Turkey shows its better side



Turkey shows its better side, originally uploaded by Big Al!.

The further east we’ve gone, the nicer Turkey has become and the friendlier the people. People take interest in us, in the bikes. They stop and look. The ones that know a little english all want to know "where are you from?". Young lads are the most interested. People just stop and watch when we pull up somewhere, crowds gather, people have a good look at the map on my pannier. Had some chai at a petrol station, they wouldn’t let me pay. Everyone wants to shake your hand. The scenery is better too, after leaving the beach house and following the coast road. This place has more speed traps than Albania! People smile and talk away without us understanding a word. We stop at a roadside kebab place, they’re not like english ones. The owner asks us to show where we live on google earth on his pc. The food is fantastic, the owner is so friendly. I give him a post card of harrogate which he seems very pleased with. Later we pass a school and all the kids run out and wave. The road is great, fast bends, no traffic, great mountain scenery. Able to relax and ride for fun, not fearing another speed trap. See so many great spots for a bit of wild camping, which is promising. Last night’s luxury was fantastic, but tonight we will have to find somewhere to pitch a tent. We’ve already climbed 5000 feet without really noticing, when the road becomes much steeper and in just a few minutes takes us to almost 8000, overtaking dozens of trucks hauling gravel from the quarries. At the top is a monument to turkish soldiers killed in 1916. We stop and climb the steps up to the monument and are very quickly out of breath due to the altitude. On the other side of the mountain things aren’t so pretty, and camping spots less obvious. It’s also a bit colder and cloudier, looks like rain. We find a suitable spot to camp, not great but ok. Before we can start putting tents up, a car stops and two guys start the usual turkish ranting thing, and we have no idea what they are saying, whether they are friendly or not. Eventually it seems clear we’ll have to go. Not sure why, but they seem insistent. Oddly they try to do the turkish kiss on both cheeks thing, and find it hilarious that we don’t really know how it’s done. I still don’t know he they were being awkward or trying to help us. A few miles further on we find another spot and nervously set up camp. No one comes along, we have some more finest monte negro boil in the bag rations and a bottle of wine, and turn in. Last night i fell asleep listening to the waves, tonight it’s the chirping of crickets. Today feels like the best day of the trip. All the young lads who have stopped and waved and looked so pleased when we wave back, it’s so easy to imagine myself in their shoes, knowing how much of an event that will be for them, especially the one who have met us when we stopped, shaking hands, taking pictures. Bikes are rare here, foreign ones even rarer. It reminds me how far we’ve come and it feels more like adventure rather than being on holiday. Weirdly in my tent on a hillside seemingly in the middle of nowhere i can now hear the call to prayer being sung out from a mosque that must be somewhere nearby.