|OK ok I know it's been a long time but internet access has been a bit sparse of late and I'm here now. I've written this in bits but plan is to publish in Esphehan, Iran so lets see what's been happening.
Oh, and as it's so long, here is an Executive Summary for those that can't be bothered reading the whole thing.
Drank beer, drank more beer, went for some nice walks, did some belly dancing due to too much beer. Waited for a visa then went to Iran.
Needless to say all is well and since last update and the party has continued (until Iran of course). So, on leaving Olu Deniz, for the next couple of weeks we more or less recovered the steps of my Middle East excursion of a couple of years ago. I contacted Mr Jim on the way to Kas for directions to a jazz bar in this lovely little sailing village. The campsite was right by the see and a few of us headed to Smileys restaurant for dinner. Mr Smiley himself was there and I was telling him about the condom he gave me last time I was there. On mentioning this he immediately brought out some more giant packets which it later turns out were merely face wipes. The night continued on to find the jazz bar mentioned before and a degree of success saw us quaffing a few Efes here followed by a few more in a locals bar down some side street. The Turkish dancing raged for another couple of hours here and by the end of the night it's just the three usual suspects of me, John and Kirsty left to sing our way back to camp. Following Kas our next stops were Pamukalle (calcium deposits on the hillside) and Mt Olympus. Bothe these places were nice to see again but I was really wanting to get to our next stop of Cappadocia. Not disappointed as we visited different parts of the region with the trip highlight thus far of Ilhara valley walk. This 10K walk up the valley included ancient cave system with winding passage ways taking you up down and around. Quite stunning and rarely visited which as you will know suits me just fine. The walk as well was the first real exercise of the trip and got me inspired to do more as I'll mention later on. For these moments of outdoor life I started hanging around with Aveline and Lorna who are old friends from way back and both nurses. Our next stop was the town of Gorame, which was our main base on the last trip. The highlight if you can call it that was a traditional turkish night with unlimited bar and food as well as "typical turkish dancing". It turns out to be the exact same location and set up as last time with one main exception.....I was "forced" onto the floor for a belly dancing lesson. This of course caused great hilarity with my new chums and there is actually a video floating about. MAy have to bribe Jo and Kenny to delete.
I'll break the route here to review and review truck life thus far. The truck itself is huge and brand spanking new. Infact I spent a day with Steve just checking the nuts and bolts that connect the passenger bit to the chasis. It's very slow in comparison to the Oasis trucks but by eliminating pee stops (there is the built in dunny) and truck lunches, we can cover well over 600K on a good day. The seats are bus like (inward facing seats are illegal in Australia) with two tables for cards etc at the back. Our luggage lockers are individual but outside. Not really a problem as there is always access when the truck is stopped. I still prefer under seat storage but hey we can't have everything. day time storage is the key bug bear as there isn't any. We have all had to buy plastic boxes and use nukes and crannies to store our day packs and lunch time food. This can be quite an issue when there are 32 of us crammed in. At the end of the day though if this is the only problem we have then things aint that bad. On the crew front, Steve and Kirsty are a superb combination and cool to hang around. I think I mentioned before that Steve is a legend in the Overlanding business and his stories are unending and very entertaining. It also turns out that he was on standby to fly out to take over our South American trip if Tony had not recovered.
Ok, back to the trip. Apologies as I have to go back to Mt Olympus. I thought it was a couple of quiet nights but forgot to report the most scary moment thus far. We had headed up before sunset to see the eternal flames (flames coming out the hillside that if you blow them, they immediately re-ignite, see pic). Anyway, once there someone mention more, further up the hill so a few of us set off in the dark....bad move. We got lost and ended up scrambling down when we heard some of our chums on the other side of a small valley. they had got even more lost and were actually on a cliff edge when one of the girls screamed and we heard rocks tumbling down the cliff. It seemed like ages before they shouted that they were scared stiff but alive. It took another hour before they (and we) found a safe route down. A lesson learnt me thinks.
Back to the schedule. On leaving Gorame we had to take a major detour to Ankarra as the Pakistan visas were badly delayed and a personal visit was required to expedite (look at me and the big words)the matter. And so it was a 3 day stay, filling out forms and waiting and waiting. Ankarra itself was really unlike any other part of Turkey. It's a modern, concrete jungle basically and very un-Turkish. Istanbul is much more authentic. None the less we found a nice bar with cold draught beer, a pool table and backgammon. It really is a tough life sometimes.
On receipt of the visas it as a couple of long drive days to the border town of Dogubezuit (Doggy Biscuit). These were now our last couple of days in Turkey and so the arduous task of drinking the truck dry was undertaken with some reluctance. the last night to me really encapsulated what these trips can be about. Myself, Johno and Kirsty were supping our final beer when the owner of the site came to chat. It turns out he and the whole local population is Kurdish and his passion about being a Kurd and not a Turk was fascinating. This long discussion meant that our final beer lasted for about 4 beers, some raki and until around 4am in the morning. It also appears that the site is a major stopping point for smuggling goods between Turkey, Iran, Azerbijan and Europe.
And so that ended our few weeks in Turkey. I really loved it. Saw some old friends like Ephesis and Gorame. Saw some new stuff like the Ilhara valley, and really felt like the trip had started in earnest.
I know this has been a long old diatribe so I'll stop it here and start another one that you can read at your leisure about our first week in Iran.