I’m getting a bit tired of this region now! I still think it’s a very interesting place, but it’s just too lonely traveling solo around here. I’ve been here for 12 days now (a few days too many I think) and have not met, let alone seen another western tourist. I can only spend so much time by myself! And it’s not like there is any nightlife. A lot of these places you can’t even find a beer anywhere. Then you got the heat, which during the day is oppressive, so you don’t even want to do anything from about 11am to 4pm. And at this point most of the touristy stuff is all kind of running together: old mosques, forts, churches, and ruins.
I also thought there would be a more pronounced difference between Turkish and Kurdish culture, at least to an outsider looking in, but besides the language (I can’t understand either one) and some slight differences in clothing and a slightly darker, more arab looking appearances in general, it doesn’t seem all that different. I’m sure Kurdish people would take offense to that! But for anyone who is young, the only way I’d know if they were Turkish or Kurdish is to ask. The older Kurds also seem to be fond of “warrior Trump”, which annoys me. I’ll chalk it up to poor education system.
Here in Sanliurfa I was befriended by a very eager university student who studied for a year in Poland and speaks good English. He wanted to teach me more about Kurdish culture, help me get around, make sure I don’t get ripped off etc. Seemed like a nice guy. We eventually went to visit Gobekli Tepe, which is kind of must see in Urfa, it’s an archaeological site, basically the worlds first temple built in 11000 BC. It’s about 10 miles outside of town. Rather than just hop in any taxi he calls a taxi driver that he knows, who will charge less than a normal taxi. We walk around the site for 30 minutes and then on the way back when it comes to pay the cost is 200 Lira, $40. What? There’s a taxi board right outside the Hilton where I’m at with the price of 100 Lira posted, which means a normal taxi on the street will cost much less than that. Friends don’t let friends pay double or triple cab fares! I assume they were splitting the excess proceeds. I coughed up 180 Lira and ditched my ‘friend’ shortly after that.
On the plus side, the food is really good! I’m still not tired of kebabs and Turkish pizza and baklavas for dessert. I had a pistachio baklava for the first time the other day, it was amazing! Where has this been all my life? Turkey is amazing value right now price-wise. I mean Eastern Turkey would have been cheap anyways, but now with the lira going down it’s a great deal. A doner kebab on the street is less than a dollar. A dolmus to get from one city to the next cost about two dollars. I just ate McDonalds for the first time on this trip, and it costs just over three dollars for a burger meal with fries, a drink, and a 6 piece mcnugget. A room at a cheap guesthouse costs $6-8.
Lately I’ve been staying in more higher end hotels than I usually do because at the $20-$30 price range you can get some great bang for the buck. As I mentioned before I’m staying at the Hilton (garden), it’s one of the nicer hotels in town, super plush beds, speedy wifi, blasting AC, pool, sauna, fitness center, huge breakfast buffet, etc, and the cost is $30/night. These are not my usual traveler comforts! Even in Western Turkey this wouldn’t be possible because all the hotels are quoted in Euros. So I’m sleeping well in Turkish Kurdistan!
I am ready for my next country though, Egypt. Although I have heard you will get hassled A LOT in Egypt, so I’m bracing myself. One of my travel buddies, who’s been to 50+ countries says Egypt was her least favorite country in the whole world. But it sounds like a female traveling solo in the Arab world is much more of a pain in the ass than being a man. Anyway, I think the temples and pyramids and all that stuff will be cool, but I’m really looking forward to the scuba diving, which I haven’t done for a long time now. I’ve got my flights booked now, so I’ll be in Sharm El Sheikh in two days!