Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Days 40-47: Can we talk about Frank Lampard instead?

Van, Turkey

Blogging time again as I missed the 9am dolmuş from Van to Dogubeyazıt. Turns out the dolmuş stop I wanted isn't where the Lonely Planet, the guy in the bus office or the two people on the street who I asked said it was. Found it eventually at 9.10. The dolmuş left at 9. Grrr. Next one is 12. So I thought I'd take the opportunity to get online for a couple of hours as there was fortunately an internet cafe near the right stop. [If anyone's reading this looking for tips on getting from Van to Dogubeyazıt, the Dolmuş goes from a car park north of Beş Yol at 7.30, 9.00, 12.00 and 14.00.]

Got to Konya as planned and took a look around the old Mevlana monastery. Beautıful place. Well, the Mevlana Museum (which used to be the dervish HQ) is. I was going to post some pictures but it seems this crapheap of a PC is going to crash everytime I try to retrieve them from my camera. So you'll just have to use your imagination. Or google it, which seems to be a good alternative to imagination, memory or indeed thinking in general these days. Konya not the most fascinating of towns other than the museum so I skidaddled the next day and headed for the coast for a bit of R+R before making the big push east for Iran. Also shaved my beard off. Facial hair is clearly not my thing.

Antalya was pretty rubbish in all honesty. Just a big touristy hole. So I went on to Olympos to stay in one of the tree houses for 3 days at a place called Bayram's. Lovely place for kicking back, reading a book, having a few beers with the folks there and swimming in the sea (not in that order).
Didn't do much apart from visit the Chimaera flames (natural burning gas thing that's been going since time immemorial). There's some link with the Olympic torch but I couldn't quite get my head around what it was. The pic below probably doesn't do it justice. There were quite a few of these...

Then the mammoth 36 hour bus trip to Van. About 2000km I think. Mostly very dull and uncomfortable. I don't sleep well on buses. The monotony of the trip was broken a couple of times though. Firstly by a crazy guy stabbing one of the stewards on the bus. He was OK in the end but needed 4 stıtches. He was taken to hospital and we were all whisked off to the police station. Well, I say 'whisked'. That would imply it was quick, which it wasn't. They didn't take a statement from me as communication would have been an issue and I didn't really see what happened. Also chatted for ages with a Kurdish guy called Gezer and he was a bit of a geezer. Of course, given that he spoke no English and my Kurdish is passable at best, we communicated mostly through the medium of proper nouns, gesticulation and drawing pictures. I now have a wonderful collection of pictures of old weapons in my notebook. If I understood right he collects old weapons (swords etc). If I didn't then he was making some very specific threats to me. He also compared the Turkish govt to Hitler. Surprisingly the proper noun conversation didn't involve football in any way which it has done with most people in Kurdistan. They're big fans of Frank Lampard here for some reason. Monotony of the trip was also broken by the scenery as we got towards Van. All v mountain-y.

Van is a nice setting for a day. Mountains and lake. I scouted round the castle, which is down by lake Van and a spectacular setting. Plus I slept off the bus journey. Was also given some advice that getting the train to Iran was probably not the best idea. So I'm going to head for Dogubeyazıt as mentioned above, and cross at the road border. Mind you, given the quality of transport info I've been given in Van so far, I'm not sure I'm making the right decision.


  1. If in doubt, count to 10 in Serbo-Croat and throw in the occasional "Emile Heskey" for good measure...

  2. I've pretty much exhausted my knowledge of Turkish footballers too. Emre, Tuncay and Nihat being about it. I could throw in Alpay and Hakan Sukur as old skool wild cards I guess.

  3. what about receber rustu, former national team goalie who used to put those black lines under his eyes

  4. or Daruis Vassell, played for Ankaragücü for a bit (yes, i had to google it)