The Mediterranean Cruise (Part 5 of 13)

Episode 3 kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey

The Turkish people inherited the buildings built by the Greeks. The theatres, multi-usage forum, the library, all bore the Greek influence. There were a lot of copycats around in the old days. Who copied whom was unknown but everybody claimed their stuff was the best. Such were human nature.

At one gate there was a human head carved at the epic. Some archaeologist claimed it was the head of Medusa, the lady who could turn everything into stone if you dared to look at her face front. Then a few years later, another archaeologist claimed it was the boy friend of Emperor Hadrian. The image was left on the gate in memory of the boy friend. I totally agreed with the later. Anything scandalous will produce juicy stories that people love to hear. We should support this commercialism totally.

All the walking around created the problem of lack of washroom facilities. There are free facilities yet there are also ones which require a small cash donation before you can use them. This becomes a royal pain since you might not have the exact change and you felt blackmailed if you have to pay too much. The best thing is to buy a bottle of water or a cup of coffee and then use the washroom. Both coffee and water would induce you frequent visit to the washrooms more. So it is the chicken or the egg scenario.

Episode 3 (cont’d) – Istanbul, Turkey

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The city of Istanbul, always mysterious, desirable, musky and hot, never fails to project the impression of a sexy lady. The truth is far from its appearance. Everywhere in the city is this sense of decadence. The people are not hostile but they are certainly not as friendly as one imagined. The city is filled with tourists and we had to visit the tourist spots.

The blue mosque was one large building with no decoration. That is characteristic of all Muslim temples since they use the room just for praying. The hippodrome was a former chariot racing ground. Ihi Sophia was a museum ground.

The highlight of the day was viewing the 7th largest diamond of the world at Topkapi Palace. The crowds were heating up. There were school excursions going on. The side door of the exhibition ground was opened somehow by mistake and the crowd poured over to the shortcut. It was massive confusion of who to follow, who was in line. I kept telling everyone I was a Japanese tourist and no one listened. Finally, I was shovelled into the room where the diamond was. The room was not well-lit. It was hot and steamy. People were pushing at each other and I had a glimpse of the famous diamond. It was encased in a secured box, may be 10 feet away, shielded by a bullet proofed glass. It was there with all its glory and I thought that was “A” merchandise. It looked so fake and unimpressive. I fought for 2 hours to come in and looked at this and who said I had any brains. Beside the diamond showcase, there was a baby carriage made of solid gold on display. It was invaluable. But if all the riches were dedicated to the sultan or king, then no wonder there were so many rebellions around.

We also visited the cistern system. The lighting was bad and the air was damp. The stone floor was slippery and there were some children running around. This could be a dangerous place. The cistern ground used to have row boats travelling in them. James Bond also used this site to spy on the Russians (from Russia with love, again). I could not find any of these and I was disappointed.

The grand bazaar was our last stop of the day. I do not know of any famous Turkish food, so we settled on some roasted chicken, soup and yet we stayed away from the Donair dish. The grand bazaar also bears the same nature as “利源東西街”. It was plain, common and bland.

We did not try the Turkish coffee too much, fearing it would kill us. We are in a different land of culture and we felt uneasy with this place. There was a tribe of Turkish people who have very fair complexion and fair skin. They really stand out amongst the rest. Turkey got a people with so much mix blood that even themselves would take time to decipher.

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