TOUR TO TURKEY
Turkey is a developed or emerging country, but the hotels we stayed, except Wyhndam Petek Hotel at Istanbul, do not fit that kind of image, even with the many stars attached. However, many of the hotels we stayed are located in scenic spots, near the beach, small forest or hot spring, but we hardly have time to enjoy these benefits, for we leave early and arrive late. This is the disadvantage of travelling with commercial tours; spending excessive time in commercial spots with insufficient time to relax in hotels. We spent almost half the day travelling in our coach, fortunately with good WiFi, and the changing landscapes of Turkey are as seductive as belly dances. The advantage is the cost of fares, the knowledge and services from the guides, and the chance to meet interesting people in the group. We are lucky that our group comprises of very warm and friendly youngsters.
Turkey has a population of 76 million people, and almost a third lives in Istanbul. We saw a lot of street beggars in the city, mainly children and women. The women appear slim and pretty, most with uncovered faces; the men have pouch bellies, with perhaps too many Rakis and Efes beer. The unemployment is about 10-15 %, despite the wide agricultural base; it suffered three years of drought. Lots of fresh and juicy vegetables and fruits (best salad available in hotels), olive oil, all kinds of nuts, but their Turkish Delight is far too sweet. Their life expectancy at 72 years is really not high enough for a developed status. During the 10day travel, I am most disappointed with the food; not bad dine, but short of good and far from fine. The best is still the lamb kebab, from the street restaurants (nothing from hotels or restaurants), and river fishes. Unfiltered coffee, whether cooked in charcoal or just hot water, lacks the kick for coffee drinkers. Raki is not my favourite, the beer is alright, and there’s no good opportunity to taste the wines while travelling. The cheeses are not refined; the ice creams are more novel than licking good. Nevertheless, it is a very good tour, with lots of rich and heavy culture. You will need a pair of good walking shoes and legs to walk through the ruined cities and waddle inside the caves. The hot air balloon at Cappadocia is a life experience for many; the cruise at Bosphorus is a luxury we can afford, with sweet apple tea or fruit juices.
Although Turkey is a secular country, there is freedom of religious belief, and there is no forced conversion in interracial marriages. Lots of strayed dogs are seen in the streets, even in ruined cities and around but outside mosques. This is in marked contrast compared to the anger seen in Malaysia on dog-padding today; they just wash their hands without fuss, if they touch and reckon it is dirty. Turkey is both in Europe and Asia and is thus more liberal. May be people whined less with a little wine.