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Hanoi

We have spent four busy, fascinating, days in Hanoi sightseeing and getting to know several local people. This vibrant but polluted city, is a mix of stately, yellow, French colonial houses in various states of repair, a few wide boulevards, and many neighborhoods of alleys, shop houses, crowded low rise tenements, and smaller houses in close proximity.



Old town street scene, an area popular with tourists
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Luckily, we arranged for transport from the airport to our comfortable home stay, located on a tiny alley in a non-touristy area. We would never have found it by ourselves, and it was always an adventure finding our way to other parts of the city and back again. Our host at Chez LinhLinh, Thuy, has been an absolute doll, giving us all kinds of info, lending us her phone in case we got lost, something we made us of, and even finding us a free local guide, a university student.

During our first day we explored the city on our own. Our home stay is somewhat outside the center, and there are few westerners here. Instead the maze of tiny alleys are chock full of various food vendors selling fresh veggies, and Pho. They seem to come and go, depending on the time of day. Some are open for breakfast, others lunch and dinner. The table and stools are tiny, much like the tea stalls in Burma. They are not made for long legged Americans, but the food is usually fresh and cheap.

After struggling to find our way out of the maze, we walked a long time, passing embassy row, and then arriving at Ho's mausoleum, which was closed. We did manage to see his house and walk around the extensive grounds.



Ho's Mausoleum
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Houses on Ho's compound
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Uncle Ho is still very much of a revered figure here, and his residence and mausoleum are hallowed ground. There were many Vietnamese as well as foreigners. Finding our way back was even more difficult. At one point we stopped at a small hair salon and showed them our card from Thuy, in Vietnamese and English. Each patron pointed a different way. One person seemed more sure of herself, and luckily, she turned out to be right. We were only two small streets away, but if we headed in the wrong direction, I might not be writing this now. The traffic is without exaggeration, insane. Totally over the top, especially at rush hour when there is not enough room to move, even on the narrow sidewalks. Motorbikes buzz like angry bees, and head in every direction at once. There is an occasional light, but you can't count on anyone stopping. Crossing the street is very much a game of chicken. It took us a couple of days to get the hang of it. Don't look at anyone, try and cross with others, and above all act fearless. Hanoi may be a perfect illustration of Shapiro's traffic rule number one. The more repressive the government, the more people act out (with tacit permission) on the road.

Later that evening , auspiciously on the last night of Tet, Thuy took us to the local Buddhist temple to make an offering to her ancestors. She then gave us some chocolate coins, not unlike Hannukah Gelt, a good luck New Year's present.




Nanette, Thuy and her three lovely children
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We walked from there to her nearby parents house, where they plied us with all kinds of local food, as well as beer and rice wine. Her father, who spoke almost no English, kept refilling my glass, despite my protests. I think however, like most asians, he couldn't hold his liquor as well as I, a westerner, could. Thuy acted acted as translator, and her three girls, age 16 months, 6 and 8 provided plenty of entertainment.

The next day, Thuy introduced us to our very own tour guide. Huyen, a sweet 20 year old English student, took us to all to kinds of local places that we would never have found on our own. We started out in one of the nearby alleys with banh cuon, a kind of dumpling with mushrooms served in a pork broth. Delicate and delicious.



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We then walked into the main part of town stopping to look at different pagodas, before going into another tiny alley to get to a famous student coffee shop, where they served egg coffee. No foreigners present.



Drinking egg coffee and eating sunflower seeds
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Vietnamese students drinking coffee in outdoor coffee house in old town
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From there it was on to Hoan Kiem lake in the center of town, with bridge and pagoda connected to a small island.




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Grandfather and granddaughter sitting near the bridge
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The lake is famous for a huge turtle which is only seen intermittently. We saw the carcass of a preserved one which had washed on shore several years ago. Apparently the lake used to have many more turtles, but now there is only one. Nearby, a rather phallic looking edifice, where, we were told, one can write messages in the sky to one's departed relatives.

From there we stopped in the Vietnamese version of a drive in ice cream place, a sort of A&W, without the burgers and the root beer. It was packed with young people and motorbikes. We ordered coconut ice cream pops, kem sua dua. Love to say that word. We each had more than one in fact. Hard not to at around 25 cents each.





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While Nanette popped into an art gallery across the street, I took pictures of the ice cream police, as I call them. They seemed intent on giving tickets to all who parked their bikes on the sidewalk. Well, not all. Those who could cough up an immediate bribe were spared, at least that is how it appeared. Considering that I never saw anyone receive a traffic ticket for going through a red light, it seemed like a scam.




Ice cream police truck
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Street scene outside of ice cream store and gallery
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In the gallery, Nanette found an abstract artist whose work she really liked, and made arrangements to visit her studio the next day. We then took the scenic, aka long way back, past West Lake. We stopped to take pictures of Huyen in front of her imposing French colonial high school, and talked with her about school and her family.




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Like many of our former Chinese students, she loved the opportunity to practice her English and seemed to really appreciate that we had come to visit her country. She was outgoing and open about her life, and in many ways seemed more mature than her age cohort in the states. By the time we got back our feet were killing us, but so what. We did manage to make our way to a nearby Pho place. Exhausted, we made it an early night, whereas Huyan was off to her belly dancing class. The next day she had classes at university, but she invited us to have dinner with her family in the evening.

In the morning, after a bit of confusion we were picked up by Nguyen Tam, the agent of the artist, who took us to see her studio. Ngo Hai Yen's was am attractive, vivacious woman in her 40's. She and Nanette seem to hit it off at once. Her abstract lacquer paintings were an intense mixture of colors, with bits of gold and silver leaf added to increase the layering effect. When Nanette saw she had some smaller works, she couldn't resist buying one. We were then invited to her house to see her canvas paintings, which we were more than happy to do. Nguyen, also her best friend, and an interesting woman in her own right, acted as translator. Before long the artist was cooking up a storm and invited us to stay for lunch. Some how we got started discussing classical and latin music. It wasn't long before I took out my phone to play Congo to Cuba while we ate lunch. As we shared more about our lives, they both told us they didn't have much in common with their husbands, something Thuy had also made a point of telling us. They are engineers by training, and as is often the case, they are not very communicative. Thuy's husband on the other hand, is a travel agent. The women were very revealing about their personal lives, perhaps because they might not see us again?

After lunch Ngo, the artist, asked if wanted to go dancing in a club. In the afternoon we queried? They nodded, and although her friend didn't know how to dance at all, it wasn't long before we piled into a cab and went off to the club. It seems as though ballroom dancing is a popular pastime in Hanoi, though the place was relatively empty at this time of day. I pranced around in my usual, half assed, 60's free form manner, but Ngo was a fabulous dancer. There were a number of young men who were eager to be her partner. Professionals? Gay? Perhaps, but they could really move to those latin beats. Nguyen was happy to sit on the side, except when I took her up for a whirl. I'm sure we looked ridiculous. I also managed to dance with a couple of the older ladies who attempted, with little success, to show me how to move properly to the music. Quite an experience. It was nice to see a range of ages, all dancing with one another.



Ngo with one of the professional dancers
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We returned in late afternoon, just in time to shower and go next door to Huyen's house. She had invited her older cousin and a friend, both of whom spoke excellent English. While they prepared a huge meal of snails, clams, fresh spring rolls, etc., I chatted with her very young looking father, (mid 50's) who runs an IT company with 70 employees. Considering this, they live in a very modest house and obviously don't have much money. Hong was educated in Hungary during its communist days. He speaks Hungarian, and also spent a year in Russia, so naturally he speaks Russian. He also speak a bit of Mandarin as well as English. His parents, now dead, moved to Hanoi from Hue in between the French and American wars. The American War, is of course, what we call the Vietnam War. During two periods of heavy American bombing, Hong was sent with several hundred other children, to live deep in the jungle. There was rarely enough to eat, and they often had to catch fish and insects by themselves. His other three brothers were sent to different sites, apparently because there was less chance they would all be bombed at the same time. In between bombing episodes, he returned home to his family.

His father was fairly high up in the North Vietnamese army, but apparently didn't know how to use a gun. Whether this meant he really was never taught, or if he just couldn't bring himself to use it, is not clear. Hong told me about a time his father was in the jungle with another officer. It was hot so the other man slept at the entrance to the cave. In the night there was a bombing raid, and the other man was killed while his father was okay because he was sleeping deeper inside. Just lucky, he said. He also told me another story about how an American bomber was shot down and landed totally intact. Both the Russians and the Chinese wanted to get their hands on it. This made it very difficult for Vietnam. Eventually, they gave it to the Russians in exchange for 300 bombers, but the Chinese were very angry. At the end of the war, when the Vietnamese fought Pol Pot in Cambodia, the Chinese were also angry, and started to bomb the border areas in the north of Vietnam. At this time Hong was in the army, and like his father, did not know how to shoot.

He, his family, and other many others in North Vietnam seem to harbor little resentment of the Americans as well as the French. It is largely a country of young people though, and so they have little direct experience with the wars. The one group that seems to engender some anger is the Chinese, perhaps because they occupied the country for more than 1000 years. So much for the domino theory.

I let Hong know that I was opposed to the war, and although it was hard to completely gauge his feelings, based on his hospitality it was obvious that he could distinguish between the US government and individual people. What an incredible waste of human life and so much suffering. Ten million Vietnamese died he told me. After this somewhat heavy discussion, (despite the beer we shared), dinner was served to the delight of all. It was quite a feast, and a good time was had by all. We took many pictures of one another.


The gang's all here: Huyen with family members and friend
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Hong and his wife with Nanette and Jon
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Later, Hong showed me an old one of his father that he was obviously very proud of. Hard to imagine that 50 years ago there was so much killing, and now it is like it never happened.



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The following day we were on our own again, but it was much less hectic. The water puppet show, which tells the story of the founding of Vietnam, was the highlight. Tomorrow we go off for two days to Halong Bay on a junk.





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Posted by jonshapiro 07:03 Archived in Vietnam Tagged people food cities_postcards Comments (4)

Thaton to Chiang Rai

On the return trip to Tathon, we happened to be accompanied by a Russian, Jewish couple who emigrated to Australia some 18 years ago. This was their first real trip abroad, after being encouraged to hit the road by their British son in law. Also on the songthaew, was another emigre to Australia, this one from China. We traded stories with him about the 60's demonstrations against the Vietnam war, both in his adopted country and in ours. He is 70 and was quite active in the antiwar movement in Australia. Sitting next to him was another Chinese man who had travelled overland for a month starting in Kunming. He spoke only Mandarin, and unfacetiously said to the Chinese/Australian gentlemen that if it wasn't for the Party, he would never have been able to travel. Perhaps he worked for the party. It was, you might say, quite a multicultural ride. After returning to our guest house by the river, we waited until the sun was descending before starting out on a walk to then near by Wat, at the top of a steep hill. There was a small road to get there, but not having wheels, we hoofed it up the many sets of stairs. On the way, we passed this statue of the Buddha.



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And this one at the top.

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Below us, the town and the river valley were part of the panoramic view.





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This was a handheld shot of the guest house path, as night came on quickly, as it does in the tropics.

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In the morning, we left on the long tailed boat ride for Chaing Rai. A Dutch couple our age, who were staying at our guesthouse and biking for a month were also on the boat, and then we stopped to pick up Travis, a young American who was on the road for more than a year. He had been all over South America, Indonesia and many parts of Asia , as well as New Zealand. How coud he take this much time we asked. He had his own business repairing various technical machines (not computers) which he had started at age 20. Now at 32, he was taking off some time and letting his partners manage the business. Pretty impressive. The ride was quite enjoyable, with green hills all around, and even some rapids in the bony river.



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We passed several large and small dredging operations, and stopped in a Lisu village where they stared at us and we stared at them. They even had a picture station set up with a cutout figure of a hill tribe couple. We couldn't resist the ridiculousness of it, but they then demanded 40 baht for the priviledge. A bit like Disneyland.




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After four hours or so, we arrived in Chaing Rai, which is pleasant enough, if somewhat on the nondescript side. While there are plenty of farang, the place does not feel like a tourist town.

The clock tower, on the other hand, is impresssive, particualrly at sunset.



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We went Wat hopping, first to Wat Rong Khun, the white temple outside of town. Everyone raves about this new place, and it is a big tourist attraction for Thai and Farang alike. It is a bit too rococo for my taste, though some of the artwork is interesting.




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My favorite was in the in town, Wat Jet Yot. About a 100 years older it is a much simplier affair , but the enormous gold cement Buddha is both imposing and calming at the same town.




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Temple painting
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In this Wat I met a Hungarian. We talked politics, in a not particularly Wat like conversation, but intriguing nonetheless. He is a nuclear scientist who spent two years working on Long Island.

Then it was back to the center of town for the best Tom Yam that we had in Thailand. It was from a tiny shop, really a street stall, whose prorietor seemed especially pleased that we liked his soup, which practically exploded with flavor and spice. We shall probably return for the same thing for dinner, along with some tasty baozi, Chinese steamed buns, though they don't call them that here.




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Posted by jonshapiro 11:21 Archived in Thailand Tagged buildings people food cities_postcards Comments (1)

Back to Bangkok

Note to subscribers: Some of you had trouble accessing my site to view the last posting. It turns out this was my fault. However this link should give you access to the blog without any problem and you can simply look at last post if you are so inclined.

2/3--New Siam Guesthouse. This place never changes. Khao San Road will forever be locked in the 60's with a constant parade of foreigners from all over. Interestingly we have heard the Chinese now make up 13% of all tourists and are now the single largest group of foreigners. However, there are lots of hippie types (non Chinese) or wanna be hippies. This includes an old white guy, going bald, but with dyed red hair and a long white beard looking more or less like an Indian sadhu. Everyday we see him parading back and forth along the nearby alley. There are Euro's with little kids, and yes, even a bunch of us older folk, (excluding the sadhu), from various parts of the globe. We met two intrepid travelers from Vancouver, several years older than us. Joyce and Gordon have been all over, taking off for four months during the soggy winters of coastal BC. They have been to and trekked in Nepal several times, befriended a guide named Santa, and paid for his girls to go to school. They will leave for Pokhora in a few days after spending a month in Burma. They tell us the place is now lousy with tourists, prices have quadrupled, ATM's have appeared, and cell phones are ubiquitous. Luckily, the people are still the same, though I think we got there at the right time.


At night the nearby alley and surrounding streets here in Balimphoo become one big party scene with loud American rock and blues, outdoor restaurants and bars, and VERY crowded streets. It is quite a scene.






All's quiet in the morning
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Our breakfast spot
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The famous Mr. Yim, who makes various Thai veg curries for a buck
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Yesterday, we went to see Wat Pho, a little further on the river taxi than the King's Palace, but a place we had never been. The enormous reclining Buddha was spectacular.


Although some 50 feet long, it is only possible to capture the head by itself
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Statues on the grounds of Wat Pho
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After wandering around a bit, we set off to look for a local sim card. That was an adventure, and we got somewhat lost on the way back. It was a success, in that we did find a card and then were able to call Derek at Chaing Mai Apartments, our next destination.

Posted by jonshapiro 18:14 Archived in Thailand Tagged food cities_postcards Comments (0)

Book Five: Return to Southeast Asia and China

Guangzhou

TO ALL MY NEW TRAVEL AND OLD FRIENDS: HERE STARTS THE BLOG OF MY LAST TRAVEL ADVENTURE THIS PAST FEB TO APRIL 2013. WE ARE NOW HOME.

After the long flight, Hong Kong still felt vaguely familiar after a five year absence. Our hotel, the Panda, was comfortable enough, though kitchy in the Chinese way. When we had breakfast in a local place around the corner, ham and eggs and toast with the crust cut off in the British manner, we truely felt we had arrived. Shortly thereafter we made our way to the subway station, and managed to get lost several times, though we did make it to the mainland Chinese train station. It was not entirely uneventful, as I left my small day pack next to the information both in the subway. As we were purchasing tickets from a machine, the attendant came up to me and asked if I had left a bag. Initially I said no, only to realize a few minutes later that in fact I had done so. Luckily she still had it in the booth. A close call with a lot of imprtant papers.

In the main train station we found ourselves next to Peter from Montreal, who we chatted with about travel adventures and found we had been to many of the same places. In his late 40's, he had a business and a girlfriend which brought him to Guangzhou on a monthly basis. He kindly offered to let us call Sunny, our former English student, on his phone when we arrived, which turned out to be unnecessary. Sunny, who was only 15 when we last saw her was right there to meet us, and we recognized each other immediately. It was, after five long years, wonderful to see her again, as she was by far our favorite student in Xiamen.






Sunny in her apartment and next to revolutionary statue in sculpture garden
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Guangzhou is a big,rather futuristic looking city with many new skyscapers, and a nice walkway along the Pearl River. On the day we arrived Sunny took us to the top of the Canton tower, some 600M high with a commanding view of the city. The tower was erected for the 2010 Asian games. Unfortunately the smog obscured much of the sunset. However, when the lights of the city came on after dark, the display of multicolored neon was incredible.




Taken through the glass at the top of the tower
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The tower itself was alternately lit up like a rainbo, then red, purple, green etc. which was best seen once we descended.




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As Sunny pointed out, the Chinese are very good at puttng on a show for others to see. Later in the evening we took a cruise on the Pearl River, and the lights on the bridges and tall buildings were like a well organized light show, also multicolored, as well as moving and pulsating. I snapped away wthout a tripod, eager to try out my new superlight camera.





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For the first couple of days Sunny kept us incredible busy seeing all of the sights, and insisted on paying for many things. We ate up a storm, from local soups, to dongbei, hotpot, and dim sum.




Old monastery amidst the constant new construction
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Finally we had to tell her that we didn't need to see EVERYTHING, and just wanted to spend time with her. This gave us time to just relax and enjoy each other's company. We spent one evening making jouza, dumplings, in her apartment, where we met her roommates, and an Italian man who Sunny had corresponded with, who was interested in studying Chinese in exchange for teaching her Italian. Another night we met her boss, David , a low key Brit who seems to appreciate her talents and is almost paternal with her. She works for him as an administrator, in a language institute which provides training to multinational corporations. Though much more mature than when we last saw her, Sunny is still the same free thinking, independent person she was five years ago. Despite the gaps in her formal education she has a very good and inquizative mind, and has blossomned into a responsible and attractive woman. Her English, complete with American accent, has improved to the point where it is possible to have a conversation with her about practically anything. We discussed many things including some heavy family issues, friendships, work, goals for the future etc. When and if she decides to create her own business, we can be the first, and as she put it, likely the only shareholders. I think we all realized that our connection to each other remains as strong as ever, despite the time and the distance. She has become, for all intents and purposes, like our third daughter, and we feel very protective of her.

Posted by jonshapiro 07:58 Archived in China Tagged skylines people photography buildings_postcards cities_postcards Comments (0)

Istanbul

We arrived yesterday after an easy flight from Basel, and the bad weather seems to have followed us. We are staying in Sultanamet, the old city, which is full of tourists from all over the world, and feels very cosmopolitan, a bit like New York, but with tiny alleys and winding streets that help keep the traffic down. Many of the city's most famous sites are within easy walking distance. We have already been to the Hagia Sofia, which more than lived up to billing.





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As did the Blue Mosque.





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Tulips, which are native to Turkey, not Holland, are blooming everywhere, and the streets are full of kebap and crepe vendors, both cheap and good, though the restaurants in this area are somewhat pricey. We spent part of the afternoon sitting in one of the ubiquitous tea houses, or rather just outside of one, in a kerosene heated area covered with clear plastic which more or less kept us dry. We preferred that to sitting inside, because of the smoke from so many people toking up on nargileh, filled with sweet Turkish tobacco. We sat next to, and then chatted with a young Turkish couple, after we overheard the woman giving her boyfriend an English lesson. They were a delight to talk to, like many of the Turks we have met thus far, quite out going and jokey. For example, earlier we were buying some Turkish pastry, and the owner was joking with another foreigner that his sweets were better than Viagra for increasing energy and sex. I can see why. It was, just possibly, the best piece of pastry I have ever had, filo dough, pistachios, and honey. Nanette and I battled it out to see who would get the last bite.

After apple tea, we were off to the Grand Bazaar. Hectic, but it was more pleasant than in Marrakesh because no traffic is allowed within the crowded shopping district. Although there are touts in Istanbul, especially in the touristy sections, they are less pushy than in the big cities of Morocco.

We have been to the archeological museum, which was a little like the Egyptian section of the Met, but on a much larger scale. It was hard to take it all in, though we spent several hours there, with Greek, Roman, Trojan and Hittite objects, some more than 5000 years old. One particularly impressive sarcophagus, named Alexander and dating from 500BC, had very intricate battle and hunting scenes carved on its marble exterior. The piece de la resistance,as it were.



Detail from Alexander Sarcophgus
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Park Scenes in Sultanamet Near the Museum
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Just now, I am sitting in the breakfast room of our rather funky Tulip Guesthouse, gazing over the Bosphorus toward the Asian side of the city. The sun is out, and the tankers moving through the straights at a steady clip reflect the light of the late afternoon sun, as do the buildings on the opposite shore. There are hills, and even low mountains in the distance. Closer in, a section of the old wall of the city is visible, and a white lighthouse, long and thin, like the minarets of the mosques, sits adjacent to the straight. The jumble of buildings immediately in front, comes towards me from all angles and colors. There is the mustard yellow of the Metropolis Hostel, with its black spiral staircase running up to the roof deck, and the salmon, brown, and light grey of the pointy stucco building to the left. Seagulls careen and squawk over its ramshackle metal roof.





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As a double exclamation point, two bright red tankers steam up toward the Sea of Marmara.





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Our amiable and chatty host, Martine, who is often to be found in this room, is a Kurd from northeast Anatolia. He grew up on a sheep farm, and then was the first in his family to get educated. He now manages three hostels in town, including Tulip. We have also met his younger brother, a college student, of whom he is fiercely protective. His relationship with his parents, on the other hand, seems rather distant. He has a Turkish girlfriend, who is getting a Phd in economics. She wants to be a professor, but although he has not yet told her, he wants her to stay at home and have babies.

He indicates things have changed for the better under Erdogen's rule, though there is still a lot of prejudice against Kurds. This is exacerbated by the separatist PKK, whose members periodically commit terrorist acts. He has nothing good to say about Ataturk, whom he says, murdered thousands of Kurds.
We have spent a number of pleasant hours talking to him, as he has traveled widely and is knowledgable about history, though he is obviously quite traditional in certain ways.

We have spent the past few days exploring the city and enjoying the people, including a visit to Istanbul Modern, a relatively new museum, which reflects the thriving art scene here. We also took the ferry to Uskudar, on the Asian side, from the Eminonu pier, a 20 minute ride across the Bosphorus. From there, we walked to a hillside park, full of tulips and pansies of all colors. At the top, there was a teahouse and restaurant with expansive views of one of the bridges across the straight, and the buildings on both shores.




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After a nice respite with time to admire the view, we continued back down to the waterfront until we came to a non-touristy neighborhood, with small cafes, several ice cream shops, and a quite wonderful art gallery.





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We also noticed an old synagogue, though it was boarded up and unused for many years. Stopping for ice cream, we talked to Fatima and Fozimet, two sisters of indeterminate age, who spoke fluent English. Their father had owned a barge and delivered water to other ships. For many years they had both worked in the family business, but eventually, after he died, they sold the barge and opened the shop. Both are avid tennis players, and hope to visit New York in order to go to the Open to see the tennis championships.

We returned on the same ferry, and dined in a rather upscale place in the old city, not far from our hostel. The restaurant was located over a series of subterranean rooms, built by the Roman emperor, Justinian, about 300 AD. We were shown an entrance in the back, and spent a few minutes exploring after dinner. Many parts of Sultanamet are built on even older walls and ruins.

The sense of history here is almost breathtaking in its scope. Greek, Roman, European, Ottoman, Arabic, and even Asian influences and objects can be found, and of course the city, at different periods of time, has been home to both Christians and Moslems, even some Jews.

Yesterday, we took a long walk along a different stretch of waterfront to another ferry dock, where we picked up our tickets for the ferry that crosses the Sea of Marmara. We will later make our way to the small Aegean town of Ayvalik. On the way back it started raining hard again, and we got soaked, but we made it to a crowded teahouse near the Grand Bazaar. There, we ran into Ahmed, who we had briefly met at our guest guest house. A most interesting man in his 60's, originally from Peshawar Pakistan, he spent ten years teaching physics in various colleges around Boston. He has also lived in many places in the Middle East, including, Sudan, Saudia Arabia, Oman, always teaching physics in English. He said he never got a permanent position in the states because there were issues with his green card, although he now has a US passport. After spending two years in Oman, separated from his wife and son who stayed in the US, she divorced him,despite the fact that he was supporting them. He ended up in Crete where he met his present girlfriend, and they now own a house in, you guessed it, Ayvalik. He encouraged us to look her up when we arrived. He was on his way to Boston to visit friends, and then see his son in New York. He told us all of this, while explaining some of the finer points of quantum mechanics in a way that we could actually understand it.

Today started out dark and dreary, but we took the tram and the new underground funicular to the top of Beyo─člu, in a now fashionable part of town. We did not ascend the Galata Tower, built in the late 15th century, but continued back down a wide shopping street near the old funicular tracks. Blissfully, there was no vehicular traffic amidst the Turkish eateries, and many US clothing stores. We then walked across the bridge to Eminonu, which by now was full of its daily quota of fishermen casting off into into the wicked currents of the straight. The bridge is a multistoried affair, one level of which has many fish restaurants and sandwich shops, some of which are quite a bargain. They all compete for your business as you stroll past. The trick seems to be not to make up your mind too quickly so you can see who offers the best price.


Eminonu Bridge with Galata Tower in Background
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Another Beautiful Mosque near Bridge
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The high point of the day was a two hour cruise up the Bosphorus, past Uskudar, and three major bridges, weaving in between the tankers. The sun came
out for a while, and we could see both shorelines lined with impressive houses, old and new. Some were renovated, others dilapidated, and old cemeteries clung to the steeply wooded hills behind them. Castles were also to be seen here and there. Like so many things in this ancient city, it was a hodgepodge of of styles and character.





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I am once again back in the breakfast room with a view. The brick red Arcadia Hellas, steams toward the Black Sea. I hope tomorrow will prove a fair day because we make our crossing of the Sea of Marmara, and we are both prone to seasickness.





Yours Truly, with The Founder of Modern Turkey
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Posted by jonshapiro 09:16 Archived in Turkey Tagged bridges buildings people cities_postcards Comments (2)

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