks and biscuits to save a bit of money, but it wasn’t very satisfying or nutritious. So it always felt really good when we ate a proper meal in a comfortable, warm diner, or found a cheap meal exploring the town.
Love the fact that even though there are many Muslims around, dogs are still tolerated here in Antalya. I even see many dog owners bringing their leashed dogs for a walk. So far in Turkey, I’ve been seen and been close to quite a number of animals. Chickens, dogs, cats, seagulls, peacocks, horses, camels etc. I think I’ve come across evidence of bigfoot too!
I’m feeling pretty tired right now as I’m typing this. Got to wake up early tomorrow morning to catch a bus and the other 2 buggers are sleeping already. I better turn in too. I shall upload all the photos taken in Turkey at the end of this month all in one go, so please me patient with me my friends while I do some quality control to weed out the lousy pictures leaving only the best for your viewing pleasure 🙂