Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Welcome To Adelaide



Being able to walk 10 minutes to a clean, white and almost empty sandy beach is brilliant...

I'm back in Adelaide, Australia, staying with my family in Henley Beach.

Coming from Mersin, Turkey, following are a few of the differences I have noticed in Adelaide:
- distances are far greater around the city
- many more people are overweight
- the standard of dress is less formal
- home is so quiet. The loudest noise during the day comes from wild birds squawking and nights are dead quiet. Each night of my first week when going to bed I had ringing in my ears because I was used to a continual background noise.

I returned from Turkey to Australia via 6 wonderful days in Malaysia. I will write more about Malaysia and upload photos from there soon.

For the first time ever I arrived to Adelaide Airport on an international flight. The immigration guy scanned my passport but he did not obviously indicate to the interrogator that I was a "special" case. After passing through, an interrogator asked me to stand aside. She looked through my passport and questioned me where I had come from; how long I was going to stay in Australia; why had I gone to Pakistan; why had I gone to Iran; why I had visited so many Muslim countries; what I did in Turkey; proof of of my stay in Turkey (I showed the traineeship and work visas in my passport); etcetera; and then let me go to the customs line-up. I doubt the official could read Arabic as she did not ask about my multiple Syrian visas.

Even if I didn't have the Turkish apple tea and duty free chocolates to declare I would have been hauled through the red customs channel anyway. The same interrogator asked me to place my bags on the table and then proceeded to ask me several disclaimer questions before advising me to open my laptop bag for inspection. After putting on the gloves she went through some of my documents, asking more questions on the way. Once satisfied I was not a terrorist threat I was waved on my way.

All through my questioning the official was jovial and calm with a forced smile on her face. I enjoyed the questioning and, as I could justify everything I've done, had no problems answering her questions. I'm sure if I visited the USA with the same passport I would face a much tougher time.

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Saturday, 6 October 2007

Leaving Istanbul/Turkey On A Jet Plane

I'm in Ataturk International Airport on Istanbul's European side. I arrived to Istanbul from Mersin via an overnight Mersin VIF bus ride. My flight to Kuala Lumpur leaves in just over an hour. My 36th Turkish stamp is freshly imprinted in my passport and I'm about to go to the boarding gate.

I was meant to have a baggage limit of 30 kilograms for my flight, 10 kg more than normal because of my Enrich frequent flying membership. However, when checking in, the woman at the Malaysian Airlines desk said she had not received word of this. This is despite me calling earlier the Malaysian Airlines office earlier this week and receiving verbal confirmation of the extra luggage limit. Thankfully, I didn't have to pay for extra luggage but am now dragging around two carry-on bags as opposed to one.

In the last few days I've said goodbye to many colleagues and friends in Mersin. Although I'm tired of living there, I hope I get the chance to visit again not too far into the future.

I have to catch up with many emails, replying to comments and sending photos. This may not occur until after I arrive to Australia. Thank you for writing and apologies to those still waiting a reply...
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Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Greece and Turkey

I'm in Alexandroupoli for a short visit from Istanbul. Last night I stayed in Hotel Erika, not a bad hotel although its free wifi access was not operating, much to my annoyance (I'm in an internet cafe at the moment).

This is my first ever time to Greece. From the little I have seen, it shares many similarities with Turkey, as expected.

Some of the differences between Turkey and Greece I have observed (not 'facts', but generalised perceptions) are:

- Greece is slightly more religious. Many of the Greek flag poles have crosses on top of them, there are many small shrines on the sides of the road and every second TV channel seems to feature a Greek Orthodox priest.

- There is much more pork! I've stocked up on bacon, ham and salami.

- There seems less differences between men and women in Greece

- The average standard of living is higher here

- The alphabet and language are different - It is difficult not being able to understand and express myself as much here, although on the whole more people speak English.

- Prices are on the whole about 1&1/2 times to double those in Turkey

- The cafe/bar culture is much bigger

- Based on a tiny sample size of one, I think the Greek 'yiros' is better than the Turkish 'doner'

I hope to visit Greece again in the future, see more of the sights and try more food and drinks.

Today I will go back across the border and eventually arrive to Ankara tomorrow in preparation for a fair on Thursday.



ADDENDUM: I forgot to mention a few things when I originally wrote this post:

- I found out the reason why the Greek yiros tasted better than the Turkish doner: the yiros was made of pork! When I found this out from the woman at the restaurant I bought a second yiros along with the pork sausage I originally intended on buying.

- Alcohol in the Greece is much, much cheaper than in Turkey. The supermarket prices are only slightly above those in the duty-free shops at the border.

- Easter was coming up in Greece. This may have been why there were so many Greek Orthodox priests on television. I did buy some Easter eggs to bring back to Turkey.

- In Greece there were outdoor cigarette advertisements. These are banned in Turkey.

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Sunday, 28 January 2007

Pakistan Trip - Air, Plane and Airport Photos

My trip involved 8 flights on 3 different airlines: Atlasjet (Adana-Istanbul, Istanbul-Adana); Emirates (Istanbul-Dubai, Dubai-Karachi, Karachi-Dubai, Dubai-Istanbul); and Airblue (Karachi-Lahore, Islamabad-Karachi).

Here are some flight-related photos:


ON THE WAY TO PAKISTAN



Sabanci Mosque (bottom), Adana Hilton (top) and the Roman Bridge (top right), Adana.


The Taurus Mountains ("Toros Daglari") north of Mersin. Notice the snow on some of the peaks.


At Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, were many Turkish people waiting to leave for the Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.


Father Christmas at Dubai Airport



RETURNING TO TURKEY



One of Karachi's airport terminals


Karachi suburbs from the plane. Karachi is a huge city and the suburbs were visible for a long time in the plane.


One of Karachi's ports?


This cloud and cloud-shadow formation looked amazing from the air


Emirates above the cloud


A lonely Arabian Peninsula road surrounded by desert


Dubai's suburbs on the approach to the airport



The above two photos do not fully capture the dreaminess of the sky over the Gulf


A jet in the distance piercing the sunset with its trail. Note the snow blanketing the ground.


The sun setting beneath the plane's wing engine


A volcano mountain (Mt. Nemrut, Tatvan?) disguised by snow. Eastern Turkey was absolutely covered in snow.


Turkish Airlines aeroplanes lined up at Ataturk Airport, Istanbul

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Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Air Arabia Now Flies To Istanbul

Great news for budget travellers living in Turkey. Air Arabia, the Middle Eastern low-cost airline based out of Sharjah, UAE, has started flying twice a week to Istanbul.

From Sabiha Gokcen Airport on Istanbul's Asian side people can now fly via Sharjah to great destinations like Kathmandu, Sana'a, Luxor and Colombo (but not Karachi).



Checking the website, the ridiculous prices in the advert above were nowhere to be seen. In fact, from the results I got, it seemed the prices were not that much cheaper than discount-economy class on a full-service airline.

I hope to fly Air Arabia one day.

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Sunday, 2 July 2006

Pearl Jam in Italy/Switzerland!

My favourite band, Pearl Jam, will be touring Europe this autumn. In September I will see them in Bern, Switzerland and Bologna, Verona and Milan, Italy. 4 concerts in 5 nights!

I have my flights booked and tickets purchased. I can't wait. As an added bonus, my cousin, Graeme, currently in Geneva doing post-doctoral research, will join me for the tour. I also hope to catch up with Karin, Julia, Chris and maybe even Bill if he makes the journey from The Netherlands.

My schedule:
12 Sep 05:30: Arrive to Basel, Switzerland
13 Sep: Pearl Jam concert, Bern, Switzerland
14 Sep: Pearl Jam concert, Bologna, Italy
16 Sep: Pearl Jam concert, Verona, Italy
17 Sep: Pearl Jam concert, Milan, Italy
18 Sep 22:20 Depart from Basel, Switzerland


Verona's venue is an ancient Roman colloseum. I'm particularly looking forward to that concert, although it is the only one I don't have Fan Club tickets for.

Between Istanbul and Basel I will fly EasyJet. They have just started flying between Sabiha Gokcen Airport on Istanbul's Asian side to Basel and London Luton. My return Istanbul-Basel flight cost 157 EUR in total, including taxes and a 5% credit card charge.

A few Pearl Jam links:
The Sky I Scrape fan site
Official website
Official Tour website
Cool Europe Tour Map
I Got Bugs tour page

Italian Concert Venues


UPDATE: I have posted my best photos from Pearl Jam's concerts in Bern and Bologna

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