April 27, 2008 GMT
No.9 Turkey.Gumbet to Goreme

Gumbet. Didn't sound inviting but Gumbet had a campsite. On the beach. It also had a main street full of signs advertising Fish and Chips, Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding, and Satellite Football. I'd talked my way back into Turkey at Bodrum (Green card wasn't green enough, remember?) and ridden along the coast looking for a campsite, ideally close to the beach. Well, the beach was only a beer can's throw away so I unpacked my tent. Enough traveling for one day..an early night perhaps.

I climbed into my sleeping bag hoping to be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves on the shingle beach.I would have been if it hadn't been howled out by campsite dogs...who were barking at the guitar playing backpackers...who were trying to be heard above the thumping bass from the nearby 'Club Gumbet'.

'...I can't get no sleep...' sang Faithless. Appropriate. The bass faded at around 4.00a.m. Peace at last. The call to prayer began at 4.30a.m....

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Click on MORE below for tales of drunken debauchery,wine, women and chillies...

I escaped British occupied Gumbet and made my way round to Fethiye - another beautiful harbour in a sweeping bay. Rode (guiltily) past the dusty campsite on the outskirts of town and settled for the Irem Pension. Fine room - lovely terrace overlooking the harbour. Patted the LP smugly and settled down with a tea.

Monday 12th...A lazy beach day followed and a casual text to my girlfriend Celia - name changed to protect the innocent - revealed I'd got my 24hr clock calculations wrong (again) and she was flying into Dalaman airport that night at 0100hrs - NOT Tuesday as I had casually calculated. Tuesday at 1.00 in the morning - see what I mean?

Jumped on the last bus out of Fethiye planning to linger in the local restaurants of Dalaman until midnight then take a cab to the airport. Nice idea. Except the buses stop on the outskirts of town where there's a shabby bus depot with a poorly stocked vending machine... Plan B. Take taxi to airport where I could pick up an English paper, peruse the Duty free and maybe even get a decent coffee......

There was LESS at Dalaman 'Arrivals' than the bus station. There was also a 2 hr delay so I was at the airport with the prospect of overpriced Nescafe and a 6 HOUR wait. Another ' Head on the dials' situation. One lives and learns.

We spent a wonderfully relaxing week together which, if filmed in soft focus, would have been a perfect promotional video of all southern Turkey has to offer - beaches, boat trips, cafes and excellent fish restaurants. Perfect. Barring one incident.

The scene. 'Our' restaurant. Fish had been selected and cooked, wine served and the evening seemed set until Celia started crying.
' I'm not sure why I'm here...where's our relationship going?' she sobbed, sipping her wine. The waiter looked sternly at me.
' Well,' I began,' I think it's like this..' At that moment I took a mouthful of food and bit into a chilli the likes of which I have never experienced in my life. My tongue burst into flames..my ears steamed.. my eyes ran...unbelievable oral pain! So we were then both sat there, red eyes, tears running down our faces...God knows what was going through the waiter's mind.

The next day we kissed and said Goodbye. Celia went West and I went East.


The coast road to Antalya was stunning and beaches called me at every turn. But at Antalya I headed inland up a sweeping 'alpine' road and made it to Egirdir, a village built on a spit of land out into a beautiful lake. I was tempted to stay for a few days but the 'gritty biker' in me made the decision to press on the following day.

Roads out here are so deceptive. I was often lulled into a relaxed state on smooth roads. The road which skirted the lake was one such silky smooth road - Bliss - but I knew it wouldn't last and, sure enough, that telltale 'men at work' sign was soon in my sights. Tarmac ended and the rough road began which turned into several inches of gravel. Tricky, but not impossible. I turned the corner and my heart sank... fresh tarmac - as far as the eye could see.

This stuff is just poured on the road - full width - for mile after mile. It was like riding on wet, black mud. Luckily I survived long enough to ride into the DEEP SAND section... What joy.

The terrain really opened out over the following two days. This 'space' was new to me. Shimmering horizons...deserted highways. Stuff of the movies. It felt liberating. Cappadocia was different again. An alien landscape.....as I was to find out.

Posted by Simon Roberts at April 27, 2008 10:24 PM GMT

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