I am aware I didn’t post pictures in Turkey due to my smart phone and website incompatibility so here goes.
I prepared the piece below in advance of today’s presidential election.
Turkeys arrogant prime minister narrowly scraped to victory, virtually unopposed, perhaps because of his success in turning around the countries economy. Here I tell a bit more about this unsavory character.
Crossing from Iran to Turkey.
I am thinking prison cage but which direction!
Turkey was also a tea experience just smaller portions for a big mouth!
This nice shopkeeper didn’t charge.
One day I suddenly stopped at the side of the road. I took off my worn out 43rd pair of shoes and gave them to this poor onion seller. In my pack I had my 44th pair. I now wear the ON brand of running shoe, a Swiss make.
More tea? I sat in this highway construction traffic island with the workers for a short while to refresh.
Late one night I stopped at a mosque to see if I could sleep there. It was locked up. After a discussion these people brought me to this house. One of them spoke some decent English. I rely on people like him for my information much of my text may seem generalizations, many are the opinions of the ordinary people I meet on a daily basis. So we chatted and I used this man to interrogate the others while they fed me dinner.
The Turks are so friendly.
Then in the morning they brought this delicious breakfast. Nobody seemed to live in the house, I think it was some kind of a community house.
Turkey is the Islamic worlds only secular state I am told (perhaps Azerbaijan may have something to say about that I wondered) founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who was a Turkish army officer. He was the first president of Turkey. He is credited with being the founder of the Republic of Turkey. Born in 1881 and died in 1938. His surname, Ataturk -which means Farther of the Turks was given to him in 1934 and by law of the Turkish parliament can not be used by any other person.
I found it was mostly the older generation that respected Ataturk, younger people seemed to almost spit his name out.
An extremely mountainous country, the reason I decided to send Nirvana on ahead.
Turkey had some of the most amazing scenery of my entire run, A beautiful country but a shame they don’t do picnic sites like the Iranians to enjoy it more. Funnily I found the Turks to be less ‘outdoorsy’ than the Iranians.
There were many days when I had to stop and admire, Yes Turkey took my breath away.
Always time for a chat.
One day I spotted a police car in the distance. Not wanted to be bothered by a passport check I put my head down to pound my way past. Then I realized it was an immitation to encourage speeding drivers to slow down! Very original.
More mountain passes to be run over.
Only men frequent the tea shops. I often wondered how I would fare if I were a woman. In Iran I know I would not have gotten my visa for independent travel.
One day I was invited into a construction canteen for a huge lunch.
And only two kilometres was ordered to stop again!
I wondered about this place, Mangan Madenas!
One big weeks running to Istanbul
The infamous, notorious Turkish dogs did not bother me. Perhaps I have become a ferocious sight for them on the road, Many big dogs whined or ran away, others just wagged their tails as I ran towards them
Doing what I do best! Ah yes Ann will tell you butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth and always willing to listen
Note my own proper size ‘tea cup’, no little girl tea cups I used to say! One man called it my dog bowl!
One night I stopped at an arts and crafts shop thinking it was a cafe. The Russian man who owned it gave me tea and biscuits and told me there was a small mosque two kilometres down the road I could sleep in.
So I arrived. This one was particularly good as you can see I could have a body wash, charge my phone, camera and get my beverage heater and dog bowl out for another tea-riffic night on the road!
Later some locals actually checked inside while locking up and discovered me lying there in my sleeping bag. I pretended to be asleep as I lay there in the darkness. I had tried to make myself inconspicuous as I could to anyone that just popped their head inside the door as I had placed my sleeping bag behind the chair with womens garments hanging down as shown here. Yes once again I am in the womens section.
They didn’t bother me, they just left and I heard one man say something about tourist. Ah yes! I couldn’t resist thinking if this was in India and their incurable curiosity and pestering nature!
One day I just kept running and running for there was no place to sleep. I was rapidly approaching Istanbul. I had run 64km that day arriving in a small town called Izmit. For me and I know the pictures don’t do it justice this was the most picturesque town on my entire world run.
The skyline was lit up in a beautiful array of lightning reflecting off bridges, high rises.
A beautiful marina, fashionable cafes and restaurants while city workers out planting flowers after dark! So pristine, everything I looked at seemed to be freshly painted.
Istanbul outskirts and a huge slog through Turkey’s biggest and most famous city. Remember Ken Thompson the Irish ambassador to Turkey had assigned the wonderful Erok to get me a permit to run over the non pedestrian Bosphorous bridge which connects Asia to Europe.
However I arrive a day early. Erok managed to get me a permit to cross on the 7th June.
I show these police officers my permit to run across the bridge. Unable to find an internet cafe and have it printed out I have to keep showing the download on my smartphone. My phones battery is rapidly draining. There are many phone calls. One officer has a Turkish/English translate app on his smart phone and we go into a very long conversation. This was the first time I ever saw such a feature. I just spoke into his phone and my words were translated into Turkish text for him to read and vice versa, isn’t technology wonderful. I can see the day when tourists will be walking around with headphones and microphones and have real time conversation. I wondered about this possibility recently after reading Skype wants to add this feature for phone calls.
Here nobody picks up on the date that I am a day early. Eventually the officer on the right is assigned to escort me across the bridge.
So off I go towards Europe a couple of kilometres away.
I stop and wonder who this fellow ‘ Larry ‘ is because he couldn’t be happier than me
I got handed over to this police officer on the European end. I did not see the ’ Welcome to Europe sign as I was on the left side of the bridge.
This officer just let me run on.
However at the end of the bridge proper there was a pathway less than a metre wide between the railing and the guardrail you can see here. This pathway was about one kilometre long. I was terified another officer on a motorbike or in a patrol car would stop me and as very few Turks can speak English I didn’t want any more hassle so scrambled my way through here and onto the mainland as fast as possible. Thank goodness I didn’t have Nirvana, I thought.
I have been told to keep my blog postings shorter! Yes a picture blog does that nicely. However ‘ Motor Mouth ‘ is back from vacation.
Recently I have had emails and comments to the blog re: my Bulgarian and Indian blogs and my comments about their countries, If they only knew what I left off they would thank me for being so kind!
Thats funny because in every country I have been to since Australia I have been told my comments are pretty much accurate regarding the social issues face in those countries. Not wanting to digress too much here but tonight as I write this posting in Vera’s house in Brno, Czech Republic. Vera my host asked me to describe politicaly correct and politically incorrectness.
Telling her I believe in telling the full honest story and not the brushed under the carpet job Vera advised me to have a second edition of my book published.
I will if the first edition is sucessful I said.
So Vera makes me laugh when she says.
” No one edition will be the politically correct edition and the other the politically incorrect edition! “
Ah! Yes I love it, I have Monty Python in my head.
” And which edition of Mangans run would you like sir?
” The politically correct or the politically incorrect edition? “
Anyway Turkey, Here goes!
I made it to a restaurant for dinner after getting over the Bosphorus Bridge and then took a taxi to my friends house that night. I would return to my finishing spot when running out of Istanbul.
My host had also taken delivery of Nirvana last March and was still minding her – a man called Baris – a Turk who lived most of his life in England and still has a very strong English accent. A vegetarian, environmentalist and lover of life especially the life of his hero, John Lennon.
Like many other Turks he is despondent by Turkeys almost totalitarian government, a so called democracy with military rules like Myanmar as it has been described to me. When I told him I had already run over the bridge he suggested I run over again with my permit the next morning as initially planned.
Six local runners wanted to run across with me including another man called Ercan who has helped me enormously. I had to submit all their names to the transport authority via the Irish Embassy in Ankara, so we emailed as required in order for us to all run across.
That’s what we did a couple of days later after I took my first rest day in 51 days since the Iranian desert, a record for the run.
Saturday morning after breakfast we set out from the Asia side and ran across to Europe.
That is after waiting for the prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to be escorted through at high speed.
Some more thoughts on Turkey and their insensitive prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose abrasive response to the Soma mining disaster in which 301 miners were killed in April.
He visited the site of the accident and during his visit he managed to infuriate a region in mourning.
During protests of Mr. Erdogan’s visit, an aide to Mr. Erdogan was photographed kicking a demonstrator who was being held on the ground by military police officers. Mr. Erdogan himself responded to the heckling by defiantly taunting protesters and allegedly slapped one saying.
” If you insult me, your the Prime Minister you will get a slap. “
The dork then revisited the area in his presidential campaign and used the same word ‘ slap ‘ to describe a victory for him would be a ‘ slap ‘ for democracy over his rivals. I would certainly hate to be married to this creep, if I was a woman!
Speaking of Turkish women. ” Women should not laugh in public.” So said Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc in a recent speech about “moral corruption” in Turkey. “Chastity is so important,” he said. “She will not laugh in public.”
Baris extreme left and Ercan third from left. Three runners wore Gezi Park protest tee shirts
Many Turks I have spoken to can’t understand how this man, though well educated and a former lemonade street vendor amassed an estimated 50 million US dollar fortune. In March this year people asked this question on Twitter which was subsequently blocked for a 24 hour period until he realized, no not a good idea and restored the social media site. Facebook and You Tube have also been targets of his after questions of his financial dealings. However the questions are not going away.
Baris was asked to remove his Gezi Park tee shirt
I have also learned that journalists of the Zenden Daily newspaper who have been asking the really big uncomfortable questions to Erdogan have been ejected from Erdogan press conferences and also his finance minister presumably on the orders of the prime minister Erdogan at a FT press conference abroad.
I did not mind when Baris wore a Gezi Park tee-shirt to demonstrate. Gezi Park a very sensitive subject for many Turks.
Imagine the Irish Govt deciding they wanted to knock down St,Stephen’s Green Park for building offices. Imagine the outcry there would be, well imagine if the Irish police went in with riot squads and tear gas canisters killing many protesters and innocent people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or in London’s Hyde Park, New Yorks Central Park.
Thats what happened in Gezi Park.
Erdogan is not a very popular man and many people ask me to guess how he got into power and was then re-elected twice, Ah yes much the same story I have been hearing throughout the run.
His three terms of prime minister is the limit under the Turkish constitution. He cannot stand again. I had been told long before his July announcement he wanted to run for office of the Turkish president in a soon to be held presidential election.
Well that same constitution he wants to change to give the Turkish president more powers. And yes he announced he wanted to be a candidate. Few doubt he will not succeed.
Turkey a country where 1,6 million children between the ages of 6 and 16 are working in jobs meant for adults is very much a polarized country.
Many people believe this division means votes for Erdogan’s ruling Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party, known as the A.K.P.
I asked several people did they think Turkey had any chance of becoming a member of the EU. Many people said no because of ‘ the Muslim thing ‘ as one man put it.
Another man said they EU don’t really want Turkey as they already have a
’ Special Relationship ‘ agreements with the Turks, This man believed the EU is a closed shop.
I am afraid my own sad impression of Turkey after about seven weeks running through is that democracy as we see it, or even the bit they have here is about to be dismantled. Erdogan though not a popular man probably still gets the Muslim vote for his strong Islamic beliefs. He is pulling Turkey further and further away from the EU and membership seems to be low on his priority list.
I can’t help wondering that perhaps in the not too distant future Turkey may even be an Islamic Republic state. Or as one of the militants in the self declared Islamic state in Iraq worrying said, ” With no western garbage like democracy. “
I also wonder will the west be defeated by our own democracy?