I made multiple calls here in the USA to the state department and other goverment offices. They do not give me clear answers on what I need to enter Iraq. I was given a press pass by Wowo a Fort Wayne, Indiana AM radio station.
I am collecting information to insure safety for my trip to Iraq. I receive travel warnings from the USA government.
A person can subscribe to updates of new embassy or consular sheets. This is information or opinions of what the USA goverment would recommend on the status of a specific country. To receive information by email go to this link:
Good map of Iraq:
I went to the lonelyplanet.com forum. It is called the Thorntree.
I browsed around, and posted a few comments or questions. I like the Thorntree. It is good for pre-trip advice. It is very difficult to follow when actually on the road. I may be able to wring out some useful advice. Lots of people hang around inside there and sort of make smart ass comments, this is annoying, and not needed. I think that Frommers still has a forum, I will try to visit it.
I was told that in the past Frommers and Fodors had a guidebook to Iraq. I so far have not found any remnants of these books, but I will keep searching. Anyone that has helpful advice on Iraq can write me at .... blogger....AT hobotraveler.com
Take out the -at- and make correct.
Most people enter through Jordan and are working for the NGO (Non Government Organizations) a.k.a - Humanitarian stuff.
READING THE NEWSPAPER
I have decided I need to read the newspaper more, and watch television less. I believe that the written news articles are more detailed and closer to the truth. I received a few replies on the Lonely Planet Thorntree, but nothing real informative or specific. I find that most general ideas are not of great value. But when a person give specifics than the advice is more trustworthy.
I am debating in my head. I am a blond, blue eyed person and this is a black hair, brown eye world I will enter. I will draw a lot of attention. Normally this is good, because people are curious, and nice. In the Muslim area of Thailand though the men are real macho and they look at an long hair as feminine. I may just get a real short haircut. It ia pretty long now. I suppose that is the best idea. If I get a haircut a couple of weeks before I leave, than I will last for 6 months at least.
I know for sure I will have enough extra pounds on my body.... hehehe. I will not starve. I have gained about 30 pounds since returning to the USA, and need to get back to countries where I walk all the time to lose this extra baggage. Too many cars in the USA, and no necessary reasons to walk.
I got my newsletter 95 percent done. It is a send when I get around to it newsletter, or normally a weekly newsletter. It would be good to read this because I will soon have lots of travel photos that will only be referenced in the newsletter.
Here is a link. JohnnyJet.com puts me into his newsletter as a columnist. Sounds important, but I think he was lacking for a better title. I am going to try for the next 7 months to send this to Johnny on monday and send the actual newsletter on tuesday. But here is the link now. If you like it, than better to subscribe. It is managed by topica.com and easy to subscibe and unsubscribe.
Three was a post in the Lonely Planet Thorntree yesterday that causes some concern.
What is situation at Turkey / Iraq Border? (I posted and here is a reply)
Only the land border with Jordan is regularly open for crossings. An overland trip from Amman to Baghdad can take over 12 hours, provided there are no problems at the borders. The summer heat can render such trips unbearable. The land border with Syria is only open to returning Iraqis, humanitarian organizations, and diplomatic delegations. The Turkish and Iranian borders are officially closed."
LINK TO THIS COMMENT:
What is situation at Turkey / Iraq Border?
I was commenting about the difference between general and specific information. This is very general. It could be correct or incorrect. I will follow up on this information. I have seen very few borders that were closed in tribal or developing countries. There is normally a lot of trade going on between borders and people must cross.
I remember a television report of anger for truck drivers that hauled oil between Iraq and Turkey. When the war started it was causing a lot of problems, or more or less costing them lots of money.
This post has no references to why or who, or when. etc.
Trying to track down if the Iraq-Turkey border is open.
I have done some further calls in the USA. There is a person: Mr Carpenter that works for the State Department that is informative and the only person so far that talks with any specific knowledge. His telephone number is 202-647-7642. His position or title is called the Iraq Desk Office. This guy is the only one that answers the telephone, and can sort of answer question, or will answer questions.
He said the border between Iraq and Turkey is open. There was some media reports that were not correct. But if you go to the border with the proper papers you can cross. The proper papers are outline in the consular sheets:
QUOTE FROM CONSULAR SHEETS
"U.S. passports are not valid for travel to, in or through Iraq, unless they are validated by the Department of State, with the limited exceptions for 1) American professional reporters and journalists on assignment in Iraq, 2) certain persons providing humanitarian and other critical services in support of the Iraqi people, or U.S. Government personnel and contractors on official assignment in Iraq, and 3) U.S. citizens residing in Iraq since February 1, 1991. For further information, please contact the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Passport Services, U.S. Department of State, 2401 E St., NW, 9th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20522-0907, Attn: Office of Passport Policy and Advisory Services, telephone 202-663-2662, fax 202-663-2654"
A person in the Thorntree forum did say,
"Very little first hand information seems to be available. Get a good suntan, grow a beard , dress like a local, talk with money to a truck driver and go and take your chances. "
I think this could be good advice. The Lonely Planet Thorntree can a pain in the butt. Lots of people hang around in the forum and make smart remarks that do not help anyone, and I believe they really just talk as an authority, but in reality they may just read a lot. I complained about the one person to the moderator, and he or she disappeared. Nice.
EMAILS OF SOLDIERS
I would appreciate if you sent me Email address's of soldiers stations in Iraq. Please tell me where they are from?
Send to: soldier AT hobotraveler.com
You need to remove the spaces and make the @ sign. This stops spammers from spidering and harvesting the email.
SUMMER IN IRAQ
I was reading 2 guidebooks I have on Iraq. It may be the end of summer or the dead of summer when I arrive in Iraq. This could be a problem. But I hope not. Most of the news reports I have read, or guidebooks written about very hot countries have been over zealous in their opinions of how hot a place is...
I have been scouting around for plane ticket from Fort Wayne to Frankfurt, or maybe Prague. My normal way is to get on Travelocity.com and search the fares for lowest available and my dates are open option. Than I call up a travel agent and book a ticket.
I also have a friend in Colorado that knows all the cheapest flights. He worked for an air courier organization and I would consider him a cheap flight expert. Nonetheless after I get on Travelocity.com, I know the price I am looking for.
I have decided 95 percent to fly first to Prague, Czech Republic and not Germany. Hopefully I will soon remember how to spell "Czech". I have lots of trouble with that word. Prague is a gateway to Europe. It is supposed to be very cheap and lots of backpackers. I want to do some research for further Europe trips to see if I can buy a car or van there to travel around Europe. Otherwise I would travel straight to Turkey. I still might. I do not have a ticket yet. I debate a lot in my head on this trip. There are some good reasons to go to Prague, but in a way I am thinking only of the Greek Islands, and Iraq. Those are the places that draws my attention.
Map From Prague to Turkey
I just found out the temperatures in Baghdad, Iraq.
Around 110 degrees Farenheit.
Iraq Weather... HOT
I probably will go to Athens, Greece first. Lay on the beach, travel to Istanbul Turkey.
discovered that Prague is about 1000 miles from Istanbul. Athens is 350 miles.
My trip is about the middle east, and not eastern Europe.
I send out a weekly newsletter. I am sending it today.
Read it online:
INTERNET IN IRAQ
I received and email from a person that just left Iraq. He said,
"Hi there. i do believe that there is an internet "cafe" of sorts near the Palace
Hotel. I would ask them at the front desk if that is where you stay in Baghdad. In
Kirkuk, Erbil, and Sulaymaniya there are plenty of internet cafes. You just have to
ask around. Baghdad is the toughest place to find internet, but if you're
persistent, you should be able to find it."
This is nice to hear. He worked for a NGO (Non Governmental Agency) that was doing humanitarian work in Iraq. I think that there are a lot of hippie types going in there right now... That is a gut feeling.
AIRPLANE TICKET TO ISTANBUL
I am too anxious. I want to leave. I will buy a ticket directly to Instabul in the next day. It will cost 740 dollars USA from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Istanbul.
HOSTELS IN TURKEY
I placed on my site about 6 months ago link to book hostels around the world. It is pretty cool. I can book a hostel for 2-10 dollar in Istanbul, Turkey and when I get off the plane I already have a room. The first day is the most expensive day of my travels. I do not know the currency, I do not know the prices, I do not know the Hostels or Hotels. I am confused and tired. I am excited to use this myself. I can fly into very expensive cities like London cheaper now. Not worried if I will be sleeping in the airport.
I am ready to leave. I feel like I am in a box, and cannot get out. I read the news on Iraq daily. Or watch CNN... My friend calls it the Communist News Network. I can relate. I think they are nuts. All the news is bad, and that is normal. They just cannot every say that anything good is happening. I think reporters are high on my list of people I do not trust.
Worst: Car Salesman
3. Taxi Drivers.
4. Real Estates Sales persons.
6. Guides for tours.
RESERVATION IN ISTANBUL
I made a reservation to pay 6 dollars a night for a room in Istanbul.
I will arrive from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Istabul, Turkey on the 15th of July, 2003. I do not normally tell anyone the name of the Hostel or Hotel I am living in, till after I leave. This is for safety, and for privacy. I adopted this policy after being recognized once in Bogota, Colombia and than again in Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela.
Read my weekly newsletter.
The last week or so before I leave a continent and make a dramatic change is always a series of checklist. Both mental and real. I am constantly rummaging through my head, trying to make sure that I do not forget anything that is absolutely necessary. When I returned home from Asia. South America, or Europe, it was the same.
When I visit the USA, I come to buy and accumulate supplies. The USA is the most convenient country in the world. I can buy anything I really want quickly and efficiently. I can make unlimited phone calls until I find what I want, than go purchase the item. In another country I must walk around until I find the item. It can cost a fortune in other countries to make local telephone calls, because most have measure service. So each call cost money.
I am almost ready. I am thinking only about items that are extremely difficult to purchase in another country.
RECEIVED EMAIL FROM IRAQ
I have receive my first email from inside Iraq. I am patiently waiting for a reply. I asked the person about simple questions.
Internet? Is it safe? Are there rooms or hotel?
I have traveled so much, that I am not worried about transportation. People live in these countrie and they must move from place to place, so in my ways there must be transporation. But rooms can be too expensive, or controlled by the governement. The internet is my biggest worry, but the person wrote me from inside Iraq, so that is looking good..
Safe? Whatever that means.
SOLDIER E-MAILS WANTED.
If you have a soldier that is in Iraq. I would appreciate if you would send to me the location and the email address of the soldier. Please email to:
hoboontheroad AT hobotraveler.com
Please remove the spaces, and replace the word AT with @.
This stops spammers from harvesting my email address.
I received another email from inside Iraq. I have no reason to not believe it is true. Great news on internet.
"There are a lot of internet cafes here and hour costs app 1.7-3 USD. The city itself is releatively safe for foreigners on low profile. About the room in hotel, the descent room will cost you app 35 USD, but you could rent a flat for 300 USD per months. The main problems here are powercuts (sometimes for 6 hours) and very hot weather (+ 45-50 without Aircon). "
From email I received. Privacy protected.
WHAT IS DANGEROUS?
A human is the most dangerours thing in the world.
A drunk human is always dangerous.
Moslems do not drink normally...
A mob is dangerous.
I have a person inside Iraq emailing me. He lives in a flat in Baghdad.
"If you wanna travel cheap there are a lot of cheap hotels
something 2-3 USD per night. The heat here is not like
South America- much more severe. The best time for travel
is September- October. "
In whos sites?
I had a reader of my newsletter warm me that I was probably in the sight of the CIA a year ago, and they are probably monitoring my webpage. I consider this paranoid, and amusing. I do suppose that going to Iraq right now would or should bring me into target range.
Well if you spies out there are reading this... Take notice. I made the CIA webpage number 3 on my list of Top Ten Travel Sites for 2003. I consider it one of the best travel resources in the world.
Some of my friends have ask me,
"Aren't you afraid to go to Iraq?"
I think the answer is... I do not know. I suppose as I get closer to actually entering the country. I will decide if I am afraid. I do not feel afraid now. I have been to a lot of places in the world. Most places are really safe and people think they are dangerous. The world press makes a fantasy of the world. Real life is much more mundane. Even danger.
We each have views of ourselves, and opinions of who we are.
Sometime these are just delusions. I am hoping that I have no delusions about myself, and my abilities.
But that is the nasty thing about delusional behaviour. A person is in denial of the delusion.
I will be OK.
I just plan the trip and leave.
DIRECTIONS IN TURKEY TO IRAQ
My friend inside Iraq e-mailed this messsage:
"I've checked about the situation
with Iraq-Turkish border- it's open. So you could go from
Istanbul to Urfa of Duyabakkir from there take a bus to
Silope and from Silope take a shared taxi to the IRaqi
border. But I think that using the press card is not very
good idea, it is better to say that you are working for
some American company and now is going to Baghdad for work."
I am going to be very careful at the Iraq / Turkey border.
I will sit on the border for at least 10 days and feel out the situation.
Making sure what the noise I hear and what people are saying.
I was reading some of the post in the Lonely Planet Thorntree. It struck me that a lot of people just fake it to hear themselves talk or write. Like they will become famous by posting to the Lonely Planet. I find I only go there to post questions. Most of the answers are bad, and people just add opinions.
My friend John T told me that people think I make up the stories.
I think this is ludicrous, but for the sake of questions. If anyone would like to tell me... What would prove what I say I do is real.
Please tell me. I take so many photos it would be hard to believe that people think I make them up.
Cynicism is alive and well. But than again, I am going to Iraq for a lot of reason, but one of the main one is that I think that CNN and BBC are full of crap.
A person was killed the other day in front of a museum. Witnessed by Journalist.
What is maybe a Journalist is killed. No facts. All hearsay.
What is the truth?
This is the question. The solution is to not hang around with other journalist. Any concentration of journalist or foreigners could be a target. Sort of like going to the American Embassy to be safe, and they are the main targets. This would be silly. Hanging around with soldiers or looking like a soldier would be asking for problems. Low profile folks.
MY THEORY ON WHY THE VIOLENCE IS HAPPENING IN IRAQ...
1/2 the violence is normal criminals.
1/4 are people that had their family members killed by Soldiers and want revenge.
1/4 are people that are rabble rousers, or want to the USA to leave so they can become the next Sadaam.
In most countries they are not angry at the corrupt boss. The are jealous and want the job. Strange.
In Colombia they target the Journalist to make sure that no one knows what is going on.
I was there for 2 months. I believer that what the press says about this being a rebellion or civil war is extreme crap.
It is just a bunch of drug lords protecting their business.
DO THEY LIKE THE USA?
Here is another LACK of clarity on the source poll and possible hearsay information. Need to gleem off the choices or possibilties.
"However, only 17 percent of respondents said U.S.-led forces should leave Iraq immediately. ...
The survey, conducted by the independent Iraqi Institute of Strategic Studies, polled 1,100 people June 8-10 - two months after U.S.-led invaders toppled President Saddam Hussein."
I read a story on the BBC site about a Journalist getting killed in Iraq.
He had only been there a fortnight. I guess that means 1 night.
He was already running around taking photos.
In the story or video on this page. There is a reference to a group of people surrounding him
or gathering. I noted earlier that any type of MOB or GROUP is dangerous.
I also think that leaving and taking photos in the first week could be dangerous.
Especially with anyone watching.
I normally learn the lay of the land or study the situation for at least a week
before I run around with a camera. I also always have the camera in a backpack
and only bring out for the photo. Than immediately put back in the pack.
Solutions: If in a group. Leave
Solutions: Keep your camera hidden.
Solutions: Do not travel around until you have talked and talked. Learning the advice of others.
Running out the first day in a country and taking photos. Using a Taxi driver. Maybe looking rich
is never a good idea. I will go low profile. Hopefully look like a Hippie, or the some "Save the World" individuals
that have less sense than others, and the normal populace considers fools. Fools are usually not targets in
my opinion. Although a person that looks like rich or brings attention to themselves is not wise.
I am waiting. Ready to leave. Next monday I leave for Instabul. I am working on all those final purchases.
Realized today. I need to go buy some socks. I have found it impossible to buy large size socks in most countries.
Purchased a new rucksack or front backpack the other day. Now I need to figure out how to make it look old
so it is not a good choice to be stolen. My other backpack is military green and has and USA flag on it. The color was
and accident. The new one is more of a preppy colored, granola for lunch bunch, weekender trendy. PERFECT.
I will be the hippie traveler entering Iraq.
NO Photos of me.
I have people ask me to publish photos or include myself in photos taken.
This will not happen. I have no desire to be famous.
I normally check out 2 sources first to learn basic facts about a country. Learning the facts is my priority. Than learning opinions or guidebook writers opinions afterwards. Most travel writings are permeated with bias. These 2 sources are more factual and more dependable. Here are links to the 2 sources I use first.
An Encyclopedia page and the CIA page.
Encyclopedia Article on Turkey
For your information. I have traveled the world for the last 7 years. 1 1/2 years in Mexico and Central America. 5 years in South America. About 4 months in Europe. 1 year in Southeast Asia. I have written about 110 newsletters. Shown as a columnist on Johnnyjet.com newsletter and on the Front of the Travel section of Topica.com as an "Expert Traveler"
Topica.com - One of the worlds largest publishers of newsletter
JohnnyJet.com - Subscribe to his newsletter.
I thought that a "Fortnight" was the night before. It appears to be 14 days.
Not an American English Term. I guess the journalist mention before was around long enough to leave the room.
I am leaving today at about 3:45 from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Istanbul Turkey. I would think this will be a 180 degree change in cultures. Although Turkey is part of NATO, but is also more or less Muslim. Fort Wayne is know as the City of Churches. (Christian)
Got up very early. 3:20 am.
I wake up early, but today was very early. I guess I am ready to go and have a lot to accomplish before I leave.
The temporary job I had in the USA is still taxing my energies. Still some lose strings, and I will have to call home from Turkey to guarantee that some of the jobs are accomplished.
I purchased a 350 video camera yesterday. I am hoping to copy filmed situations in Iraq and send back on CD Roms. I have not checked my system yet, but I am 90 percent sure I can do this. I will film an event. Download from camera to computer, than burn a CD rom. Mail home.
Making films of places is not my idea of fun. Espcially when the whole world wants to do this. Most countries are full of people with camcorders filming the place. I do suppose that Iraq is a little special, so I am going to capture the moments. I do not think there will be many tourist. Maybe a few granola for lunch bunch types working for NGO for way more money than they are worth.
I suppose what will be different than the news. Is I will film the truth with no agenda. I own nobody, anything.
I made it to Turkey. I am in a Hostel and paying about 4,500,000 million Liras.
Or about 6 dollars.
KLM or Northwest ... The are partners left my bag in Amsterdam.
I am very lucky. This is the first time in 6 years I got a reservation.
But with the new link on my site. I can do it well and CHEAP.... 6 DOLLARS.
Worked good. The reception desk had my name on their list.
BECAUSE I have a reservation. The can deliver the bag to my Hostel and I do not have to got the airport and pick it up.
This was 2 first. First to lose my bag, and first to have a reservation.
Cheap Hotel or Hostel Reservation system
Plus I get a small commission. Maybe 1 dollars.
I put it on the place because I had a need for this. I would love to have a reservation for the first day on a continent.
I appear to have found one of the Europe type party hostels. When I was in Europe proper a couple of years ago they had hostels with bars in the bottom. I am located on a street similiar where all the Hostels are the same. This is nice with sidewalk cafes but I but to me this is a problem. Hard to find a place where you are not surrounded with people or in a "Pay to sit area." It lacks and FREE common areas. I believe that Istanbul is still on the Europe backpackers tour.
If I get outside the city. I hoping this will change.
KLM or Northwest dropped off my backpack to the Hostel.
My blanket and jacket was gone etc... When I checked in at the Fort Wayne Airport they opened the bag and refused to let me repack it. This was the problem and the pack broke apart. I told them that the baggage handlers for airplanes were very rough. They acted like I was crazy. They do not travel The work in an airport. I travel. I turned in a report after lots of headaches. Luckily the Hostel had a fax machine.
I will see how well KLM handles the situation.
Making telephone calls in other countries takes hours not minutes.
Different languages. Extensions. etc/
NO PLASTIC WRAP IN FORT WAYNE
I got to the airport. I was going to pay to have it wrapped in plastic.
The Fort Wayne Airport did not offer this. I will come up with a solution for the future.
I know I can put it inside a large bag. I just am not happy to have carry that huge bag.
The format has changed for the blog edit and posting page.
I am on window 98 here in Turkey.
I am very glad I already had it set up
To do it here would be difficult. Plus the keys on the computer are a little different.
Same as USA, but the letter are a little in the Turkey language. Not that many, but some.
I am lucky I do not have to look at the keyboard to type.
Istanbul is very beautiful and the architecture is great.
The city is very European and I am surprised that it feels more secular and less of a Moslem country. There is alcohol and Turkey people in western style clothes.
Of course there are the normal suspects.
-An American that wants a Gay president and is going to Harvard in the fall for law school.
-The Hostel Owner tells me he hates Americans.
-A French couple that both smoke in the room.. ( I am in a dorm room)
-Turkey girls that flirt with me... I have blue eyes.
-Australians that enjoy life.
-Taxi drivers that go around in circles to run up the meter on the taxi.
-Travelers that stay up all night and drink.
-Western girls becoming bed mates with the local men.
WHAT IS MISSING.
Strange lack of people with Dredds smoking marijuana.
I think the Turkey laws are very strict on drugs.
I just negotiated a single room for 6 nights.
The cost is 10 dollars or 14,000,000 Liras. Millions. Time to take a few zeros off the number on money here.
I have a need to use the computer, and only 4 more dollars a night. I have almost never paid that much for a room. The normal price for me is between 2 and 6 dollars a night for a single room. But being that I am need to plan for my trip to Iraq I would like more privacy.
I purchased a map of Turkey today. It shows the cities just on the other side inside Iraq. The names of the cities are in the Turkey language. It is much better to have map in the local or language native to a country. Than you can point to the city and a bus or taxi drive can understand. If the names of the cities are in English than they are confused.
I am going to have to change. I am going to stop be just bluntly honest with people I will stop saying I have a travel webpage and that I am going to Iraq.
It will be difficult for me to be elusive.
I am spending a lot of time on the choosing of my next city.
Than next stop a border of Iraq / Turkey city.,
There are 2 large Mosque close to my Hotel. Both are tourist type Mosque. But they are very large and the architecture is spectacular.
The travelers in Istanbul are high quality so far. Here for the culture and to see the sights. Most are balanced mentally and not out to save the world by critisizing. In fact I met a Canadian girl last night that was disappointed in Canada that they did not support the USA in the Iraq war. Saying, "Sometime war is necessary."
She is from Toronto and use the word "Pop" and not "Soda" to describe soft drinks.
My friend from Russian that lives in Iraq said the border with Turkey may be closed.
I will probably still go see if I bounce off of it.
Was trying to convince Canadian girl to go to Iraq with me.
I was say,
"I can sell you to the Iraq men for my safety."
"It would have to be at least 100 camels...
And red ones."
Like I know the difference in value between a normal camel and a red one.
I may be able to help on the difference in cows. Being I am from rural Indiana.
My Harvard friend was in Russia. He said you could pay to use a bazooka to blow up a cow.
Now the people that want to do this for fun...
Are certifiably crazy.
I do not really want a beard. But for the sake of looking older and less like a soldier. I am growing a beard. I can cut it off faster than I can grow it.
I have found a potential place of my next jump.
Maybe to the beach or city called Olympos.
They have huts or room that are in the trees. At least that is the way it is portrayed. It is on the Mediterranean and about 17 hour bus ride south of Istanbul. It would be a great fat farm place to lose the extra pounds and get some exercise and lose the pounds I gained in the USA.
I am on an Island. I am sure I am on an island of culture. This cannot be normal. The world here is too polite and clean. I am living on a center of tourism street for Istanbul. The street is called Sultanahmet. It is the Turkey version of the Bangkok, Thailands "Khao San Road."
I try to live in the center of the mess of a city. The place where people do not care that I am there.
All the people care that I am here, and wish to promote my happiness. That normally means that I am in a way too much tourist area. I happened to walk down the hill and found some normal existence. What a relief. I thought I was surrounded by tourist. But very close, but a little hard to realize and find, and I can make an escape from the culture of toursim to the culture of Turkey.
Life is good. Food is great.
Where I live?
I am mixed in a confused price range.
The Four Season and the Best Western are my neighbors.
Turkey is Empty. Lots of bargains as it appears most of the Western world has decided not to come to Turkey for the Summer. Istanbul could use your support and they need it more than the countries in western Europe thats main claim to fame is that they have been occupied by foreign armies on a regular basis.
I feel lıke I am home agaın. The coolness of a concrete room. The 1 light in the middle of the ceiling. No closet. Back on the road and home. My room has a balcony and is really clean. The bathroom is shared, but tha is OK. There are very few people in my hotel, so I have the bathroom to myself.
LESS THAN A WEEK. 1 BOOK READ
I have finished my first book. I only finished one book in the whole time I was in the USA. The quality of my style of life is down. The quality of how I am spending my day is up.
Hmm, The internet here in Istanbul is weak.
The machines are junky and there is no one to help. Strange in a city where there is help everywhere. There seems to be a direct connection. It does not break. The keyboard is different and I must adjust it to English all the time.
A very beautiful girl sent me her photo and also explained or described in detail how my spelling and grammar was bad. She is correct. I wish she would have told me about the photo first. Good news than..then? bad news.
But I know it. But if I could see it, I would change it.
I presently am trying to get the correct keys on the keyboard to work.
Internet cafes can be exciting.
Note... Question on form to the British guys. It is bad FORM to say she needs to come and help... ? Travel... Walk... ect...
I have taken about 100 photos of Istanbul.
Will post them in next newsletter.
It is really a lot easier to get reminded to look by just subscribing to the newsletter. It will come in your box, and you can look at photos and read this BLOG also.
Click on the Subscribe link at the top of this page and it will lead you down the path to redemption.
I think I am the same latitude more or less as Indiana.
About 41 degrees above the Equator.
Indiana is Hotter. More humidity. I brought along a thermometer.
The temperature is between 78-84 most of the time. It is a dry heat, and the concrete construction keeps it cooler.
IF YOU WISH TO PLAY WITH LATITUDES...
Go here for lots of details.
Washed some clothes today. Am back on the daily cycle of washing clothes. I am not brave enough to even test the waters here on the price to have my clothes washed. A soda cost between 75 cents and a dollar in a quicky market.
It cost less in my home city. But this is a tourist area.
My friend from Russia, that lives in Iraq recommended I get a visa for Syria. I am thinking I need one, and should take care of this while in Istanbul.
I have people say to email them. They are easy to contact by email.
This is corrrect. They are easy for me to contact.
They seem to not understand how to click on the reply button though.
But they are correct. It was easy for me to contact them.
Getting a reply is another thing.
I find that email boxes are paved with good intention.
I will read the emails and respond later.
The later never comes.
More important to me, because I cannot really call them.
Seems like a good place to put and not lose.
Address of embassies in Istanbul, Turkey:
Embassy: Abdulhahcevdet Sok. no 7 Cankaya, Ankara Tel: 312-440-9657 Consulate: Macka Cad. no 59/3 Tesvikiye, Istanbul Tel: 232-6721; Fax: 230-2215
Embassy: Mesnevi Dede Korkut Sok. no 18 Cankaya, Ankara Tel: 312-440-2054 Consulate: Kalipci sok. no 119, Kat:2, Daire: 6 Tesvikiye, Ystanbul Tel: 230-1222; Fax: 241-4331
Embassy: Mahatma Ghandi Cad. no 85 Gaziosmanpasa, Ankara Telephone: 312-446. Consulate: Valikonagi Cad. no 73/4 Nisantasi, Ystanbul Tel: 225-1040/41/4; Fax: 225-1048 P.K. 473 Sisli 80224
I send out my newsletter today. Lots of strange photos and such.
Title and online link is:
Istanbul Turkey - Culture Crash
This is a TIPS newsletters with stories of where I am located.
To subscribe send blank e-mail to:
I am reading a biography of Einstein. I have read 2 books now since leaving the USA. This to me is a cultural problem of the USA. I call it, but really copied from someone.... and call this "Human Doing." A person in the USA has to be doing something or there is something wrong with them. The men here sit around all day here playing backgammon and hawking customer to sell an occasional carpet.
It is very difficult to read a book about Einstein in the USA. At least for me.
It is interesting to read about his genious, and I suppose sounds better than the Clive Cussler book I just finished. But I like Clive. Sort of a cheap James Bond type book.
To me genious is being able to capture that great insight before it slips my mind.
I received a CNN update email that said that Sadaams sons were killed in the city of Mosul.
This is in the north of Iraq, but I am going to check the map again.
Map from CIA
I had a PDF map that was good. But the internet cafe does not have Adobe to open it.
PDF files are only good in the USA, maybe...
Mosul is in the north. It looks like it on the Euphrates river that cuts from Turkey to Syria to Iraq.
Note: My email address has disconnected form the USA governments mailing list of warning.
I searched and searched for this on the site. I finally found it.
You can receive updates of travel condition around the world in your email box.
RECEIVE TRAVEL WARNING IN YOUR EMAIL BOX
I may need to hurry up my schedule and get to the Turkey / Iraq border.
I am leaving Istanbul. I may go toward the Kudish part of Turkey and skip the beach. The country of Turkey is very big. It may take 3 days to get all the way to that end of the country. I will be going east from Istanbul by bus. Today I am going to go to the Syria embassy to get a visa for Syria. I hope it is easy, but embassies can be very difficlult. I heard from a Denmark man last night, who has a visa for Syria that you can get a multiple entry visa for 60 days. This will allow me to enter and leave Syria as many times as I want in a 60 days period. I could maybe enter Syria next to the Eurphates. (I think it is the Eurphrates... My maps suck) than go into Iraq for one month, leave on the lower part of Iraq to Syria and down through Jordan.
The WOWO radio that helped me to get a media pass is supposed to call me today. I received an e-mail from Kevin and he said he was having trouble with the number. I am not sure what type of trouble. Maybe the Guest House answered in the Turkish language... hehehe Go figure.
But calling another country is always an adventure. In the USA we have area codes. Some countries have area codes and city codes, plus they change the rules from where they are calling. I recommend... In the USA. Screw it. Call an international operator and beg.
HoboTraveler.com COMMUNICATION help page
Look for the link that says... TEL COUNTRY CODES
Oh yes, Mom, they are to call at 8:35, but I am not sure.
That is a big maybe. The time difference is a problem. I have a laptop though, and I left it on the time in Indiana.
Send email to:
Put this in SUBJECT LINE and in the BODY OF EMAIL.
(The instructions from the goverment are way to complicated)
SUBSCRIBE DOSTRAVEL Joe A. Smith
Put your name there.
You will have a link sent to you and a very convoluted message and very confusing.
But if you CLICK on the link. I am 95 percent sure you will have the travel warnings sent to your email box.
I looked on the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) and checked to double sure about the CNN headline.
I NEVER trust CNN, or really the BBC. But I do not have much choice.
BBC story on sons death
IN FACT one reason I want to go to Iraq is because I am tired of the world news networks "Lying by inference"
They infer or refer the news, but do not state clearly anything.
They make is easier to mis-interpret something that to interpret correctly.
I started to go to the Syrian Consultate today. The manager of the Guesthouse called. They are only open from 9:30-11:00 in the morning.
I was already too late. I will be on their front door tommorrow. I went and got 8 passport photos for 4 dollars USA or about 6 Million Lira.
The Consulate is a little ways away so I must be careful to take every possible thing. Friday is also some type of Islam Holy day and I am worried that they will want to keep the passport overnight or until the next business day. For some reasone they do this in some countries.
So you are suppose to have your passport on you at all time, but they will keep it for the visa stamp overnight.
I never carry my passport. A copy yes. The USA passport has value if stolen.
I keep walking done the streets where there was suppose to be chariot races. Seems like an awfully small track.
There ıs a fresh fruıt and vegetable market today ın the street. It is probably the best looking tomatoes, potatoes, cherries, nuts, eggs, peaches, and other assorted types of food I have seen in my travels. They are very high quality.
Chapas Mexico is the only place I can remember where the market looked this good.
Most of the time there is a mixture of semi-rotten whatever mixed in.
I was talking with the person about the vegetable.
He wanted to know if it was safe to eat? More or less, are there pesticides and herbicides on them.
He made the conclusion they was safe because we are in a poorer country and they do not have the chemicals.
'You are right, they do not have the chemicals we have. The have all the really good ones that are illegal in the USA."
Most countries have pesticides and herbicides just like the developed countries.
What they do not have is laws that regulate.
Similiar to the idea that the sell copies all the music CDs here in the street for almost nothing.
The law is not the same.
But in the end, the market food looks great.
There is a silly illusion that somehow poorer countries have better moral than rich countries.
What set the tone is the legal system and the leaders.
What the USA has is a very effective press that exposed the minor of moral offenses.
The radio station could not call of some reason.
That is OK. I am not that motivated to talk on Radio.
I can edit the blog. So here goes.
This is my telephone number in Istanbul.
I AM NOT LONGER HERE... BYE
But this is the number of the Admirals Guesthouse. Very nice and close to all things.
001 90 212 458 61 98
001 90 0 212 458 61 98
The access to get out of the country of the USA is maybe 011.
I am curious at this junction as to what works.
Hello, My friend Nate sent me some facts on spelling. My spelling seems to be a popular subject.
History books spell the Blue Mosque.....AYA Sofia as "Hagia Sophia"
A few facts:
This church was built in 535 A.D. by the Romans under Emperor
Justinian....its considered one of the greatest examples of Byzantine
architecture. The main dome is over 100 feet in diameter and 180
feet above the floor. This building was an early christian church and its
plan and design were based on a series of half domes,arches and cross
patterns. IT was later taken over by the Muslims and converted into a Mosque.
This is true I suppose.
There is always about 4 or 5 spelling of everything and interpretations.
I walk by the two Mosque once or twice per day and there is no clear signs.
It could be they believe you should pay for a guide...
WHAT I WANT?
I do not normally care of think about any transpose, translated, or converted word into the English language. What is necessary is the spelling in the local language. So now that is Turkey.
I PURCHASED A MAP IN THE TURKEY LANGUAGE.
I bought a map. The vendor wanted to sell me one in English. I had to sort of push him to let me buy the Turkey Language one. He was really trying to help, and of course he would make more money on the tourist stuff.
But... I want a map for directions, not to read.
If you take a English map and hold it up in front of a Turkey person. They will be lost. It is in a different language.
So with the Turkey language map I can point at a city in the country. They read the name in THEIR language.
But spelling is almost irrelevant. Might not see the woods for all the trees.
Left the Guesthouse early. The Syria Consulate is open only from 9:30 to 11:00.
Took a bus for 1 million Lira to Taksim. That is an area. I had about 1/2 hour to walk to the place, but there were almost 0 street signs, and I am starting to think that Turkey people give directions like the Latinos. They will always give directions whether they know or not.
Finally flagged down a Taxi. Got closer.
I had the father in the Guesthouse earlier write the address in the Turkey Language.
He could not understand either. But the taxi drive did.
Suriye Konsolos Luk
Maçka Cadesı NoL 59/5
Open 9:30-11:00 I think.
232-6721 or 232-7110
Small difference between that and English, but the normal taxi drive is not a rocket scientist.
I made it there.
The extremely nice girl at the counter gave me application.
I filled in all the blanks, whether I knew or not the answer.
Gave her 160 Million Lira and she gave me back I think 8 Million.
This is maybe about 120 USA dollars. It is for a multi entrance visa. I am still not
clear on the length of time.
She would not take dollars.
Put 2 photos with the application. Kept my passport. Gave me a receipt and said
to come back at 3:00 the same day.
Easy. I walked in a straight line to not get lost tilll I found this internet cafe.
I have not idea where I am at really. Macka area... Istanbul
But a straight walk more or less from the Syria Consulate.
Cost is 1/2 here as opposed to the Sultanahmet area.
1 dollar an hour here, and 2 dollar an hour in the area I live. So I am in internet heavon.
The cost of the taxi and bus home, and the trip means that I will just hang around here and see what is on this side. The way I understand it, I am on the Asia side now. The Europe sides is on the other side of the bridge and water.
NOTE: Have people write think in the local language.... huh
I am in a different country. They speak a different language.
Turkey or Istanbul is very modern. Absolutely no reason for the average dingaling to visit.
Great architecture, food, and the people are extremely polite. Reminds me of Belgium
I am leaving tommorrow for the Turkey / Iraq border. Since they killed two of Sadaam sons in Mosul. It is possible for me to be in Mosul within 2 or 3 days. If I WANT. I am not saying that is what I will do. I will sit on a border and feel out the situation. Try to buddy up with some locals. Find some local clothes also.
If you go the link below: CLICK on C8 there is a boder town by the name of Silope.I am hoping they have internet, but there is not way other than to go to check. The turkey border is maybe closed. Way too much gossip.
I will have a Syria Visa so I can always go to Syria and start working my way around Iraq to the south.
GOOD MAP OF TURKEY
For your information. I have a chat room on my page.
I would ONLY stay in Sultanahmet area.
Unless you totally want to miss the Turkey culture... Not really but more than in the modern side... Hyatt and such.
Tourist .. Best Western is most cultural.
Party people. Orient Hostel.
Cheap Hostel and very nice and calm. Antique
Cheap room and very nice. Admirials.
There are lots of rooms for around 25 Dollars that I would feel is good for anyone.
Hostel Dorms are 10 Million per person.
Cheap rooms are about 15 Million.
The Turkey / Iraq border cross ins more or Sipoli.
It looks on the map maybe 3- 5 hour from Mosul.
I am leaving shortly to catch a bus to Urfa.
Not easy to find the bus schedules so I am winging it .
It appears to be about 24 hour in a bus.
The world is like a big city.
There are dangerous areas.
But normally everyone knows where these area are and avoids them or are extra careful.
The world is like that.
A bus driver. A taxi and the locals will not normally take you to a dangerous
area without a big discussion.
The real dangerous situation is to have a car and a guide.
I believe the best guide is the other people around you.
I have been on multiple buses where the locals suddenly told me to behave in a certain
way for an inspection of the bus.
But for instance, the buses in Colombia will not run when the Drug Dealers are bombing the road.
This is normally the same.
So going to the next safe location.
Staying there, listening to other coming from the direction you are proceeding.
Than only whey you know the good path. Proceed.
I was on the all night bus from Istanbul to Urfa. This city is located close to the Iraq border, but is not the closest. It is modern and clean. I am sure many people would say differently, but I have been in lots of very dry and dusty areas. This place is great in comparison.
I pass wheat fields as I was leaving Istanbul and before the sun went down, and as we traveled the last 250 Kilometers to the city of Urfa. I was expecting small one family farms. More on the subsistence level. I was totally wrong. This is obviously an extremely modern operation. I could sometime see freshly harvested wheat fields for as far as I could see. It was marvelous. I would have love to have been here before the harvest.
Plus they have orchards of Pistachios and another type of grain or maybe Olives. I am not sure. But they go for as far as you can see also.
I am so happy this country has lots of grain and food.
The building are the normal red brick type, with a layer of concrete over to make the exterior flat. The same constrution as most of Central and South America. More similiar to the Latino methods than the Southeast Asia methods. They have lots of space outside the cities, but probably very little water because it is rather hilly.
I am in room 215
From the USA you need: 011
90 414 215 46
Today is Sunday. 27 of July, 2003.
I leave tommorrow. If you are reading this after that date... Too late.
My good friend, and one of the worlds greatest internet surfers has helped again.
He is very very good at finding information on any subject. It is amazing.
A page packed with maps of Iraq. Thanks Chris.
A man on the bus said,
"Turkey has closed the border because of disagreements with the USA."
Who knows? I will go to the border and see for sure.
If nothing else it will be very interesting to talk to the border crossing official.
But for me the most fun will to be see all the strange types that for some reason want to cross
at this border... and why?
The locals first want to know. What country I am from? Then they want to know the state?
After the country they say,
"Bush" (That is one of the few English words or names they know.)
After the state of Indiana, they say,
"Indiana Jones or Indianapolis Pacers."
The ones that speak English pretty well talk the rhetoric of the newspapers and television. The taxi drivers, and the normal working class normally give a thumbs up or a nod of the head.
When I say they talk the rhetoric of the newspaper, I mean they repeat the ideas proported by the media. Mostly negative about Bush. Saying,
"The world does not like Bush." Something you would hear on television. But not necessarily true.
A lot of times they talk about President Clinton. I thought President Clinton did a good job, but I can not really say what happened in his office of importance. Maybe NAFTA. But I am positive he went out in the world and tried to get all the people to like him.
I personally believe that a good leader of a business, country or a coach of a basketball team will be both hated and loved.
Bobby Knight the basketball coach of Indiana, University is a good example of this concept.
I must be dyslexic. I spell this city wrong all the time.
It is the one closest to the Turkey / Iraq border.
I am sitting here sending photos to my webpage with an FTP program. (File Transfer Protocol)
The manager or owner of the internet cafe is asking lots of question.
There is some type of translater from Turkey to English on the computer I am using right now.
He ask what I do... I say, "Webpage" and I show him my page.
He then ask,
He types this into the translater.
Christian comes up as Hristiyan.
So in the Turkey language. This the word for Christian.
He than find the Turkey word for...
Puts his hand together like a prayer, and bows to me.
I need to get serious about money situation.
I just wrote my Russian friend in Baghdad.
I want to know if for... (HOPE)... some reason there are ATM or Bank Machines that work in the country.
I have no idea what is the money situation in a country after they lose a war.
This is some information I received on the money situation in Iraq from
my Russian friend living there.
...unfortunately in Iraq there are no ATM or banks where you could cash TC. SO you better to have a cash with you. They prefer 100 USD bills. For example if you change 100 bill the rate will be 1650. If you change 20 bills the rate will be 1600. If you change 1 bills the rate will be 1550.
P.S. Despite all of this Iraq is a cheap country. Expect to spend here
USD per day (hotel extra).
This guy is good.
He has his finger on the pulse.
Chris has been reading my newsletters for a long time. It is easy to start to think too much. To second guess myself. To maybe think I do not know what I am doing. I got a reminder from Chris.
See you on the map now. Trust your instincts and live by your
wits...just like usual.
I am in Sipoli. I was worried that it would be small city and have no services. Like a bank, internet, and ATM machines, but this place so far has everything a person could need. I only arrive about 1/2 hour ago. Checked into a room. All this went very easily. Everyone seems to pay a lot of attention.
The city is an oil town I believe. There is a tank truck every 2 minutes that passes on the road to Iraq. I remember on CNN they showed during the war that the trucks were crossing over a mountain and into Iraq. It may have been talking about an illegal entrance, but as best I can tell so far. This place is very modern.
Of course in the Western eyes it may appear very crude and rough. But I have been in hundreds of cities like this, and this one is very modern.
The have cement trucks and do not mix the concrete with shovels.
The size of the wheat fields and the numerous tractors is another sign.
A tractor can be rare in lots of countries.
This reminds me of northern Argentina. Maybe Kansas of the USA or possilby southern parts of Brazil. All the land outside the city is planted with Wheat, Pickles and what I think are potatoes.
I am going to walk around the town and see the people.
So far everthing seem outrageously safe.
Not just a little safe, but very safe.
The people or the at least the Kurdish people seem to love Americans.
I think most of the tourist areas have been hurt a lot by the war, and they are making their decisions on their desire to make money.
A vote with their pocketbook.
A Kurdish man by the name of Aly gave me some beads on the bus from Urfa to Silopi. We had a mime like conversation for a couple of hours. I ate a couple types of food. A pickle I think, and a flat piece of very think dough. Like a tortilla with a hot red sauce. It was called an Al Muhadarin or something close to that.
I have written down both the name for the bead in Kudish and in Arabic. Will probably put in the newsletter. I forgot to bring the paper notes with me to the internet cafe.
People place these beads in their hand, and sort of twirl them. I think they may be called prayer beads. I will slowly discover the correct answer.
A man that is trying to export goods form Iraq wanted to talk.
I thought it was funny. He is from Ankara and speaks the Turkey language. He said all the people in this area speak Kurdish and he does not speak Kurdish.
He also said the Border was open and safe to cross. At least to the first city.
Said it cost 50 dollars USA to enter.
I am glad I am used to people staring. It does not bother me after 6 years.
Here in Silopi everyone watches my every step.
I am not sure why. I would think that Americans came here in the past in great quanities. Maybe they was going to use a different border to cross. I am going to try to take a mini-van to the border tommorrow to take photos.
Sorry to hear about Bob Hope.
I have BBC in my room.
I am ýn a very nýce Hotel on the border
15 Kilometers more or less.
It is full of Business men or boys. They are not that old.
I have a friend here that speaks good English.
He is trying to export products from Iraq, and it is very interesting to hear about all the difficulties. He has a Kurdish partner that is from this city. Silopi. The man has 2 wives and 14 children. The Kurdish guy is suppose to go across the border today to try to make a deal.
The Kurdish man said that something are more important then money. There was about 5000 Kurdish people killed by Saddam. Some of these people were friends or family. He is happy that Saddam is dead. My other friend from Ankara is translating. But I understand the meaning of pulling his hand across his throat like he is cutting the throat of Saddam.
I have to be careful here. If I so much as stop. They ask me in for Tea. It is hard to walk along the street and make it to my destination. Just too many inviitations.
One of my favorite movies is "The Razors Edge." With Bill Murray as a lost soul traveling the world like me. He goes to this one place and give a coin to a kid. Than another starts to follow. Soon the whole village is chasing him and he is running to escape. I am not sure yesterday. But there must have been at least 15 following me. I did not give them any coins. The keep saying,
"How are you? What is your name?"
The do not ever seem to understand the answers.
But this is good fun.
SNAFU an appropriate acronym
Maybe you have a wild hair. Here is my telephone number.
I am in room 107
011 to leave USA
011 90 486 518 13 79
011 90 486 518 42 28
There is an outside possiblity of
011 0090 etc.
The business card the have is not correct.
They do not speak English well.
Say... Andy Andy Andy or American American hehehe
I sent out my weekly when I get around to it Newsletter.
It has all the pictures I took in the last week.
I have been walking around this small city.
I am in the what I think is the most expensive Hotel in the city.
15 dollars per night.
Air and BBC and Tea served on a minutes notice.
But... No one seems to leave the city.
This is a wonderful city. Full of normal culture.
Working and living their lives.
But all the residents act as if there is nothing to do.
Strange. This place if full of interesting people that love to talk.
Too bad I do not talk Kurdish.
PURCHASED TURKEY / ENGLISH DICTIONARY
I purchased a dictionary this morning. I wanted a Kurdish / English dictionary.
The said the only have Kurdish / Turkey dictionaries.
It almost appears like the world discounts the Kurdish population.
With both... I could decipher a word very slowly.
The purchase cost me.
I had to sit and talk, and drink another tea.
This seem to be the cost of any purchase.
I need to have a chat.
Small price, and I am getting a great value.
Went to the border of Iraq and Turkey this morning. There is a sign or a small something. Maybe a town at the border called Habur. There was a line of petro trucks about 1 kilometer long waiting to enter. I am told they take Liquid Propane Gas and Benzene into the country and return with crude oil. This is not confirmed. Just and interpretation by Turkey man.
I got in a colectivo taxi. There was a vendor boy trying to help me. He said the price was 750,000 Lira or about 50 cents USA. But at the end the driver wanted 1 Million. As soon as I got out of the Taxi I was at the front of the line of trucks. There was a Turkey Military office in front of me, and the 1 kilometer line of petro trucks behind me. I turned around and took a very quick photo of the trucks before the guards would want to talk with me. I turned back around and they came runner over giving me order in the Turkish language.
I had my Camcorder and Sony Mavica camera inside my small backpack and was using my Creative Webcam camera. It was very cheap, and very small. Perfect for dodgy areas.
The young soldier grabbed my camera and took it.
Giving me order in Turkish language and by his hand to follow.
I smiled and followed back to the checkpoint office.
Suddenly about 5 soldiers were around me all talking in Turkish.
It may have been Kurdish language, but I can not tell the difference.
The called a higher ranking officer. None of them was older than age 30, and probably more like 20.
The commander spoke a few English hotels. I pointed at the truck. Pointed at the camera, then I held up 1 finger trying to say,
"I only took one photo."
The camera is a webcam and sort of silly looking. It is not a big Nikon with a zoom.
So the gave me the camera back.
Ask which hotel I was in, and my name.
I said, "Andy"
The then shook my hand started to smile and introduced all the soldier to me.
I tried to pronounce the names. The all relaxed.
I told them I was from America.
The do not understand the words "United States."
The pointed at a collectivo taxi... Like go back that way toward Silopi.
Meaning, I want permission to cross.
I have some friends at the hotel that could come and translate.
But I did not learn much and strangely. I did not see any sign of American soldiers.
There is supposed to be UN vehicles crossing. But I have not seen any.
It was fun. The people are much more nervous meeting me, then I am meeting them.
But than again. I meet new people every day, all the time. This is normal for me.
I hopped in a collectivo VAN and road back toward Silopi.
A boy collected 750,000 and I was happy.
I tapped the driver on the back to stop when I saw the sign that led to Habur and Zoho, Iraq.
I jumped out. Almost fell over a truck batter. Waved goodbye.
Walked over to a milelage sign.
I belived it said.
I have photos and will put one up to view soon.
The Zoho is in Iraq.
This is an oil border.
I am also going to have to oil the works by finding a taxi driver or local to help
me converse wth the border officials.
There are some seedy types hanging around that wish to help me.
I will find a nice person and get the owner of the Hotel to give him the OK.
Than go for another bounce off the border.
I will do this until they know me, and laugh.
The will probably make me drink Tea.
I cannot leave the hotel without people offering or inviting me in for Tea at least 2 times.
I wish I liked Tea.
I have a person trying to call from the USA.
They cannot seem to figure out how to call me...
But a French Friend calls me at the Hotel.
This looks bad. Oh well. So much for the French jokes.
The read the telephone number below. Picked up the telephone and called.
I have found a taxi to Dohuk. It cost 50 dollars USA from Silopi. I am working on the "Friend of a friend basis." I have people her in the hotel that are friends, and I can trust or must trust my instincts to understand and trust. This friend that works as a cargo shipping company sends people in and out of Iraq al the time. He is about 28, and I am trying to help him to go to Miami, Florida. He has a girlfriend there that he met in the chat rooms. But life is about relationships. But an honest person will gravitate towards honest people and an dishonest person will find the dishonest person. But it takes time to develop a friendship, so there is no quickness to the process.
The boundaries of countries are losing value. I have discovered that the boundaries are the language. There are a certain number of cities that speak the Turkey language predominantly in Turkey and a certain number that speack Kurdish. To cross the border of Turkey to Iraq, it is more important to be certain which cities are Kurdish and which cities are Arabic. The Kurdish people seem to not be able to predict the actions of the Arabic people. The understand their own, and feel a confidence in explaining what they understand. I am getting very specific on which cities are under Kurdish control. If there is a question. I would not at this moment consider visiting. Baghdad is supppose to be Arabic. But may be different. A big city is normally very Secular in nature.
I am sitting here behind the desk of the Harbur Hotel in Silopi, Turkey. A man is asking in English if the telephone can receive an international call. I answer for the manager that does not understand English,
"Yes, you can receive a call in your room. I did the other day. I am not sure if you can call out from the room."
"Thank you, good. I can talk to someone."
I ask him,
"Where are you from?"
I am a litle credulous. Hmm, why does he not know Kurdish I am thinking?
But the Kurdish and the Arabic are not big friends.
I reach out and shake hands,
He ask me where I am from and I say America.
"We are friends."
He is very happy to be able to leave the country. With Saddam he was not able to leave the country. He has a PHD from England, and wanted to return to visit. Very educated.
He showed me his Iraq passpor, and we discussed the future.
"I hope they give me an American passport by the end of the year."
I tried to get clarification, but he means something about travel papers authorized by the USA. He does not like that his passport has a picture of Saddam on it.
"They will capture Saddam in the next week."
He was checking in to his room, and left. I will talk with my friend later.
The internet compute functions in the Turkish language.
The letters are almost the same. They can look the same, but at the computer level they are different.
I have worked for 2 hours to get to this point today... aagh.
Plus one of the boys in the hotel was surfing the porn sites and they loaded up the computer with crap files...
tmps and such. Cache. etc.
I have the Hotel Computer clean now, and will defrag for them.
All this to get to here.
I have posted a map that I can sketch on and explain.
This is the page.
I go to Dohuk in the Kurdish area tommorrow.
Dohuk is just 80 or so miles into Turkey.
I am tying to give you a map with rivers.
The rivers and mountains are natural boundaries between cities and countries.
Plus there is often a major transition in cultures.
Cultures can change dramatically over a mountain.
I was talking with the man from Baghdad. He has a PHD in Mechanical Engineering.,
"Does Iraq have Weapons of Mass Destruction?"
"After the first war most were destoyed.
But Saddam wanted them and was trying.
But you have stopped the Weapon of Mass Destruction."
"Saddam is the Weapon of Mass Destruction,
It is the person that wants and controls that is the problem."
Chris sent a link to a very good map of the area where I am located.
I am in a city between Cizre and Zakhe. See how the spelling constantly changes with the word. Zaho.
I passed the Tigres River while on the bus. The driver kept pointing and saying,
"Suriye," he did not say Syria.
There is a tri-angle of the three countries.
Map - Bottom of Turkey, Top of Iraq
Map shows the rivers and mountains.
Went to the Automatic Bank Machine or ATM in USA lingo and took out Lira.
I can purchase 300 Dollars USA for 430,000,000 Lira. Yesterday the price was 420,000,000.
Dollar are the currency of choice. To be safe. I always need some dollars.
I was crossing the border in Central American one time. They would not take the money from the country I was leaving, and would not take the money of the country I was entering.
I need Dollars for Iraq.
This was a recommended path to take south from Turkey to the heart of Iraq.
"it's the back road between Irbil and Sulumanya... very up and down,
with a couple of large hills, but lovely. A place behind Sulumanya called
Ahmed something is also meant to be pleasant."
I now have 2 friends writing from Baghdad.
I saw my first UN (United Nations) vehicle today. I was lucky. I was playing with my new camcorder and when I turned it on from the balcony of the Hotel. There it was.
But... It is my first in about 5 days.
I was thinking that this city. Silopi. Would be full of NGO's (Non Govermental Orgainizations) entering Iraq to help provide food and aid. One UN truck.
SILOPI IS EASY ROUTE FROM EUROPE.
Entering Syria would be the crazy way to haul food and aid to Iraq.
There does not seem to be any aid. No business people.
A few Iraq people leaving. But there does not seem to be Iraq people entering to live.
This is strange to me.
Not even some French or Germans going in to retrieve some of their weapons... hehehe.
I was expecting this place to be full of "Tree Huggers" and "Save the World" Hippie chicks.
Just me and a bunch of Engineers or people to do wth the trucking of Petro in and out of the country.
I have been to the local restaruant 5 days in a row.
All men and no women.
You have to get married in this country.
That is the only way to talk with women... hehehe.
But I am having a good time. The Kurdish people are some of the funnest and warmest people I have ever met in my 6 years of travels.
Did you know?
There is a city called Batman in Turkey.
Wonder if he lives there?
Look for Batman on Turkey / Iraq Border
Made a quick page to say thank you. I think 2nd time in 6 year. Air conditioning for a Hobo is not normal.
I am trying to plan a trip to Iraq. It is hard to concentrate. The owner of the Hotel wants me to go to the city of "Batman" to see a cave. I say Batman, he says, "Baatmaan." I think we are not talking the same language.
My Taxi driver has decided to not go tommorrow. I am not sure I will wait for him. Zaho is les than 24 Kilometers from here. He says he will go on Sunday or Monday. Not good to wait for a Taxi drivers. They are right up there with Car Saleman and Reporters in reputation.
The World had an extreme misconception. They believe that people from the USA are everywhere in the world. The reason for this misconception is easy. The USA is the default culture classification. If a local person does not know where the person is form, then they label them as the USA.
What does that mean for my travels?
I as a person from the USA represent a 1 in 20 ratio. I am a minority as a citizen of the USA.
I am almost always the only person from the USA.
Well… Right now there are no travelers or tourist. Only me and this is great. I do not have to listen to any of the European noise , and on the other side. The Kurdish or Iraq people I meet love Americans. So in this area of the world life is extremely hospital and generous.
My friend from Baghdad explained to me.
The people of Iraq will not be happy until they have money, food, electricity and shelter. As always in life people want someone to take care of them. President John F. Kennedy said,
“It is not what your country can do for you,
It is what you can do for your country.”
The world has turned this around. It is always now,
There is almost never the best way. How can WE work together. There is a constant we against them. I believe this a byproduct of world press organizations. In the Bible one of the greatest of all sins is to cause “disharmony” among between people.
My plan now is to leave on Sunday morning for Dohuk. It is very close. Only about 2 hours from here, but as with all border the flavor will probably change rapidly. Borders are not just country borders, but normally a culture border. This will not be so abrupt, because there is a Kurdish camaraderie and not a great separation. I believe now that to go into the Kurdish area is probably less dangerous than my travels in the country of Colombia. Plus so far the Kurdish culture is a higher level of civilization or development than most the developing countries I visit. I consider the Kurdish or Turkish cultures similar to Belgium or most of Central Europe. The quality of home is different but the people are similar, and maybe more optimistic in their family relationship. They are having large family while most of Europe now is doing anything they can to induce the indigenous people to have children.
I keep getting this gut level feeling that the Kurdish Iraq side of border is richer then the Turkey side. The locals keep saying,
"You can buy that on the Iraq side."
My friend Gazafer form Ankara, Turkey is leaving today. I can already feel the language crunch. He has helped me immensely to translate. But the great part is my Kurdish will increase dramatically. This is always the problem with hanging around with English speaking people. It does not prepare you for the real country. Its an illusion of safety and control.
I played basketball when I was younger.
I remember my coach jumping from the bleacher and running to me saying,
"Do not force the play!"
He was my 8th grade coach.
I have never forgot this, and know that patience is important.
Most travelers feel a need to see or go fast. Like the world will miss them. Like there is a better place ahead. This is dangerous and childish at the same time, saying in reality.
"I want what I want, and I want it now."
I could probably move 5 time faster, and am probably more equipped then the normal traveler. But what is the goal. To be where quickly. I want to enjoy this sojourn and not feel like I am working. I am having fun, and being a child in a good way.
I do not force the play to happen, I wait for the good life to come to me... hehehe
Life is good.
Saddam Mass Murderer Execution
Bangkok Thailand Southeast Asia
December 30, 2006
75,000 people killed in mass graves by Saddam Hussein
I left Khon Kaen, Thailand and traveled on a night bus to Bangkok, Thailand. It is now about 7:27 in the morning, I connected up with my GPRS connection and read,
- Official: Saddam to Be Executed Tonight -
I personally witnessed a mass grave site of 2500 Iraq people, on August 3, 2003 when I visited Iraq shortly after the major fighting stopped.
I have dwelled on the issue of "how many people," for a couple of years now. At the time I was in Iraq, they said there were about 30 more of these graves found around the country.
Therefore, 30 x 2500 is 75,000
This is my personal estimate as a witness to Saddam atrocities.
History will hopefully explain this better than the present day media, yet it appears to me that lead by President Bush and the American Soldiers, with the help of the Coalition of willing to protect the world countries, we have stopped a mass murderer.
Saddam has a legacy, he will now enter the ranks of Hitler, and Pol Pot and will forever be compared to them.
Photos and some explanations.
I would like to say thank you to George Bush, whatever the case, or present problems, he had the will to stop evil. Nothing may have gone right, maybe many mistakes have been made, but the decisions made, needed to be made, and someone walk up to the plate.
Saddam Mass Murderer Execution
Not Predictable or Telegraph
Lome, Togo West Africa
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
A friend of mine is now in Arbi, Iraq, or Erbil Iraq
He wrote me from Arbil, I wish to give simple advice.
- Do not be Predictable or Telegraph.
I hope the telegraph word made him think, stuns him into consideration of the comment.
I do not wish for him to telegraph or send his intentions to people. I do not wish him to explain or tell people what he is doing. I do not want him to be predictable.
Not Predictable or Telegraph