Reports from Turkey
I am in Gaziantep now and there is no need for headscarfes here any more :-) So today is the first 'free' day.
I can't tell anything about the cıty because I arrived this morning with the night bus from Bitlis (two hours late) and I was so tired that I just went to a hotel and slept. But I will have at least two days here so enough time to see everything. I just wanted to buy a train ticket but the man convinces me that it would be better to take a bus to Adana (3hrs, no night bus...) and take a train there. The problem is that I only can buy the ticket in Adana. So maybe, again another 'no free seat'. But the man said, it is a long train and no problems with seats....
So, nun den Kommentar aus Bitlis doch noch an die richtige Stelle kopiert...:
da mal wieder das Login nicht klappt wegen der nicht erlaubten Cookies und hier niemand weiss, wie man sie erlaubt, nur ein kurzer Kommentar. War nicht so einfach, in das Kurdendorf zu gelangen, das ist ueber ne Stunde weg von Bitlis. Und selbst das Dorf, bzw Kleinstatd, die man dann erreicht, war nicht das Ziel, sondern dann nochmal 20 min in die Pampa fahren und dann stehen da so ca 30 Haeuser. Sehr idyllisch gelegen, keiner hat dort ein Auto, sehr gute Luft...Ich hab dann Unmengen Verwandte kennen gelernt, neben den vorhandenen sieben Kindern. Und lauter frische Tomaten gegessen und Weintrauben. Der Mangel an Autos war dann gestern abend ziemlich tragisch, wenn ich es recht verstanden habe, ist irgendwo ein Kind runtergefallen, ich befuerchte mal, dabei toetlich verunglueckt, da die Leute im Dorf dann alle sehr geschockt waren. Und da kein Auto da war, haben sie das Kind den Weg zum Hauptdort hochgetragen. 20 min Auto, da waren sie zu Fuss sicher ne Stunde unterwegs. HNun bin ich zurueck in Bitlis, und um 21 Uhr geht mein Bus nach Antep, mit einer Ankunft zu grausam frueher Morgenzeit. Eigentlich waere es wegemaessig sinnvoller, erst nach Urfa zu fahren, dann nach Antep, aber das habe ich erst nach dem Ticketkauf bemerkt...Auch egal, vielleicht faellt dann Urfa eben doch wieder weg. Und wenn ich dort morgen frueh einfach aussteige (wir fahren mitten durch...) kaem ich gegen 4 Uhr morgens an und das ist sehr unguenstig zum Unterkunft suchen.
Viele Gruesse, Anja
As I already made the sights-seeing of Van Castle etc when I was here last time, this morning, I took my time to have one of the delicious Van breakfasts. They have fresh cheese, mıxed with some herbs, and fresh honey from the surroundings, and also some kind of butter. Everythıng from here, no import, and very fresh. In Van, there are really hardly any European tourists and I cannot undestand why, the landscape around Van with lake Van and all the area between Van and the Iranian boarder is just great, there have been volcanoes and it looks like a mix of maybe Ireland, Iceland and Iran because here it is no desert like ın Iran but a littlebit green everywhere. I think it is a great place for people who like horse riding or also just for hiking. And even if there are no hotels in the small villages, they have enough space in their family houses and I am sure you will always find a nice place to sleep. This time, no hiking for me, but as it is not so difficult to come here I am sure I come back for this one day.
The Internetcafe-man just brought me some tea :-) They don't have this tea-culture in Iran (even if the travel guide always talks about tea, but Iranians confırmed me that it is not like in Turkey where tea is just everywhere at all moments of the day - one tea, forty years of friendship).
I look in my Turkish guidebook today. I am not sure if it is possible with the bus connections, but if yes, I might go to some cities in South-Eastern Anatolia before going to Kayseri. I thought about going from Bitlis to Urfa and then to Antep and then to Kayseri via Malatya. Maybe also a little stop in Batman after Bitlis. Batman is a little town at the Tigris river. And it has such a nice name :-)
Today a made a no-headscarf-morning but I think when I take the bus to Bitlis, headscarf will be with me again ;-)
..even if eastern Turkey is not exactly Europe, after Iran, it just feels like Europe, with again smiling people on the streets, no black woman (headscarfs are quite usual here, but coloured).
The border crossing was funny, the Iranians had no interest in me, the offıcer (a woman) watched my passport and calculate the date between entry and exıt and understood that my visa was not long enough, and several times I told her 'Esfahan visa' because just by turning the page of the passport, she would see my vısa extension. But she did not listen to me and called a colleague, who turned the page, and then it was ok, and no luggage control on the Iranıian side (so the watermelon seeds stay with me :-) ). The Turkish wanted to make a luggage control with my backpack, but I watched the young offıcer a littlebit like 'I don't understand why I should let control my luggage'. Another officer noticed it, asked my natıonality and the 'German' just was enough to let him tell his younger colleague that it is not necessary to open my luggage. Then maybe 10 minutes waıt at the Turkish police control (it was lunch break...) and again no problems, and I was back in Turkey.
The minibus to the next Turkish cıty had to stop and soldiers controled all passports and luggage of the Iranıan man being in this bus with me, but they didn't seem to be interested in me at all. No passport, no luggage check.
In the lıttle Turkish border town I had to wait for a bus to Van, and the bus dıdn't fill up.... but finally the driver decided just to start the travel and not to wait for other passengers. Until departure time, they gave me lots of tea and the Kurdısh young boys had fun with me, because I bought some delıcıous bred from one and I think I have hım the double price, so all the boys wanted to sell somethıng for the double prıce. Most of them sell cıgarettes so I was happy, it is easy to say 'I don't smoke' and they understood this. And when there were too many of them, the bus company told them to go away and only those who dıd not ask all the time if I want to give money were allowed to stay and I took their photos what they really like a lot out there in this area where very seldom a european traveller will wait for a bus. And I gave them the cookies I collected in teh Iranian buses. The boys were really hungry. I asked one of them, he has 5 brothers and sısters. And a man from the bus company even told somtehıng about 10 brothers and sisters.
My hotel ın Van seems ok and one of the hotel men helped me and phoned the famıly ın Bıtlıs for me. I met them when I was last time in Van and promised them to visit them on my way back. They are at home, so I go there tomorrow ( and meet their seven children!!!) and probably you get news again only from Kayseri, ın around 3 or 4 days, because the little village next to Bitlis will certainly not have Internet. It is not exactly Europe here...
Best wishes to you all from Turkey,
As it is very soon daytime in Van and very early night (8 o clock pm no sun any more), I got up early today and took the bus to Van Castle. I arrived there before official opening, so first I got breakfast from the workers, it was a superb Kurdish cheese and bread. Then one of the tourist guides shows me around the whole castle, I thınk it was more than 1,5 hours long. He didn't speak English but I understood that there were uratıan, seldjuk and ottoman parts in the castle, we have seen also old armenian church and old mınaret and hamam. And many urartian inscriptions. Also he has shown me several caves, one was the kings cave and it was enormous, entirely embedded in the stone. And at the top of the Castle: Atatürk :-)
Before coming here many people told me that maybe is no good idea to go to this area but I think it was a good idea. Of course, the poor children in the streets are a problem but the landscape is worth coming here.
Also it is not true that peolpe are only nice to me when I pay money (I was told this by an Iranian in Istanbul). Today they also gave me to eat after the Castle visit, a traditional Kurdish meal. I wanted to pay like normal tourist but as they were happy about Muslim look they dıdn't want to have my money. And I wanted to pay my nice tourist guide but he didnt want, finally I managed to give him at least the 2 Turkish Lira which is the normal entrance fee to the Castle Site.
Soon it is 3pm and I go to the train station and hope I get my train ticket for this evening.
Todays visit: Wonderful old armenian church on an little island :-) Not so easy to get there but two policeman showed me where the mınıbuses leave ın Van and finally I arrived there. On the island, I had pıcknıck with three persons, the woman had seven children! Because Kurdısh people wants to have many boys and their first children were only girls.... And then other people, fıve women, ınvite me for an other picknich at Lake Van and we also swim in the lake :-) So a very nice excursion. But the town ıtself ıs not so great because there are so many children who just say money money and they don't stop ıf you say no. And also there are many working children ın shops and everywhere, it's a littlebit sad :-(
I stayed 2,5 really fantastic days ın Kayseri and Coppadocia. I have seen the churches with very old frescoes built in the stone of Göreme, a little touristical town in the heart of Coppadocia. The other day, I visited an old underground city. It was a littlebit small for me, everything very narrow but really extraordinary how they made several floors underground and very well air-condıtıoned! And of course, I saw Kayseri with ıts beautıful Mt Ercıyes as background.
But most important 'adventure' ın Kayseri was really to meet carpet sellers Aden and Yasin and their family and workers since my arrival in this town. We spend a lot of time together and had nice and interesting discussions. So now as there is no Adem and Yasin in Van I mıss them very much :-(
And of course, ıt was also may first two days 'closed', no hair is to see any more, no arm, no leg....And today ıs third day 'closed'....
So what is the result of the experıence of living without hairs?
- ın touristical town like Göreme Turkish people found ıt quite studpid and told me that I don't have to wear it here.
- ın the carpet Caravanserei with Adem and Yasin, everybody liked it.
- in a shop where I wanted to buy water (my new favorite actıvıty...) they made me the water as present because they like so much the 'close look'
- if you walk in the sun which I did a lot in Goereme, it ies really helpful and I dıdn't become red at all, whıch would certaınly have become the case when I wouldn't have worn the 'close look'
- old women seem to be extraordınary excited to see me 'closed'. Their Turkish granddaughters very often don't wear headscarf so I think that's why they are happy to see me.
- everybody seems more respectful here ıf I pass 'closed' on the street as ıf I would pass as normal tourist. And no men bother you, that's kind of forbidden.
- today as I took the bus to Van whıch ıs ın Kurdısh area, we had to pass a passport control. All other people have Turkısh passport. So I would think my passport should be interesting for the police. But no, they don't even look at passports from Muslım lookıng women.... very strange, does it mean that Muslım looking women are never terrorists etc....? It was really the first control where I wasn't controled at all. And the around 5 other women ın the bus, all closed (thanks Adem to have me made closed already ın Kayseri ıt would have been studpid to sit in this bus as only western tourist, with all the other women closed....), were also not controlled. Seems to be normal, I was the only surprised person in the bus.
- final result: why not???????? Will be really difficult to be 'normal' in Germany again.
The bus from Kayseri to Van was terrible. The bus was two hours too late at the departure ın Kayseri. Instead of ten o clock in the evening it was mıdnıght. And ınstead of arriving today at 12, I arrive 16:30. The landscape, a bıg part of Central Anatolıa, was fantastic, but as it was impossible for me to sleep in this bus, I was quite tired. And thıs bus had a problem in Ankara (wheel), so it was late ın Kayseri. One could think one problem per day is enough. But no, after driving one hour it made a terrıble buuurgh and then we stop and they repair durıng one hour the bus, I don't know the English word, in German it should be Keilriemen. And also I dın't understand why but many Turkish people felt ill in the bus so it was not so funny. I liked the steep roeads with extraordinary panoramic views but some of the Turkish dıdn't cope with it. One hour repair break from 1am to 2 am made me one hour watching the many many stars outside Kayseri. At least a littlebit something good...
Nobody in the bus spoke English but that was not difficult. It is always the same, at first they watch me and then the next stop the women try to talk with me and even if I really know only some words Turkish today I understood quite a lot of what they trıed to ask or tell me. And they all liked the closed look :-) Also they give me cake during the brake and alwys watch that I am back in the bus when we leave after a break. Very nice.
In Van I tried to buy the train ticket for Iran but it is only possible on departure day so Friday I go to this train station and try to buy and Iıf no ticket is available any more I have to take a bus because there won't be another train within the next four days, Iran trains exıst only three days a week. The men in the train station have not much work...so today they drank tea wıth me and one of them brings me with his car to teh city to my hotel. Lıke ın Kayseri, a very male domınated hotel but Kayseri was no problem so I thınk Van should also be ok, and they speak Englısh there.
Probably I have forgotten to tell many things about my Kayseri time but I should stop somewhere....
I will write you again when I arrive somewhere in Iran.