Monday, January 27, 2014

My Post-Exam Turkey Trip – Part 1 (Istanbul)

Assalammualaikum wrt wbt.

My exempting exam finally ended on the 15th of January.
Let’s not talk about how the exam went; it was both a mess as well as a smooth sailing.

On Saturday the 18th, my housemates and I set off for our trip to Turkey! Our flight to Istanbul was on the morning of 19th at 6.35am! Since the Tube does not work 24 hours, we had to reach London Luton airport on the 18th night and spend the night in the airport.

Day 0; Saturday 18th January 2014

I had my lunch at the Malaysian Hall café near Queensway. I was so disappointed that their food now is way more expensive than it was one year ago. When I was there in August, the café was closed. The receptionist in Malaysian Hall said the café is in the middle of renovation because they are offering the tender to someone else. This new restaurateur is quite stingy and greedy. Hah! Jahatnye ckp mcm ni. But imagine, I asked for a plate of rice, and they gave me some fried cabbage for complement. Fair enough. I then asked for half of the salted egg and some sambal belacan. That cost me £3! I also asked for some beef rendang, the girl behind the counter said the rendang is sold separately, as a side dish for £2.50. Guess what, the bowl was only ¼ full! I made a small fuss at the cashier, “Ni je? Ni je £2.50??” Then the auntie cashier said she did not count my sambal belacan, and she is giving me very cheap price already. I put up a disbelief face, and she asked how much am I willing to pay for all the food. I said give me more rendang and I’ll pay the £2.50 side dish. Even after adding some more, the bowl wasn’t even half full! I hope they will be more considerate and not so greedy the next time I visit them. It wasn’t that the price was a lot cheaper before this but at least the men behind counter scooped a lot of rice and dishes into the plate, so the price was worth the food.

Where we spent our sleepless night in Luton

That night, we slept in London Luton airport. I felt so homeless. But what to do… money to rent a hotel room nearby the airport. What la easyJet. So odd timing one? But the journey to Istanbul itself is 4hours, maybe that’s the logic behind it.

Day 1; Sunday 19th January 2014

We reached Istanbul airport at 1220hrs Turkey time.
I paid for a tour package which includes transfer from Istanbul Sabiha-Gokcen airport to our hotel, transfer from our hotel to Otogar to take bus to Denizli, the bus ticket to Denizle, transfer from Denizli to Pamukkale and tour in Pamukkale, followed by transfer from hotel to Denizli airport and lastly the flight ticket from Denizli to Istanbul. All in all it was €131 per person, which was not bad actually. My tour company is Troublefreeholiday. I think the man did quite a good job so, if anyone wants a tour in Turkey, I think this company is reliable and cheap too.

Once we come out of the arrival gate, I saw my name written HUGELY on the board a man was holding. Hahaha.. It felt so weird. The man then brought us to his van that will drive us to our hotel in Istanbul.

Where are you?? -said the Turk.

We stayed in Cordial House Hotel. I think this was a good hotel too. I mean, it is as good as the money I paid. It was €8 per person per night, there were 4 of us in the room with a shared bathroom outside (I think this is the downside, if the bathroom is in the dorm; it’ll be better).

After solat, we went for lunch (at 4pm!) and then walk around Istanbul. I find Istanbul very beautiful! The city is beautiful, as well as the building and the park. The people were nice too; they kept asking “Malaysia? Malaysia?” to us and when we said yes, they seemed very happy! I think there must be a looooot of Malaysian visiting Turkey. They recognised us just from our appearances. Most of them can’t really converse in English but they did try their best. The man who fetched us from airport asked, “Where are you?” joyfully. I think he meant to ask, “Where are you from?” Haha.. He’s nice.

And I am glad there were no drunken people. I mean, I didn’t feel unsafe walking at night. Usually in the UK (Preston esp), the only people walking out at night are those who are going to the pubs because all shops are closed by 6.30pm. But in Istanbul, all the food outlets and markets and small stalls were still open and families with small children walking and running around happily the park. Of course, I still clutch onto my bag tight; let’s not take THAT risk ok?

What do you fancy eh?

Us! Comel kn kitorg?

The incidental bazaar

The Blue Mosque at night

Surprisingly, by 6pm we were very tired and can’t wait to go back to the hotel and sleep. The sleepless night in Luton airport must have worn us out. By 8pm we were in the hotel room, ready to sleep. At 8.30pm, we got hungry. Haha… None of us actually said we were hungry, I think because all of us know everyone else were tired. So when I suddenly quietly say “I feel like eating…I’m a little bit hungry”, my friends jumped out of bed and said, “Let’s go eaaatt!” . No one wanted to trouble each other rupanye. So 3 of us went out to buy food and ate in the hotel room. Syahidah was too tired and wasn’t hungry enough to eat.

Day 2; Monday 20th January 2014

I had a bad dream and woke up at 5.30am. I couldn’t remember what the dream was but when I woke up, Kiew was wide-awake. I thought she could not sleep; I know she does not fall asleep easily in a new place, unlike me; I can sleep anywhere. Turns out she cant sleep the whole night as she had severe vomiting and diarrhoea. Poor her! She said she had to run to the toilet many times. I was surprised, we all ate the same thing, why was she the only affected? I fell asleep after telling her to drink lots of water – sorry Kiew, my eyelids defied me.

When I woke up properly for Subuh, she was half-asleep. She didn’t have the energy to walk around Istanbul so she booked another single bedroom for €22. We were supposed to check-out at 11.30am and leave our luggage in the store and walk around Istanbul. At that time, she was pale, but had enough energy to go down to the café and have breakfast. She could still laugh. The Turkish breakfast was so weird. It consists of bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, butter spread and chocolate spread. We paid €4 for the breakfast. €1 is equivalent to 3 TLR (Turkish Lira) and most shops accept both € and TLR.

Before breakfast, I locked my luggage using the built-in coding system; I left my passport and GBP money in there. And guess what, after breakfast I can’t unlock the code! I am sure I got the right code, but the lock just wont budge. All of us tried to unlock it, it became a mission for everyone to try and unlock my luggage. Even the reset button did not work. Haiz… It was a new bag! I bought it during Boxing Day and this was the first time I used it. It wasn’t too cheap (but cheap enough to convince me to buy it). So at last I carried the bag down to the reception and asked the man behind the counter to open it for me. He can’t and he wasn’t very helpful. We asked if there is any luggage shop around that might be able to help us but either he did not understand my question or he did not want to entertain it. But thankfully he was kind enough to call a very helpful friend of his- the man behind the bar. He really tried to unlock my luggage. He cant speak English but we can communicate enough. When I told him he can “destroy” the coding system, he looked pleased and went away to get his tools. Well, I can always go back to the shop I bought the bag from since it is still under warranty. He then brought back a screwdriver and simply peeled the lock away. Aargh I don’t know how to describe what he did but he managed to unlock it la. That scared me actually. Seeing how easy it was for him to unlock my locked luggage with just a screwdriver.

Grand Bazaar

After the incident, we had to bid goodbye to Kiew. She said it wasn’t a food poisoning episode, most likely it was because she was too stressed lately that her GI system wasn’t working well. Well that’s good news. Food poisoning will last at least 48 hours, but stressed GI system can recover earlier. So we left her to recuperate in the room.
And where did we go to?

Oh I love the Grand Bazaar!

There were a lot of entrances. We enter the complex to see a huge stretch of lane in front of us. I think that was the jewellery zone since all the watches and jewelleries were there. There were many smaller lanes perpendicular to the huge jewellery lane. I think someone told me there were 69 streets altogether. When I was told that we could get lost in there, I did not belief them. I thought, if we pay enough attention to where we came from and what we see, we will know our way back. Turns out, we can’t pay enough attention to the roads. Because the things sold were too attractive for my eyes.

The hugeee and looong streets

It was fun, exhilarating as well as scary. Most of the shopkeepers recognise Malaysians. So they kept pulling us to their shops. Whenever I made eye contact with the shopkeeper and he started to smile, I quickly looked away and turned away. They were very good salesmen! Once we stop at their shop, they will show us a lot of their scarves. They will open the scarves one by one and tell us how nice we will look in them. After just 5 minutes, there will be 20 scarves laid out in front of us and if we did not buy anything, it will be so awkward. To be honest, I was afraid that the shopkeeper will be angry too if I suddenly say “No, thanks. I am going away” after he laid open 20 scarves for me. So we dared not stop at many shops. We touch, and go.

We spent hoursss in the bazaar. Syahidah, Ibrizah and I all spent a lot. Scarves and sejadah and blouses. I bought a nice table cloth for my mum! It cost me 100TLR. My God. That was definitely not in my budget. I had no money to buy as much scarves that I planned to after that. I was planning to buy scarves for some important people.. Sorry la, money finish adi.. Keychain je eh? But I did not regret it. The table cloth is very nice. It was a handmade patch-work and was big enough to fit my 8-people dining table at home. My mum will be delighted! Sorry ma, xde scarf utk mama.

After lunch, we went back to the hotel for Zuhur-Asar. Kiew looked much better. She didn’t even have proper lunch, she was afraid she will be sick again. So she survived on the brioche we bought in London. All 4 of us then went to visit the Blue Mosque aka Sultanahmet mosque. Everyone are required to wear decently with a headscarf to enter the mosque. Considerate Kiew, she brought her scarf for this reason. When I lilit the scarf on her, she looked so cute! The mosque was huge from outside but we could not go into the whole complex. We can only enter one block – the main block used for prayer. The interior was very beautiful with many domes. I don’t completely understand why is it called the Blue Mosque – it wasn’t THAT blue…

The interior of the Blue Mosque

Anyway, we then walked towards Hagia Sophia. Funnily, we did not know which one was Hagia Sofia until we asked the man selling corns at the roadside. But we were too late, it was already closed. So I can’t find the famous cat that has been inhabiting the complex. Let me tell you something, the corns were horrible. I think it was boiled rather than the steamed corns that we were used to. And it wasn’t sweet. It took me so much effort to even finish a quarter of the cob. Fortunately Ibrizah is a good eater, she does not waste food and thus, she finished the corn. We bought only one cob – fuhhh…

After buying dinner, we went back to the hotel for Maghrib-Isya prayer. At 1930, someone from the tour company should fetch us to Otogar to catch the night bus to Denizli. I don’t know what Otogar means; it either meant a “bus station”, or the name of the place, like Puduraya.

Sharp at 1930, the man arrived and gave me our bus tickets together with our flight tickets. And we were brought to Otogar by a van. My God, the roads in Istanbul were horrific! It was like a snake been hit (read: bagai ular kena palu). The van turned and turned and turned, from a highway into housing area, into motorway again. Haihh.. We arrived Otogar an hour earlier than our bus time; 2030.

At 2130, we boarded the bus to Denizli.
I’lll talk about this journey in a diff post.
You must be tired by now. Haha..

Part 2 is here!


-Because life is a test-

The Happy Faces~



  1. Best kaaannn?? Wait for the part 2!

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience with us . This is beautiful . Turkey Tours Packages from India


  3. تواصل الان مع مركز صيانة فيليبس وتعامل مع اكفا المهندسين واكثرهم خبرة من خلال توكيل صيانة كاريير للاجهزة الكهربائية فقط عند تواصلك مع خدمة العملاء الان تمتع باقوى الخصومات على الصيانة وقطع الغيار

  4. beautifully written blog. I also want to go here for a trip.