The first day in Asia, we drank the tea. This is the first thing that Turkish people give to their guest. Each day, people offer us at least once, sometimes much more. They drink it very hot, some of them heat first the glass with hot water. The welcome is also as warm as the sun which stop us in the afternoon. We are arrived in Orient.
Here, the cities are animated, people are out and the streets are living. More, this is an election period. Numerous flags of each party decorate the streets. Speakers on trucks diffuse songs and slogans through the country. We witnessed a parade of the youth day in May the 19th, birthday of the beginning of the Turkish independence war in 1919.
Turkish people are fan of picnic. Saturday evening in Izmir, numerous families ate on the sea side. In the country, we can see peasants to take their lunch in the shadow of a tree. We see mostly women working in the fields and for urban maintenance. Numerous men drink tea in cafe while they are playing to bag… or okay (rumiskub).
In contrary of Balkans where the fields were opened, in Turkey there is barbed wire everywhere. We saw it around a residence which looks like a prison.
Our days are beated by the prior calls. One for the lunch, one for the break of the afternoon, one for the diner, one for the bedtime and the last wake us up around 5 a.m. if there is a mosque not far.
Our itinerary was established to visit some roman ruins which are numerous in Anatolia. First Ephesus, but you changed our plans to Aphrodisias, cheaper and less touristic. Then Hierapolis on the site of Pamukkale. This former roman city overhang the white terraces created by thermal springs. Unfortunately, this day there was no water inside. At last Aizanoi where we can see a temple of Zeus.
Between these sites, we rode through wide inhabited area situated on uplands. Landscapes are really beautiful. People who see us coming from nowhere, stare at us with astonishment. They seem to say : “Why do you do that ?”. Then they give us tea and sometimes food. Gabriel try often to speak German with Turkish people who explain that they worked in Germany and most of their family is there.
One day, a truck driver offered us to put our bicycles in his trailer and to travel with him. The road was difficult so we accepted and travel 50 km with him. We tried to talk thanks to our pocket translator and we said goodbye after a good hot tea prepared under the trailer. Here, we take sometimes highway. But their built seem often unjustified because the traffic is low. It’s a pity for the landscape.
Children are curious and kind. They say some words in English learnt at school. We were moved when in a small town, schoolboys give us their drawings. With adults, we have sometimes this conversation:
The man: “Do you speak English ?”
Us: “Yes !”
The man: “…” (cramped silence)
Fortunately, we talked with people who speak well English especially thanks to the website Warmshower. We had very interesting talks about politics, religion and society with Barbaros and Gülcin. We planned to meet them again in Istanbul. We spent a night to sing with Orhan and his students friends in mechanical engineering. And Ali the teacher, showed us a very impressive technic of drawing on water: ebru.
Thanks to us, we also discovered one of the most interesting thing in Turkey: the ottoman food. It is very various: soups, Menemen, Gozleme, Simit, Pide, Baklava, drinks… Each city has its speciality, for example there is in Bursa the very good Iskender kebab. When we took the ferry in Mudanya for Istanbul we tasted very good black olives. The coast of the Marmara sea is covered by olive trees.
We arrived in Turkey election period. First, we noticed some posters of political partys. Then in cities, there were lot of flags. We saw also small trucks wich crossed the streets with music and slogans.
All of this is about the renewal of the Turkish parliament which takes place in June the 7th. The electors don’t vote for a representative but for a party.
Turkey is a republic since 1923 thanks to a man: Kemal Ataturk. He refused the dismantling of the ottoman empire dictated by the Sevres treaty. He fought against the foreign forces. Discrepant with the sultan, he set a new power in Ankara and created a new republic. Passionate about the french revolution he set the principle of secularism and he implemented numerous reforms: latin alphabet, women’s right to vote (1934), compulsory school…
For these elections, numerous parties are present but we can select only the four main parties.
First CHP, social democrat. Historically, it is the party created by Ataturk. First it was a unique party but because of a growing abstention, he created a second party which was headed by a friend. Nowadays, the CHP said the heir from Ataturk but it has no more the same dynamism.
AKP is the party of the centre which is currently in power. Some people say it is fundamentalist because it do a lot in favour of Islam. It is in conflict with the principle of secularism set by Ataturk.
MHP say the heir of Ataturk too but its ideas are very nationalist. Some people compare it with the french FN.
At last, HDP is the Kurdish party (minority living in the south-east of Turkey). It gathers all political persuasions. Its message is that Kurdish people are able to help politically the whole Turkey. It is not separatism.
We asked several people to know what are their opinions for this election.
One of them usualy blank votes. But this time, he wants to vote for HDP. He hopes this party could obtain the 10 % required for enter in the parliament. If these 10 % are not reached, the votes will go to the AKP and he hates this party. He considers it as an authoritarian party.
Another told us he took part of the demonstrations of 2013 in his town but the heart of the event took place in Taksim square in Istanbul. It denounced the authoritarianism of the president Erdogan. For example, we heard often about the palace he built in Ankara. Their dimensions are similar as the palace of Ceausescu in Bucarest. So he wants to vote for the CHP.
Most of people we met are in conflict with the current administration. However the first thing a truck driver said is his president is awesome. But we were in Rize (north-east of Turkey), where Erdogan comes from.