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Van and the train to Istanbul

Posted Sun, 22 Feb 2015 11:04:26 GMT Turkey Traveling "Kurdistan"

In Van I met Peter (our "host" from Trabzon) and we discovered Van together. I really enjoyed to be free from the hospitality, as I was never able to walk somewhere without my host taking care of me or helping me. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the hospitality, but it had some downsides. For example, I was always asked to sit down, as it is considered rude for the host to sit down first and my hosts always wanted to sit.

Van is famous for "Kahvaltı" and its cats. Kahvaltı is a buffet style breakfast with olives, tahin, honey, vegetables, cheeses and some egg dishes. The cats are famous because of their dichromatism: One green and one blue eye.

  • Van cat with dichromatism

  • A truck full of garlic ❤

I took a train from Tatvan to Ankara: Vangölü Express. It was one of the most beautiful train rides I ever did. It goes through gorgeous nature, mountains, lakes, little cracks and big rivers. Even though it has express in its name, it only goes about 40-50 km/h which makes it a very smooth and silent ride. It took me about 29 hours for the ~1000 km trip.

On the train I was staying in a four person courgette compartment together with a kurdish, a turkish and one iranian guy. The iranian guy was suffering from pain after a surgery to fix some problems with his spine. His spine was damaged from torture in Iran because he is member of the christian minority in Iran. He and his wife where on the way to the United Nations office in Ankara to go to some western country and start a new life.

We had a good time, laughed a lot and wondered why there's so much stupid people and idiots in the world who can't get along (we were two muslims, one christian and one atheist).

  • My train to Ankara

  • Sinan, crazy kurdish guy I met on the train

Erçiş and Deliçay

Posted Fri, 20 Feb 2015 10:04:26 GMT Turkey Traveling "Kurdistan"

I wanted to go to Van for some days, but couldn't find a host, as most students did have holidays and went to the west. But I got offered to go to Erciş, a city north of Van at Van Gölü (Van lake). The person who organized my stay, Hasan, and all my hosts there couldn’t speak english, so I communicated via a Facebook group chat with a girl who translated everything between me and Hasan.

At my first host in Erciş, Kardin (a cousin of Hasan), I stayed in a shared flat with three students who could talk maybe 10 words of english. We communicated with dictionaries, hands and foots. We even managed to play a nice round of Okey. The students didn't have warm water, so we went to a Hamam for taking a bath.

  • Lots of shoe cleaners

  • My hosts in Erciş were very clean

At the second day I met some more cousins and uncles of Hasan (he has 120 cousins) and we went to a small village called Deliçay. There I met more family members and I slept in a classic kurdish living room with lots of carpets and cushions and one coal oven in the center of the room.

I had dinner and breakfast with them and realized, that only men ate together. The women and girls were cooking, bringing the food and tea to the "table" and cleaned up afterwards. While we had dinner someone spilled his tea, a young girl came, cleaned up and brought a new tea for him.

I confronted the men with that realization and my opinion of it being very old fashioned behavior. They said they know how it is in the western world, but they don't see why they should change it. It's a lazy life for them at home. After getting huge amounts of children, the women stay at home their whole life anyways.

It was positiv though, that I could talk freely about it and they were very open for discussion. Sadly we couldn't really discuss it further as we had strong language barriers, there was only one person who could talk little english in the whole family.

  • The family who hosted me in Deliçay

  • Where's the food?

  • Girl cleaning after dinner

  • Living room converted into bedroom

Diyarbakır

Posted Wed, 18 Feb 2015 09:42:34 GMT Turkey Traveling "Kurdistan"

When I arrived in Diyarbakır, my host changed again. I stayed in the most dirty flat I've ever been to. My host was a bit of a sociopath, always talking to his "angels". His flat was close to a park where there was once again celebrations for the liberation of Kobanı with fireworks and life music.

Well it fitted good to the image I got of the former capital of "Kurdistan". It's a rough and dirty city, lots of destroyed houses by earthquakes and fights. The old city is surrounded by an old city wall which is so huge it houses many small cafés and shops.

  • ..a tea café on top..

  • Lots of broken houses

The police was not using normal police cars, they are only present in water guns and tank like cars. Additionally there was lots of military with helicopters, tanks and heavy armed soldiers all around the city. It didn't give me a feeling of being at a save place at all.

Syrian refugees were at every street corner and were living in coal heated tents in the parks and green spots of the city.

  • A typical police car in Diyarbakır

  • Celebrations for the liberation of Kobanî‎

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