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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Istanbul Chronicle: Chapter 2 - Moving across continents

"SELOW LIKE SENAIL ", I had warned Simah on my attempt at blogging & posting of pictures from the Istanbul trip.

Of course, my self fulfilling prophecy turns out right (again!). In fact, I'm slower than snail! But hey! Better late than never. So here are some introductory accounts of Ayah & Ibu in Istanbul, tracking a fellow blogging sorority mommy, Simah, about 4 weeks ago. Or has it been longer than that? Gawddd ... I lost track of time.

The hotel that we stayed at was on the Europe side of Istanbul. And Simah's place was on the Asia side of the city. That means if I could make it to Simah's place, I would have travelled to two continents by road in an hour's time by choice. That was one heck of a motivation.

As it turned out, I had quite a bad cough that week and came Friday, my cough had not shown much sign of recovery, so I wasn't sure if we should spend the weekend at Simah's place. I told Simah about my cold and my fear of spreading it to her family but she said not to worry about it. I'm thankful she helped cast that doubt away.

Alas!The goody bag shall be delivered! 'Mawi' pun ikut sama.

Simah sms me the directions to her place. In summary: Go to the jetty, take the ferry, then take a taxi, then show the address to the cabbie. The directions were in Turkish and I'm guessing it said: straight, belok kiri, belok kanan, after traffic light terus, terus, terus, then second traffic light belok kanan...... hehehe. Pretty easy ... But getting across Istanbul from the Europe part to the Asia part, kena naik ferry? Oooohhh.....That got me worried. Silap haribulan buleh sampai ke Penang!

Ayah was more concerned about the luggage. Which was a valid concern indeed as we had by then ended up with an additional one big heavy bag (a story which deserved another entry on its own altogether). And with my cough, he reckoned that I was not going to be much of a helping hand. He asked me to ask Simah what floor she was on, kena naik tangga or naik lift? hahaha.... Today boleh gelak la, but that time he looked damn serious! So, nak tak nak I had to call Simah and asked, and she just laughed away .... " Ada lift la Akak ! Don't worry !", she said reassuringly. Cehhh! Bikin malu jer. Nampak sangat la we all ni tak fit kan? Naik tangga pun tak larat.

We were to reach her place by 8.00 pm to be safe. Ayah did not want to take any chances and so we took a cab there. Ayah gave the cab driver the address & direction and "Yes... yes, easy to find", he said. We believed him.

As soon as we boarded the cab, we both looked away from each each other. Bukan 'bergaduh'. Rather, entertaining our own thoughts, absorbing the views of the scenic routes, the people, the buildings and catching glimpses of Istanbul way of life from inside the yellow cab. As the views were the only part of the cab ride that would be free of charge regardless of the kilometre reading, might as well take full advantage of it. I'll let the pictures do the talking. Enjoy ......

From the hilltop overlooking the lush greeneries and the bhosporus sea.

Standing tall as a distinctive skyline and as a defining statement that historic Istanbul is indeed keeping pace with one-upmanship of modern towers is Istanbul Ritz Carlton Hotel.

No...... that was not where we stayed. If only!

The Train, The Tram

Both using electricity, but notice there was no barrier to the lanes nor were there any danger sign posted.

For the 2 weeks I was there, there was no news whatsoever of people being ran over or electricuted by the electric trams or trains. Hmmm.......

Left: The Attartuq Monument located at the roundabout of Taksim Square.

The exposure that it gets for being located right smacked in the middle of a popular shopping area is undeniable. Even if the significance of the Attartuq empire maybe oblivious to many, at least it can be safely assumed that the old and the young, locals and visitors alike have indeed seen the monument from afar and with many even came within close contact .

The recent catchy advertisement on Radio ERA insinuating that many of us especially amongst young Malaysians do not even know the whereabouts of our Tugu Negara, let alone having it touched - pierced painfully to my heart.
Sigh ....

Now on a lighter side ....

Take a closer look at the photo above, especially the surrounding buildings.

Zooming in at the building on the right of the Attartuq monument, I give you ....

Istanbul's own version of : "Damsel in Distress" -->


As with many sleek cab drivers, showing off his skills manouvering the city's cobbled back streets for short cuts to avoid the traffic congestion, save time and meter reading for the best interest of the customers was a must to the one we hired!

So we thought.

Right: Fishing on the bridge seemed to be a popular afternoon theme - weekdays or weekends alike. Bagus jugak eh? Tak lah membazir duit asyik menyopping ajer.

Is there a river in Selangor that I can throw my hook, line & sinker?

Looming in the background was a mosque.

A close up of the majestic mosque as we got nearer.

The typical curtains dressing many metropolitan city with dwellers battling for space in high rise apartments seemed unavoidable for Istanbul with its city population reaching up to millions of people.

Once we crossed the toll plaza over the Asia part of Istanbul, the cabbie started to show signs that he was lost! He made a few phone calls and kept referring to the address given. He stopped at a gas station and a few other shops to ask for directions. Finally I said let me call my friend so that she could give the direction - and as if that was an evil mantra, like a knee jerk reaction the cab driver replied that it was not necessary. The address suddenly seemed to come back on his radar screen. Hmmm..... he might have taken us for a ride after all! I still called Simah and handed the phone to the driver. I think he insisted he knew how to get there.

And indeed, in less than 3 minutes, we got there!

Just as we were about to take out our luggage from the boot, I heard,

" AKAK !!! TINGKAT 4 !"

Hahh! Sah suara Melayu..... tidak syak lagi !

I looked up & saw Simah waving her hand with a warm & welcoming smile greeting from her window up above, ala-ala Rapunzel calling from her tower.

That was the start of a beautiful and memorable weekend spent with darling Simah & her wonderful family.

Above, left: Simah's two beautiful children, sweet & witty Hatice and handsome & shy Baddin, cuddling a cute little kitten at Beyazid market area.

Above, right: The two newly acquainted Dins together, Simah's Sabahaddin and Ibu's Sabarudin.

And the icing of the cake .....

At least 8 years together and still going on strongly, lovey dovey.
A truly exemplary "cinta dua benua" !

A lot more to spill ... but as with even the most healthiest nutritious drink, the doctor's advice is to always take it in moderation. I don't want to spoil your appetite with too much too soon.

So, until my next picture blogging ( entah bila la tu ..... ), blog-roll ergonomically. Take care of your back - sit upright and don't slouch! ( That's the ibu part of me definitely ...)

Cheers all ! Wassalam.