Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Off across the plains. Cold.

In Aksaray we restocked with a big tour of the local fruit n veg market which had almost everything we needed - unfortunately these bazaars only seem to be open one or two days a week, but this time we got lucky. Getting out of town was very complicated, mostly because we asked a young Turk who was desparate to help us but spoke next to no English. It was already dark (5pm) and the plan was to camp a bit out of town after finding the BP servo on our route which we were told had a hot shower! After a bit of mucking around our friend guided and ran next to us as far as his car and indicated that he wanted to escort us out of town. He said he wanted to go with us to the next town, 40km away. We tried to say 'Don't bother' but it was too hard. As he got in a Turkish schoolboy called me over and pointed excitedly to something between apartment blocks ın the evening sky. All İ could see was a new crescent moon. Then İ realised ıt was a 'Turkish' moon, just like the one on their flag! İnteresting thing to get excited about! We rode about 5km out onto a freeway with our friend paying close attention. At red lights we had a few chats and İ told him we were planning to camp 10km or so out. He said he was a policeman and that it would be very cold. We said, 'Yes, we know.' Eventually, 5km out while Julie was scouting for a shower at the first servo, he decided to ring his wife. Then the breakthrough! 'Come home to my place.' No problems with your wife? 'No, no, no.' Only the second time in three weeks we'd been invited in for the night - a bit surprising given the freezing weather. His flat turned out to be huge, his wife lovely and we were given full guest treatment - best of all, including washing machine use. Luckily they were both leaving for work by 8am the next morning so we knew we'd get away on time.

40 km straight down a flat road towards Konya we reached Sultanhani, where there was a 12th century caravanserai, supposedly one of the biggest in Turkey. Inside some guy tracked us down and wanted money, and when I refused ('where's the sign saying you have to pay? Who are you anyway?' he started screaming at me and hitting his book of tickets. We soon left. A few km down the road we stopped at a servo for water. The truck stop restaurant was run by a charming French Turk. After chatting for a few minutes he invited us to try a little local speciality ('as a service to you'). We'd just eaten but thought we'd accept the kind offer. He overdid the service a bit, gave us more than we'd asked for, and unfortunately then tried to shamelessly overcharge us. İ felt very naive. After talking with him for at least half an hour İ just hadn't seen it coming at all. It doesn't have to be free, but do you really need to rip me off?

Then off the main road and north west across increasingly barren plains to Cihanbeyli, which is on the main Ankara-Konya road.
Camped en route on a freezing misty evening - sheet ice flaking off the tent in the morning, and bike lock frozen solid for the first time (had to warm it to get it open).

Also went through Gölyazı where we met some very friendly Kurdish carpenters. They told us Kurds live all over Turkey and that they were doing all right.

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