Day 17. Here we’re back in Istanbul, back to the place where it all started. After tracing out a nice little clockwise circle around the western part of Turkey with our footprints. Our journey here is winding down nicely with an additional member to the troupe (Damien), who joined us in our Izmir stopover where we watch the Wolf of Wall Street. 3 hours of unbridled rawness, full of sex, booze, nudity and morally objectionable behavior. Nonetheless, one of the most entertaining movies I’ve watched in recent years. Thankfully it was in English with Turkish subtitles and not the other way round. Izmir was all about lepaking and chilling out with booze, boats, bridge and
bitches. A big fat nope to the last one – definitely not the ones in the shady bar next to our hotel. The breakfast here was great, hands down the best we’ve come across so far. Cheese, eggs, milk, cereal, olives, dates, tomatoes, juice, coffee, tea, jam and of course, bread. We also kept feeding the seagulls and Joshua was an unfortunate victim of one’s defecation.
We took a night bus to Canakkale and arrived at the utterly deserted Otogar (that’s what they call the bus terminals here) at 4am in the morning, tired, cold and stranded, or so we thought initially. Thankfully, we discovered fellow human beings nearby who directed us to the other end of the terminal, where a pimped up neon blue minivan pulled up (a bangbus, as Damien calls it) which shuttled us to the ferry terminal safe and sound. We totally KO-ed on the ferry and later at the hotel, but had a good rest before our tour of Gallipoli later on. It was during lunch when I realized I’m missing the variety food back in Singapore. Here in Turkey, most of the food basically revolves around the same old ingredients but calling them different names. We then had a history lesson into the Gallipoli campaign of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, which was nice and all but boring after a while.
Anyways, so here I am in the Taksim side of Istanbul, where we shall be staying for a couple of days before crossing the river back to the previous hostel for a couple of nights, before flying to Tel Aviv and Haifa in Israel where a couple of couch-surfers have agreed to host us. Awesome! I’m really, really used to this travelling and hostel hopping thing now, it’s become the norm for us already. Packing and unpacking is no longer a chore but a routine for us. I can just leave the navigation and planning to sharp Yi Feng and reliable Joshua, while I simply handle the common fund and calculate finances. Before I forget, let me briefly recap the time I had in Fethiye, Pamukkale and Selcuk.
Fethiye/Oludeniz is supposed to be a really nice place, but unfortunately the gods did not favor us and gave us rain and more rain. To be fair, we had been very fortunate with how the weather panned out during the previous days and it was inevitable that we encountered rain since it is winter. But to rain on the day when we wanted to paraglide was cruel. Coincidentally, it was also valentine’s day and we spent the day waiting for the sky to clear. It was clear that the rain wasn’t going to stop so we decided to go back to the hostel and call it a day. But the company suddenly called and brought us back to commence paragliding. It was here where we met 2 other Korean dudes whom we had the fate to meet again in 2 other cities later on. However, after going all the way up the mountain on a van with all the equipment ready, the instructors decided to call it off because of unfavorable wind conditions. At this point I was disappointed and exasperated by the weather. Just as we were about to head downhill, an old man appeared (weather guru?) and changed the mind of the driver and crew and we did a u-turn back up! The paragliding experience was amazing, it’s like one moment you are running into the sunset and the next you’re in the air flying without wings (cue R. Kelly and Westlife). I almost crashed into a tree during takeoff (no kidding) and ended up puking from the crazy spins but it was absolutely awesome.
Our next city, Pamukkale, was awesome. We visited calcite formations with hot springs and the ancient ruins of Hierapolis. Quite an awesome experience to walk barefooted across the white pools which harbored the running spring water from the top of the mountain. Best 20 lira spent ever. It was here in this town where we made friends with a number of nice people too! Chatting with fellow travelers can be fascinating when you learn more about their background, experiences and future plans etc. We fed more birds with bread – geese and ducks this time. They were so, so fat from all the food fed to them by the locals and tourists. Next city was Selcuk where we visited more ruins (at this point the novelty factor was wearing thin) and found a really nice cafe for our meals. We then took a train ride to Izmir, which was a really pleasant and smooth ride. SO much better than the trains back in Singapore. I love the buses and coaches here too… they seem to glide across the roads to ensure that you have a comfortable sleep. Not the smaller ones of course, you get what you pay for.
It’s 2.15 am here and this is probably the latest I’ve stayed up so far. I’ll post another entry really soon since I’m gonna turn in for the night now. The night life in this part of Istanbul is really happening, I can still hear it outside. Goodnight to me and good morning to all you folks in Singapore!
Gonna camp in my sleeping bag, I’m not gonna move…