So I typed up an entry about Day 6 and 7 a month ago but the fucking internet died on me and wasted an hour of my life.
Istanbul traffic is horrible. Their drivers rank all the way up there with the Chinese as the worst in the world.
Istanbul has many de jure, but not de facto one-way streets.
Contrary to what I've read on Wikipedia, Istanbul also has a lot of Arabic speakers. I was surprisingly happy that I could communicate in Arabic There was one guard that tried to convert me. Hehehehe. Masha'allah.
So remember the bright red shirt for MSLS? I got it in Turkey ;)
The next day I went to the Princes' Islands and stopped at Buyukada, the largest of them all and the one everyone said I should visit.
Ataturk is Turkey; Turkey is Ataturk.
Actually Buyukada nothing to see lah so boring.
I was expecting a beach (with sand, of course!) but what I got were green, slimy rocks.
But the water quite clear lah.
This is a sea slug. Yummy.
So I got on the ferry and went back to Istanbul proper because I was bored. And I wanted to get off at Kinaliada because it had sand, albeit very little, but I didn't because I was peeing in the toilet and was having second thoughts. So I stayed on the ferry while it made another round of the five Princes' Islands before heading to Istanbul. After all, the sea made for good scenery.
We were feeding the seagulls.
When I said we I mean they because deep down inside I hate birds. They represent a looming, haunting, overhead threat that can poop on you anytime so you have to strain your head every time they appear to make sure they miss.
Seagulls are stupid. They catch the bread in their beaks and then try to swallow it but miss and the bread falls all the way into the ocean. Then they fight each other for the bread and catch it in their beaks and then try to swallow it and miss.
So in Turkey I am Japanese.
They call you Japon! Chinya! and they expect you to respond -- so normally I don't but this time I made an exception because it was my last day in Istanbul so have to make something exciting happen mah.
So I told him Malaysia. Then the joker asked me if I spoke English.
Then I said yes and laughed. Hohohoho then he shut up because he couldn't really.
So I met these people onboard the ferry and they looked sooooo mature but they were only high school kids!!! So we tried to communicate with each other, in the minimal Turkish I knew and the halting English they knew. Then by chance we sang Simarik which is this really famous Turkish song (called Kiss Kiss elsewhere?) and it was a moment of cultural exchange and human bonding and just being fun, loud and obnoxious. Then they asked me to sing another song so I sang Ave Maria and it was fun but not as loud.
All the other tourists were looking at me/us -- not out of annoyance but out of jealousy -- their eyes were practically screaming now why can't I
get the fun, cultural exposure?! Why?! But it is unlikely that one would hear Ave Maria sung in Istanbul on a ferry in the Sea of Marmara.
Now a journey is never complete until you fall in love with someone or someone else falls in love with you. Or lust. So there was this girl who hit on me and shook her booty under the pretext of teaching me a traditional Turkish dance. Now one of the kids (I called him dede jan -- dear grandpa -- because he was clearly the leader of the group) told me to say seni seviyorum to the girl, supposedly to teach me Turkish. But I love you is already one of the phrases in the free tourist guidebook so I was like I know what you're trying to do! and we were like hahahahhahaha.
Another one told me that my sunglasses were cok guzel (very beautiful) so I said tesukkur (thank you). But the girl who was hitting on me went yeeees, but the eyes under them are more guzel hohohohoho so quite blatant lah the flirting.
There was also another old gentleman beside us who spoke Arabic so he stepped in to translate whenever we got stuck. Which made me happier because I sang Ave Maria and spoke Arabic on a ferry in Istanbul.
So the dede jan was pointing about me and going on and on about sunnet (sunat/circumcision) all the time and the other kids were cracking up. So I said ya Allah, hayir, ya Allah which means O God, no, O God at which point the entire group went ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. So I think I might have committed a cultural boo boo in Istanbul.
But tourists are to be forgiven. They gave me an Ataturk pen as a souvenir (LOL) which I used all the while in Bosnia and the rest of my Balkan stint. And so we talked and were loud and obnoxious for the rest of the journey back to Kabatas.
So prettttttttty. So apparently this was the island in one of the Bond movies under which the villain had a lab and a nuclear submarine and threatened to blow up Constantinople.
I was talking to this guy on the way back from Hong Kong and he was telling me something that only retrospectively I realise could really be true in many, many cases. He was telling me about how the Europeans (especially Germans) were blatantly racist or something for staring at you unhesitatingly, unflinchingly whenever you enter some place where you don't belong (e.g. a restaurant). And then there would be this negative vibe that would emerge and severe all possible bonds of fellowship between fellow men.
I guess the reason why that thought has never crossed my mind was that whenever people stare at me I think it's because they think I'm handsome.
Which says a lot about my unhealthy, burgeoning ego and my un-sleep last night because I was nerdy enough to wikipedia 三国演义 (The Romance of the Three Kingdoms) after watching Red Cliff last night with Joe, John and Ashley.
And so yeeeeeep it was a very fulfilling end to Turkey.