Raphael Kessler

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South East Asia 1999

  1. Vietnam - February 1999
  2. Thailand - April 1999
  3. Malaysia and Singapore - May 1999
  4. Indonesia - June 1999
Africa to home, the long way
- Africa
  1. South Africa
  2. Namibia and Botswana
  3. Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya
  4. Uganda
  5. Ethiopia
  6. Egypt
- Middle East and Balkans
  1. Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey
  2. Balkans
  3. Turkey
  4. Iran
- Asia
  1. Pakistan
  2. China
  3. Tibet
  4. Nepal
  5. India 1
  6. India 2
  7. India 3
  8. Sri Lanka
  9. Bangladesh
  10. Myanmar
  11. Thailand
  12. Cambodia
  13. Laos
  14. China, Macao and Hong Kong
  15. Mongolia
- North America and Caribbean
  Caribbean, USA, Mexico and Canada
- Scandinavia and Eastern Europe
  1. Russia
  2. Sweden
  3. Baltics
  4. Poland and Czech Republic
South America 2002
  1. Brazil
  2. Argentina
  3. Chile and Easter Island
Central America and Mexico 2002
  1. Panama
  2. Costa Rica
  3. Nicaragua
  4. Honduras
  5. El Salvador
  6. Guatemala
  7. Belize
  8. Mexico
South America 2003-4
  1. Trinidad and Tobago
  2. Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana
  3. Venezuela
  4. Colombia
  5. Ecuador and The Galapagos Islands
  6. Peru
  7. Bolivia
  8. Argentina
  9. Uruguay and Paraguay
  10. Bolivia 2
  11. Peru 2
Specific Pacific
  1. California to Fiji+ French Polynesia & Cook Islands
  2. Samoa, Niue and American Samoa
  3. Tonga and New Zealand
  4. Australia 1
  5. Australia 2



So I have eventually left Istanbul, I think I pretty much saw what there was to see there after spending a week there this time. All in all had a good time, for the first few days hung about with a Canuck (Canadian) called Andrew. We managed to spend most of the time just wandering about town, then spending the evenings drinking and possibly playing backgammon.

I also got to see a few more of the sights I had not seen on my previous visit to Istanbul. Including the Basilica Cistern - a cistern that looks like a cathedral, hence the name. Question - why did these Romans build something so ornate, complete with carved columns and the like, if it was to submerged under a load of water? Answers on a postcard. Also went on the Tirel, one of the oldest little underground systems in the world. It only has two stations, one at either end of the line, and one train counterbalances the other as they go up and down the hill. Visited a few more mosques and went to the bazaar a couple of times.

On Saturday morning Mike (my brother) and Andy (friend) came out to see me, it was nice to stay in a plush hotel, as they are fussier about their accommodation than I am. Most of the time we spent swimming, playing rummikub or gambling. We did however manage to squeeze in some sight seeing, eating and sleeping.

Yesterday, they went back to the UK on Azerbaijani Air, can't be too fussy. So, I went and got a very cheap hire car. It is hardly luxurious, but as I am on my lonesome in it, it is adequate and will enable me to see a lot more of Turkey than I might otherwise have. It also doubles as a travelling hotel room, and given the way I slept last night, not a bad one.

So, from Istanbul went through Izmit, Iznik and Bursa to get to Cannakale (where I currently am). Those towns weren't very interesting, what was more interesting was the smaller towns and villages I drove through, seeing real Turkish life, with Muezzins singing the call to prayer as one drives through, not bad really. I also managed to find a cash and carry (Turkish Makro) where I stocked up on provisions for the journey, and bought a couple of tapes, as the radio here is variable in quality.

So now in Cannakale, opposite Gallipoli on the Dardanelles. Have visited the museum (not very interesting), wandered round the town a bit and am going to head off shortly as touring the battlefields and cemeteries does not interest me too much, more for Aussies and Kiwis.


So I've been touring around Turkey a bit and decided to keep you posted of my exploits, once again.
So after leaving Cannakale went to Troy, which is just down the road. Despite what most folk say, I actually found it quite interesting. Although there is not much in the way of structures to view, it is interesting as it is more of an archaeological work in progress. Schliemann, the guy who started the digging there (but not the guy who found the site) was apparently more of a treasure hunter and as a result buggered up a lot of the site, looking for stuff then smuggling it back home to Germany. So, as a result the archaeologists have a lot more work to do as he cut a deep trench straight through the site and screwed up who knows what kind of stuff.

So from Troy went on to a place called Alexandria Troas, some reasonable Hellenistic ruins, but in a fantastic setting. It makes it a really nice place, public transport and tour groups don't go there. It is just in land from the coast and in fields and orchards. Going there kind of has the feel of being the first to find this ancient stuff. Another bonus being the fact that you can climb all over the stuff wander around and not hear or see another soul, just the insects and animals making there noises, very cool.

From there went to Assos, the site of more Hellenistic ruins. It looked great approaching this rocky hill with the buildings precariously stuck on the slopes, with a traditional Turkish village wrapped around beneath. Unfortunately, it looked better from the approach, the buildings weren't very interesting ad the village had quite a few touts, so I went, saw and left, to go to Bergama, site of ancient Pergumum. Had a little wander about and stayed in a place with nice local folks to chat with.

Waking the following morning was a bit of a shocker, I went to hit the snooze button on my alarm ad ended up smacking the glass that was on the bedside table across the room into the door, after which it smashed on the floor, it woke me up (and gave me an idea for a new type of alarm clock, you might be able to see where I'm coming from with this one). When it came to looking at the site, went up and quite liked the place, there was a bit of a acropolis, remains of the famous library, some temples and a very large odd theatre, peculiar in so far as it is only a quarter circle, because of the shape of the hillside. Then on the other side of tow is the Asklepion, apparently the historical home of Psychology. At the time it was also home to the 25th annual conference of group psychologists, what fun. Other wise quite nice.

So Bergama done headed off to Sart - site of ancient Sardis. This was a really nice place, with several places of interest. First was the acropolis, which was quite impressive, with great columns and the like. Next was the town complex which has a lot of information about the inhabitants two millennia ago, even which shop belonged to whom and sold what. So, as one walks along there are now signs saying Jacob's paint shop, Menachem's butcher etc. It was apparently a very Jewish town which explains the names, and also the two thousand year old synagogue with nice mosaics and carvings, and inscriptions dating from 17 CE. Whilst having a look about three Turkish Opera singers came over to chat and we ended up talking for quite a while. There is also a very large, impressive gymnasium, with very vivid Greek writing and painting. From there I drove down to Selcuk for Ephesus, parked the car up at the end of the road by the beach and got some sleep. A couple of hours later a couple of soldiers woke me up, they didn't speak English so left and I went back to sleep. Half an hour later they found someone who could speak English, who explained that I couldn't park there as it was dangerous as many drunk drivers come down that bit of road. He told me to park up next to the cafe on the beach he was minding, as it would be safer. I was then invited to join him and some of his friends in some drinking, not wanting to seem discourteous, I had a bit of Raki with them (the local paint stripper) and the made my excuses and went back to sleep.

In the morning, wet up to Ephesus ad had a look around. It really is a great site. It is probably the only ancient Roman site I've been to, where one can actually get a feeling of how it was when people lived there. Unfortunately, much of the stuff is being renovated, therefore closed to the public. The twenty five thousand seat theatre and the facade of the old library are particularly impressive. After the site I went back to Selcuk, to the museum, which has some excellent pieces.

From Ephesus went to Pammukale. This is both a ancient site, but also the site of some beautiful calcium formations, made over millennia when calcium rich water cascades over the cliff face. It is very photogenic and some of the old site is also very nice. On the down side it is very touristy now, therefore a little crowded and some hotels are using most of the water so the formations are drying up and beginning to crack.

From there went to Olimpos, also an ancient site, but the main draw being the Chimaera (not a TVR, flames coming out of rocks). So in the evening booked on a trip to go see these flaming rocks (this place was in "The World is not Enough", the latest James Bond film). As I was chatting to some folk from Leeds someone just called out "Raph is that you?", I then realised that Robyn and Brendan, a couple of Aussies I'd hung around with in Athens a month ago were on the bus, a pleasant surprise. We went up to see the Chimaera which is rather impressive, apparently caused by some mysterious gas seeping through the rocks ad spontaneously combusting with the air, so one can blow them out and they will re-ignite after a while. I decided it was necessary to use one of the larger flames to light a cigarette, and almost set my head on fire in the process of carrying this out. Quite enjoyed the flames and it was also good to catch up with the Aussies.

The following morning went around looking at the ruins which are good fun as they stretch all the way to the beach and are partially obscured by thick forest, so its a bit like finding a lost city. I was going to take off further on my travels but, Robyn and Brendan asked to join me the following day, and pay towards the cost. So I chilled out a bit which was nice, had a swim, which was bloody cold and then went down to a riverside party at night and got a bit pissed, which is also healthy. So after that we all jumped in the motor for the journey to Goreme in Kapadokya. The journey was going very well, making good time, but were then pulled over by the Jandarma (national police), ad told we could not continue on that road. We were directed to a Pansion, and then eventually found out that a huge area had flooded, blocking the road, we checked in then went to have look, the water was immense, with buildings submerged to their roofs and the water rushing very quickly, at least a metre above street level, which was about two metres above ground level. So we went back to the Pansion, got some food and chilled out.

The following morning we left early for Goreme, the water was still half way up the doors on the car, and we only just managed to get through without stalling. We got to Kapadokya, had a look at Diyarkulu, the largest of the underground cities, with eight levels, a school, winery, etc. all carved into the rock (where the Christians hid from the Hittites). Then went and toured the area, there are loads of troglodytes, fairy chimneys (phallic shaped rocks) and some beautiful rock formations. Then back to Goreme had some nice food and chatted to a guy who'd just come through Iran.

This morning I got up ridiculously early to get the car back to Istanbul, just as I was approaching I realised I was low on petrol, but hoped there was enough to get to drop it off. Unfortunately there wasn't so as I was kangarooing , I pulled up behind a police car on the hard shoulder and explained the situation. They then took me to get some petrol and made sure I was okay, nice folk these Turks. Driving in Istanbul is not really much fun, eventually got to the car hire place, booked a bus ticket for tonight to Ankara and am now e-mailing you all. So, from here I'm heading east. First to Ankara (the capital) then Diyabakir and lastly Dougebeyzit, near both Mt. Ararat and the Iranian border.



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