Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Here I am again...

Posting my blog from Terminal 2's Free Internet Access kiosk...

Leaving for Taiwan and HK in less than an hour's time. Boy, this dec holiday has been packed with so many activities that in the blink of an eye, the month would have been gone.

Well, gonna wish my readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Please try and remember the real significance of Christmas especially when we are constantly bombarded by the message found within our consumerist culture....

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Cold Turkey Finally

This picture on an ancient toilet with a constipated look describes how I feel about blogging about Turkey. Been postponing my blog on my Turkey trip as I always feel overwhelmed by the number of pictures I took. Worse, I worry that I might not get the sequencing right heh. Yeah yeah you know me, always needing to sort things chronologically and in a linear fashion. Well, can’t postpone the inevitable anymore so shall just blog…

This trip was embarked during the month of December 2005. Turkish airlines was well, hmm, how shall I put it…different. The service on the flight to Turkey was questionable. Though the bread was nicely heated and delicious, it was the way they served us that made me go hmmm….I think I was given relatively good service compared with others. Saw others having their bread being ‘thrown’ at them and what not. Additionally, the stewards and stewardesses, when asking people what they would like to drink, would say this instead “What you want to drink?!” I guess that’s the Turkish way? Hmmm not sure there and then. But by the end of the trip, real Turkish hospitality was way warmer than that and I came out from this trip having newfound understanding and deeper respect for the Turkish people.

After a 13 hours flight with a stopover in Bangkok (we were not able to get out of the plane as they prevented us from doing so unless we were going to smoke – beats me why they didn’t want us to leave the plane though the stopover was for an hour), we finally touched down at Ataturk International Airport. The airport was really modern and nice. But like all Massive Standardised and Rigidly Packed (MSRP) holidays, we were all swept into the bus and headed for our first destination, Sultan Ahmet's Mosque (aka Blue Mosque) and Hagya Sofia or was it Hagia Sofya?

Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque)

Hagia Sofya or Hagya Sofia Mosque

The Blue Mosque is named as such because the interior of the mosque is laden with priceless blue tiles. The dome itself glitters in blue when the sun hits it at the right angle. Took a pic of that too.

Interior pic of Sultan Ahmet's mosque hence the name Blue Mosque

After that, we went to the cisterns, where the fresh water in this underground ‘cavern’ will sustain the ancient city for 6 months in the event of a siege of the city.

We thought we could have an early lunch, especially important since we were all starving, but the guide thought that we were rather early, so we moved forward the cruise of the Bosphorous Straits from the last day to the first day. So now, not only were we hungry, we were being whacked all sides by the blistering cold. The wind chill seriously made it worse.

At long last, we finally made our way to lunch. Had our first Turkish lunch with kebabs in a restaurant at the top of Galata Tower which also offered us a panaromic view of Istanbul.

That’s me pretending to look cold (well it was cold actually)

Tummies filled, we checked into the hotel. It was funny how for the entire trip, whichever hotel that we checked in, there will be something wrong with the room. Either there will be a drastic lack of towels, or the tv is not working, or the door knob drops out of the door, or the toilet gets flooded since the shower screen is not there (that is, if it actually works in the first place as one of the hotel rooms we were in obviously weren’t well made). After a while, we just laughed it off and anticipate how our next hotel room might be. Luckily for us, the last night at Istanbul was spent in a perfect hotel room.

The next day, we took an early domestic flight to Ankara, which is Turkey’s capital city. Am not going to blog about everywhere we went but mainly the more pertinent ones. Stopped at some museum and took this shot of the flower.

I love macro shots of flowers

After that, we stopped at Ataturk’s Mausoleum. Ataturk is the hero of Turkey, fought in the war of independence and became their leader until his death. He has a lot of sey…plus he’s got movie star looks man…


The entire mausoleum complex sits on a hill and is visible from most parts of Ankara. It is really a remarkable place. Huge. To show our respect to Ataturk, we couldn’t talk loudly, run, sit and behave like crappy tourists whilst in there, which is good. Can’t stand the fact that we were only given 45 mins to tour the place and given 2.5 hrs in a shopping mall. Well, some people in the group were real Singaporeans that’s all I can say.

Stylo Milo Turkish Ceremonial Guard

All the ceremonial guards in places of national interests are damn stylo milo man. Think they were also chosen for their looks and build too. The right hand holds the rifle while the left hand placed at the back, is actually holding a bayonet, poised and ready to attack. Think the gals can swoon over them.

After this, it was lunch and off we went to Cappadocia to check in. Took this pic of a salt plain on the way there. It was really beautiful.

Cappadocia is known for their marvellous landscapes. I have loads of pictures and captured lots of memories and thoughts (some geographical) during my time here. My blog will never ever do justice to what I actually saw and experienced whilst in Cappadocia. Here are some of the pictures I took while there.

Prisoner shot heh

Castle in Cappadocia. Look at the plane and contrail at the top of the castle

We went to Ephesus and Pergamon the next day. Ephesus is a pilgrimage site especially for Catholics. The chapel of Mother Mary is here. Ephesus, if I remember correctly, was listed in the Bible as the final home for Mary after Jesus was crucified.

Took this shot at the Ephesus Open Air Museum’s Amphitheatre

Library at the open air museum

Hmm I can’t remember what the sequence was next but well, in the end, we went to quite a few other places. The following pics were taken at Pamukkale with its beautiful calcium carbonate formations.

Trying to pose as Japanese tourists…

Scaled shot of the calcium carbonate surface

Stayed at Kusadesi. Pic taken at the bay.

Hmmm I think my memory really has gaps but thankfully, I have all the pics with me in my comp so those who are interested, can take a look at it and I can provide a proper sequencing of events then.

Climbing the wall at the ancient city of Troy.

Visited Troy and was disappointed. Somehow, I envisioned marvellous ruins near the sea, no thanks to the movie Troy and the hunky Brad Pitt. In the end, the ruins were in the middle of some agricultural plain and the Trojan horse really was ugly. Luckily for us, the horse used in the movie can be found at Canakkale, also a major battle site during the War of Independence.

Group shot with my new friends made during the trip and the Trojan Horse from the movie

Took a ferry and moved from the Asia side to the Europe side of Turkey and back to Istanbul we went. Ate Turkish meatballs which looked like this…

The dish on the left is supposed to be meatballs. Beats me. They were delicious though

Can’t remember which palace…

Dropped by at dunno which palace, can’t remember sheesh. Didn’t bring my camera in as we had to pay a large amount just to bring it in. The interior reminded me of Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna. Everything inside is priceless. Really beautiful.

Went to Topkapi palace and saw an exquisite collection of antique Ming vases, Prophet Mohammed’s beard and sword and other artefacts.

Made another friend on this trip. Her name’s Cheryl. She travelled with her family. Nice bunch of people. Liked her dad, really learned and always still eager to learn more.

Hmmm, there are certainly gaps within my blog but luckily for me, I have all the pictures. So although the blog will never do justice to Turkey, well, see it as snippets for your own possible trip to Turkey?

That’s all.