Saturday, 29 August 2009

Where to next, man, where to?

Going home! Packing up in Istanbul...

Bursting with the energy and excitement again at the end of another trip. Where to, next? Its the Jack Kerouac moment when there are so many things i wanna do all at this instant that i don't i can't know what to do, now, until i finally decide - Mad to live, desirous of everything at the same time.

Living wise i've realised that for me life has been mostly passed by - ie the working life and the travelling life - failing to realise that both are equally amazing, the simple everyday beauty of life. I've gone more into Zen (and religion), and realised how useful they are in appreciating what life deals everyday, and actually living life (even when working).

Trip-wise, December maybe ill get somewhere, maybe. island hop Indonesia, or the Philippines.

Work wise - a 2 year stint in Norway doing my masters sounds just about amazing right now - studying while working and cycling to school. Im dreaming - but why not? Just 6 months ago the Middle-east was a dream, and before that India and even travelling alone through weird and wonderful lands. Its a possibility that my friend has brought up - work-study in Norway for 2 years while getting a masters degree. Sounds like a plan. Heck one of the guys is even there now working at a restaurant and cycling to university.

Thursday, 6 August 2009


It's a work of art. Think the freshest salads with a light dash of olive oil, aubergines served cold stuffed with meat and garnished with parsley, tasty hummus, bread just out of the oven, purple cabbage salad, eggs in cold cream... They make the best aubergines ever in Turkey - served cold as mezes (starters) or as a main dish in itself, often on oven-baked clay pans - with delightfully descriptive names like Hunkar begendi (sultan's delight) and imam belediye - the imam fainted, after tasting the dish. Or as another version goes, after hearing how much olive oil went into cooking it, being thrifty. The best aubergines i had was in Goreme, at the Ozleme restaurant - where the man also makes the best pides (Turkish "pizzas") in Anatolia. Even my travel journals sport conspicuous olive oil stains from sipping hot apple tea after dinner and scribbling on a greasy table. Another eclectic thing i fondly remember about eating in Turkey is after the meal, the lemon scented handwash that the waiter pours on your hands.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

My newest harebrained scheme


Having been suitably impressed with staying in a treehouse in Olympos, i have sort of decided to build my own treehouse, or at least a wooden cottage somewhere someday, when i can. What i believe: you don't have to be rich to pursue your dreams, you just have to want to do it. As they say, if you can dream it, you can do it. So that's my project shelved away for sometime in the future. Nearer "schemes" if i may call them as they would probably seem to others are:

Basically i hope i can get somewhere this December - my bank account has taken quite a big hit from the Middle east tour - some countries aren't cheap at all - yes im looking at you Jordan where 1 US dollar only buys you 0.70 dinars and nowhere near half a felafel... So rejuvenating it is one of my priorities and it seems that even travel has to wait for a bit. But God and finances willing, i hope to make it to Serendip - Sri Lanka in December (bit of wishful thinking), or maybe island hopping in Indonesia or the Philippines...

On the shelf, Summer 2010:

Europe after communism: The tour of Eastern Europe - that will again start from Istanbul, for old times' sake. The train from Istanbul gar (near where i lived later in Sirkeci) to Sofia or Bucharest sounds like a good idea.

The motorcycle diaries: South America June-? 2010. This is the dream - and has been since i was in high school and read Che. Tracing the length of the continent up from Argentina to Chile, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador.

Saturday, 1 August 2009


A worthy competitor for the worst beer i've ever had:

El Shark. Beer without alcohol in Aleppo, Syria. Just made it across the border after one huge overnight bus ride across Anatolia and treated myself to this.

The recent Carlsberg ad, the one with the mustached customs officer beckoning, reminds me just of the border at Reyhali/Bab al-Hawa - minus the "welcome my friends" part, of course.

A distant second, thanks to the sheer repulsiveness of the Shark is Nepali Ice. Another Nepali favourite is the Gorkha. The Everest is tolerable. Nepal, while amazing in all other respects, just doesn't do a good beer. Stick to a Tuborg.

And the best:

A Beer Lao floating down the Nam Song river in a tube in Vang Vieng, Laos, the tinkling cool clear waters gliding by majestic karst mountains and glimmering rice paddies.

Splurging on a 2 dinar (3USD) can of Philadelphia after much thought sitting on the roof of the Valentine inn in Wadi Musa with some friends, looking out towards the lights of town at night and the majestic hidden valley of Petra, ancient capital of the Nabateaens carved in rose-red cliffs. It looks like a seaside town - Rhodos, Bodrum... Little cube-shaped houses and orange lamps in the distance, and beyond that nothing. It could have been the sea there, but instead of the sea we have the desert.

Rocking the Smugglers Inn in the middle-of-nowhere on the Turkish Mediterranean at night- a little islet accessible only by boat which dropped us on what is virtually a private island bar. How much better can it get?