November 14, 2005 GMT
Turkey - The West

My hometown has a population of sixty thousand people, and they cover the road traffic Iím used to. Istanbul has fifteen million, a quarter of a thousand times more than Tromso, more than the entire population of Norway and Sweden combined. That might explain the wobbling dirt bike with an N on the rear GPS-maneuvering through the Turkish metropolis last Wednesday. But I found my way, to Daytona Motor, the last point of dealer service before heading into Asia and no dealers land.

These men drop their fishing lines in the oil sodden Bosporus waters for the same reason that others use giant parabola antennas for receiving messages from outer space.

Prior to arrival I received valuable help from Ikbal Volpara at Motoreast ( She arranged my maintenance appointment with Daytona Motor (, and forwarded my requests for new parts such as tires and backup wheel bearings. Everything was taken care of. Thank you Ikbal! I will not forget. Balto the bike was left in the care of the mechanics for a few days while I was any other city tourist. Pause. It was nice. By accident I stumbled into Istanbul Hostel. The first evening was spent reading a book and being by myself. Then the occasional hello grew into social events, and the stay ended with a few kicks in the ceiling.

The Turk has a cigarette. The Fin has a lighter. With joint effort they smoke. Itís called globalization, and it is happening at the marvelous Istanbul Hostel in Sultanahmet.

The first people Jaekyun Kim met in Istanbul were two so called businessmen who invited him to a bar. The Korean globetrotter had two drinks, got surrounded by three party girls he did not call for, and given a fruit basket he did not order. For that he was presented a bill equivalent of 600 US Dollars, and then escorted to an ATM by two threatening gorillas. Since he was given no receipt the police had no evidence and no case. Now, this type of hoax is not uncommon. The aftermath is more interesting. The manager at Istanbul Hostel searched his network, made some phone calls, engaged some people, negotiations took place underground, and within 24 hours three civil dressed police officers arrived the hostel with 75% of the stolen money. The repossession was presented as a happy ending, and Jaekyun was pushed to buy a round of celebration drinks for all. But the fact remains: 25% of the money disappeared. In whoís pocket?

Jaekyun at the end of an eventful day

Now, most people in Istanbul are your friend. Donít worry. You just have to be a little street smart. The variety of tricks on tourists made my curious, and I decided to check out the infamous sales methods of the carpet salesmen. I strolled by one, doing my best to look like a tourist with deep pockets, and of course he started to talk. Whatís my name, where am I from etcÖ Then he invited me in for tea, calling it something innocent as Turkish hospitality. The tea was put in front of me, and after some friendly small talk he led the conversation into the quality of different carpets, rolling them out on the floor, telling me to feel their excellence with my fingers. He was getting warm, that was easy to see, and I did my best to respond to his sales methods with interest. But after a while I got tired of the carpet talk. I said with a smile: Too bad Iím traveling through on a motorcycle. How can I carry a carpet? He became dead silent, knowing that his so-called Turkish hospitality had been a waste of valuable sales time, and I prolonged his suffering by drinking the rest of my tea reeeaaal slow.

The guys at Daytona Motor did an excellent job, and the service is top class. Go there if you can. Youíll easily find the store on the seaside road in Kurucesme.

Posted by Erik Saue at November 14, 2005 06:41 PM GMT

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