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  #1  
Old 9 Sep 2010
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Mt Ararat.............maybe!!

Burkhard had conjured up a fiendishly cunning plan. He had two mates in Germany who wanted to do a walking tour of Mt Ararat followed by a bike tour from Van to Kas. In order for that to happen we needed to get three bikes from Kas to Van. Burkhard would be on his BMW, Klaus would take Burkhard's XT660R and I would take my XT660R. Klaus and I would hand over the bikes and fly back from Van to Antalya. We had 6 days to cover 2250kms.





Better get going then






Burkhard's trusty R100GS




Wasn't long before Burkhard was re-arranging the luggage that hadn't fallen off





Klaus was concered. Was this a taste of things to come? It was





We stopped for a break at the roadside. Break over, we started up the bikes or at least the Jap bikes. Burkhard's Bavarian classic was having none of it. There was no spark at the plugs so.............





it was a tow to the nearest garage. After much telephonic activity a lift to a local mechanic was arranged





The mechanic turned out to be fairly clueless. Burkhard legged it back to Kas to pick up his XT600 and promised to meet up the following day. Klaus and I went to Koprullu Canyon and slept on a floating raft. Twas nice





Day 1 and 2.





Burkhard caught up with us the following night.





We had lost one and a half days so the stroll in the park took a walk as did our schedule. It was now a race to Van with, hopefully, a bit of sightseeing on the way. Better head over the pass to Beysehir then


Day 3.








past the goatherders





past Derebucak where the grandeur of the town mosque





puts to shame the humbler dwellings




From Beysehir it was a slog to Konya onwards to Aksaray








with only the old caravansary at Sultanhani offering a distraction from the heat and dust of the endless highway





Built between 1229 and 1236 the caravansaray offered travelling merchants lodging, stabling and food free of charge.





Early evening saw us in Goreme in Cappadocia





where the view from our hotel terrace was somewhat sublime


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  #2  
Old 9 Sep 2010
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Early morning offered interesting sights as the hot air balloons lifted off to take passengers over the area.





We were woken by the sound of somebody bouncing a heavy suitcase down a long flight of stairs. The crashing got louder and louder until I realised that the racket was being caused by a drummer passing by outside. Because this is the time of Ramadan the locals need a wake up call so that they can breakfast before the sun comes up. Pity they cant just use alarm clocks like everybody else. We didn't need interrupted sleep because today was going to be a long one, to Nemrut Dagi along some dodgy roads


Day 4.








All roads to the East seemed to be either under construction or being widened from two lanes to four. The thought that maybe Turkey was improving it's road network to launch an invasion on neighboring countries did occur to me. Why such major road construction with so little traffic





Even the mountain roads were receiving a makeover





When the inevitable happened





We had tools a plenty to strip an engine and inner tubes in abundance but in our wisdom had overlooked the need pack something to remove the wheels with. A chat with a family over a garden fence produced a couple of adjustable spanners and a cup of tea. Lovely folk in these parts. Burkhard set to work Klaus clipped his finger nails





The blowout. followed by my headlight blowing as we negotiated the roadworks in the dark along with Klaus losing his chain resulted in us arriving in the area of Nemrut Dagi later than planned. Better get an early start to see what all the fuss is about





Nemrut Dagi is a vast funeral monument to King Antiochus, the ruler of a small local dynasty. The kingdom was established in the 1st century BC by Antiochus' father, Mithridates, and remained independent until AD72, when the Roman Emperor Vespasian incorporated it into the Roman province of Syria. Well, that's what the history books say. The setting is stunning





As was the walk past the tumulus containing the remains of old Antiochus, well it stunned my lungs anyway






Some wag had erected this sign, believe me I wasn't even tempted




Up on the Eastern terrace Antiochus and a few of his mates were enjoying the morning sun





Antiochus being the bearded bloke, front right.








The tumulus itself was covered in rocks that had been split by hand. How many tons only Antiochus knows and he ain't telling





A few more of Antiochus' mates can be seen on the western side having a lie in until the moon rises





though, if they were awake, I'm sure they would enjoy the view





The wind roars around this place, or at least it did when we were there. Burkhard had a novel way of keeping his head in one piece





On the way back to the bikes Burkhard spotted a challenge. The expression on his face is one of profound relief that his family jewels were still in one piece. Burkhard's idea of a challenge did not coincide with the mules willingess to having a rufty tufty biker on it's back.One nil to the mule





.................
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  #3  
Old 9 Sep 2010
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the pension we stayed at was close to the mountain and looked ok but the rooms stunk of p..s and and you would have broken your legs when jumping into the swimming pool as there was a definite lack of water to slow your descent.





Walking boots exchanged for riding boots it was time to push on and find the ferry over the Attaturk reservoir complex to the South of Nemrut Dagi. Low on fuel we decided that we knew better than our map and proceeded to ride in the completely wrong direction


Day 5.








After 40kms of ascent, with the reservoir becoming a puddle in the distance, we pulled over, exchanged a few profanities with each other and attempted to coast back down the mountain as best we could to preserve fuel. We eventually coasted into a garage running on vapour





There was only one problem. The compressor thingy in the pump wouldn't function as it was too hot. After having cold water poured on it by the pump attendant for ten minutes the pump worked. Much to the relief of Klaus





After collecting ourselves we headed off in the right direction and found the ferry





We had total confidence in the captain





It was a pleasant way to spend twenty minutes





and the scenery wasn't bad either





Our destination for the day was Hasankeyf. In order to get there we had to cross the badlands to Diyabakir and Batman. Flatlands for as far as the eye could see. The temperature was in the low fourties and the wind was pretty windy








At a lunch stop Klaus found a way to relieve his aching backside, a massage chair





After Diyabakir the scenery changed into more pleasant rolling wheat lands







Still a hard place to live though





On the road to Batman we passed through the large town of Silvan. You could smell towns around this area long before you came to them. They smelt of municipal rubbish dumps. Rubbish bins have yet to arrive here. Instead anything it seems will do with plastic bottles, bags and refuse scattered everywhere, in the street, gardens, public places and streams. It would seem that the folk in these parts have little or no pride in their surroundings. The kids were a pain too. Constantly crowding us when we stopped and begging for money in an aggressive manner. The older folk were better bred and generally helpful and friendly. Silvans one redeeming factor was it's ancient bridge





which was rather overshadowed by the montrosity on the other side of the road





As we rode through Batman a storm was developing some distance away and sucking up all available air in the neighbourhood resulting in gale force winds. Batman was a blur of dust, sand and flying bottles, plastic bags and the odd solid object. The ride to Hasankeyf though was extraordinary. A beautiful windy road through a wide valley bought you to the new bridge





parallel to which was the old bridge





Originally founded by the Romans as a frontier outpost, this ruined capital city of the 12th century Artukid (Kurdish) dynasty stands on a spectacular hilltop overlooking the Tigris














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  #4  
Old 9 Sep 2010
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The modern village of Hasankeyf is unremarkable





Offering only one hotel which stunk of piss. We settled for rubbish strewn campsite and pitched our tents under some fig trees





Klaus was tentless and camped a la carte





Sadly the whole area is to be flooded shortly as part of a vast plan to dam the area. We were lucky to see it while it is still there.


Days 6 and 7.






Lunchtime the following day saw us within 150kms of our final destination of Van. First though we had to visit Nemrut volcano whose eruptions aeons ago formed Lake Van by creating a huge dam of lava, thereby blocking the outflow








There is a track leading all the way to the heart of the crater. We decided to have a look stopping along the way to admire the views of Lake Van




















In the crater





we came across a group of Czechs who had got there by bus all the way from The Czech Rebublic. Mad as hatters, the lot of 'em





On the way back down the volcano Klaus had what would only be the second puncture of the trip





Burkhard chucked the wheel in the back of a passing truck and followed it to the local tyre man. We took in the view, the crater is dierctly behind the rim at the top of Klaus' head





We hunkered down in a hotel in Tatvan for the night. Burkhard likes to cap a ride off with a cold , as indeed do I. He found the local pub, of sorts





or at least somebody who was prepared to sell us a during Ramadan. The next problem was where to drink the while the sun was still in the sky. The shop owner obliged and pulled up three chairs





Later on that evening Burkhard wanted a drink with his meal. Not during Ramadan my son exclaimed the restaurant owner. Burkhard retired to the shadows, Efes bottle hidden in a black plastic bag, and slaked his thirst


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  #5  
Old 9 Sep 2010
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After retiring to our room there was a knock on the door. I was prostrate on one of the beds waiting for the effects of a strong painkiller to take hold to rid me of a chronic toothache. Klaus answered the door. "Hi, I'm American and my bike's broken down. I saw your bikes downstairs and thought I'd introduce myself." That's how we met RTW Doug of this parrish





Dougs odyssey can be found here, for those not in the know

The yer a peein & taliban tour - ADVrider

Doug and I went for a bite to eat and what was, for me, a very pleasant and informative chat. The following morning offered a photo op of Doug's steed








Dougs adventures knocked the shenanigans of three lardy arsed Europeans into a cocked hat. Much respect to you sir and safe onward travels. (Oh bugger, he doesn't drink!)


After saying our goodbyes to Doug we headed off on the last stage of our trip to Van








At an hotel outsıde the town we met up with Wolf and Michael who were to ride Klaus' and my bike back to Kas after walking up Mt Ararat with Burkhard




After handing over the bikes there was time for a whilst watching the sun set over Lake Van








The following morning we were seen off by Kemel who was organising Burkhard's crews walking adventure. We chatted only briefly but I got the impression he thoroughly knew his onions





Our flight was courtesy of Sun Express, a fantastic service





As we flew over Lake Van I saw the destination that had eluded us due to Burkhard's breadown at the start of the trip.Mt Ararat




The in flight entertainment indicated that what had taken six and a half days on bikes would take one and a half hours in a Boeing 737 cruising at 535mph










The flight gave time to reflect on the trip. Firstly we should have taken twice as long to do the trip to better appreciate the areas we were travelling through. A gentle stroll as opposed to a race against the clock. Secondly the disparity in education and wealth between Western and Eastern Turkey was blindingly obvious. Thirdly the variety of topography on offer in Turkey is incredible. Lastly the hospitality and friendliness of the people we met was humbling.

Cheers,


Dickyb


P.S.


As a PS to the Van RR this bike went on to develop serious heart trouble





Burkhard noticed it belching black smoke out of the exhaust and no oil in the oil tank. Blown piston rings one suspects but a strip down will reveal the cause. Anyway, Burkhard had to chuck it on a bus at Van and accompany it to Antalya where they both arrived 22 hours later. Slower than a plane but faster than our outgoing leg. Burkhard is still spitting feathers but at least you can get most things to anywhere over here.


Cheers,

Dickyb
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  #6  
Old 12 Sep 2010
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great to here it went well mate, sort of

Pete
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  #7  
Old 12 Sep 2010
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hi,

nice report. just a little question. did you buy or rent the bikes in Turkey?
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Old 13 Sep 2010
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Hi ozhanu,

They were our bikes and Turkish registered 'cos we live here. Thanks for your interest.

Cheers,

Dicky
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Old 13 Sep 2010
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Hi Pete,

Yep, best laid plans and all that malarky.

Cheers,

Dave
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