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    Archive for July, 2006

    Day 113 – Goodbye, Pablo!

    Monday, July 31st, 2006

    Dogubayazit -> Tuzluca (family accomodation)
    Distance (km) : 94
    Time on bike : 4h 15m
    Average speed : 22.08 km/h
    Total (km) : 6086

    Mount Ararat - 5137 m

    Mount Ararat in the setting sun light...

    Daddy Hassan and (a small part of) his family! Tuzluca, Turkey

    Lovely youngster at Hassans family in Tuzluca...

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    Tip for photos when reading our diaries

    Sunday, July 30th, 2006

    If you hold the mouse pointer over a picture in our diaries a description or text for the photo will appear :-)

    Enjoy!

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    Day 112 – The Kurdish Wedding Madness

    Sunday, July 30th, 2006

    Çaldıran -> Dogubayazit (hotel)
    Distance (km) : 72
    Time on bike : 3h 30m
    Average speed : 20.18 km/h
    Total (km) : 5992

    Young sheperd near Çaldıran, north of Lake Van, Turkey.

    Lunch break at the 2640 m Tendürek pass

    Kurdish wedding at the mountain pass. Madness in Eastern Turkey.

    Girl at the Kurdish wedding

    Turkish settlement just 3 km from the Iranian border...

    Mosque near Ishak Pasa, Dogubayazit, Turkey

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    Day 18 (112) – Wedding celebration at 2644 meters altitude

    Sunday, July 30th, 2006

    Translation coming soon :-)

    Ishak Pasa

    Ishak Pasa

    Ishak Pasa

    Ishak Pasa

    View from Ishak Pasa

    Into the mosque, Ishak Pasa

    Mosque, Ishak Pasa

    Decoration, Ishak Pasa

    View from dining hall, Ishak Pasa

    Dining hall, with view to mosque, Ishak Pasa

    Bathroom view, Ishak Pasa

    Room with a view, Ishak Pasa

    Mineret, Ishak Pasa

    Dungeon, Ishak Pasa

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    Day 17 (111) – Headwind

    Saturday, July 29th, 2006

    Time: 4:21:02
    Trip: 66.5 km
    Total: 656 km
    Avg.: 15.2 km/h
    Max: 59 km/h

    The last we saw of Lake Van

    English translation coming soon :-)

    Redhaired kids in Turkey

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    Day 111 – Living without newspapers…

    Saturday, July 29th, 2006

    Erçis -> Çaldıran (hotel)
    Distance (km) : 66
    Time on bike : 4h 11m
    Average speed : 15.67 km/h
    Total (km) : 5920

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    Local kids in Çaldıran, Eastern Turkey.

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    Day 16 (110Ø) – Tatvan->Ercis

    Friday, July 28th, 2006

    Time: 7:00:15 (10.15-19.30)
    Trip: 141.3 km
    Total: 589 km
    Avg.: 20.1 km/h
    Max: 78.9 km/h

    Martin on the bike

    Martin's max speed: 78.9 km/hLast picture is just to scare my mum :-)
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    Day 110 – 82.50 km/h by bicycle…

    Friday, July 28th, 2006

    Tatvan -> Erçis
    Distance (km) : 139
    Time on bike : 6h 33m
    Average speed : 21.25 km/h
    Total (km) : 5854
    Max. speed: 82.50 km/h (higest ever!)

    Lake Van, Eastern Turkey.

    Northwestern side of Lake Van, July 2006.

    Harvest time at Lake Van, Turkey.

    Rays of God...

    Tune of the Day: Somethings´s Missing – John Mayer

    John Mayer - fill my ears!!!

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    Day 109 – Report from the inside of a collapsed volcano…

    Thursday, July 27th, 2006

    Cycling, 0 km. Trekking, 25 km

    Breakfast with Mehmet-abi.

    From the lake inside the Nemrut Dag-volcano

    On top of Mount Nemrut (3050 m)...

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    Day 15 (109) – Inside mt. Nemrut

    Thursday, July 27th, 2006

    Martin eating breakfast in mt. Nemrut village

    Translation coming soon :-)

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    Day 108 – At the foot of the volcano…

    Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

    Daytrip around Tatvan: 11 km

    Beautiful Lake Van near Tatvan, July 2006.

    Preparing next weeks bread. Nemrut Dag, Eastern Turkey.

    DSC01700

    Tune of the Day: Dig For Fire – Pixies

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    Day 14 (108) – Picnic

    Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

    Daytrip: 9.9 km

    Nicolai and Martin having a picnic at the Van lake

    English translation coming soon :-)

    Martin bycycle around lake Van

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    Day 13 (107) – Tatvan

    Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

    Translation coming soon!

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    Day 107 – Wanted: Privacy

    Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

    Baykan ->Tatvan
    Distance (km) : 78
    Time on bike : 4h 35m
    Average speed : 16.95 km/h
    Total (km) : 5700

    The last stretch of road before the huge Lake Van at around 1800m

    Donkey and horse near Bitlis, Turkey.

    Tune of the Day: Bad Day – R.E.M

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    Day 12 (106) – Sick

    Monday, July 24th, 2006

    Translation coming soon!

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    Day 106 – Night troubles in Camp WT

    Monday, July 24th, 2006

    Silvan -> Baykan
    Distance (km) : 84
    Time on bike : 3h 45m
    Average speed : 22.25 km/h
    Total (km) : 5622

    Village between Silvan and Bitlis...

    The guest of the Month: Nicolai Bangsgaard

    Sleeping under the stars - Baykan, Turkey

    Tune of the Day: Armageddon Days Are Here – The The

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    Day 11 (105) – Silvan and sickness

    Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

    Time: 5:16:23 (11.15- around 18.00)
    Trip: 84.1 km
    Total: 438 km
    Avg: 15.9 km/h
    Max: 67.6 km/h

    Nicolai on top of citywall in Diyarbakir

    Translation coming soon :-)

    Tried Martin after 84 km and just before the chicken-sushi..
    Tried Martin after 84 km and just before the chicken-sushi..
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    Day 105 – Kurdistan

    Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

    Diyarbakır -> Silvan
    Distance (km) : 82
    Time on bike : 4h 30m
    Average speed : 18.31 km/h
    Total (km) : 5538

    The stomac is Danish again!

    Tone of the Day: Josh Rouse – Winter in the Hamptons

    Walk along and on top of Diyarbakirs old city wall and have a first glance at the legendary Tigris River. Pretty nice thought having cycled all the way from Denmark to the Tigris River…

    The legendary Tigris River east of Diyarbakır

    Again the landscape is a bit boring and not too varied with harvested wheat fields and constant hills – and then there was this fine Roman bridge…

    Roman bridge across the Batman Baraji (dammed lake) in Catakkoprü

    We’ve now come to the Kurdish region. Whenever we stop we talk to people that tell us that they are Kurds – not Turks, for Gods sake! – og it seems very important for them to make the differences between Turkish and Kurdish culture clear for us – and obviously the identify with the latter. No one knows for sure how many Kurds live in the border region of Eastern Turkey, Northern Irak, Western Iran, Northern Syria and a small fraction in Caucasus ( See map) but some accounts say between 25 and 40 mio. Interesting change in the sociocultural landscape for the WT-boys!

    We are now around 150 km as the crow flies from the Iraqi border and this proximity is felt by the Iraqi busses on the roads this afternoon.

    Giant grasshopper on Nicolai's jersey

    In Silvan (64.000 citizens) we are told by the police that the area is very bad for camping. Unfortunately they don’t let us pitch the tent in the nice grassy space inside the police station. We are then led to the “teacher’s hotel” by a proud police assistant.

    In these days of the superheroes the city of Batman might have gained a certain popularity...

    The boys in town are crazy and don’t give us one second rest. I try to ignore them by keeping a motionless and indifferent look. And everything is fine until a little bloke on his bicycle says to me “Hallo, sexy!” Where did that come from? Soon the usual “Hallo money” is heard everywhere around us and we back to normal again…Damned kids!!!

    It’s now 9PM and Eric Zabel (aka Martin) is already in his bed. It’s been a tough day for him and he’s become all slim after the rough cycling and the verying daily programmes that Zülle (I) make up ;-)

    (The evening/night took a suden turn later on…to be continued)

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    Day 104 – Diyarbakır – The Gangsta’ City

    Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

    Siverek -> Diyarbakır
    Distance (km) : 98
    Time on bike : 5h 20m
    Average speed : 18.30 km/h
    Total (km) : 5456

    Having a break in the village Karacadag...

    Ace Ventura in action!

    The Lonely Shepard.Near Diyarbakir, southeastern Anatolia, Turkey

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    Day 10 (104) – To bandit city

    Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

    Time: 5:25:45 (10.15-17.30)
    Trip: 99.2 km
    Total: 354 km
    Avg: 18.2 km/h
    Max: 68.1 km/h

    Translation coming soon! :-)

    Click here to read all previous diary entries by Martin

    Sheep shepherd and son
    I promised to print out and send the photo to this shepherd. Which I of course will when I return to Denmark. Wonder if he’ll ever get it?
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    Day 103 – Africa belly in Siverek…

    Friday, July 21st, 2006

    0 km…

    Restday in Siverek…

    Feeling pretty weird when I woke up. The stomac is uneasy and acts a bit like the “Africa belly” and I feel I’ve been in a very unfair boxing fight. Pablo and I go the a local çay salonu , filled with elderly men in their caracteristic baggy pants, şalvar that are extremely popular around here. Two of the most curious men join us and ask the same standard questions (in bad German). We are then led to a bakery and the same man gives us a bag full of freshly baked bread on his expense.

    Waiting for the lunch near the 13th century castle, Yeni Kale

    Sleep most of the afternoon in the aircon room. Send 3 packages (6 kg) home to Denmark at the local post office. What a great feeling to get rid of those wolly clothes! It’s 40 degrees Celcius outside!
    Yet again, Pablo!!!

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    Day 9 (103) – Siverek resting

    Friday, July 21st, 2006

    We are up at 8 and get down to get some breakfast. Still everybody is mystified by seeing us. Can’t really be many tourists coming to this city (which is not even mentioned in our guidebook) We are offered tea and bread. Everything is paid by a elderly turkish gentleman who lived many years in Germany.

    Unfortunately Nicolai got some Africa-belly so we stay in our room most of the day. Later on we manage to ship home around 6 kgs.

    While we are out eating a man comes up to me and ask if we are from Denmark. I concur and he reply that he had heard it “in the city” that two person where visiting from Denmark. Funny.

    The evening ends with a glass of Captain Morgan and cola.

    Click here to read all previous diary entries by Martin

    Organising all our stuff in a small hotel room in Siverek
    Organising all our stuff in a small hotel room in Siverek
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    Day 8 (102) – Mt. Nemrut sunrise

    Thursday, July 20th, 2006

    Time: 4:03:01 (10.30-17-15)
    Trip: 63.4
    Total: 254
    Avg: 15.6
    Max: 64.1
    Max temp.: 54 degrees

    Sunrise from mt. Nemrut

    I hardly get any sleep during the night because of the annoying mosquetos and when we are “waken” at 3.15 I have to shake off the sleepyness and get into the clothes. Into a car and directly to mt. Nemrut where we enjoy the rising sun.

    We are not alone. Quite a few people are wandering around and shooting some pictures but it doesn’t take long before most going back down and we have the place for ourselves.

    Martin and Nicolai at mt. Nemrut

    Back in the car after a quick cup of tea and down the mountain again. At this time I’m pretty tired and doze off (Nicolai is already sound asleep in the backseat) but suddenly I’m awaken by the driver who is spraying some lemon water on me and a good part towards the backseat and Nicolai. After that he pulls out a small bottle and pour some thick perfume on both my wrists (same procedure on himself of course) – now we are really some nice-smelling and comfortable men – and we send smiles both ways!

    After a little breakfast and an hour’s sleep it’s back on the bikes. This is going to be a tough day.

    Around noon and after about 30 kms we pause at a little marked to get some kage and cola and biscuits. Again we try to communicate but things are not going too well until the woman in the marked go and gets a dictionary- Way to go! Finally time to get rid of some of the misunderstandings.

    On the bikes again. It doesn’t take long before we arrive to a small ferry berth, where we have to cross a bug artificially dammed lake. There is a long line of cars which we don’t understand at all because we haven’t hardly seen any traffic the past hours. We get to know from a German guy that there is a big wedding and the small ferry almost only carry the guests back and forth.

    The hot ferry with the wedding guests

    Fortunately we manage to sneak onboard with a little hassle. Unfortunately I run into the groom (from Jordan) but luckily the print from the wheel could be brushed away easily. During the passage I observe the highest temperature on my bicyclecomputer so far. 54 degrees! Hot hot hot!

    After the crossing we just want to get away from all the people and the noise and the heat. However it doesn’t take many km before I start to get serious thoughts. I haven’t filled my water bottles at the last stop and I don’t even have a full bottle left and what I have is so hot by now that I can hardly drink it. There are no villages on the map for the next 30-35 km. Pretty serious thoughts which I keep for myself.

    Martin after getting a lot of water from much appreciated spring

    Furtunately there is a spring coming after a while. It’s hard to explain how much joy a little spring can give. I drink, rinse my clothes, drink even more, pour water over my head and my legs and fill my 3 water bottles to the edge. Puh! Saved in (almost :-) ) last minute! Suddenly life is a little easier.

    Nicolai has gone ahead when I get the next crisis (after about 20-30 km more) I’m tired, it’s hot and it tough. The crisis is averted with some good music from my ipod. The Danish group Veta. Probably the best Danish music since Claus Hempler. Amazing. It gives me a boost.

    It pretty crazy how much attention we get when we arrive to Siverek. Some places the traffic stops alltogether and people are yelling at us, asking us questions, stopping their cars, waving at us etc. etc. The kids are following us yelling hello, hello, hello, hello, hello and money, money, money, money in one go and it’s all a bit tiresome.

    Eat. Hotel. Internet. Goodnight!

    Click here to read all previous diary entries by Martin

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    Day 102 – Sunrise at Mount Nemrut

    Thursday, July 20th, 2006

    Narince -> Siverek (hotel)
    Distance (km) : 63
    Time on bike : 3h 39m
    Average speed : 17.16 km/h
    Total (km) : 5358

    My inner watch woke me up at 3.15AM at the time our hotel manager should have given us the wake up call. Slept really bad because of the damned moskitoes on the roof. Soon we were on the way to Mount Nemrut in our private hired car. It was still dark and we arrive and hour later at the 2150m high mountain together with quite a few other tourists. The horizon’s red and we wait for the sun to rise on the eastern terrasse along with the rock formations shaped as human beings that a local megalomaniac king ( (Antiochus 64-38 BC) built on top of the mountain. Earthquakes havetoppled the heads from most of the statues and today many of the bodies sit silently in rows with their heads watching from the ground.

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    DSC01619

    IMG_0247

    The sun rise was just as magic as I’d hoped. The sun rose behind the mountains in the distance and some minutes later it finally let go of it’s grip and impressed me with it’s deep red and perfect circle.
    IMG_0233
    The area kept my mesmerized for a few hours but the tiredness got hold of me as soon as we got back to the bicycles in Narince.

    DSC01635

    We leave Narince and head towards the feribot iskelesi (ferry jetty) where we end up in the middle of a Jordanian wedding group also waiting for the ferry across the great dammed lake, Atatürk Baraji. Again we’re the centre of attention and together with the brutal heat of noon it really wasn’t the most memorable ferry cruise for me!

    For the last 30 km of the day the traffic is light and the landscape harsh and stony. The farmers have a hard time making the crops grow here. Goat and sheep herds appear occationally and in the sky eagles are waiting patiently for a sudden prey.

    DSC01642

    In the outskirts of Siverek I wait for Pablo while crowds of youngish boys gather around me. Very frustrating. “Where is you name, mister?”, “Good morning!” (it’s 4PM!) and “What is your from?” and that sort of non-sense. Don’t think that Siverek has seen tourist for a long time. Everyone in the street (i.e men in all ages – the women are only rarely to be seen in this rather conservative city) stops and glazes at us in a way I thought only children could glanze and then they greet us in the ways just mentioned. I fix a room for us in a modest hotel down town (bargained prize 20 YTL instead of 40) ‘cos we’re both tired after a loong day and need some privacy.

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    Day 7 (101) – First the heat, then the hills

    Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

    Time: 4:02:33 (10.00-19.00)
    Trip: 53.2 km
    Total: 191
    Avg.: 13.1 km/h
    Max: 58.9 km/h

    Martin on bike in mt. Nemrud area

    If Nicolai the day before had made the heat a factor in his training program for me then today is characterized by hills (mountains!) I promise you that it went up and down! We also get some doubtful looks from the locals when we tell them that we biked all the way..

    The day starts out with breakfast consisting of lots of coffee and bread at the local tea salon. Of course we engage in conversation with some of the men at the table and soon we try to figure out the family relations. One of the men has 10 kids which caused a lot of respect from the rest of the group. I was asked about the mohammed cartoons (I didn’t quite understand the question..) and I waived it away with a gesture of my hand indicating how awful the whole situation was.

    Sight from burial mound with mt. Nemrud to the right

    First stop on the way was an old burial mound from 36 BC. Artificially made hill with some columns around it. From the hill it was possible to see mt. Nemrud and enjoy the fantastic view. As a matter of fact we could see this same hill from several places during the day.

    Castle in mt Nemrud area

    Next stop was an old Roman bridge and after a rest during the midday sun we biked further on to some fantastic ruins of an old castle located on a mountain ridge with a small village underneith. We used some time to climb around in the ruins and quickly agreed that this would probably not be allowed in Denmark because of security issues. Parts of the ruins are resting on very thin foundation. Lunch we eat in the village.

    The plan is to drive to Karadut and try to arrange morning trip to mt. Nemrud to see the sun raise. We get started.

    It’s incredible hot and the landscape is going up and down merciless. Going down is not bad but going up is really a killer where we crawl with 6-7 km/hour in first gear with sweat dripping.

    Kids in village on way to Narince, eastern Turkey

    We drive through a little village where we get cold water from a spring- While Nicolai gets the water I try to do my best entertaining the horde of children suddenly appearing out of nowhere. Later on we take some pictures and have fun..

    Still there is 30 km to go and they take all the energy I have left. This is without a doubt the toughest physically thing I’ve ever done and when we arrive to Narince where we decide to stop for the day I’m completely busted. Tired! We get to stay on the roof of a resturaent in exchange for eating our dinner there- Good deal since the food is nice and cheap. We also make arrangement for an early morning trip up the mountain at 3.15 next morning. Unfurtunately we are eaten alive by mosquitos during the night (we sleep outside in the open just with our sleeping bags) despite Nicolai’s ensurements that there will be no mosquitos because of the wind. Yeah right ;-)

    Martin and kids from village in eastern Turkey

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    Day 101 – Playing with the village kids…

    Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

    Kahta -> Narince (free rooftop accomodation)
    Distance (km) : 52
    Time on bike : 3h 56m
    Average speed : 13.25 km/h
    Total (km) : 5295

    IMG_0146

    IMG_0189

    IMG_0202

    IMG_0135

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    Day 6 (100) – First real day on the bike

    Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

    Time: 2:17:43
    Trip: 36.4 km
    Total: 138 km
    Avg. 15.8 km/h
    Max: 66.8 km/h
    Max temp.: 50 degrees

    We arive to Adiyaman at approx. 11.00 after a terible bustrip without much sleep. Ah well, I try to get some life into my body again, the bikes are being made ready and we eat kebab at the bus terminal before we start cycling to Kahta. It’s been a while since we last were biking together and it feels great! It’s super hot and quite though. The termometer is climbing up at 50 degrees (in the sun).. I don’t remember a lot from the trip except the landscape, the varmth and the chitshat. I spot a huge orange spider on the road and not even Ace Ventura (Nicolai) want to get to know it closer. I hit another personal best on my way down a hill. 66 km/hour. It’s not that we are trying to drive as fast as we can but it’s automaticaly goes rather fast downhill when you carry as much as we do and of course it’s nice to get cooled down once in a while (even if some of the winds feels like a hairdryer..)

    We arrive to Kahta and pitch our tent at a camping site. The evening goes with drinking a little bear, tea and coffee. I write article for MetroXpress and spend some time on the internet. It’s great to get a little news from home and chat a bit..

    Sweating Martin on first real bike day in Tyrkey

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    Day 100 – Jubilee…

    Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

    Adiyaman -> Kahta (camp site)
    Distance (km) : 36
    Time on bike : 2h 15m
    Average speed : 15.85 km/h
    Total (km) : 5243

    This is how a monk looks like…

    Sådan ser en munk ud

    IMG_0127

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    Day 5 (99) – Nicolai

    Monday, July 17th, 2006

    Sunset seen from Guzden's apartment in Ankara

    I wake up early this Monday morning. I don’t get up right away and try to fall asleep again. My body is a bit wiery after all the raki the night before. Suddenly the door bell is ringing. Then again. Hmm.. Guzden told me that under no circumstances were I allowed to let anybody in. The bell keeps ringing- Insisting that I do something so I get up and buzz the person into the building. After 5 minutes somebody is knocking the door and a brief look through the door spy expose a dark skinned and light haired Nicolai outside the apartment. The door is quickly opened and the joy of reunion is huge! It’s really nice to see him again and we talk and talk.

    After the most pressing stories are told we vist the Turkmenistan embassy to get/apply for visa. Nicolai gets his and I applied for mine. I can get mine in 10 days- We then decide to get back on the expedition and continue where Nicolai left in the eastern part of Turkey. Late at night we get to the huge Ankara bus terminal, secure tickets and are soon underway on one of those 12 hours long trips that I “love”…

    Bike ready to eat in Ankara otogar (bus terminal)

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    Day 99 – Ankara slash Pablo revisited…

    Monday, July 17th, 2006

    0 km etc. Adiyaman -> Ankara -> Adiyaman (bus, visa stuff fixed)

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    Day 4 (98) – Biking and party day in Ankara

    Sunday, July 16th, 2006

    Lake Mogan near Ankara

    I had decided that today I should out on the bike. Not after something special but more to get some kimometers into my knees. Yesterday I had gotten some directions to a Lake Mogan and it sounded fine. The trip went fine – approx 50 km. It was hot-hot but bearable and I rested in the most crazy midday hours where I ate, listened to music and update my dairy. The lake itself was nothing special (see picture) but it was nice to be out on the bike again and I even broke my personal highest speed record. 65 km/hour downhill. Exciting :-)

    Barbarque dinner!

    I had been invited to a party in the evening. It wasn’t really a party but a gettogether to help with construction and celebration of new roof over a roof terrasse at a fresh bough appartment. It was all very nice. We ate and ate and drank and drank. Some liquor from Ciprus and lots of raki. Really nice people and I even had some of the stories told translated!

    I got some really good emails during the day. Among them an email from Nicolai where he is writing that he’ll try to be in Ankara Monday morning..

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    Day 98 – Flirting with the scarfed women…

    Sunday, July 16th, 2006

    Gölbasi -> Adiyaman
    Distance (km) : 67
    Time on bike : 2h 42m
    Average speed : 24.02 km/h
    Total (km) : 5207

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    Day 97 – Kahramanmaras – The Ice Cream City

    Saturday, July 15th, 2006

    Kahramanmaras -> Gölbasi (hotel)
    Distance (km) : 105
    Time on bike : 5h 5m
    Average speed : 21.01 km/h
    Total (km) : 5140

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    Day 3 (97) – Ankara

    Saturday, July 15th, 2006

    Silly walks of the guards at Anitkabir

    Today I decided to look around in Ankara. The first visit went to Anitkabr – The tomb of Ataturk. To be honerst it wasn’t all that pretty but I guess I’ve allways had a facination of huge (almost vulgur) constructions. I take some pictures and observe the silly walks of the guards. Then I walk to the old part of town and the old citadel of which the city rose from.

    Ankara citadel

    There’s an amazing difference from one part of town to the other. I walk from the embassy quarter with huge villas and big cars to small odd streets and decrepit buildings. Funny contrast. I walk around all day and look at the life of Ankara. Drinking a lot of tea. One of the places I sit down to relax and write my diary and drink one tea after the other. When I want to pay for the tea the owner will not hear of it..

    Ant comes around in the evening and we talk and drink beer on the terrasse. Later on we go to Altay’s girlfriend’s place where a group of people are gathered to watch dias from a trip to Paris, Luxenborg and Barcelona about a month ago.

    It’s super nice and later on we move out on the terasse (does everybody live on the top of the building in Ankara??) At some point I’m completely overwhelmed by the situation. Sitting there in the middle of a group of strangers who all treat me super nice and I participate (somehow) in the fun there always is when you are in good company.

    Ataturk tomb at Anitkabir, Ankara

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    Day 2 (96) – Visa hunt and Guzden

    Friday, July 14th, 2006

    Kocatepe camii - close to where Guzden lives

    Nicolai had hooked me up with his hospitality Club host Guzden. Guzden and I had exchanged some emails and I call her in the morning where she immediately invites me to her apartment. She lives very close to the big mosque Kocatepe camii (see picture) At the place I meet her and her boyfriend Ant – it’s funny to meet her after hearing about her from Nicolai. Guzden and ant are super nice and she tells me that she have to go away for the weekend – but I’m welcome to stay here and live in her apartment. Wow amazing and incredible sweet of her!

    Then the big visa hunt begins. It’s a longer (and bit boring story) so I’ll spare you. It involves seaching for the moved uzbekistan embassy and when I finally found it I had to visit it in 3 rounds before I got the visa. At some point I had to wait 2 hours and those I spend eating and visiting the Danish embassy to get a recommandation to the Embassy of Turkmenistan for visa applying. It tooks 10 minutes of work and cost me 165 lira (!!) That’s in the area of 650 DKK. Crazy. And yes – it was the recommandation which Nicolai managed to write himself, hehe :-) – I guess I should have tried the same. Anywas – after getting the visa to Uzbekistan I raced off to the embassy of Turkmenistan but unfortunatly they had closed for visa appliations for the day. Bummer – meaning I have to wait until Monday. It had been a long day and I walked back to Guzden’s apartment to see a bit of the city and cool off a bit (which was difficult when walking in 35+ degrees..)

    At Guzden’s place I’m met with chilled melon and nice talking with her and her friend. Ant joins us later and even later Altay, another of Guzden’s friends, joins in. Guzden then leaves for her weekend trip and Altay and I eat dinner, drink beer and have a good talk about everything from religion, Turkey, Christinia, work and Japan. Later we go out to meet his girlfriend and visit some of their friend in their just bought apartment with a huge terasse.

    During the day I meet Yannick twice. He is – together with 2 friends – in the middle of biking from Geneva to Shangai. They are taking the route through Iran and from there to Turkmenistan. Nice guy and it’ll be fun to see if we meet again. Their website is here.

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    Day 96 – The hospitality goes on and on…

    Friday, July 14th, 2006

    Yesilkent -> Kahramanmaras (private accomodation)
    Distance (km) : 124
    Time on bike : 6h 28m
    Average speed : 19.20 km/h
    Total (km) : 5035

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    Day 1 (95) – New beginning

    Thursday, July 13th, 2006

    Martin - ready to return to WT expedition!

    Then the day came.. The day which I had been looking forward too with part anticipation and dread. Time to join the expedition again and time to day goodbye again. It’s never easy to say goodbye and it’s also too personal to write about here.

    As the picture shows the bike and I was ready to depart and after noon I started the 11 KM long trip to Antalya “otogar” (bus terminal) and around 2 o’clock I was on my way in a compy bus towards Ankara. The 9 hour long trip went fine. I was drinking a lot of tea, reading and listening to music on my ipod. Yes, good service onboard! Lemonwater to my hands and everything. The steward even made sure to spray perfume on the air-con before he crawled into a little 100×100 cm hole to smoke his cigarettes. It didn’t remove the smell of cigarettes but created a nice little chemical environment in the bus. It didn’t seem to bother anybody and not me either – but I couldn’t help smiling a bit over the poor steward in his little hole.

    The landscape we were driving though was beautyful. Mountains, lakes and rivers.

    We arrived late to Ankara and after a bit of chaos I found my way out of the gigantic bus terminal and into the city. After been driving around for a while trying to find a decent hotel I crashed in otel Ahmar in ULUS part of city. Prize 25 lira (down from 30)

    It was not easy to calm down and fall asleep but I succeeded in the end and got fantastic 5 hours of sleep before I woke up again at 7 o’clock. Time to get those visas!

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    Day 95 – Develi ->Yesilkent (wild camping)

    Thursday, July 13th, 2006

    Develi -> Yesilkent (wild camping)
    Distance (km) : 126
    Time on bike : 7h 18m
    Average speed : 17.19 km/h
    Total (km) : 4910

    Tune of the Day: Life`s What You Make It – Talk Talk

    I’ve put up the toilet frequency to the doubble here at the lovely, Turkish family in Develi – not because I really need to but in order to get just a little, quiet time among all the new faces and the constant try to appear friendly and sympathetic. It’s a demanding task that requires resources that I partly get in the breaks out there…(besides, I think noone would question all my visits to the toilet after all those cups of chai)

    The butterflies here have a strange kamikaze attitude towards life. Often when I cycle they head straight towards me and end up there lifes in the rotating spokes of my front wheel. Not sure if the entomologists can explain this dramatic habit or even not of it!

    This cute little puppy follows me for a few kilometers outside Develi. I pour some water down its tiny throat and it happily catches up with me until I with a broken heart have to leave it at the next down hill…

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    I cross 4 mountain passes today, 1520 to 1990m. Naked, rough nature in the brown mountains. Crazy downhill just after the highest pass (top speed is still a secret!)

    The mountain pass of the day: Gezbeli Gecidi at 1990m

    One of the many small extras by picking the minor backroads – the local life of the roads. Children on their way to the fields…

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    Outside of Yesilkent I find a little spot for my tent among the wheat fields not far from the road. Mountains all over me and the silence is wonderful.

    The sweet life of wild camping...

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    Day 94 – Hospitality without and end

    Wednesday, July 12th, 2006

    Göreme -> Develi (private accomodation)
    Distance (km) : 109
    Time on bike : 6h 10m
    Average speed : 17.66 km/h
    Total (km) : 4785

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    Day 93 – Cappadocia

    Tuesday, July 11th, 2006

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    Turkey!

    Tuesday, July 11th, 2006

    Martin during execise for WT exepedition (near Copenhagen, Denmark)

    A lot of the time the past weeks has been spend with execise so I can join the WT expedition again. Progress has been fairly OK and I’m now biking almost 50 KM a day which was my initial goal for when I felt I would be ready for joining Nicolai again. Actually I believe that I can bike more but I’ve learned the hard way not to push myself too much or proceed too fast. It’s been nice to be so physical active and I can feel how my body enjoys to be used. When I didn’t bike I was working out in Fitness.dk / ABC studio under Ander’s supervision (Training manager)

    This all means that I now feel that I’m ready to join the expedition again and as a matter of fact I’m right now in Tyrkey! Indeed! Back on the road again!
    First time around not with Nicolai but with my girlfriend Kimi. We flew to Antalya on Thursday and are spending a week together here before Kimi travels back home again and I get out to meet up with Nicolai. It feels great to be “out” again. The weather is perfect and we get a great tan at the beach :-)

    Martin & Kimi in Antalya

    The plan is then to get to Ankara and get the visa stuff done.

    The bike didn’t take any damage during the flight from Copenhagen to Antalya. Great!

    It won’t be long before you can expect daily dairy update again from me. But first I’ll enjoy the last days here with Kimi… :-)

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    Day 92 – Relaxation in Göreme…

    Monday, July 10th, 2006

    Sorry, but this post is not available in English

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    Day 91 – Hot spring in Bayramhacili…

    Sunday, July 9th, 2006

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    Day 90 – Planet Earth in a new dress?

    Saturday, July 8th, 2006

    My body is buzzing with an adrenaline rush this morning. I have waiting a long time to see Cappadocia, and now- waking in my little cave to a sunny morning- I can hardly wait to get out there an explore on my own and give the photographers for National Geographic a run for their money!
    I ride North, towards Cavusin, and turn off the gravel road and into one of the low valleys that is indicated on my useless tourist map. Soon I find myselfsurrounded by enourmous and very mysterious rock formations- the kind you might only otherwise set eye on in a George Lucas film. Many beautiful tunnels, created by centuries of erosion along the dried river bed, where I now walk. The sun is warm and the sky is blue. Fantastic views from the steep cliff walls, where there are carved carves, dating from the 1st centuries A.D. I have the whole area to myself, and the adrenaline is pumping.

    Cave in the cliffs overlooking the impressive Cappadocia, Central Turkey.

    Back in Göreme I happily meet Argentinian Pablo again. We cycle until dusk- up to Aktepe Hill, where we enjoy good man talk and the setting sun over Cappadocia… La vie douce.

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    Hung out in my grotto with a cool Efes beer and a free, deep conversation about the higher meaning of life.

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    Day 89 – Cappadocia, the Dream Land!

    Friday, July 7th, 2006

    Acigöl -> Göreme (cave pension)
    Distance (km) : 39
    Time on bike : 2h 39m
    Average speed : 14.59 km/h
    Total (km) : 4547

    Fresh apricots have become a new hit for me here in Turkey. They taste heavenly and
    you can get a kilo of them for around 6-8 DKK. I devoured a kilo the other day – enjoyed every single one of them! (30 apricots, and still no sign of a bad stomach!)

    Slept nearly 11 hours at the shaded camping spot in the middle of the grape orchard. Ran out of fuel for the stove – so no coffee this morning. Actually it feels like I’ve needed that cup of coffee all day, I feel a bit zombie like. Maybe I’m still in “Expedition Mode” – or maybe I am just tired after the many kilometers on the road these last few days since Ankara.

    In Göreme I find, after some hotel-recognisance, Anatolia Cave Pension, where I have my own room for 38 DKK which is partially carved out of the strange rock formations. Perfect.
    Göreme reveals itself to be a very cosy place. The city is very manageable (pop. approx. 3,000), and it is placed in the middle of a surrealistic landscape of cone shaped rock formations in different shapes and sizes.

    I go off on my own for a while, walking for a few hours in the area (Love Valley and Zemi Valley), which is some of the most special, strange and fantastic I have ever seen…

    Tune of the day: “Taylor” – Jack Johnson

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    Day 88 – Sereflikochisar -> Acigöl (wild camping)

    Thursday, July 6th, 2006

    Distance (km) : 137
    Time on bike : 7h 32m
    Average speed : 18.14 km/h
    Total (km) : 4508

    Preparing the dinner at my camp in the grape fruit grove east of Acigöl, central Turkey.

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    Day 87 – The bicycle is smiling again…

    Wednesday, July 5th, 2006

    Ankara -> Sereflikochisar (hotel)
    Distance (km) : 156
    Time on bike : 7h 5m
    Average speed : 22.03 km/h
    Total (km) : 4372

    The bicycle is incredibly happy to be put on the road again and, just outside Ankara, it rockets me ahead like a projectile. It breaks it’s own record. The speedometer reaches 78 km/h, and the bicycle is solid as a rock.

    Tune of the day: “Skygger af Skoenhed” – C.V. Joergensen

    Aside from the many kilometers, it was a relatively easy day without the rough hills. Not much variation in the landscape before the salt lake Tuz Gülü shows up. A huge area which supplies salt to the rest of Turkey.
    You don’t need to explore the far reaches of Bolivia to see an impressive salt lake. Very beautiful and very special experience.

    In Sereflikochisar, after 156 km, I bargain with the hotellier at Hotel Has and have him come down from 20 YTL (1 Turkish Lira= 3.80 DKK) to 10 YTL. I was very pleased to find there was also a TV in the room, so I could see the Football World Championship.

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    Day 86 – Shangri-La and The Turkish Mannequins…

    Tuesday, July 4th, 2006

    The longer I stay in a place, the harder it is to hold the opinion that the place is tame and has nothing to offer the visitor. If you keep your arms and mind open, any place will reveal its qualities and specialities (which aren’t necessarily written about in travel guides). It is an art to keep focussed on what a given place offers and at the same time look away from the place’s obvious lacks (monuments, panoramas, etc.) But I am convinced that if we, in the schools of Life and especially Love, mastered this art; we would find ourselves a little closer to Shangri-La…

    Photo tour around the streets and paths of Ankara…

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    Day 85 – Visa Mess in Ankara…

    Monday, July 3rd, 2006

    After a hefty breakfast I am ready for the Turkmenian Visa troubles today. At the Embassy I was met by a man that I did not share any language with, so it became a very staccato-like conversation we had. Very anxious to see what will become of this visa negotiation – many other travellers I have spoken with, or read about, have simply dropped the idea of travelling through Turkmenistan for the simple reason of the beauracracy and paper work. I understand them fully. The first thing I am told is that I must go to the Danish Embassy, and have them declare that I need a transit visa to Turkmenistan! It took the man five tries before I understood what he meant. Bummer. I packed my friendly smile, and quickly found the Danish Embassy (complete with the Dannebrog (Danish national flag) flapping in the wind!), where I was yet again nonplussed. The Consul, the only person with authority to write the 2 bloody lines for me, was out of the office, and noone seemed to know when he would be be back. Not what one would expect of the Danish Embassy, now is it? I was becoming a bit of a grump as the Turkmenian embassy nearing it’s closing hour. I thought of alternatives, as I could not bring myself to wait yet another day for a consular letter, so I dashed off to the Norwegian Embassy, with the hope that they could possibly still remember that Denamrk and Norway were once- many years ago- one country, and that the friendship between the two countries was still intact, and that they could- therefore- be able to help me in my peculiar situation. But the Norwegian Embassy had moved from Embassyland, where I was, to outside Embassyland, and I did not have time for the taxi ride there. If anything should happen with that visa today (and it SHOULD!), it had to be now. So, I ran back to the Turkmenian Embassy, filled out the forms and shot off some white lie about the Danish Consul being on vacation, and noone knew when she/he would be return. Said, too, that I had also spoken with the Norwegian Embassy- mostlt to prove how good my intentions actually were.
    He didn’t like that, the Turkmenian. “Problem, problem”, he said repeatedly. In the “school of travel” I have learned one should not be discouraged by this phrase, so out of context. Our staccato conversation was also way out of context. I whipped out my business card from my old workplace, Jysk Rejsebureau, and showed the man I was not just Mr. Anybody (it was my hope the man would think this, at any rate!). Already when I first set eyes on him, I had whipped out my ” Worldtravellers.dk” card on the table, so now he had 2 cards from me. He could eat that lousy letter from the invisible counsel from the Danish Embassy, and just give me the visa, he could!
    I was given a blank sheet of paper and was asked to write the letter myself. The way the Counsel would have. Now that’s what i call respect. I straightened up, and wrote with a sure hand that the Turkmenistan Embassy had just better give me the damned transit-visa (5 days, only). Mission accomplished. I was a bit taken aback by the absurdity of the whole scene, as a little past closing time, I left. The visa, if all goes well, I can pick up and pay for in Ankara in 10 days.

    Relaxed with the animals in the park afterwards…

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    and the flying rats (as the Krakow boys called them)…

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    Day 84 – Ankara

    Sunday, July 2nd, 2006

    Sorry, but this post is not available in English

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