Eastern and Central Turkie 11-25 January 1999


My third time in Turkie, but there is still a lot of places I had not been to. My first target was Van, right next to a vast saltlake of the same name. It was a very cold drive but the sky was clear and so were the roads the only thing blocking it was the numerous military checkpoints, who liked to go through my lugage. Actually I didn't mind the stops at all since I could leave my gloves on the cylinders and after the check they were nice and warm, ready for another turn. I have forgotten to tell you about another major breakdown on the bike, my lefthand heated grip has gone cold, it might sound as an insignificant detail, but it really makes a difference especially now that you have something to compare with.

56-van I relaxed a few days in Van, not visiting a single sight, I know I should have, but my head was filled with too many impressions already. After Van I went through the Tigris and Euphrat valeys, this area is dominated by Kurdish people and for every few kilometers a military tank stood ready for operation was parked, a bit scary.

The Turkish government has for now 25 years had a big program where they build dams to control the Tigris, Euphrat and supporting rivers, one of them the Ataturk Damm being the 4th largest in the world was finished only six years ago. The water is used for irigation and of course to generate electricity - a side effect has been that the climate is changing due to the big lakes, so now it only freezes down to -15 degree Celcious where before they experienced temparatures as low as -55 degrees Celcious before the Ataturk dam was opened (hmm - maybe I should write closed), but I am certainly happy that it wasn't any colder.

On the way to Mt Nemrut I had the closest call to an accident ever, A car crossed over in front of me, we were both going around 90 km/h and I didn't see the car before he was right in front of me, it was less than half a meter between us when I passed his rear. I only realized how chocked I was when I stopped for petrol a few km. further down the road. Without me utering a word, they just told me to come inside, sit down and drink a cup of tea, it was if they knew, although I don't know how. Mind you, this was still during ramazan where tea is not on the program during the day.

Mt Nemrut was closed I was told, the summit is at 2150 m., but I could see two car trails in the fresh snow going up the mountain so I wanted to check it out myself, after some time it turned out that the tracks belonged to the same car which had to give up and go back, but a bike is smaller and after making small passages through the biggest snowdrifts I made it all the way to the top. But I didn't see the statues since I had no idea where to look and there were nobody there to ask, most of the place was covered in snow anyway - Close but no cigar - but this time I was probably less than 100 m. away from my target, as you might remember I missed 25 km. in reaching India, so my luck is definately improving.

59-famil Once down from Mt Nemrut I was stopped by a local who wanted a lift, which is quite normal in the rural areas. When we reached his destination I was invited to spend the night at his house, and of course I did, it was up in the mountains too, in an adobe hut and the outside trails looked more like a gutter, with goats and chickens checking it all out. 58-famil But once inside it was indeed very nice although there is no right angles and the floor bends in all directions, you can feel the warm creep into your bones and not only from the owen. In the evening all the men from town came to pay a visit, drink tea, and talk - well no german or english and I felt pity on the schoolmaster whose english only accomodated the sentences children shouts at you at the street "Whats your name", "Fine thank you and you" .. When I woke up in the morning I was served breakfast alone, still being ramazan, the family had been up at 3:30 in the morning to have theirs before they went to sleep again.

61-kappa Next was Göreme and Köse Pansiyon, where I enjoyed a weeks stay back in October. This time I stayed 9 days before I headed on to the Mediteranian coast. Cappadocia is amazing as you probably have seen on my pictures.

63-cappa This time I hardly did anything at all, except relax and read a book, but you don't have to do much more than look out of the window and wonder how this landscpae will look snowcapped and the next morning the answer is waiting for you. While you are there you wonder how can you leave this place, and after some time the phrase is "Yes I will 'also' leave tomorrow". When I finally got myself together and was ready to set out and the owner Dawn Köse said "Are you leaving home" - and you know it is true and not at the same time - I will be back.

Peter Lorenzen Petersen
DK 9000 Aalborg
Phone (+45) 98 16 76 97
-- peter@lorenzen.us
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