Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Turkiye 2005/06

"Istanbul, like a great work of art, is a city where fascination grows with familiarity. The city's setting of hills and water, enhanced by its silhouette, its pomp, and the historical circumstances that warrant that pomp and romance only begin to outline the elements of its enduring spell" Anna G. Edmonds/Turkey 1993

My flight to Istanbul with Malaysia Airlines was on the 25th of December which took about 11 hours and upon arrival at Ataturk International Airport my family and I met Omar, our tour guide graduated in International Relations from Cambridge University (the letter O has double dots on it, and the right pronounciation is eeo) and the driver, Lokman. He speaks good English but Mr.Lokman only speak Turkish.We headed to Bolu (towards the east side of Turkey) and Mr.Omar said the journey is going to take 3 hours. It was freezing cold at the moment. During the journey through the highway, we passed by the Black Sea and according to Mr.Omar the sea contains less salt but he has no idea of why the people called it the Black Sea because the sea is not black in colour at all! Then, I could see Istanbul World Trade Centre and as far as my eyes could see, everything including cars, houses, and land were white as it was snowing heavily at that time. Mr.Omar continued to explain the general information about Turkey and he told that 3% of Turkey is in Europe and the rest is in Asia. As the minivan cut across the important bridge that brought us from the Europe side of Turkey to Asia, which was built by Turkish and Japanese company upon collaboration in 1988 with the height of 65m from the sea level (Bosphorus river) I could see a lot of beautiful mosques that resemble the miniature and marvellous architecture during the Ottoman Empire that once a great Islamic empire in the world that lasts for 400 years in Istanbul. Then, in the highway I could see a number of big trucks been stopped by the police (polis) by the road side and Mr.Omar explained that in Turkey, trucks are not allowed to be driven in the highway after 4pm for safety concern. I could also see the buildings of Carrefour, Ikea, Toyota, Renault, and Hyundai along the highway, which amazed me how powerful their branding is until it could penetrate the world market including Turkey. I also observed the Turkish government used Renault Meagan as the taxi car (taksi). We passed by the town of Izmit which was destructed by an earthquake few years ago but now everything has been reconstructed and the people continue their normal, daily life as usual. Then, there was a town called Hereke few minutes later and Mr.Omar said eventhough it is a small town it is an important town in the Ottoman history as the people of the town used to make special handmade carpets only for the Sultan and they used double knots in thread (instead of single knot in the making of other carpets in other countries) that make a very fine, smooth carpet that is incomparable. The people of the town consists of Armenian and Turkish origin and now, the production of the Hereke carpets has been commercialised and it gains the ultimate recognition of the best carpet in the world. Going back to the story of the Black Sea, Mr.Omar told us an interesting fact that after 1000 metres down the sea, there is no oxygen and the scientists and archaeologists now claimed that Noah's ship must be in the Black Sea and they are now starting the scientific and technical work in finding the ship. They said that as there is no oxygen after 1000 metres in the Black Sea, the ship must be still in good condition and because there is no oxygen and without the appropriate technology, no one can go further the level to discover the mystery behind it. Mr.Omar said the Turkish people did not say anything about the claim and they allowed the discovery work to be done in their country, eventhough most people know that the most relevant claim of Noah's ship is in the border of Turkey and Iran. After about an hour, we stopped for a short break at the rest area and without hesitation I bought peanuts that I never seen before, coated with honey with sesame seeds and once I ate one, I could not resist myself from eating the whole packet during the journey surrounded by the silence of snow, swirling out of the sky like feathers.

26 December 2005, Day 2: I woke up at 5.45 am (it was 11.45 am in Malaysia), had a sleep wearing 3 layers of clothes and 2 pairs of socks at Koru Hotel in Bolu. My breakfast was a wonderful one as it was served with a variety of cheese (tongue cheese was one of them), goat's milk, various types of wheat, bee made honey, and others. At 7.35 am, we began our day with the journey to Ankara. During the journey, Mr.Omar entertained us with some history of the country in which he said the Ottoman Turks began the Uthmaniyyah Empire in 1299. At the end of the 20th century, it was the turning point for the great imperialism. During that period, most Arab countries (except Saudi Arabia which the Ottoman did not rule due to the respect for the holy land) were fighting against the empire for independence. As a result, during World War 1 they supported the Allied Countries (Great Britain, France, United States, and Italy) as a medium for them to fight against the Ottoman, and for the sake of protecting themselves the empire had to join the war joining German and Japan on the Axis side. The history of the world tells us that the latter side lost, and it was a sad history for the Ottoman empire. They lost the war, and the empire was divided into different parts as England conquered part of it, France the other part, United States the other, and Italy ruled the south-east of the empire. Realising that their country has been taken away and there was nothing left even a single dust for the Turkish people, General Mustapha Kemal Pasha started the war to fight even for a small amount of their country's soil. Thus, Mr.Omar told us that what you see of Turkey in the world atlas is just 10% of what the original empire was prior to the war.

He made a point of frustration with the Arab countries for joining the Allied Countries to fight against their own religion empire that gives protection and generates prosperity for them with fairness in terms of economy and respect for the country's personal matter for 400 years in the name of Islam, just for the sake of getting independence that just spark the racial hatred of 'assabiyah' among themselves and blinded by ego and lack of unity. He stressed again, that if this war did not happen, there would be no issue of the invisible Israel and Palestine as they were under the Ottoman empire before.

While he was telling us this important history, I could see the tears glowing in his eyes and he ended with, "Nothing in this life is certain. When you are up, there will be a time when you will go down"

1 comment:

vivica-defect said...

thanks for the comments you left on my blog. i appreaciate it :)