When I said to my friend 2 years ago I wanted to go to Eastern Turkey he said I was insane. Well, maybe going there alone wouldn’t be the best idea but fortunately I had my bodyguard, Callum Baker. I was really curious about this part of the country which supposed to be more conservative and religious. And it really is. Our first destination was the famous mountain, Nemrut Dag- the holy peak with the remains of ancient statues that represent the Greek gods. “Remains” mean couple of stones which few centuries ago looked like bodies and couple of head surrounded by the fence. Like usual, on the pictures everything looks so dreamy but the reality is pretty different. It was impressive of course but it is a world away from the beautiful picture of ancient heads glistering in the sunset. At least we didn’t have to climb it as some couple took us to the very top. The problem was with coming back as after our couple left there was no one there. Eastern Turkey doesn’t have a good reputation because of ISIS and PKK that’s why tourists are really rare there these days. After walking couple of kilometres downhill, having a nap in the middle of the road and hiding from the heat under torny bush, one Italian couple sympatized with our desperate situation and dropped us off in a better place where we could expect more than 1 car per hour.
Our next goal was Mardin where we stayed with a psychiatrist. His job had to influence him a bit as he acted creepy most of the time but all in all he was kind and tried to create a nice atmosphere by playing Turkish films. Mardin is very close to Syria and we could see many refugees begging for money. Unfortunately, they were mostly kids who became so good in their profession that they could spot you from a kilometre and follow you for the rest of the day. Dealing with these little demons took most of our time besides visiting the town centre and the fort. The whole area looked like one big desert with kilometres of nothing except brown and yellow hills. The land was so dry and dusty that you could barely see the blue colour of the sky and the mountains in the horizon. Pretty dead landscape but still beautiful.
The same was in Midyat which wasn’t as interesting as Mardin but at least we met a lovely Kurdish-Syrian family. While we were waiting for our host and hanging out around the city one Syrian guy helped us to find BIM supermarket (one of the cheapest in Turkey) and after a nice conversation offered us dinner at his place. Well educated, good English and very kind, he showed us how good life you can have by working hard. He moved from his country few years ago, found a wife and got a really nice place near the centre. They have a baby who is probably the sweetest baby I’ve ever seen and who decided to make Callum his horse for the whole afternoon. Although at first Callum liked this game after few hours we had to remove this little spider from his back. The dinner was delicious and the whole family really made us feel like at home. Our new host couldn’t speak much English but he was working in a refugee camp which made us intrigued. I’m sure it’s not an easy job and you gotta have balls to do it. That’s why we admired him and all the others who help the immigrants escaping from hell.
Hasankeyf, the ancient town by Tigris river was on the way so we decided to stop by. I remember classes at school about ancient Mesopotamia and now I was there, in a tiny village located by the river connected by a massive bridge and ruins that counted good couple of centuries. The best thing was actually the landscape, small version of Cappadocia, full of caves and canyons. No tourists, that’s the most important. As the last few days were quite tiring we found a comfortable piece of grass (difficult to find) having some time to enjoy the place and just relax. It’s amazing that at the same place where we were laying 2000 years ago people were fishing, trading and the empires flourished. There was few interesting ruins but unfortunately Turkish decided to rebuild them so the whole place looses its magical atmosphere. Well, at least I could imagine it was original.