Travel to Kurdish East of Turkey
I have arrived in Sanliurfa in the Kurdish east of Turkey.
I have finally arrived in the Turkey that I set out for last May. The west of Turkey is alright: I met a lot of good people and had a lot of really good times, but it was not the region that I was looking for. The west of Turkey is only a notch away from Europe, and Europe is only a notch away from the USA, the east of Turkey is Asia.
I like Asia.
The sun is shinning, the clouds are not dropping rain, and the people have beards and headscarves. I walk down the street here and everybody looks at me.
Men sell tobacco on the streets out of huge sacks, dates and strawberries are sold off of three wheeled push carts, and the mosques are filled with people throughout the day. Boys run through the streets pushing and wrestling each other, when I walk by they stop and say, “Hello, hello, hello.” The kebab men yell at me to eat kebabs all day long, the kiwi men yell at me to buy kiwis, the cigarette selling boys won’t stop trying to sell me cigarettes, and the fish food vendors offer to give me free food to feed the fish.
“Excuse me, sir,” a teenage boy began a conversation with me as we were walking down a crowded sidewalk, “are you a Hebrew?”
I had noticed many Palestine flags posted on the walls of buildings here with the word “Intifada” written across them, but I decided to test the true waters of my situation.
“No, I am not a Hebrew, but she is,” I said while pointing to Chaya.
Chaya is a Jew, I suppose that is close enough to a Hebrew for the sake of our conversation.
“Oh, ok,” the boy said, “I thought that you were a Hebrew because of your beard. I was just wondering.”
We laughed together a little and made some more small talk.
“It was nice to meet you,” the boy said with a smile as he walked off.
It is my impression that people often only hate a race of people until they meet them face to face. The young man showed Chaya no animosity, and I imagine that he would also have shown me none if I were a Hebrew.
I like the Kurdish region of Turkey already. The people here are not afraid to talk to you. It is enough to just sit down in a park or walk down a street to have conversations with many different people.
“Obama good not good?” I was asked around a half dozen times yesterday. This question is usually followed up with “Bush good not good?”
I usually answer by saying, “All, not good.”
This is a fact of politics that is understood on every corner of the globe.
I often say that to make friends and get drunk for free in China all you have to do is make eye contact with a group of Chinese men drinking beer, as they will often invite you to sit down and drink with them. This little trick seems to work ten fold here. If you want to meet people, all you have to do is look at them and they will often offer you a place at their table.
This is the world of travel before tourism blights off and dilutes people’s natural senses of hospitality and curiosity. In some regions of the world it is difficult to meet local people who are not just trying to get money from you, while in others meeting sincerely genuine people is one of the easiest things to do. It seems to be very easy to meet people in the east of Turkey.
The sun is shining and the weather is warm again today in Sanliurfa. I know that the park will be full of people just sitting around enjoying the day.
I think that I am going to join them.
Large mosque in Sanliurfa.
People in Sanliurfa in the Kurdish east of Turkey.
Boys wrestling in a park in Sanliurfa.
Route of travel. The Blue line represents where we will probably go for the rest of March and April.
A rough approximation of my route of travel from Ankara to Sanliurfa. By bus, this is an 11 hour journey of 718 km. I paid 32.5 Turkish Lira for the trip.
Travel to Kurdish East of Turkey