Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Taxi drivers and an incredible trip to Turkish delight heaven!

Hi Anna!

Welcome back to blogging! I loved the video that you did for me! I'm almost tempted to do one in response but I shall save myself as I am not blessed with any singing talent at all. It was so funny to watch I almost want to reach out to you and applaud at the end! haha! I have never had anyone write a song for me.. I think you were serenading me to come back to you ;) It's such a beautiful video!! LIKE button a thousand times if it was possible.

I'm terribly sorry that I haven't been blogging. Word of warning, make sure you're in the mood to read because it is the longest post I've ever done!

It's been about three weeks since I've been back and finally I'm ready to blog about my wonderful adventures in Turkey. It was a truly amazing trip, just like all my other trips, but in different ways of course. I don't even know where to start so I thought I'd do a list because I like making lists :) Before I start my list, let me tell you about my difficult arrival.

After a four hour flight, I landed in Istanbul at 7pm and did not check into the hostel until midnight! First of all, arriving at night in a new country is never a good idea. I've done it a few times but usually take the cab. This time round, it was a bit expensive and I was trying to stretch my savings a bit and to be a bit audacious about 'roughing it' and catch the public transport. Second of all, when you're jet lagged, you're not quite switched on and brainless me caught the tram in the opposite direction.  I did not even stop to think that I could be going in the wrong direction but I partially blame this on poor PA system too haha! 45 minutes later, I saw all the locals hop off, and by now they were all men, I started to panic a little but annoyance and exhaustion took over because it meant that it would take another 45 minutes to get back where I mistakenly hopped on and another hour in the correct direction.You should've seen me on the tram venting it out pages in my diary.

Now third mistake, is accepting a taxi that honks at you. I have this rule of never accepting a taxi that honks at you. I put it down to exhaustion again. I finally got to the tram stop that was nearest to the hostel but I started walking and of course I walked in the wrong direction again! My iphone was on 5% or something like that and I did not want to rely on it and use google maps and I thought I could somehow find this hostel because it was only a minute walk away and I had studied the directions from the hostel and had it all mapped out in my head. 15 minutes later, it starts drizzling, the streets are quieter and a quick glance on google maps shows that I've gone beyond the beyond. I don't see anyone else walking around and that's when I gave in to the third taxi that honked at me on the streets. In I hop, ask this man in English whether he knew where the hostel was, of course he did!  What else was he going to say? My blood was boiling at the end of the ride and I could've punched this man in the face. We, or more like HE, circled around and around, up and down, craned his head and squinted his eyes for strangers on the streets for directions,  stopped at a taxi rank to ask his mates, wouldn't listen to me when I resuscitated my phone and used google maps to tell him where to turn, all this time clocking up the fares. I had the last straw after he kept insisting on finding the hostel, and I told him to just stop and I was getting out. Imagine me, palm up in his face "STOP!" and morphing them to two fingers walking back and forth  "I'M WALK........KINGGGGGGGGG"  I emphasized the 'ng' bit as if I was teaching phonics to 4year olds. I was furious when he would not lower the rate and the journey was ridiculously close to where I was picked up if he had really known where he was going.  I wouldn't have pulled off punching him in the face, perhaps I could've just done a runner.  I slammed the door and was faced with not a soul on the streets.  I took a side alley and with luck on my side, in literally 5 seconds, came across the hostel. I could've kissed the ground, but there were a couple of travelers sitting outside and I did not want to look mad. 

Now is that a bad start to the holiday already or what? Well, one might be dampened by it, but after I checked in at just after midnight, I was just thankful that I found the hostel. Besides, the trip could only get better! And it sure did thankfully!!!

Typing about it makes me laugh. Stuff like this is funny when you make it out alive. In fact, it adds to my collection of taxi driver stories. I'm sure HW remembers the angry driver deliberately trying to run over young pedestrians in Cairo. There was the lead foot in Kuala Lumpur and my luggage almost went flying through the screen. The spiritualist in Hanoi that meditated as oppose to sleep and that got me worried because we were heading to the airport and it was 4am. The unfortunate one who hit a motorcyclist that was going too fast and left me guilt ridden in Yogjakarta. And how could I forget, the horny one in Bali openly discussing his sexual appetite, while Adrian and I sat at the back with bulged eyes and nervous laughter.

Anyway, I have diverted. I present...

(in order of occurence)

1. Making new friends in hostels are guaranteed! Vanessa: Mexican/Canadian student studying in Paris. We checked in the same night, shared the same dorm and got along straight away. Also in the same dorm, met Haylee: from Miami visiting her friends. Totally fun loving girls with personalities just like us ;)
In front of the entrance to Topkapi Palace

2. Exploring the mosques, markets and Grand Bazaar. Beautiful lamps that had to be bought and clothing left behind to make room in my tiny bag.

In front of the Blue Mosque. Cardigan in bag to cover up when we went inside.

I wanted to bring home one HUGE lamp :(
Vanessa and I had a great time haggling down the prices. I went cushion cover crazy here.

One of the sellers dressed me up and made me think about buying it too. Not sure what they call  it?  I cringed and hunched a bit when he put his hand on my shoulders. All for laughs!
I love this shot. It makes me laugh. Over and over. And over again because I bought a pair see below, that makes this lot look tame. I will wear it one day and shock you in real life. LOL.
The harem pants I bought. Went green and gold for Aussie! May very well form part of my outfit for the Olympics.

3. Devouring kebabs and Turkish delights of a million sorts. I am in love with Turkish food. Stomach talking to me this instance. Kept thinking about my next meal. Still have one box of Turkish delight left but that is Lauren's present. Why have just the original rosewater Turkish delight when you can have ones made out of marshmallow/ chocolate/ pomengrate juice/ embedded with pistachio/hazelnuts/ peanuts/ coated with dessicated coconut/ cocoa dust?

Sharing a tiny table with a man and his son? They were so cute and kind to offer to take a photo for us :)
MMMM no words just silence

My favourite and most delicious turkish delight! Marshmallow with pistachio nuts!!!
Sold in rolls and can be cut up for you if you like.
Delicious delights!
My last meal in Istanbul, kofte- meatballs. INCREDIBLY TASTY!

4. Meeting Nick, one cool friend of Mr D. Thank you Mr D, facebook and watsapp for helping two strangers meet in Istanbul. I felt like I was a touch closer to home :) We almost gave up waiting for him but he waltzed in the reception as we were getting up. If Mr D never helped Nick and I meet, we would've been sitting in the same room without knowing we both knew Mr D! Coincidentally,  Nick also got a ticket to a Turkish cultural dance show that night that Vanessa and I were going to.

This reminds me of Friends.

Fantastic dance show that got me smiling the whole way through. Unbelievable belly movements and energy going on here.
Can you spot the great Nick?

5. Flying to Goreme. I love flying when I'm not tired. I love sitting in a plane with nothing to do but read! Was totally engrossed in a book with collection of modern short stories set in London.

Early morning flight to Goreme

6. Absorbing  every inch of the landscape in Goreme. Loved Goreme to bits. Loved it more than Istanbul itself because of it's quaint quiet nature and the striking buildings carved into the rocks. I thought of Toraja, where instead of buildings and pigeon holes, rocks are carved in for coffins.

7. Enjoying my daily mini buffet breakfast including various cheeses. I couldn't  believe
 Turkey had such amazing cheeses! Heavenly I tell you!
Very modest first round plate

8. Hammering away. Remember how we smashed plates after our dinner in Mez? Well, not as elaborate and exciting, but I got to hammer the lid of a clay pot to reveal my tasty beef kebab pottery stew. After polishing every morsel and wiping away my tears of elation (that was how incredible it tasted!) I sat at the restaurant smiling and rubbing my stomach while taking in the landscape and lost for time. Dining solo is great when there is scenery to gaze at. You don't feel the need to talk at all!
Hesitant at first, but after three solid taps.....
TA DA! Lid off :)

All the while enjoying the view of Sunset Point. Can you see two people up there?

9. Hiking to Sunset Point. After gazing at it over lunch, I decided I had to climb up there. It was only me and I felt supreme and smug perched up there overlooking the town's activities.

Overlooking Goreme
They call them fairy chimney rocks
10.  Flying, or more like rising, for the first time in a hot air balloon. How can I describe it to you? I'll analogize it to you. Gentle vertical swimming rainbow coloured puffer-fishes of the sky. Except, after half an hour I was done because I got A) bored B) Annoyed C) Dizzy. Bored because I expected some turbulence and bumps. Sad but I do like a bit of turbulence on my plane rides. Additionally, I preferred sitting on Sunset Point because the angle was better and you could see the rock formations better.  Annoyed because out of 20 passengers, 16 were middle aged Hong Kong tourists that killed the serenity with their incessant chatter and exclaimations of "HOE LENG AH" Mind you, that will be my parents on their Chinese travel group in about a week's time! D. Dizzy as I kept spinning around getting a thousand shots of everything and anything. Can you believe that out of all of them, there is only one shot that I like and that's on my iphone :/ Overall I LOVED the sight of all the hot air balloons as oppose to being on one.

Balloons everywhere

11.Hiking again but this time serious hiking on my last day in Goreme. Picture this: stupidly started the journey with last bar of water in bottle, 5 hours walking in 30C +, me in shorts trying to tan my legs but covered in a cardigan to even out, no hat but a polka dot makeshift hijab, with not the best footwear, a useless map, the occasional odd hiker every hour or so, and a deserted cafe where a man offered me freshly squeezed orange juice and wouldn't accept my money. In fact he played on this and kept trying to come close and get physical when he was trying to give the money back. Then he said I could give him a kiss. I said "No". At this point suspicious that this is his convoluted way to get a kiss. That weirded me out so I gave up and told him I was going to start walking. Then a thought came too late to my mind. I didn't take note if he laced my oj with something. Then all these thoughts of Hostel/Wolf Creek/ Chainsaw Massacre came pouring down. Turns out he was being nice and I took a photo with him for memories.
Somewhere in there

Holy moly I am pink sweaty and not a great look sorry! This was taken in a tunnel where I caught my breathe and rested in the shade.
The deserted cafe man. He kinda looks like an elf.
See those openings? The Turkish use to carve holes into the rocks for pigeons  to nest in and collect their droppings for fertilizer. They call them pigeon caves and I suppose that is where the term 'pigeon holes' come from.

12. Drinking as a reward for hiking. Although the first 5 hours was of solitude, the last hour of my hike ended with a lovely encounter with Livia, a Chinese-Canadian, also traveling solo and we walked the direct way back to the town with a couple from New York. Livia is a nurse and she's worked in Brisbane and will be returning next year to Brisbane again so that got the conversation going. She was very easy going and when we got back to town, we found a restaurant and in our sweaty gear, downed Turkish beer and swapped stories of all sorts. How could I forget, we were also chatted up by the waiters that were overly attentive. I lied about being married and that worked until he noted the ring missing. Good one Chia! I thought it was all too hilarious until we saw him on his motorbike and thought he was stalking us after we left the restaurant.

Of course there are loads more stories and things to tell you, but I think I will end it here. I was going to upload videos and more photos but that will have to wait for another day. Knowing me I might not get around to them! I really hope you enjoyed the post and it whisked you away for a moment :)

Other news, my parents arrived in London this morning! We had a lazy day catching up on sleep ready to go tomorrow for a full on day of sightseeing. I'm very excited as this gives me a chance to be a tourist and enjoy the sights all over again before I leave :(

1 comment:

  1. Most taxi drivers are friendly and willing to converse with you concerning something thus you will always have somebody to speak along your journey.
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