Friday, March 10, 2006


The Sun came out! It was still cold and quite windy but most importantly it's sunny. At midday it was around 10 degrees Centigrade. This morning I packed everything up and cycled down to the Yenikapi ferry terminal. It felt good to be on the move after a day of moping around in Istanbul. I experienced Turkish traffic for the first time, it wasn't as difficult as I had feared.

The ferry to Yalova was completely civilised. Once at the destination the temperature was back to something reasonable, and soon I happily shed some of the warm clothes that I thought I'd need.

From Yalova I followed the highway in the direction of Bursa just past Gemlik then took a small side road to Mudanya. The highway was quite ok, even though traffic was reasonably heavy, there was always a wide shoulder. The first part was through a mountainous region though the altitude was not that high, the pass was at 338m. The had been snow on the ground from during the period when it was cold in Istanbul. That which was difficult was the gradient, there was a lot of up and down especially once off the main road. I relied on a large scale map of Turkey, which didn't give much clue of the steepness of the roads. I regret not having purchased a decent set of maps of the route. Though on second thoughts maybe it's best to know less.

The country side was dominated by olive plantations, with quite a bit of industry around the towns. There was a lot of freight traffic on the roads. As in Istanbul there were feral cats & dogs everywhere, though they appeared to be more of an annoyance than a danger, more on this subject later.

At Mudanya I found a supermarket and with that decided that I'd camp that night. Thus well provisioned I set off into the developing sunset (it's early March, the Sun is down by 6pm in this part of World). Just out of town I found a likely spot and started to set up camp. As I was pitching my tent someone with an official looking uniform, a security guard from a nearby Gendarme base, came to talk. I thought that I was being moved on. Instead he warned me that the wild dogs were quite dangerous. I didn't like the idea of being attacked by dogs but the option to find another, better, wasn't feasible anymore. A short while later the same guy came back, with a cup of tea. As I set up the tent I found that the pegs had somehow been separated from the rest and left at home. I was pleased that I'd packed spares. The next 'doh' came when I found that I had nothing to light my stove. As the following events revealed, this was actually a blessing. I saddled back up to find an open shop in town.

Just up the road however was the Gendarme base, I asked if they could get a lighter or some matches. I was invited into the guard box where my story was learned, in pigeon & with dictionary. Soon the subject moved from matches to the danger of my present camping spot. It was soon established that I shouldn't stay there. The solution that was found was to put me up on the base! At this point a load of gendarmes arrived carrying weaponry. My passport was inspected though later returned by the less strict security guys. A posse was formed, some of whose members carried machine guns, to collect my gear. We'd have nothing to fear from any dogs!

A spot in the guard room was given to me, I was provided with something to eat. Then the business of drinking tea and communicating via my Turkish-English dictionary started. Despite the difficulties to get ideas across it was a lot of fun.

I cycled 80km in 5 hours.

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