Erzurum to Cay 125km
I asked for advice, got advice, and am following it. So many told me Cappadocia was a "not to be missed" place, that I'm cycling an extra 300km to go and see what all the fuss is about. And I'm happy to do so. The other day I was feeling a bit down. Cold, alone, deep in the freezing gorges. But now, after all the messages of support, a day of rest, and cycling along a really good, flat road, with the sun and wind on my back, what could be better. It's given me lots of time to think......
I've cycled through nineteen countries so far on this adventure. Here's some of the advice I've had:
- watch out for those crazy Aussie drivers. They're maniacs.
- Do you think it's wise cycling through Indonesia. They're Muslim.
- Don't camp in Sumatra. It's too dangerous.
- Don't cross the Malaysia Thailand border in the east. Dangerous rebels live there.
- Grum, you're heading towards an unstable part of the Thai Cambodian border. Please alter your course.
- Your wife and you, Mr, are not permitted to be in this border area between Vietnam and Thailand. You will have to return the way you came.
- Beware of the hill tribes of Laos. They are dangerous.
- You are cycling in a forbidden area. It is dangerous in this part of Myanmar for tourists. You must go back to where you came from.
- This part of India is heavily militarized because of the Separatists. It is dangerous for you.
- Please don't cycle in Pakistan.
- You must not approach the river between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, as you may be shot, or mistaken for Taliban.
- The Uzbek and Turkmen Police are ruthless. Don't upset them.
- Iranians are terrorists.
- Wow you cycled through Georgia and didn't get robbed, mugged or murdered?
- Please don't camp in Eastern Turkey. The Kurds are dangerous.
I listen and accept all this advice, treat it as a warning, but I've got to say that so far I've had only ONE incident that I would consider threatening on my whole trip..... and that was on day 1, cycling out of Melbourne Australia, when I was chased on foot, by an irate motorist, whom I had upset by taking too long to cross his path when he wanted to drive out of a car park ....
At ALL other times I've been treated with nothing else but respect, kindness, generosity, and curiosity. If there's one thing I've learnt, it is that people all over the world are wonderful. But that makes me ask another question....
Why are there so many wars and border skirmishes? I really don't think it is the average "Joe" on the street that is taking up arms and shaking fists at his neighbor across the border. So who is it? Here I am cycling through Turkey. If I had been born 60 years earlier, I would have been part of an invasion by NZers, of this country, in 1915. What the heck was NZ doing invading Turkey? These people are really nice. In fact they're really really nice. I look at them and wonder whether my Great Uncle shot their Great Uncle? I wonder "how come they're so nice to me? My immediate ancestors invaded their country." They're nice, because that's their natural state, just like, generally, tourists think Kiwis are nice, because we are nice. Hmmmm. It just doesn't make too much sense all this violence happening now, and historically. I'm sure my mate Chris H could give me answers......
Another question that comes to mind is: "How come these countries are so different?" Here in Turkey, it seems as if they've got their shiet together. The cities are tidy and clean, with all the services. The roads are really good. The countryside is being productively farmed. People seem reasonably well off. So why isn't it like this is Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and others as well? How come a man in Cambodia who lives in a bamboo shack on stilts, and all he owns is a singlet, some shorts and jandals, isn't able to enjoy all that people here in Turkey enjoy? I'm not saying he's not happy. He certainly greeted me with a big smile, but where is his car, TV, telephone, washing machine, flush toilet, electricity, running water........? Who is responsible? The same people who cause war and border tensions perhaps? Hmmmmmm.