November 23, 2012

Turkish Delights

I had wanted to visit Turkey for a long time, its transcontinental allure appealing to my East-meets-West lifestyle. I landed in Istanbul on a late August night, taking a ten day break from my work in Seoul to make my Turkish dream come true. My parents flew in from Vancouver, and we enjoyed some family time together. The hotel I had reserved in Istanbul was overbooked, so without having set a foot in its lobby we were shuffled onto a black van and dropped off at another pension. 

The next day we enjoyed the life and beauty of Istanbul, before heading off for a few days to see some of the natural and historic wonders of the land - Ephesus, Pamukkale, and Cappadocia. None of them disappointed. We returned to a flag-covered Istanbul on the Turkish independence day Zafer Bayrami and capped off the trip here several days later. We traveled between towns mostly via overnight buses. The in-bus service was exceptional, with regular snacks and refreshments brought to passengers by the attendant.

As far as negative aspects are concerned, the travel infrastructure was sound but far from spectacular. Signage was poor and maps were hard to come by. The only people happily giving directions were shopkeepers or touts. The English level was surprisingly poor, although not at the cringe worthy levels of China and South Korea. The food, at least in the tourist areas, was nothing special. The tea was lovely though.

Traveling around was not too cheap, as the cost of goods and services leaned more towards the European side of the ledger than to the Asian side. Among the womenfolk there were a few stunners, but Turkey does not boast the across the board talent level of South Korean girls nor the Miss Worlds and Miss Universes found in the upper end of the Indian spectrum. People who have just met me often assume I am a Turkish man, so it is safe to say they are rather good looking. 


"I don't like Turkish type man. They are too agressive with Asian face women." - Taiwanese girl I met in China