Turkey - Lake Van cont.. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Smith   
Wednesday, 08 April 2009 19:33
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Day 19: Nemrut Dag to Lake Van Thursday 11th October

This was an unscheduled stop as we were supposed to be going all the way to Dogubaysit or DoggyBiscuit as it is affectionately called by travellers heading for the border with Iran. The journey would have taken fifteen hours driving and very wisely Leighton after consultation decided to break it down with a camping stop at Lake Van, the largest lake in Turkey.

Within just a few minutes of leaving our free camping spot we reached a town with hotels and pensions and our first sight of the lake. We now realised our situation the night before was not as desperate as we thought. We started our journey around the lake at 8.00am and finished three and half hours later, with no serious hold ups and travelling at a steady thirty to forty miles an hour. This is one big piece of water. The road follows the lake edge for what must be a hundred miles or so, sometimes rising high above the water and at other times at lake level with water almost washing against the bus's wheels. At the southern edge of the lake the flat expanse of land swept past the road for a few hundred yards in a gradual upward curve to the mountains. This is a very green and arable area with lots of what look like small holdings. As we moved further north towards the town of Van the shoreline became very bare but still beautiful in a kind of a Mediterranean way but without the villas. As we enter Van we had to slow down because of an accident; our first since leaving home. How the van and car had managed to end up on the other side of the carriageway facing the way the came is beyond me but doesn't surprise me. One seriously injured man was being stretchered towards and ambulance and another man was unconscious on the floor having his head bandaged. Van had nothing to really recommend it, with big signs for what looked a western type retail/ industrial park with a Carrefour.

Our next stop was Dogubaysit or doggyBiscuit as it is called in travelling circles. My impression after a very interesting walk up the main street was dog's bollocks. Architecturally this is the worst town so far by miles. The whole place is a series of low roofed concrete box shops with no furnishings inside and goods stacked everywhere aimlessly; a far cry from the beautiful shops and stalls in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Our steady progress from the Aegean coast as been marked with an increased military presence. In dog's bollocks they're on every corner, patrolling but not offensive. As we made our way to find lunch, a rare event for us, we are followed by children saying hello, money, money, money with hand held out. Surprisingly young school girls kept coming up to us just say hello. The main street, looking nothing like its western equivalent, had a strange traffic system with traffic police attempting some level of control all to no avail. Like the traffic cops I couldn't make out who had the right of way until everything came to a complete stop and then I realized the mad drivers ruled. All of the maneuvers were accompanied by a chorus of horns. The street was a wash with pedestrians, taking their lives into their own hands and making the driving even more difficult: the reasonably wide pavements were a barricade of goods, ranging from spices, washing machines and clothes, all successfully blocking any one's intention of using them for their rightful purpose. One mini bus with what looked like a family in it had goods strapped down on the roof along with the poor family goat that was laid flat and held down by a rope. The only indication that it was alive was when it tried to raise its head off the van roof. The driver and occupants found, us passing by, just as amusing as I the goat. Strange old world. Out of the blue a middle aged man approached us and asked us what we're looking far and recommended a restaurant which he then preceded to take us to. We had a good meal of spicy lentil and mint soup with a kind of square naan bread, a mixed grill and a side salad. In a country where you can get a room for two for a fiver our meal cost me a staggering forty lira or £20 for two. We made our way back to the bus again through a sea of looks, hellos and mad drivers. When we got back we found out that there had been a theft from the bus. One young lad, of four, had taken his opportunity, as JP sat at his wheel, jumped on the vehicle and stole Marcus's hat and the nerf, a device that when thrown whistles as it heads towards its target. The lad has my gratitude, every lunch across Europe and Asia has been accompanied by the wretched whistling sound of his device.

The campsite was half way up a mountain side with a disused mosque/ palace hanging on a rock above it. Once again we took the opportunity to upgrade for the princely some of ten lira for two or £4. The room was basic in the extreme especially the toilet come wet room. After trying to get the shower to work Anne appealed to the site manager who managed to get hot water but only at the expense of the showers in the joining rooms. Hot water sprayed the toilet floor to the screams from the girls in the next room trying to do the same. Ours was one of those combination efforts slung a foot of the tiled floor that operated as a low slung tap until switched to the shower. It worked ok as a foot tap and dry shower but that was it. However it did have the power to spoil everyone else’s chance of a hot anything. I later spent an interesting ten minutes doing contortions down by the toilet bowl in an attempt to get my dirtier parts under the flow of water. I was amazed at my flexibility perhaps crawling in and out of tents is the secret exercise for the over sixties.

the evening again followed the old pattern of dinner followed by drinking party style, after all this is what this dog's bollocks of a place is famous for. This is the drunken traveller’s last chance of happiness for ten days until leaving Iran and reaching the green fields of the Indus, Quetta and Pakistan. The lads had bought between them 120 cans of Efes and went to bed at 1.00pm when the beer ran out. Iran will really test my resolve but it could send the gang stir crazy.


Last Updated on Thursday, 09 February 2012 16:49