Stories, thoughts, observations, rants and dribble. Just another of my attempts to keep the interested people informed ...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

2006 Recap

[Insert more lame apologies about being a slacker here]

I guess I can use surprising my family and friends at home as a good excuse for not keeping this up to date. Of course they all knew I was leaving Edinburgh and going to Hong Kong but nevermind. It's been a hectic few months and I worked and partied myself silly in Edinburgh before I left. No excuses but a healthy social life and lack of motivation and/or time for writing.

Congratulations to my cousin and her husband on having another healthy girl. She was born on her grandfather's birthday, which happens to be Christmas as well. Poor kid will have a future full of slashie presents (Christmas-slash-birthday). I know the feeling.

This is an excerpt from the Christmas email I did this year, so you may have read it already. It will probably be my last post for the year. At time of writing I didn't realise 2006 was quite as crappy for some people as it was, so here's cheers to 2007.

[ ... it's been a year of travel, experience, challenge and emotional ups and downs. I've been literally and figuratively all over the place, but it has been a great year all in all.

For the first time that I can remember, it was really hard to leave home to flit away overseas. I had made some very close friends last year and actually felt comfortable being at home for a little over a year. I had to miss my grandmother's funeral to go to China and Hong Kong, where I found some closure upon meeting her family that I didn't even know existed until last year.

I had some bad moments in Thailand (the most trivial of all being having to ride a night bus on my birthday), but these were more than balanced out by some amazing times around Thailand, Cambodia and Laos (thanks so much everyone I was there with).

From there I spent a little while in the UK - saw snow settle in Edinburgh, experienced the Norfolk seaside and the Welsh - before heading out to Turkey for the total solar eclipse. Some spectacular scenery, great company (old and new friends), six days of psy trance and a rare and amazing natural phenomenon later, I found myself living in a small town in central Turkey. The culture was fascinating from the inside, although sometimes challenging and occasionally I found myself really quite lonely. I did meet some excellent people though and they made the time go by quickly with great company and a lot of food! I saw more of the country to the east and thoroughly loved it. Two months later I was winging my way back to the UK with a planeload of English white trash (remind me not to fly the lowest budget airlines anymore!).

After the most awful immigration interrogation I've ever experienced (who wouldn't trust my face? Honestly!) I paid another visit to Wales and spent a bit of time in the Lake District before heading up to Edinburgh for yet another amazing summer and my best festival so far. I worked in a venue bar which allowed me to see as many free shows as I could fit into my schedule, socialised a lot and barely saw my very understanding and wonderful flatmates and their cats. I was also really happy to have friends come up and visit me several times, which is unusual but I so loved showing people around the city I love so much.

I moved back into High Street and worked on reception as well as doing a stint as (dun dun dun) Head Cleaner, which I never thought I'd do, but it came with its perks. I felt like I was more involved with everything there this time, and met pretty much everyone that came through. As always, but especially this time, a fantastic little tribe of people were gathered there, and leaving them was the hardest it's ever been. I am still wishing I could be there.

Meanwhile, I flew back to Auckland via Hong Kong and surprised my mum. That was nice. I've been home for a couple of weeks and my time has been split between catching up with family and friends, and doing family-related trips up to the Bay of Islands and down to Taranaki (both beautiful)... ]

Here's to a possibly more structured but always as fun 2007 ...

Monday, November 13, 2006

I'm so behind on everything

With no excuses except for greater responsibility, more work and more socialising.

I'm behind on my blog, my emails, my crochet and organising my life.

I need to write another to do list ...

On the upside, I went to a place last night where the cocktails cost more than the wicked cool shoes I'm currently wearing (cocktails = £7.50- 9.50, shoes = £7.49) and then my lovely friends paid cause they know I'm waay below the poverty line ... Thanks T and Warren!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

This never happens to me!

Through a combination of poverty and bad planning, I went over my overdraft limit by £3.30. 

Through trying to rectify this, spending more money and then rectifying that, I managed to be charged not only the interest on the overdraft (fair enough), but three charges of £28.00 each! 

What the hell?!

How much money is that back where I made the money? 

I don't even like to think about it ...

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Also, my new room to be is haunted.

And my roommate has the pox (fowl kind).

I haven't had them.

Or ghosts.


Yo yo yo it's Movember!

In case you've had your head stuck in the sand in recent weeks, you may not know that Movember has officially started.

It's a fantastic fundraiser for men's health - prostate cancer research and men's depression awareness. 

So guys - shave your faces and register with the website, collect donations and grow the best mo you can folliculate (is that a word?).

Girls - support your Mo Bros!

And everyone donate something, it's a good cause!

If you're lacking in mo's to sponsor - try the Aussie team 2290 - a bunch of engineering students in Melbourne!

Costume Karma

Has anyone ever noticed how Asian (generic, not specific) tourists are everywhere, yet none of them seem to die in western zombie films? 

I noticed.

Hence, I dressed in drab but cute clothes, straightened my hair, carried a guidebook, slung a camera around my neck, rustled a lot of plastic bags, wore socks and jandals (aka flip flops) and did peace signs a lot for photos.  And had a bloody head wound and death makeup, of course.

It was all fun and games and everyone thought my outfit was hilarious.  Until I noticed the small Asian (Chinese, but we'll stick with the generic term) girl with the scarf over her head staring at me.  She didn't stop for ages.  I mostly avoided eye contact, it was extremely uncomfortable.  She was drinking the sangria and was apparently nice, but I was totally unnerved.  Then she started playing Jenga by herself in the middle of a hectic party.  I had my suspicions that she was more Asian than even I was pretending to be.

Later on we went to the pub for ScaryOke and she came along.  It was only then that I realised that she was wearing white Wilson tennis socks with pink and clear plastic slides with octopi on them.

Totally out-Asianed.  Gutted.

Ghosties and ghoulies

I took a few minutes out at midnight on All Hallow's Eve as I always do to commune a little with the general world around me.  Unlike last year where I got to see stars forever in the outback desert, I was amongst the dodgy schemies on the dirty streets of Edinburgh.  At least I was alone and could still see the sky. 

I love this place though, and I love these people.  I went through some old photos here and reclaimed all the ones that belong to me.  Ahh, the memories.

In other news, the interview for the job fell through, I am permanently busy at the hostel with work and with crochet - I am currently occupied with outfitting Edinburgh with my designs.  Success!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Oh yeah, that was my point ...

I've actually motivated myself enough to apply for a job ...

So fingers crossed I hear back from them this week and can go back down to London for an interview ...

Off the radar

A million apologies yet again for not keeping anything up to date on here.  I managed to write a daily journal all year (asides from two excruciatingly uneventful weeks in Turkey), but haven't managed to do it for the last couple of weeks I've been so busy.

I've been working flat out (like a lizard drinking) at the hostel which included having to go to London to do some PR type work (my first expense paid trip ever, woohoo) for a few days last week.  I've also had a couple of days up on the Isle of Skye with some friends from home and the huge responsibility of being "in charge" at the hostel.

I've also totally upped my nerd status by relearning how to crochet.  I used to do it when I was little, but only involved boring things that my mum started and finished for me.  I was inspired by one of the girls making a baby blanket for her nephew-to-be and got her to show me a few tricks before she left.  Since then I've basically learned to read patterns on my own and am scarily addicted to handicrafts.  It's also becoming somewhat of a sideline income for me and people are seriously going to give me money for hats with their names on them.  It all started as a joke - my friend wanted a hat with WENDY on it, but me thinking this was too scary made him one with his own name on it.  I thought it'd make him look "special", but apparently this is the new geek chic item and everyone wants one.  I have a backlog of about 8 hats to make now ... photos to come soon (internet shopping anyone?).  I now need to employ some cheap overseas labour, but as a friend pointed out, I AM the cheap overseas labour.  Le sigh.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Avast ye scurvy bilge rats!

Aye, it be that day yet again - International Talk Like a Pirate Day!
So hoist the mizzen and scuttle some limey curs.  If ye have nae idea what to say to your landlubbin' mates, try here.
We be havin' a pirate party for the occasion, and to bid farewell to our resident cap'n from PEI. 
Yo ho ho and a bottle (or two) of rum!

Friday, September 15, 2006

We should be dancing, yeah

I'm going away for the weekend, hooray!  Knockengorroch for a celtic blues/roots/dance festival.  It involves camping but the sun is shining after yesterdays constant downpour so I am feeling positive about putting my tent up in the swamp.  Yeah.

I am really looking forward to dancing around in the mud in my new Croc gumboots, which after a saga of epic proportions (I have been waiting for the correct shoes/size/matching pair to arrive since July) have finally arrived, an hour before departure.  Yay!

Also, I have been a little negligent with my sending of greetings (and also been a little more than poor), so Happy Father's Day to my dad and Happy Birthday to my brother, cousin and mum.  And Happy Birthdays to all my friends with birthdays in September.  You know who you are, you probably got a text message.  Woohoo.

Finally, sorry for all the exclamatories following my sentences.  W00t.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

High Street Hostel / Home Sweet Home

After a couple of months of insanity I decided that my long-suffering, extremely generous flatmates could stand to have their place back to themselves so they could finish creating a home.  It coincided well with a chat to the manager of my old hostel (who needed a receptionist) and also visitors to the flat who I was going to move out for for logistical reasons. 

Now I'm all moved back in to the hostel, in my old room (one of anyway), working hard at changing beds again, about to start on reception and it feels like I never left (also helped by the fact that I already spent a considerable amount of time here during the last two months).  So much so that people were surprised to hear that I was moving back in - "Where did you go?". 

Err, contrary to popular belief, I haven't lived here for the past two years. 

"Oh ..."

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Fat Lady is Singing

It really is going to be virtually impossible for me to completely catch up on the goings on of what has been the absolute best festival season of my four festival run. I've only just caught up with my personal notes (and that took me half a day), and am not even close to finishing processing it all in my head.

I've met so many people, seen so many different shows, experienced the epitome of randomness, witnessed nearly every sunrise and virtually not seen my very understanding flatmates for three weeks.

Anyone who has ever done an intense season of performance in a show or play may have an idea of the flat feeling when it's all over. All the work, preparation and thrill of an audience is gone. For me, obviously it wasn't a performance, but I did watch as many of them as I could. Free entry to shows, discounted drinking until 5am and friends to share it all with led to average bedtimes of 6.30am. For three weeks I had somewhere to be almost every day, and if I didn't there were always options. Waiting for pubs to open again at 6am wasn't unusual either.

Thursday was the first night I didn't need to be anywhere. It was a strange feeling. Although having had two hours of sleep each on the previous two nights, I ended up asleep by the late afternoon and up again around 4am. The last three nights I've been in bed before midnight and actually awake in the mornings. I cooked a proper meal yesterday. The normality (state endorsed normality that is, not my own) is freaking me out a little.

The closing fireworks are tonight, weather permitting, and hopefully by then I'll be coming to some sort of closure. The feeling that I might never experience anything like this again is a little sobering.

But I have been promised work if I'm back again next year...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Back pouring pints for the public

I just got home from my first shift at my new bar job.  It went really smoothly and everyone there is loverly.  It was a smallish function, 50th birthday party, so perfect to ease me in.

Naturally, they love me, and the assistant manager is stressing about trying to find hours to give me so they can keep me around.

I'm pretty happy with whatever though, the handful of money I got tonight was almost what I got paid to do the whole website for the restaurant.  And at the moment that feels like a fortune!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Blip eliminated

I rearranged the posts below and added in Episode 4 and Episode 10 for your reading pleasure.  Of course all the time stamps are wrong now, but they all should have read "too late" anyway.

I haven't written any more just yet.

On the plus side, I've found a great fringe venue that is employing me as a bar wench for the festival, so that will happily combine earning some pocket money with staying up ridiculously late and maybe even getting to watch some free shows.  Hoorah.

Also, I'm going to the beach tomorrow, yay!

Commercial Break

Enjoy your cup of tea or coffee.

We will return soon with your regularly scheduled program.

Sponsored by ... nobody. But very open to offers!

Episode 10: In which she is not from Japon

Location: Everywhere!
Date: All the time!

Apparently it is perfectly acceptable for Turkish men (we didn't see that many women) to just randomly say "Japon! Japonya!" as a greeting, in passing, as a general statement.

Neither Ineke or I tended to respond to the comments, but they were noted every time.

I wish I had been able to say "Kurd! Armenia!" but I'm just not that rude.

FYI: I'm Chinese. Or Kiwi. Both, actually. Not Japanese. Also, I love Japanese people. I think they're awesome. I'm just not one of them.

Episode 9: In which there is no (dam) road

Location: Atatürk Lake
Date: 25.05.06

We were told by the guy who rented us the car that there was a bridge across Atatürk Lake, the huge man-made-money-spinning body of water that lay in our path.

There is no bridge.


Luckily the mechanic who we had to take the car to gave us directions and general information about the ferry we needed to take instead. Apparently the road or bridge had disappeared with the creation of the dam (and the) lake.

While we were waiting for the very helpful mechanics to check over the car (something wrong with the the gas intake valve), I noted the slightly pimp maroon curtains all the way around the black towncar that was parked in the driveway next to our little Mermet.

After they charged us a miniscule 20YTL (approximately 20AUD (the NZD is too unstable) or 8GBP) for the adjustment and oil top-up, we were on our way. We weren't sure of the way at a fork in the road - the map wasn't helpful and we didn't know which town we were aiming for anyway - so we stopped to ask an old man squatting by the side of the road (this is a reasonably common occurrence). He had no idea what we were talking about, even though Turkish for ferry is feribot, not that hard to understand for either party.

So we picked a road and crossed our fingers.

A few hundred metres down the road, we noticed a car coming up behind us, fast. Thinking it was just another crazy Turkish driver, we pulled over a bit to let them go by. It turned out to be the curtained black towncar from the mechanic's, being driven by the mechanic himself. He told us we were going in totally the wrong direction, so we did a u-turn and made the ferry on time.

We passed back through the intersection where we made the wrong turn, and wouldn't you know - the old man was squatting just metres from the sign that said "Feribot"!

Episode 8: In which she refuses a "taxi"

Location: Mt Nemrut
Date: 25.05.06

After an ordinary dinner, we headed to bed. We were feeling ambitious enough, or masochistic enough, to try and be up for the sunrise. This required us to leave at 4am. Huzzah.

The gossamer-thin air burned the back of my throat more harshly than it had done the night before, and I thought something would burst before I got to the summit. Meanwhile the sun was climbing faster than I was.

At exactly the instant I wanted to collapse in a heap, a man appeared in front of me leading a donkey.


It was tempting, believe me. But a misguided sense of ego and the backpacker instinct to spend as little as possible combined forces and made me say no.

The man didn't move. Neither did the "taxi". He asked again. I still said no. Damn.

The sunrise was entirely worth the effort, thankfully. The crowd was different to the previous evening, a lot more Turks than foreigners, and mercifully there was no inane cheering.

Episode 7: In which they are misled about breakfast

Location: Karadut
Date: 24.05.06

On our return we had a very slightly heated discussion with one of the proprietors about rates, discounts, meals and other things. We were all tired and what he was asking seemed a little pricey. It did include ensuite rooms, dinner and the "best breakfast in Turkey" though.

We asked whether it was just a Turkish breakfast, which he denied it was.

When we inquired as to what it was then, he said "olives, cheese, cucumber, egg, tomato, bread".

So it was exactly a Turkish breakfast (yes, this is what I ate every day when I managed to be up in time for it). He then insisted that it was still better than all other Turkish breakfasts.

We accepted anyway. They had rescued us after all.

Episode 6: In which they visit the tomb of a god

Location: Karadut and Mt Nemrut
Date: 24.05.06

As the crippled car pulled into the guesthouse carpark, we were told if we wanted to go up to the summit to watch the sunset, we would not only have to pay what seemed like a lot of money, but we would also have to leave immediately.

We had enough time to throw some warm clothes into the back of the SUV and scramble in. This seemed ridiculous when the temperature was still in the thirties, but more than one person had assured us it would get cold as soon as we neared the top of the mountain.

The summit carpark was 12 kilometres away. After the first four or five, the driver started operating entirely in first and second gear. The huge truck was shuddering over the rough stone-paved road. I admitted that the car breaking down may have been a blessing in disguise – this road would have been impassable had we tried ourselves. And then we would have been stuck part way up a very steep mountain.

A 600 metre uphill trek awaited us as we got out of the truck, bundled up in anticipation of the cold that didn't disappoint. I convinced myself that it was the altitude and the painfully cold air in my lungs that was making every step such an effort. It seemed to take me a very long time to reach the eastern terrace to join the others, and meanwhile the sun was ever on its downward journey towards the horizon.

We had come up the eastern side, the total lack of other tourists justifying what was initially a doubtful decision. King Antiochus I had created a burial mound for himself on a scale as massive as his own ego. The top of the tallest and most impressive mountain was lopped off at his whim and replaced by the pyramid that serves as a backdrop for the 10 metre tall statues he installed on the east and west sides. Antiochus considered himself not just the king, but also a god. His statues were as tall and impressive as their comrades – Apollo, Zeus and Hercules. Huge eagles and lions also looked out at the vistas surrounding Mt Nemrut, guarding his last resting place.

These days the heads have all toppled down, and sit in front of the partially rebuilt bodies. The view extended through the clear dusk air all the way to the horizon, huge Atatürk Lake snaking around the fields and reflecting the orange light. We enjoyed the quietude on the eastern side before joining the throngs on the west.

There was a decided lack of clouds in the sky, which made for a pretty but unexciting sunset. The light reflecting off the statues was beautiful though, of course leading me to take far too many photos. The applause of the tourists was entirely inappropriate and unnecessary, but I try to ignore mass hysteria in all its guises. They disappeared almost immediately afterwards, which left me with that weird feeling that I get when I am the only person in the theatre that insists on staying until the movie credits finish rolling. A combination of "why are they leaving?", "should I be leaving?" and "hehe, I get the place to myself now" (and also that sense of smug satisfaction when there IS something else to be seen).

It's quite hard to be smug when you're cold though. Strange.

Episode 5: In which they need help

Location: Road from Narince to Karadut
Date: 24.05.06

My earlier description of our little car wasn't very flattering. But it was accurate. I could deal with the lack of air conditioning, the lack of non-Turkish cassettes to play, the lack of central locking. What was really difficult to accept (along with the insane driving of the average Turkish motorist) was the almost nonexistent power of the LPG. Apparently this is normal, but when we're going up a hill on an open road at about 40kph, it's frustrating to say the least.

Somewhere on the road to Karadut, the gas cut out. We were coasting down a hill at the time, and as a passenger, I didn't even notice until Ben pulled the car over. Thankfully we were on a reasonably straight part of the very windy surrounding roads. The car made some awful noises for the next few minutes as Ben tried as hard as he could to restart it. We tried everything except for switching to petrol, because we were told not to and because we had no petrol anyway.

Eventually we decided to risk a rescue from a passerby, and with the help of our hazard lights and a raised bonnet (hood for American readers), we managed to flag down a minivan full of German/Turkish tourists (the wife was German, the husband Turkish and various family members were either or both). We decided that I would go as an ambassador for the stranded car so Ineke could stay and perhaps better explain the problems to any further well-intentioned motorists.

The minivanners were lovely and drove me the eight or so kilometres to our guesthouse. The husband explained everything to the proprietor who immediately opened up his SUV so we could hurry to the aid of the little Mermet and its passengers. Half way there I got a call from the stranded ones. Apparently another worker from the same guesthouse had managed to start the car by switching it to petrol. We carried on anyway to make sure they were safe, and then followed them back to the town. We weren't sure about whether or not to stay, but we supposed after the helpfulness in saving us, we at least owed them that.

We weren't sure about whether or not to stay, but we supposed after the helpfulness in saving us, we at least owed them that.

Episode 4: In which they visit the egomaniacal past

Location: Mt Nemrut area
Date: 24.05.06

As always happens when I visit the remains of ancient empires and kingdoms, I am amazed at the elaborate extent of structures and memorials.

After the town of Kahta we got to see an old Roman bridge, royal burial sites, old fortresses and the capital of ancient Commagene with its treacherous stairwells to underground temples.

We saw columns, carvings, statues, reliefs. Apollo, Mithridates I, Heracles. Lions, eagles, bulls.
The old kings of the area even went so far as to slice the tops off a hill and a mountain and replace them with more aesthetically pleasing pyramids of pebbles.

I guess royal burials can't be ordinary. But more on that later.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Episode 3: In which they narrowly avoid The Passion

Location: Gölbaşı
Date: 23.05.06

About the time we realised we were driving in the darkness, we decided to stop and look for a place to lay our heads.  Conveniently, the town of Gölbaşı was there to assist..  A unlikely looking place with simply "Otel" on the sign above the door turned out to be one of the best customer service experiences I've ever had. 

After approving the rooms, we were seated and given the traditional offer of tea and coffee.  I was never entirely sure who worked there and who was a resident or friend, but everybody was watching "The Island", which unfortunately (for us) was dubbed in Turkish.  We took turns having showers and trying to converse with the help of a phrase book and small English-Turkish dictionary.  It was late by the time I got to use the only shower in the place, and we were a little concerned about finding anywhere to eat.  Luckily the receptionist had just had his dinner delivered, and offered to arrange the same thing for us.  After we chose pizza and köfte (meatballs), the delivery boy disappeared and returned with very reasonable and reasonably priced food, which we ate whilst trying to determine exactly what Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson were up to.

The receptionist asked if we wanted him to go out and find an English language DVD (or more likely, VCD) so we would understand what was going on.  We tried to decline, but he insisted.  We told him any genre was fine, but preferably something lighter like action or comedy.  He returned with a rather excited "Mel Gibson, Mel Gibson!"  Curious, I examined the proffered disc.

The.  Passion.  Of.  The.  Christ.

Jesus.  Literally.

What was that movie even doing in central, conservative, Islamic Turkey?!  I guess Mel is more pervasive than I gave him credit for.

Thankfully, Elvira was extremely quick with her democratic refusal – she managed to get across the fact that it was a very long movie, and it was late already.

The receptionist was so lovely that he ran out, against our protests, to get us another movie.  He returned with Doom (a Karl Urban and The Rock film I didn't even know existed) and Sin City.  We decided on Sin City, even though that's probably just as long as The Passion.  When it turned out to also be dubbed in Turkish, we took our leave as politely as we could.

In the morning, we were given breakfast (although that wasn't supposed to be provided) and of course more tea and coffee.  They even high-pressure hosed our car for us before we left and got all those bugs off the windscreen.

For about 4 pounds each, I think we got a pretty good deal. 

Episode 2: In which they eat ice cream with a knife and fork

Location: Kahmaranmaraş
Date: 24.05.06
Our car was supposed to be a 2000 model something, but a reliable car at the least.  What we got was a 1997 Mermet (I think?).  Apparently in Turkey, a 1997 car looks and runs like a 1984 Mitsubishi Sigma.  LPG/petrol hybrid, boxy exterior, retro interior, tape player, engine with absolutely no guts.
After we finally got on the road with a full tank of LPG, we made out meandering way eastwards.  We had been told to stop and drink the water from the stream at Tekir Dagi, but we couldn't find anywhere near the water to stop.  The mountain scenery was quite beautiful enough to make up for it though.

Some helpful policemen (who seemed to only have pulled us over for a chat), recommended the best place in Kahmaranmaraş for ice cream, and I'm still not entirely sure we found it.

Nevertheless, we drove through the rather industrial town and found a huge ice cream parlour on the outskirts.  The sun was blazing by then, as if we needed more of an excuse for an ice cream stop. 

Kahmaranmaraş is famous throughout Turkey for its sticky, chewy, guaranteed--not-to-melt-for-eight-hours ice cream.  Past publicity stunts include hanging it and carving the ice cream like a doner kebab and using it as a tow rope to move a car (if you can believe it?!).  It can be served by the cone and in a rainbow of flavours, but traditionally comes in a pistachio nut encrusted slab of vanilla, on a plate, with a knife and fork.  I don't think I could have left it for eight hours to test their boast.  The ice cream was deliciously creamy, and sticky enough to lift my plate along with it when I speared a forkful. 

Would I recommend it to others going to central Turkey?  Of course!

Episode 1: In which she gets up before noon

Location: Göreme
Date: 24.05.06
Those of you who have lived with me know that my sleep patterns are far from normal.  If left alone, I tend to go to sleep somewhere between 3 and 7am, waking up sometime in the early-mid afternoon.  This has been the case in recent weeks in Göreme, so attempting to leave here on the road trip by 9am was somewhat of a challenge for me.
Nonetheless, I dragged myself out of bed after a couple of hours of sleep, finished packing my bag, made myself a sandwich and a coffee for breakfast and waited for the other intrepid travellers to arrive.
In typical "try to get a group moving" style, the others didn't show for another half an hour.  Leaving my bags in the restaurant, we went to pick up the car.
As is usual in this town, it takes forever to get from Point A to Point B (usually movement is retarded by copious amounts of tea (or water in the recent heat) and conversation that ranges from polite to gossipy to engaging).  After a quick trip to the ATM, we discovered that we had to wait for the car to have its oil changed.  After that it had to be washed, which resulted in the entire backseat being soaked.  Us backseaters decided to walk to Ineke's and meet the car there.  After loading her luggage and waiting for the boys to use the car to do some mysterious potplant errand, we picked up Ben and Elvira's luggage from their place, went somewhere else to pick up some cassettes (!), picked up my things and then raided the market for water and snacks.
By the time we got on the road, and this is before the petrol stop, it was 11.15.  So much for good intentions!

New Series - Just call me Jack Bauer

For the few months I have had a half dozen or more partially penned, intelligent, reflective and/or observational pieces to post here.  They are still unpolished or unwritten and definitely still unposted. 
I have decided that to complete them all as well as give a recount of my recent trips I will need to revert back to the episode format and probably the trusty bullet point post.  Road trip first and then hopefully the rest. 

I wasn't going to post any of them until they were all finished, but then I realised that was a fool's errand and totally unfair for the readers who keep returning to find nothing new for weeks and would then be hit by a deluge of traveller's tales.  So enjoy the first ten or so!
P.S. The name "Jack Bauer" is just about all I know about the TV show 24 (and that the actress that plays his daughter is in the Godawful "House of Wax").  I wish this weren't the case as it seems a pretty interesting show.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Killing time

I know I haven't kept this up to date recently.  At all. 

Since getting back to Edinburgh I've been through various emotions about my unemployment, but mostly I have been taking full advantage of my renewed social life and sleeping all the times I'm not out (should sound familiar to anyone who's ever lived with me).  I turned entirely nocturnal and then decided that was too predictable and have been doing total all nighters instead.  In the two weeks I've been here I think I have only gotten to sleep in darkness two or three times.  Of course it's only completely dark between 11pm and 3am, but still ...

Anyway, my point - here are some photos I uploaded ages ago but never got around to linking.  They should keep you busy for a while until I can get other things online!

They're from a neighbouring town with some scary souvenirs, and also from a hot air balloon ride I did which was fantastic!

Sorry for those who've already seen them.  I'll have to put up new activities for you soon. 

Monday, July 03, 2006

My most self-abasing apologies

Current location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of my online presence in journal style. Four years in which I wish I could have genuinely written about everything that's happened to me. Perhaps there will be a book to come.

In the meantime, I have been trying to do justice to all the funny little things that have happened just in the past few weeks and it's virtually impossible. I managed to make it back to the UK after a long and arduous journey from central Anatolia, and then spent time in London followed by Wales followed by Windermere in the Lake District. Now I find myself back at home in Edinburgh, where funnily enough the online journal (not this one though) started for me.

I have been lucky enough to find that I have a lot of my good friends here – some have remained and some have returned – and have been spending all my time catching up with them. Hopefully there will also be time for me to catch up on tidying things up here, and perhaps find myself some gainful employment.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Goodbye Göreme

As happens every single time, the space-time continuum seems to have been accelerated proportionate to the number of days I have left somewhere.
I spent so long here doing nothing, and then all the things to do caught up on me (although there are always more things to do when you are moving on, organising travel, buying presents and saying goodbyes.
Consequently I haven't been keeping my readers informed.  I am truly sorry and have all the best intentions of doing some serious writing once I am reunited with my laptop in London (yes, the mystery destination). 
I have so many things that I need to catch up on, as well as attempting to describe the entirely mixed feelings I have about leaving Turkey and this little town.
I am on a bus in a few short hours though, so will have to push this aside, hopefully just one more time!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Goodbye to the heaviest wallets in the world

New Zealand is changing its small change to even smaller change this year.
Far from being a silly idea, it will reduce strain on money handlers, the taxpayer and the general public's pocket capacity.  The materials used will be lighter and they are also reintroducing the 10c coin as a copper coloured coin, which we haven't seen since they phased out the 1 and 2 cent coins.  5 cent coins are being removed altogether, as they are essentially worthless in New Zealand's current EFTPOS-reliant retail economy.
Something I have known for a long time, New Zealand's coinage is some of the largest and heaviest in the world.  To quote the above website, "The 50 cent coin, at 31.75mm in diameter and weighing 13.61gm, is one of the largest circulating coins in the world. It is, for example, 75% heavier than the Euro 50 cent coin."
Besides the comparable Australian 50 cent coin, the only coin I have ever seen larger and heavier is the rare and mysterious British 5 pound coin.  Of course with it being worth approximately 30 times more than NZD0.50 , I think this is fair.
The only unfortunate thing, asides from vending machine retailers having to recalibrate or replace their machinery, is that the poor kid that I met in Cambodia that was trying to swap NZD1.50 for some useful money will now never be able to do so. 
She may have to carry that damn heavy 50 cent coin around forever.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

It's 11pm, can you guess what that means?

"It's cleaning time!"
Yes, that's what the manager said tonight when he came back to the restaurant. 
We had had virtually no customers all day (and yesterday), and this is when he decides to do an entire spring clean, all the floors, all the cushions, all the carpets, under all the carpets, all the tables, tablecloths, salt and pepper shakers, napkin holders, toothpick cups and ashtrays.  As well as the glasses and the cutlery and all the other things I usually have to do at the end of the night anyway.
We didn't finish until 1.30am.  And they wondered why I was grumpy.

Friday, June 02, 2006

New Visuals

To keep you all entertained, I've just uploaded (very slowly) photos from my recent trip to the west middle east (near eastern Turkey), and also some from just pottering around Göreme. 
For Göreme, click here:
And for Mt Nemrut, Şanlıurfa, Harran, Gaziantep etc, click here:
For future reference, the links are on my sidebar as usual.
I per-oh-miss to write something of substance soon.  Promise.

Monday, May 29, 2006

A hahaha

Someone did a search for "chin puff"!
Not to mention a couple of Rikki Morris Nobody Else searches too. 
Also, my page is the first one to come up if you search for "Hywel soliloquy ".  I don't know what that means.

Safe and Sound

I'm back in Göreme after 5 fantastic days travelling east and southeast of here.  Once I have organised my thoughts and made proper notes of where we went I will write a proper story about it.  But suffice to say we didn't run into any trouble near the Syrian border, or from Kurdish rebels in the east.  Hooray, or "Oh be!", as they would say in Turkey.
I have also booked a ticket out of Turkey (as my visa is running out soon), but I don't want to divulge too much information in case I jinx myself like I always do.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What happens when you tell some Photoshop nerds to do something about New Zealand

I'm going away tomorrow and I'm too excited to write anything decent.  So here are some links to entries from a Photoshop contest a friend pointed me to.  These are the best in my opinion, but there are some other good ones in there.
Hope the Kiwis enjoy, and nobody else is too confused.  Although there were a couple in there that I just didn't understand.  Help?

Monday, May 22, 2006

I'm on my way ...

I've been sort of busy the last few days, and the rest of the time I've either been away or not had access to the computer.  That explains most of the silence you may have heard from me.  I've also not been in such a great mood, as you may be able to tell from recent posts.
On the upside though, I finally heard back from Yahoo!, my email was (assumedly) finally read by someone who wasn't a total amoeba (sorry amoebas), and I got my password reset.  It only took me 4 years to get it arranged, but nevermind.  I'm sure once I have time to look through my old address book I will find a few people I'd like to get in touch with again. 
Also, I have just yesterday and today arranged to tag along with some people east to Nemrut Daği (Mt Nemrut).  I have been thinking about going for a while, but as it's not the best idea to travel as a single female east of here, it's worked out perfectly.  Also, it'll be a well-needed break from all the things that are bothering me about being here.  Perhaps it will help clear things up for me about what I should be doing from here on in, being with other travellers always helps with that!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

On a lighter note ...

Sorry the posts have been sometimes a little serious, vapid or irate lately. That's just the way life goes. But I am promising some thoughtful, insightful, possibly uplifting writing in the near(ish) future.

In the meantime, I have been reading Overheard in New York. It is a weblog recounting snippets of conversations heard on the streets of NYC. I love this concept, it has always appealed to me. There are usually witty comebacks from the editors. It does not much for the intellectual reputation of the average American. Best of all, the posts are short and easy to read!

They provide such gems as this. Enough said!

The robots are malfunctioning, just thought I'd let you know

Well after the big rant the other day, I didn't hear back from Yahoo!.

I did hear back from Liv though, who kindly provided the whole address for the P O Box we had in San Francisco.

I sent the updated information on to the Yahoo! helpdesk.

They replied with an even more generic, more useless form email.

I replied with a quietly seething, slightly scathing summary and plea for someone to actually read my email.

I have been replied to by three Customer Service representatives so far. The first actually addressed my issue and asked for specific information. Since then they have been getting progressively more robotic.

I think the Yahoo! androids are devolving. Or evolving, depending on how you look at it.

[I am angry about this. I have sent them 6 emails so far. I think this is too many.]

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Would you believe that your last drink of water could have once been used by a dinosaur?

Lately I've noticed that every time I empty someone's leftover bottled water down the drain I say to myself "Back to the water cycle!"
Yes, I am a geek. 
But I am also reassuring myself that I'm doing at least a tiny something to combat the lack of recycling, health and safety and concern for others and the environment that seems to be going on here.

Pride comes before a fall, more's the pity

I met one of the Fez (tour company) guides the other day, who inquired about the green curry that is on our beautifully rendered chalkboard.  She is an Aussie girl who, like many, miss a variety of food, including Thai cuisine.
I told her that if she got some numbers for me a little earlier on the next day, there would be no problem with supplying her group with green curry goodness.
She came in as promised, and though I had just woken up (to meet some lovely Kiwis who were hunting down expats in town), I arranged for 10 or so curries to be made up.
That afternoon was whiled away in the company of Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka and a giant bowl of falafel mixture.  I had managed to lose a whole tray the day before - they fell lemminglike off the bench, landing in a pile of aromatic smush.  I think they wanted to return to their chickpea form (Julie will know about this).  The majority of the batch turned out well though, with no further drama.
Things with the curry went perfectly, I had just enough rice and just enough curry to feed the extra couple of people that joined the party, as well as the hungry staff in the kitchen.  We managed to organise an informal arrangement with the tour guide, and she's going to make sure fellow guides and drivers tell their tour groups.  Excellent.
After a really busy night, I was paid my earnings for the day, which happened to be more than I've ever made in a day here (thanks, boss!).  Unfortunately I didn't have any pockets (20 Lira to guess where I put my money/keys?!), and, tragically, I dropped the money somewhere whilst cleaning up the restaurant.  I couldn't find it anywhere, and nobody will own up to pocketing it (I don't think anyone did, but I can't be 100% sure). 

Biggest fall from grace

I was going to include this in the last post but it mutated into a huge complaint and I decided it needed it's own rant ...
The winner is: Yahoo! UKIE Customer Care (and partially US customer services)
Yahoo! UKIE Customer Care have been absolutely useless in helping me with my crusade to access my old account which I lost in 2002 (during the  suspected hacking/stealing of my online identity crisis). 
I sent a physical letter to US customer services from London, since back then there was no email address available to query password loss.  With no response from them, I slowly forgot about it and began using a new Yahoo! ID, though it wasn't really me for a long time.  Recently I logged into Yahoo! for something else (I rarely do this anymore as I have all my email centrally located in GoogleLand).  I remembered my old ID and I thought I'd try customer services again (couldn't hurt). 
They wrote back to tell me I needed to give them the information that the password verification page asked for.  Obviously I didn't have that information or I would have used the password verification page (well I can't say every person in the world would do this, but ...). 
So I attached the original 2002 letter and wrote a new email explaining everything again and to ask for their understanding. 
They wrote back to tell me that without the information that the password verification page asked for, they couldn't give me anything, for security reasons. 
WHY is it even an option to email them about this then?  Why don't they say, can't do it, too bad? 
So I gave them every single country and postcode I lived at before I lost my account (ten different locations!).  I asked them to provide me my security question and I would give them the answer (they ask for you to give them both - who remembers what security question they provide to every online thing they sign up for?!). 
They replied again today with a form letter that told me:

Thanks for writing to Yahoo! UKIE Customer Care.

Your account has been closed due to inactivity. Dormant accounts are
de-activated at the end of four months. A dormant account is one which
has not been logged in to over a four-month period, regardless of
whether or not email has been received in the account during that time.
You can re-enable your account by returning to the Yahoo! Mail Sign In
page and logging in with your ID and password at:

Once you log in, please click on the "reactivate without account
protection." link at the bottom of the page.

Note:  Once an account has been de-activated, we cannot retrieve any of
the information that was formerly stored in it.

Yahoo! Premium Mail accounts do not require access to protect from
dormancy or possible de-activation. To learn more and subscribe to
Yahoo! Mail Plus, please visit:

Should you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us.

[name removed]
Customer Care - Yahoo! UK & Ireland
I replied again, possibly a little more terse and a little less polite than before (although I refrained from writing "I don't have a bloody password, that was the frickin' problem in the first place, you useless *^#$%!") and then filled in a very unhappy feedback form that they'd sent me the other day.  I was going to leave it until the matter was resolved, but apparently it's not going to happen any time soon.
Why is it that even in the day and age where everything is answered by FAQs and computer intelligence, a well written email about a valid issue cannot be treated as individual and dealt with by a competent, actual person?  Even though I know that my question can't be answered by their help pages, I patiently go through them, just in case.  Can the monkeys on the other end not take the extra few minutes and actually read what the problem is?
On the plus side, at least it was a form letter response so I don't have spelling and grammar issues to complain about as well...
[Asides from this little issue, I have been extremely happy with the services provided by this global internet giant.  Even though I have switched over to Team Google, I still use some pages from Yahoo!.  I have many times in the past publicly lauded Yahoo!'s email service, especially as I have had a long-term extreme dislike for H**mail.  I even like their Outlook-esque new layout.  I think they just need to employ slightly less robotic people.  Ooh, maybe they are androids.  Or actual robots.  In which case, they're doing pretty well.  Good work, Yahoo!, way to keep ahead of the game!]

Favourites of the Day Part II

Name: Oktan (Turk) / Ledge (Aussie) - tie

Person: My mum (it's Mother's Day and I can't afford to call home, damn expensive Turkish telecommunications)

Old school song I was reminded of: Nobody Else by Rikki Morris (kiwi kids might remember this one)

Search string: "hasselhoff berlin wall jacket flashing freedom clip" / "gourmet mutton flaps" - tie (who are these people?)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Statistically unlikely songs I have heard in bars lately

Bloodhound Gang - The Bad Touch
Simply Red - The Best of.  The ENTIRE ALBUM!  How desperate was I to be out that night?
Hanson - MmmBop
Meredith Brooks - Bitch
Most insane genre change (songs directly after each other):
Prodigy - Smack My Bitch Up
Rage Against the Machine - Killing in the Name of
Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Favourites of the day

Search string: Vasco Era Groupie - I'm happy with that!

Pastry: Essentially a giant sausage roll without the sausage. Very greasy and flaky. (Really my favourite is baklava though)

Sight through the front door: Guy riding a donkey whilst leading an unburdened horse / Favourite Person - tie

Random old school song: Martika - Love, Thy Will Be Done

Facial hair: American (of course) guy with shoulder length dirty blonde hair and a goatee minus the middle bit. A perfect rectangle without the base. What is this called?!

Person: Sam

Website: Hilarious! Found whilst searching for a name for favourite facial hair. French Fork? Balbo? Chin Curtain? Hulihee? I especially like the names "Handlebar and Chin Puff" and "Friendly Mutton Chops". [I do not endorse facial hair!]

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Oh Google ...

What kind of people am I attracting that they visit this site looking for " chinese woman passport photo sample"?  Dodgy!  I bet they stole my passport in Chinatown in Sydney.  Police!
"Wendy's burgers Auckland" is much more acceptable.  I fully endorse them.  Asides from Dominion Road, who really should get their act together a bit more.  So I only partially endorse them.
People are still looking for hallucinogenic honey in Turkey.  And I am fooling them more often by continuing to put the phrase on this site ... teehee.

Well it's a start ...

I've edited a few of my previous posts about Gallipoli, Ephesus, Butterfly Valley and Olympos, and the combined new article has been published today with some of my photos on the Turkish Travel website. 
If you're a regular reader, you've already read this, but I thought I'd put this link up for your interest.
[I have not read through the website thoroughly, but Turkish Travel do seem to provide good, interesting information and they have been very pleasant to deal with whilst requesting my stories.]


Not for lack of anything else to write, but mostly for lack of motivation to write book reviews, witty observations or even reply to my email, I would just like to say that I had some success with a complaint letter or two.  Hooray!
Firstly, the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs has officially admitted that I have only lost two, not three, passports - hence I may not have to have a full inquiry if this should happen again.
Secondly, the airline that messed up my Beijing-Hong Kong flight  has admitted partial fault (I think, I have yet to see the letter), and have promised me some form of upgrade at some point in the future.  Should I choose to fly with them again, that is.
I have yet to hear back about the third letter I sent on the same day (I am going to make a great pernickety old letter writing lady one day), but I hope to receive some sort of gift voucher soon!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Oh, hello officer ...

I was just about to start rewriting the chalkboard in the lovely sunshine when my boss told me that I should go inside and do that later.

It took me a few seconds to realise why.

The Jandarma (police) are visiting. We're in various levels of trouble because of the cantankerous upstairs neighbour (also a relative of the management) who has it in for the live music that is such a big part of the restaurant experience. It's best that the cops don't know that I am "working" here - there could be all sorts of issues to arise from this.

So as I type I am pretending to be a tourist using the free internet facility and being eternally grateful you can't see much inside the restaurant from outside in the blinding glare ...

Go Helen

Well apparently someone has been busy in the international relations department (could it be Winston the Asian hater?!).  
I have just checked the Working Holidaymaker page on the NZ government website and there are 6 more countries than there were when I checked sometime last year.  Go Labour.
Not that it makes too much of a difference to me right now, but I can apparently go and holiday for a year whilst supplementing my travel with semi-permanent work in the following countries:
Argentina - Belgium - Canada - Chile - Czech Republic - Denmark - Finland - France - Germany - Hong Kong Special Administrative Region - Ireland - Italy - Japan - Korea - Malaysia - Malta - Netherlands - Norway - Singapore - Sweden - Taiwan - Thailand - United Kingdom - Uruguay
Huzzah!  I have only done two of them.  But I only have time to do four or five more ... oh dear ...

Get it off, get it off!

Just when I was starting to miss writing about those not-so-rare problematic tables in restaurants ...
I had a table come in the other night when I thought we weren't taking any more people.  I still can't get used to the Turkish way of accepting every person they can squeeze money from, no matter how late it is or how small the bill ends up being.  I guess since they're not paying us hourly, they can do what they want.
The new table was a couple with a young child, maybe a year old (I am taking a wild guess at the age).  The father was quite normal looking, but the mother's look just screamed 80s crack whore.  They were Turkish, but she had peroxide blonde hair with four inch roots, crimped and pulled into a frizzy side ponytail.  Her black eyeliner was so thick it rivalled even Avril Lavigne's racoon face.  On second glance, the off the shoulder top was purely of my own imagination, but she was wearing a lot of white and very tight jeans.
As they were Turkish, I let the others take care of them and I carried on cleaning behind the bar. 
A happy but piercing child's laugh made me look up.  I have become almost accustomed to the non-existent health and safety standards here (more to come later), but when I saw the father helping the kid stand on the table, I couldn't help but scream internally ("Get it off, get it off!"). 
I had to look away.
Later, the strung out mother went to the bathroom, leaving the child (who was still on the table) in the care of the father. 
She was gone for about twenty minutes, and her food arrived during this time.  I already thought she was on drugs, and that didn't help matters.
She was the only one eating and I'm fairly sure they underpaid us when they finally left. 
There was food all over the table when I went to clean it up, and the baby didn't even touch the plate. 
I hope they don't come back!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Eminem? Are you sure?

The Turkish music is starting to do my head in.  Especially because the guys who work here seem to have a really high tolerance for listening to the same two albums over and over and over ad nauseum.  I knew it was going to be bad when I started recognising the lyrics that I still can't understand.
I went souvenir shopping the other day and the lovely shopkeeper had a Jack Johnson album on repeat.  I know I said I'd be happy enough never to hear him again when all I heard in Laos and Thailand was Jack Johnson and Bob Marley, but I repent.  I still love Jack.  Especially in Turkey.
You would not believe how happy I was to hear Justin Timberlake come into the restaurant mix.  There is a lot of western music on this computer but it's played very rarely.  I relish the opportunity to be able to sing along and enjoy the poppiest of pop songs.  Except for that terrible J-Lo and LL Cool J song that came on after.  I could have done without that.
Funnily enough, during JT, the manager's twenty year old sister said "Eminem!" 
She doesn't speak much English at all. 
So I said, "No, Justin Timberlake." 
She insisted, "Eminem, Turkish name Eminem!"
I'm pretty sure there's a difference ... and I'm pretty sure Eminem wouldn't want these sorts of rumours spread around, even in a little town in Turkey!

Hair, not the musical ...

I ran away from the restaurant yesterday with one of my new friends and her visiting buddies.  I think being stuck in the same building anywhere will drive you insane after a while and this building is no exception.
So when the other kids came in and asked if I had time to leave right then, I jumped straight up and ran to get my bag and jacket. 
I didn't really care where the destination was, but it turned out we were going to Avanos and then Ürgüp. 
The nearby towns were a nice change from Göreme, a little different in their feel, definitely not as touristy as here.  Ürgüp has a great lookout which would have been even better on a sunny day.
The highlight would have to have been in Avanos, however.  Straight ahead of the bus stop was the destination our guide was so excited to show us. 
The disturbing-sounding Hair Museum is housed within the same complex as the Chez Galip pottery studio.  On entry we were greeted by a resident potter who was throwing pots on a traditional foot-spun wheel.  We happily accepted wine in eggcup-sized pottery beakers and watched a demonstration.  One of our little team was braver than me and attempted to make something recognisable from the local river clay.  He ended up with a small dish that he "made" with a lot of help from the potter.  It was entertaining though and patently obvious how strong the potter's legs had to be as our volunteer could not make the wheel spin nearly fast enough on his own.
After the pottery interlude, we ducked through some low doorways into the cave system the showrooms are set up in.  The bright display lights and colourful clay creations gave way to what was completely unexpected, even knowing what I was coming to see. 
The long, narrow cave stretched away into the distance, every visible part of the wall covered in small pieces of paper, each scrawled with names, dates and details, and finished by a lock of human hair trailing towards the ground.  The hair hung dry and still, tentacles of some latent monster waiting to cling to unsuspecting passersby.  The curls and wisps were like stalactites that I had to duck low under for fear of being infected with the touch of dead hair.
I hate dead hair.  As soon as it leaves its head it becomes repulsive to me.  My sister possibly has a greater aversion, but nonetheless it grossed me out.  So of course I had to leave something as well. 
One of the other girls and I submitted ourselves to the chop, and left a tiny donation from the backs of our heads.  These were taped to our little slips of paper (people have left phone numbers, email addresses, residential addresses and even photos - are they looking for proposals?!) which were then pinned onto the wall. 
The hairfest didn't stop there.  There was a further hair-encrusted cave and passageway which led out into the main showrooms.
I don't know why but it feels good to be part of a legacy of ickiness.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Well lookie here ...

Some recent searches that found my site:
  • Roxfam
  • Decortica (Antz should be happy)
  • The cosy restaurant Fethiye
  • Hallucinogenic honey from Istanbul

Almost makes me want to look it up myself!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Just believe me, I'm Asian

We are trialling some Asian food for the menu here.  It's a pretty big deal in Turkey to have something that's not Turkish. 
Luckily or unluckily, the boys have had Chinese and Thai made for them before.  This means that they will eat it without question and like it, but it also means that my methods are questioned and if things aren't done exactly the same way as the previous cook, I get trouble.  Regardless of my "Well that's how they serve it in Thailand!"
Thankfully they eat it anyway. 
So Chinese stir fry noodles yesterday and beef green curry today.  What shall it be tomorrow?  Probably something along the same lines.  I only have limited ingredients and vegetables at hand.  But hooray for rice vermicelli!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sleeping in the restaurant again ...

Last night was so cold that most of the crops froze in the surrounding area. 
It's totally out of the ordinary, and more's the pity means that a lot of people aren't going to have a very good season.
For me it meant that it was so cold in my room that I couldn't sleep.  The air hurt my throat and is probably the main reason I haven't fully recovered from my random sickness yet.
And it means tonight I am sleeping on the cushions next to the fire.  No complaints.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

From the uttermost ends of the earth ...

It is Anzac Day today.  The day Australians and New Zealanders commemorate the disastrous Gallipoli campaigns of World War I, as well as remembering our veterans from every war. 
I am glad to be in Turkey.  I am glad to feel the welcome that the Turkish people extend to all foreigners, but especially Aussies and Kiwis.  I am glad to be able to remember Çannakale in private, hundreds of kilometres away from the crowd of tens of thousands at North Beach. 
For all the pointless carnage that the Gallipoli campaigns wrought, I am grateful that they produced the only battleground in which both sides come together to remember their losses, and the losses suffered by the other side.  Where soldiers respected each other as people, not just as enemies.
Of course this is much better expressed by a hero:
"Those heroes that shed their blood
and lost their lives ...
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
here in this country of ours ...
You, the mothers,
who sent their sons from far away countries
wipe away your tears;
your sons are now lying in our bosom
and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land they have
become our sons as well."

Selling out to the man ...

You may or may not have noticed I now have Google Ads on my site.


So I decided to cave and see whether AdSense does anything for me.

So I feel that as a sort-of-employed, barely paid traveller, I think this is my right.

So I hope too many people aren't too peeved / disappointed / inconvenienced by this bold new move of mine.

Besides, if it generates no cash, it's only doing slightly worse than any of my other forms of income. And I can just take it away later.

Monday, April 24, 2006

There is no busy work here

Forget trying to look like you're worth employing by polishing cutlery, folding napkins or cleaning glasses.
If you're not immediately busy, you're standing around smoking, drinking (tea or otherwise) or playing on your mobile phone.  It doesn't seem to cross anyone's mind to do anything now so it doesn't have to be done later.
In my case, if I'm not busy I'm reading, playing on the internet or polishing cutlery, folding napkins or cleaning glasses.  Maybe that's why nobody else ever does it.  Or maybe it's because they used to be the bartender's jobs, before I happened to trigger some kind of mental collapse and he never came back to work.  But of course, that is another story.

Author's Note:

As tends to happen when I am stationary for any length of time, you may have noticed that these latest posts have been more anecdotal or observational than traditional travel stories (I did this and then we went there and did that etc). 
I actually find this more rewarding and entertaining, and I hope readers do too.  It sometimes provides a better reflection on the true culture and nature of the place, and my experience here.  Everything else you can find out from the regional guide book of your choice (I choose not to endorse or insult any particular brand at this point).

But I don't speak that language either ...

Just a weird thing I noticed: 
When I don't know how to say something in Turkish, I have this strange inclination to say it in Cantonese.  
It's very odd. 

Some gum?

One of the boys offered me some "gum" today. 
I stupidly took him up on the offer.
It was white and hard-looking when I unwrapped it, and had some kind of a fortune on it.
As I attempted to chew, he explained that the wrapper said something about me looking at a boy or something (his English, whilst still way better than my Turkish, is pretty awful).  Hmm, how prophetic.
I have a tendency to steer away from gum because for some reason I am a habitual overchewer.  I chew until it gets to that awful, flavourless, concrete stage.  Maybe I am too lazy to throw it away.  But that texture is what puts me off gum.
Meanwhile, this fortune gum is my worst nightmare.  From the first bite it is a hundred times worse than that 10c pink tattoo gum we used to get as kids.  I persevere for a few mastications, mostly not to seem rude, but partially to try and work out what that awful flavour is. 
As soon as the gum profferer is out of sight, it pays a hasty visit to the bin. 
Mostly from the aftertaste I think I know what the flavour was - forest floor, with everything included.  Yuck.

I've noticed a lot of hippies in town, is there a commune nearby?

Ah, it's funny you should ask that, straight-laced-looking-tourist.

There are a lot of hippies in town, but they are the tail end of the post-SoulClipse crowd.

Of the Antipodeans around, there are either the hippies (who are also Japanese and Israeli), or the living-in-London-pre-ANZAC-service crowd.

The difference between them is that the latter are likely to be dressed in sensible backpacker attire, and hardly to be seen with dreadlocks, ponchos or leg warmers.

There is somewhat of a base level of hippies here anyway, it's that sort of place. Something about lay lines or other matters I know little of. There is also an abundance of 40-something white women here "finding themselves". Their poor, abandoned children.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

For a good cause

For all the brave women who have been afflicted with breast cancer, the people whose lives it has affected and those who support the worthy cause of cancer research.
My friends Cheryl and Kathleen are doing fundraising walks for breast cancer research in the Lake District (UK) and Boston (Massachusetts, USA) respectively.  I know they would appreciate any and all support for their efforts, so please visit their fundraising sites and give what you can!

The poor sound system at SoulClipse

I didn't have my camera at the time, but here is a picture of the main stage, minutes after the storm.

Photo kindly provided by the lovely Purple.

A time-waster or a real insight?

Well I've been a little sickly the last few days, so I haven't had the energy to do much, let alone get up in time for work and play on the internet like usual.  I have a few posts which I have outlines for, but in the meantime, here's a funny link that Cheryl sent to me.  My results are below.  Note that whilst I can believe the first two sections, I have yet to learn the "lesson" that this life is supposed to teach me (children, what?!).
My past life diagnosis:

I don't know how you feel about it, but you were male in your last earthly incarnation.
You were born somewhere in the territory of modern Alaska around the year 575 .
Your profession was that of a librarian, priest or keeper of tribal relics.
Your brief psychological profile in your past life:
Seeker of truth and wisdom. You could have seen your future lives. Others perceived you as an idealist illuminating path to future.
The lesson that your last past life brought to your present incarnation:
You fulfill your lesson by helping old folks and children. You came to this life to learn to care about the weak and the helpless .

Monday, April 17, 2006

Wendy also recommends ...

More things I think should be even more popular than they are ...
The Elbow Room - My all-time favourite place to have breakfast (or brunch or lunch).  I recommend it to everyone who goes anywhere near Vancouver in Canada.  The most fabulous food (predominantly breakfasts, which is also my favourite meal to have out), great location and a good dose of abuse with your meal.  Who can complain when your dish comes with a side of wisecrack?  Also, what can be wrong in the world when your meal sounds like this: " Two poached eggs, sauteed spinach, bacon, avocado and blue cheese on a sour dough muffin. Topped with hollandaise sauce."?  That's the Brett Cullen, my usual.  Sublime.  AND you can get it with hash browns!
Göreme Restaurant - The coziest place to eat great food and listen to live music in Cappadocia.  Low tables with comfy cushions, a stove to keep you warm during the cold nights, good advice about the area and impressive eats (including the famous "Desti (Testi) Kebap" - cooked in clay pot that they break at your table to serve).  The website is currently under construction but hopefully this will change soon.
Crocs - My absolute best investment in the last few months.  These shoes are made of some spectacular slip-resistant, ultra-light, non-marrking, anti-bacterial, orthotic, shape-moulding, amazingly comfortable material.  And they look funky and come in some fabulously stylish colours.  They have been perfect for waiting tables, bush walking, river fording, travelling, showering and every general use you can think of.  I recommend them to anyone for anything, but they would be perfect for use in kitchens, restaurants, hospitals and boats.  Who knew a boat shoe could actually be cool?  I am going to get some black Aspens as soon as I can for restaurant use.  At the moment I have the bright orange Beach model.  I love them.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter minus all the trimmings (except the chocolate)

Celebrating Easter is a little difficult in a Muslim country.
I had a theology student ask the other night whether any of the cave churches around were doing an Easter service, but had to tell him no.  Although I think for private reflection, any of the abandoned churches would be lovely to spend Easter Sunday in.
It is just another day here, a sunny Sunday where all the Turkish families load up their cars with picnic supplies and head for the nearest open space (of which there are many around here!). 
I keep forgetting about Easter altogether, there are no days off for me, and almost every non-Turk here is on holiday anyway.  However I did make the effort and go out and buy chocolate (in non-egg form) for everyone today.  That's usually the only way I celebrate anyway.
I hope all you partakers of westernised Christianity based statutory holidays are enjoying them!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What's the big deal anyway?

Location: Göreme
I had a group of kiwis in the other night, which was nice as they seemed quite cool people (it's also nice to hear a full on New Zild accent every now and again).
I mentioned the eclipse at one point during our chat, and one of the girls asked me what the big deal was.
"Is it really so amazing?"
Of course it is!

Billiards and taboos

Location: Göreme, Turkey
I was asked to go to a pool/billiard hall yesterday by the 17-year-old brother of the restaurant manager.  If you don't know already, I have a special place in my heart for the game of pool.  I love playing, even though I can be described at best as "good, for a girl".  So of course I said yes. 
Çarli (pronounced Charlie) asked if I could play 3 Ball.  I said no.  He asked about 4 Ball.  I said no.  15 Ball?  Yes, yes I can play that!  Yay.
The pool hall was up some stairs in an unsigned hallway.  The room itself was pretty standard, a bar area sectioned off from the tables by wooden trellis.  The place seemed to only be patronised by teenage boys, but perhaps this changes at different times of the day. 
I have never played 3 Ball (or billiards, apparently) before, and don't even remember seeing the tables without any pockets.  Çarli explained how to play, but I misunderstood him, so for the first half of the game I was trying to do something that was entirely not the aim of the game.  I got it in the end though, and I think with a bit of practice and help I might be able to do it well one day.  It is an entirely different skill from playing regular pool.
We had two games of regular pool after a couple of ten-year-olds vacated a table.  I am happy to say I won both games!  I was a little worried that Çarli's proficiency at 3 Ball was going to transfer to pool and I was going to get annihilated.  The other boys in the room applauded me, which was reassuring in a weird way.
After we got back to the restaurant, Diane asked me what the news was.  I told her about the afternoon, and she was surprised that I had been to what she described as a sort of gentlemen's club.  Apparently women never go in there, and I was none the wiser.  Of course, I didn't really expect to see any headscarf-wearing Muslim women there, but I didn't think it'd be so unheard of.
No wonder the boys were watching me play so intently!

Monday, April 10, 2006

They love me, they really love me!

Now that I've finally updated things somewhat, I have taken a moment to check out who's been coming to see my site.  This interests me for a lot of different reasons.  It's nice to know I have a regular readership (mostly friends and family), but it's also interesting to see who visits me from where, and for what reason.
Of course there are the random search strings that I sometimes mention, and there always seem to be a good chunk of people that just click on "Next Blog", or whatever that button is, and stay for less than 5 seconds.
Today though is the first day when I have had everyone stay for over 30 seconds.  Hooray! 
You may (or may not) have noticed the little world map at the bottom of the right hand column.  It is a cool little monitor that keeps track of the locations of visitors to my site.  If you click on it (or here), you can see a magnified version of the world with little red dots on it.  Mostly the readership had been in NZ, the UK, Australia and North America (mostly the states but I'm sure one of the dots is Toronto).  Today I've noticed some in Alaska, India, Scandinavia, South America and Asia.  Hooray!  Of course, I'm fairly sure all the Turkey ones are me.  Nothing like biased data!
So to summarise - I notice when you visit.  And in an appreciative sort of a way, not a stalking one.  So Çok teşekkür, many thanks!

Episode 20: In which she finishes the series

Location: Göreme
Date: 08/04/2006
I have finished with my little anecdotes for now!  I thought that notification of my photos online would be a good way to end this little series.  I haven't done them all, this connection is too slow, but here are quite a few of the best!
For İstanbul, Gallipoli, Ephesus, Ölüdenız, Butterfly Valley, Kayaköy and Olympos -
I have seen a couple of slightly hilarious things around town today, so I'm sure there will be more to come! 

Episode 19: In which my direction changes

Location: Göreme
Date: 04/04/2006

I was walking down the main street of Göreme, looking for a nice place to have a table-for-one dinner. I just happened to run into some people that I'd met on the bus from Fethiye (we had hung out with them in Olympos and again at SoulClipse). They were going to meet some friends, who I had also met in Çannakale and naturally I decided to join them.

What followed was a lovely dinner in a cosy restaurant with great company. [I will post photos at some point, but basically the restaurant has an outside covered table area, tables and chairs inside the doors, and then on a raised platform, nine low, round, flat tables with huge comfy cushions to sit on (or sleep on, as my case has been).] After goodbyes to people leaving that night and the next morning, I went to a local bar with Hannah, a kiwi girl, and Diane, a lovely lady who sort of (not for legal reasons) works at the restaurant. I ended up having a hugely in-depth conversation with Diane, and later on Hasan the restaurant manager joined us. He offered me a job in exchange for a place to sleep, food, and the possibilty of a little money.

In truth, I had to think about it a lot. I was really looking forward to going back to the UK and had planned a lot of things to do and people to visit on my return. In the end, I decided I'd regret it more to miss such an opportunity to do something a little different. Also, it worked out a lot cheaper this way! Hopefully I will break even on the flight that I had to forfeit, but if not, I've already had a great time ...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Episode 18: In which I go to church

Location: Göreme Open Air Museum
Date: 04/04/2006
I decided to go to the Open Air Museum, even though I tend not to believe the Lonely Planet anymore.  It was entirely worth it, as I find myself fascinated with ancient religious frescoes (maybe I should have done Classical Studies at school after all).  It is full of churches, monasteries, refectories and store rooms dug into the rock and cliffsides.
I won't list all of the churches there, but my favourites were the Elmalı Kilise (Apple Church) and the Karanlık Kilıse (Dark Church), even though I had to pay extra to see the latter.  The vibrancy of the centuries old paintings and the intricate cave structures were stunning.  Even the more basic iconoclastic rock painting was beautiful.  It's a pity the museum looks a bit like a zoo with its paved walkways and stairways, but a UNESCO world heritage site needs to accommodate a lot of visitors at a time.  I'm glad I was there in off season, since the only source of light in most of the churches was through the small doorways, easily blocked by tourists standing in them.  It was also good for photos, since I could use all available light (no flashes allowed of course).
After the museum, I took a wander to find El Nazar Kilise, the Evil Eye Church, built right into a fairy chimney.  It was closed, but Mustafa the guard was just leaving.  He reopened it for me and charged me the entrance fee.  It wasn't as impressive as some of the others, but he pointed out all the features to me.  He also invited me back the next day to see the Saclı Kilise (Hidden Church) and have lunch with him.
I got him to point me in the direction of Love Valley, which I visited briefly to gaze upon the spectacularly phallic rock formations.  Has to be done, right?

Episode 17: In which I am clean

Location: Göreme
Date: 03/04/2006
I said goodbye to Mazz at the bus station and trudged somewhat wearily back to the pension.  When I got into the room, which they had kindly let me keep for 15YTL a night, I was finally able to enjoy a proper shower.
It had been an incredibly unreasonable amount of days since my last one (9 to be exact), but I had luckily been sustained by short swims in the freezing river at SoulClipse.  Lack of time and/or hot water had prevented me from having one before that night.
I decided against accepting an offer to drink at the bar, and showered and did laundry instead.  Surprising how good simple things like hot water can be!

Episode 16: In which we meet the locals

Location: Goreme and surrounds
Date: 03/04/2006
Mazz and I spent a great afternoon wandering around in Swords Valley, which was recommended to us by a local carpet seller.  We were relaxed after breakfast and massages from Habib, and had a good clamber around the rock formations.
We decided to head up to the Open Air Museum to check out the prices (10YTL), and when we were passing the carpark security booth, a man jumped out at us.
"THESE ARE FOR YOU!" he yelled, scaring the living crap out of us.
He had two bouquets of daisies strapped together with sellotape, which he handed to us.  We thanked him and walked on in a state of mild shock.
After that we seemed to meet every local vendor we passed, and had some interesting talks.  I still have to go back and visit a couple of them, but there's plenty of time for that now!

Episode 15: In which I'm woken up early

Location: Göreme
Date: 03/04/2006
The girls we had had dinner with the night before had to wake up at 5am to see if the weather was good enough to go for a balloon ride through the valleys.  This is supposed to be one of the most phenomenal things you can do, and is penciled in on my to do list.
However, we were not due to balloon, and I was cosy in the first bed I'd slept in in a week.  Mazz woke early and the next thing I knew, she was waking me to see the balloons take off.
I stumbled out of bed and threw on some warm clothes before heading to the roof terrace.  The balloons were indeed beautiful, and it's a pity the weather wasn't a little clearer. 
We watched until the sun was almost through the clouds, and then headed back to bed ...

Episode 14: In which we see the sights and eat far too much

Location: Göreme and surrounds
Date: 02/04/2006
After breakfast and checking in to our room (we decided on the twin with ensuite since we hadn't showered in a while), we managed to arrange and get on a tour of the area that morning.
The tour guides, driver and fellow tourists were all fun people, so despite the rain and generally miserable weather, we had a great time.  The spectacular sights helped as well, of course.
We saw the 80m deep underground city at Derinkuyu (amazing structures, cramped tunnels, great ventilation, puts Edinburgh to shame!) and walked part of the Ihlara Valley to our lunch destination of Belisirma.  There we had a four course lunch before moving on to see the Selime Katedrali (Selime Cathedral) built into the rock faces and fairy chimneys.  Some of the girls (and boys) succumbed to the delights of the Onyx/Turquoise workshop we were shown around (reminded me all too much of the factories in China), and then there was time to take photos from the top of Pigeon Valley.  At Paşabaği we saw some amazing fairy chimneys, including the famous three-headed ones.  The pottery demonstration at Avanos was our last stop before arriving back at Göreme.  All in all it was a great tour, I had a lot of fun clambering around in tunnels and caves.  Ordinarily I probably wouldn't have done a tour but we covered a lot of ground and Mazz only had one night in town.
After the tour we went straight to find a restaurant (well, via a little shopping) with a couple of Australian girls from the tour.  We ended up at a lovely restaurant called The Orient, where we had a four course set menu for only 12.50YTL.  This turned out to be six courses (extra garlic bread and salsa to start, and a fruit plate after our desserts), so along with the two bottles of lovely local wine, we were well full ...