Greetings from Istanbul, the largest city straddling two continents! (According to Google, there are a few other cities which lie on both Europe and Asia). It’s been a hectic and busy week, so now I’m taking a breather to give an update on how things are going so far.
First off, a brief introduction wouldn’t be too out of place here. The time difference between Singapore and Istanbul is 6 hours, so the jet lag that we experienced wasn’t too bad on the first day. Istanbul is the cultural, historical and economical hub of the country and is home to more than 14 million people. That sounds like a lot to me, considering that I come from a country with its 5.5 million citizens overflowing at its seams. It is also the capital, as well as the largest city in Turkey. Nahhh I’m kidding… the capital is actually Ankara. Got you there didn’t I? 😉
Before the trip, I had a some pre-flight jitters, but after the plane took off, I felt a sense of growing excitement. This was not just because of the fact that I was venturing into the unknown (new culture and experiences) but also because it was the furthest from Singapore that I have ever traveled to. The arrival into the city was slightly underwhelming and tempered because we had to make an unexpected detour, walk pretty far to take the metro, squeeze on the train for 15 stops (give or take), and haul our luggage up a narrow flight spiraling stairs and down again to our actual hostel. But it was all good because our room turned out to be pretty decent and cozy, with a great hostel location for exploring.
During the 2 days so far, we have visited Hagia Sophia (for some reason Yifeng loves the place and wants to keep entering Sophia), Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar and other parts of the city by foot. The cold is really awesome to me because I love blowing smoke breaths but quite awful sometimes because of the wind chill that brings the shivers. Although the forecast might say that it’s 7 degrees Celsius, it certainly feels much worse, more like 0. It’s no joke man… but Istanbul really is a beautiful place with amazing cultural diversity and architectural brilliance. The people are beautiful too, the ladies here have good figures and beautiful faces. Sometimes I find their eyes to be most attractive and mesmerizing but I have to remain dignified and not be a perv. So, I have to pry my eyes away from those amazing eyes by exercising self-control and look at something else, like the ass of another beautiful girl instead.
“You from Korea?”
I notice that 3 Chinese guys walking on the streets generate quite a lot of attention, but I wouldn’t say that it’s unwelcome. For some reason, we get mistaken as Koreans more often than not on the streets of Istanbul. Perhaps due to the legacy of the Psy craze? Or maybe there really are a lot of Koreans who go to Turkey. But hey, there’s a fair share of “Konichiwa” and “你好!” thrown in too… quite amusing really. The people here are mostly friendly and helpful; those we’ve met have been pleasant to talk to. It is extremely easy to strike up a conversation with most people, provided that they can understand English since we only know how to say “Thank You” in Turkish. Which is, by the way, translated as “teşekkür ederim”. You can get away with saying “to sugar a drink” really fast to the locals and they would probably think that its an exotic accent. We learnt this by talking to a roadside owner of a seemingly quaint hotel. He even offered me a cup of tea upon my request, which I did out of jest.
Yea, there were some other nice people… one joker even called himself “Tan” and warned us from falling prey to scams. He said he didn’t like Turkey, because he preferred chicken… -_-” Anyway, I kind of get the feeling that the merchants nearer to the city center/popular attractions tend to put on a facade more to tout business compared to the less touristy places, which seem to provide a more genuine and sincere customer service. After Istanbul, we shall be going to Goreme to tour Cappadocia before heading to Antalya, then Fethiye, then Pamukkale then Ephesus, then Izmir (where Damien will join us), then Cannakale, with Istanbul rounding off the clockwise journey around western Turkey.
P.S. Joshua is going out of control with his selfies. I had no idea he was this narcissistic. Maybe I’ll write a 10,000 word essay on his narcissism next week. Till then, ciao.