Monday, January 7, 2008


I just don’t know how to describe my travel to Turkey? There seems too much to write about but I just don’t know where to start. I would like to introduce those interesting places I visited like Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern and Bursa but I think all existing website would be a better resources. Introducing places of interest sounds dull as would I rather write about my personal finding in Istanbul as this supposes to be personal blog and it should be about personal experiences.

The first thing I learn right after I checked out from the immigrations is the world local bank. The best part of HSBC is that I can use my Dubai HSBC ATM card to make transaction in the local currency. Stupid me; should have listen to Lil not to change my dirhams into USD when Turkish lira aren’t available in Dubai. Losing twice transaction cost to those bloods sucking money changer irks me…

This was my first time joining a tour and the group itself already an interesting topic. The group which consist of about 30 peoples including few Egyptians, Palestinians, Iraqis, Filipinos, Pakistanis, Indians, English and us are all based in UAE. Waiting… waiting… waiting… are the main story of our TOUR! I really want to name those idiots who are not punctual but after days of trip together, they are known to be nice people too.

Those tour guides is another story… We are only allowed to spend 2hours in the super interesting Topkapi palace which are full of historical stuff like world 7th largest diamond, Prophet Muhd’s footprints, John Baptist’s hand and the most unbelievable of all… Moses’ ROD! The Rod that open the red sea!!! Wowowwww! I really doubt those items really belongs to those people but as most religion would agreed its just a relic.

Just short of two hours, we are rushed to a leather factory outlet where there are Russian Models catwalking for us. Just like me, most of the men in the tour are super excited about the catwalk but my first time attending a fashion show doesn’t seems to be a pleasant one. After the 15minutes show, just 2 of the tour members seem to be interested; the cheapest leather jacket is about 2k Dirhams…

Time limit was set for the Topkapi palace tour but not this supposedly buying spree!!! Since all of us come with a budget airline, living in a 3star hotel and come from Dubai where stuff there are tax free and cheaper… anyone interested to buy? Nah… the tour guide seems no where to be found after the fashion show, her strategy to make us WAIT so that we might go on shopping spree to fill our free time seems to have failed.

I have watched a lot of Hong Kong drama about how those guides who takes “tourist” to be chopped in their respective Stores and Now I experienced it. After almost 2 hours waiting in the bus, all the tour member united and start searching for the tour guide and we demanded to leave. All of us agreed, it would have been better to spend the whole afternoon in TOpkapi palace than in this Textile shops. This is my first experience joining a tour…

The second day was even worst… we have to queue for 3hours before we got to ride a cable car to the top of the mountain to play SNooow! There is this 3hours wait because some Idiots overslept and we all have to wait for them resulted in us reaching the mountain foot in prime hours with long queue... not to mention that those Idiots hawkers on the mountain top who hiked up the food price; 7Lira for a burger, 5lira for 200grams of Wind Nuts, 2lira for coffee and extra 2lira for milk. These inhuman hawkers is taking advantages of the freezing weather to rip of tourist.

So the 3rd day we decided we have enough GOODANE experience with tours and travel by ourselves. I was quite reluctant to travel because I am too lazy to read maps and have been scare the shit out by the constant reminders by the Tour guides about pick pocketing and other stuffs. BUT… Lillian insisting on self seeking path and on we go on the Metro, the Turkish LRT… no fight with our ultra modern LRT… kekeke! Lousy but still congested and beware of pick pocket as always reminded by ours tour guide. We had a good outing that day but tired of too much walking.

We are in a BIG CITY and we do LOOKS like FOREIGNERs so we do stand out among the crowd. Seldom did I let my guard down scanning for potential dangers but Lil was so happy and running around like an ostrich… I guess staying in Dubai has weakened my warrior blood as crime rates are quite low. The LUMIX DMC-100 that Lillian bought the day before the trip is my main concern as she constantly took it out for photo. Women are really reckless at time and that’s why they need man to accompany them. Hahaha!!! The Fattyguard…

I feel quite safe in tourist spot and city centre where there are lot of police personnel and I see the most beautiful woman police in the world. With blond hair, dressed in dark blue pants, handcuff and pistol at her waist that is the symbol of Beauty with POWER. I dare not to take photo of here as I scare being twisted in the ear as well as being shot! The main danger area is the metro and back street as people are usually packed like sardine.

Turkey in English means a type of ugly giant chicken that get slaughter in great numbers during thanks giving days and for that reason alone, many Turkish refuse to learn English. Different languages got different meaning of words… that’s the “F” word in turkey isn’t a bad word and “Saat” not sure what it mean but I suppose it doesn’t mean anything bad.

From the way the people dress to their life style, is hard to believe that 99.8% of the population is Muslim. Except from the many mosques around the city, basically you can’t find any Muslim influence. Lottery, beers, striptease and all kind un-islamic things can be found legally and in mass number.

Their mosque and castle are big and old with historical value but I would say it was poorly maintain compare to those in UK. The most “Dulan” thing is that they turn a few hundred years old church into a Mosque and few years later into a Museum. All those mosques and castles never amaze me because I have seen better and bigger one in UK but the two Roman Empire constructions that are really amazing is the aqueducts and the Basilica cistern. Is so dull we are made to wrap a plastic bag to our shoes when entering this palace… not that I wear a stud!
They don’t even have an idea how to maintain the old feel of the castle, putting a fire fighting equipment next to a hundreds year old chair? Tons of rubbish nears the entrance of a 100 years old building. I am no historian but I guess 100years ago there are no fire fighting bottle and I am sure this tons of rubbish isn’t here too.

Istanbul, the city I spend most of the time in is a city that supposes to set one foot in Europe and another in Asia but all I can see is Europe. The only Asian influence is those cheap stuffs MADE IN CHINA!!! Guess what! Istanbul is famous not only for her historical site but also the Ladies undergarment business… The amazing thing about Istanbul is that dustbins are rare luxuries but the streets are quite clean. My conclusion is that they employ a lot of street sweeper to counter the lack of dustbin.

Taxi driver here drive like if they are urgently looking for a toilet. I took it once from Taksim (Some place like Talfagar Square) back to hotel and it scares the hell out of me, swinging to left and right seems like a norm to them. Talking about toilet, I think is very hard to find a cleaner public toilet than those found in Dubai… super clean.

Automatics movement sensor seems to be very popular in Turkey… from the hotel corridor to toilet paper container; they are all installed with movement sensor. It can be creepy at times… as you walk by suddenly the lights start turning on and the tissue paper start rolling out… you will get use to it after sometimes.

There are road side raw oyster stall which are sold like Luk-Luk, but due to fear of hygiene factor we decided not to take any risk. We rather spend our next few days sightseeing that sitting on the toilet bowl. We also decided to skip the famous Turkish bath, I felt like vomiting just thinking that some fat old Turkish man gonna help me wash myself… Errr… Piuk! Piuk! Piuk!

This is neither a night club nor disco but a Famous Pudding Shop and it happen that there are some sort circuit in the shop at that time. According to our tour guide Tulay, this is the pudding shop, famous meeting point in the eighties among the Yuppies. It supposedly so Famous that it has become a landmark. I found that electricity supply here rather OLD or maybe different… they still use the 2 pins socket instead of the standard 3pins!

This is a whole new experience for Kampung boy… I feel like “Ah Ngau come out from village” and how little did I know about this world. There are pros and cons about following a tour, if you get a good tour guide like we did in the first day, she can relay lot information and even some folklore about most of the places. I also get to know a lot of new friends in the tour but I know their true intention knowing Lil. And Yess! Chinese are all over the World!