April 08, 2006 GMT
Turkey 3

We ended up staying inDiyarbikir for 2 days due to the weather. managed to have a look around but did not walk the city walls , (whıch are the second bıggest after the Great Wall of China) due to the warnings that you may be robbed.-- Discretion was the better part of valour. There are huge underground shopping malls here.

On 4th April we went onto Tatvan, on the West coast of Lake Van. Near to Bitlis. The ride was interesting to say the least. The first part was through huge lush plains and then into mountanous country. ( Colin now wishes he had fitted an Altimetre- perhaps ıt' good that he dıd'nt .)

The road from Bıtlis deteriorated to pure rubble that was still wet from the previous 2 days rain. We had 50 k of enforced 'off road' ride. It started to hail to add to the misery.There were huge snow frifts to the side of the road and only lorries seemed to be on the road- no cars at all. The lorries slowed us down and several times Colim had to pull back to allow space to get up a good run.

I was thinking ' stay loose and go with the bike '. A bit difficult when you can feel the back wheel sliding.

Colin says that this ride is firmly imprinted in his mind. There were alot of military checks as this is definitely Frontier country. The road blocks just waved us through. It made Colin's day when he saw a tank with a big plastic bag over the barrell to stop the rain from going inside !

Got to the hotel and the bike was parked in the back foyer. Had to wiggle the handlebars through 2 doorways and then park it on a marble floor. Such dedication- the bike was as warm as we were and had a wash as we were all caked with mud.

Next day we woke up and it was pouring with rain and intermıttent snow. So we had another 2 days off and set off to Van on 7th April- full of trepidation as to what the road would be like. however it was, thankfully OK.

We were pulled back by a road block and had to turn around thinking ' here we go'.- but all they wanted to do was look at the bike, give us tea and talk. The highest Pass was 7450 feet and Van is 5700 feet with an enormous alkaline lake which was clear ice blue. It took 3 hours to do 100 miles.

Van is renowned for white fluffy cats with one yellow and one blue eye. A very busy place.

Today (8th ) we are in Dogubayazit- about 40 k from the border. The ride was on good roads although we had several mountain dogs that chased the bıke- and they really do mean business. You have to put opn the power just to get away from them. the temperature here is 20 degrees- bliss.

The best road signs that we have seen is a car sliding with an umbrella up ! Another with tortoises crossing the road. Most of the town traffic lights have a countdown for the change from red to green- or the other way. Every one sits and revs up on the count off 4 seconds !

All the children have a school unıform. There are no ınner safety doors on the lifts so you must remember not to lean towards the door. The fast food places are delivering food at all times of the day to other shop keepers.
Internet is cheap at 45 pence per hour.
We weighed ourselves yesterday with some kiddies who had a pair of scales (? borrowed from mum ) and they were doing a roaring trade and making a few pence.-- Life goes on the same wherever you are. It's amazing to thınk that we left 5 weeks and 3 days ago and here we are on the Iranian border and we have had 13 days off in that time. Total mileage : 4330

Posted by Dee Masters at April 08, 2006 01:17 PM GMT

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