Turkey - Nemrut Drag - Lake Van PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Smith   
Wednesday, 08 April 2009 19:33
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Goreme - Mt Nemrut
Nemrut Drag - Lake Van
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Dogubayasit - Tabriz Iran
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Day 18: Nemrut Drag to Lake Van Wednesday 10th October

Many of the group arose at 4.15am and set off up Mt Nemrut, by mini bus, to see the sunrise over the area. Unfortunately it was overcast and started raining just as those who stayed behind were eating breakfast. Sue said the views were good and the ancient heads were amazing which is just as well because we had made a big detour to include it. Left the hotel late because of the Nemrut excursion and very quickly arrived at a large lake which appeared out of nowhere in a deep gorge. As we came to the end of the road my first thought was we'd took a wrong turning and would have to turn back but to my further surprise we were told we were catching a ferry down the lake to try and cut the journey time. Firstly we'd just missed the ferry and the next was an hour and half later; immediately Daz, Jim and Emmett jumped the ten feet from the key into the lake. Within ten minutes most of the lads were swimming along with three bikini clad girls which seemed to please the young Turkish lads but not their elders.

What followed next was something out of a Whitehall Farce. As JonPal attempted to edge the bus forward onto the boat, which was not very big, vans carrying cows, mini buses full of traditionally dressed women and children attempted to overtake the coach which was first in the queue. Three or four managed to get on and the only thing that stopped a repeat of the Gallipoli landings was Scooby, Ian and Co standing with backs against the leading mini bus's windscreen and preventing it from passing. This gave JP enough time to reverse the bus into place and eventually board to the howls of approval, clapping and cheers from the family and much to the annoyance of the crew member trying to exercise favouritism on behalf of his fellow countrymen and his fellow countryman who were all left squabbling on the quay for the few vacant births. From the bridge of the ferry we were entertained by the antics of the other occupants of the ten or so vehicles trying to fill the last few spaces. One pickup truck with carves packed in the back, tried to maneuvre onto the ferry whilst the driver's mate pulled them apart and smacked some of the the animals who were trying to mount each, either out of pure frustration at being jammed tongue licking tongue to bum or just in an attempt to survive and use the available space better. The ferry set off eventually with a Toyota Pickup which came from the back of the queue on the rails so to speak and after some very dangerous maneuvering on the edge of the quay perched his vehicle on the ferry's tail board. A smiling Maz turned to me as we sailed away and remarked 'I love mixing with the locals' and I thought to myself you can't argue with that. If JP carries on holding his ground against such odds he could become the next Pope John Paul or St John or Paul. After a journey off just ten to fifteen minutes we arrived at another quay and the whole process started again but in reverse. One mini bus which was first on before and was now at the back attempted to overtake the vehicles stationed in front by pulling out into the middle of the boat, much to the danger of two small children trying to climb aboard. The kids survived because the angle of the maneuver was so acute that the iron ladders on the back of the minibus, leading to the luggage rack on the roof, got wedged against a strengthening bar on the side of the ferry. I walked past him, arguing with the very crew member who tried so hard to help them get on the boat, about the damage he'd caused to the boat. As I left the ferry, various vehicles including a lorry seriously overloaded with bales of cotton, numerous mini buses laden with passengers and pickups empty of cattle returning  were starting the process all over again.

Rather than save time I suspect the ferry fracas delayed us and after many more hours of driving through this incredible mountain range we ran out of time and light and were forced to spend our first night free camping down a winding dirt track across a bridge not really made for a 52 seater coach with 43 occupants on board. Only a few minutes earlier we had stopped at a very busy lorry pull-in. This was the first time I'd felt as though I was out of my comfort zone as Leighton likes to call it. This was a bit of a wild place with lorries swerving into narrow vacant parking spaces like Michael Schumacher coming into the pits: three pedestrians had to dive out of the way from a crazy lorry and I'm convinced he would have killed them had they not took evasive action. When the driver and his mate jumped down from the cab they beat their chests and punched the air in victory in Zorba the Greek fashion. The pull-in consisted of a transport type café, a posher looking restaurant which some said had a sign saying no women and a general store which charged Leighton over £6 for half a dozen bananas and a bag of apples. Large bottles of water were over 2 lira a bottle which is four times the normal price. Leighton left the owner in no doubt about his thoughts.

There was a suggestion, from JP, that we should camp across the road on some waste ground but I'm glad to say it was dismissed and we set off further up the pass. After only a few minutes we found a good area to set up camp for the night and quickly pitched our tents and cooked a pasta of smoked sausage, tomato sauce and grated cheese.

The rest of the night was spent around a very substantial camp fire built by Scooby and Co. We played silly games and sang songs washed down by a single bottle of Raki, that I'd commandeered in Goreme as everyone watched the belly dancer and one glass of Gin and Tonic carried from Sheffield and a terrible bottle of red wine bought in Gallipoli. This turned out to be a good opportunity to purge the bus of all traces of alcohol before entering Iran in just over a day’s time.


Last Updated on Thursday, 09 February 2012 16:49