Just Exploring

Little by little we make small things big. Step by step we move forward. Following the right path, the Eightfold path, makes me calm, steady and happy. Did you find yours? Everybody has one, just some must look deeper or look for it longer. Just explore and it will unfold naturally.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cycling to Asia, part three

The traffic before Istanbul was horrendous, it started to build up 50 km before the city center, fancy that!? So on the way out we tried to skip it by taking a ferry to Yalova. It was a good choice, but for the next 3 days we were driving on a deadly straight and boringly flat road with a plentiful of trucks passing us. We could do some mileage, but it was quite ordinary riding. On the third day we finally hit our first mountains. The ascent was a killer, but beautiful in one. From now on we ride in nice surroundings, but still on the main road from Istanbul to Ankara, so the traffic is busy. At least the road is in a good shape and there is a roadside. The Bole pass was 950m, but comparing to the Serbian equivalent this was a piece of cake. Anatolia is welcoming us.

What fallowed were few days with very nice views and some excellent riding. But also our first bad experience with kids. We stopped for lunch in a nice picnic area for locals. It was full of natives chillin on the carpets. As usual we had company straight a way. A bunch of adolescent boys surrounded us. While we were fixing our lunch they kept on staring and occasionally chatting with us. They had no problems to just sit next to us and do nothing. We were there for a while and when we started to be fed up with all the attention and decided to leave I've noticed that my leatherman is missing. What followed was a spectacular performance. They showed empty pockets and even started to body check each other. Afterwards they accused one lad that had left few minutes ago. Afterwards they just left with big big apologies. The alleged thief stayed and turned up to be a nice guy, so who was it? Well we should be more cautious but if its only things like a knife that we will get riped of on this journey then it's still alright.

For the next days we had some pleasant ride, mostly down hill. We are descending towards the bottom of Anatolia! The heat started to be noticeable. The land got drier, water supplies fewer, but still enough. We stopped filtering the water, cause here it looks safe, and it's bit pain in the buttocks to filter 4 liters per person. There are only few places suitable for a break so we usually ride from town to a village or nearest city. These became a oasis for us. Except of getting our stomachs full with çorba {soup} in a local restaurants we usually get at least one invitation to a çay {tea}. These warm welcomes are welcomed by us, since the time we spent on the road is associated with solitude -it's hard to have any sort of a chat during the ride, since the roadside is usually in a bad shape, so we ride mostly on the road, but this means some close shaves from the trucks and buses. On the other side there is usually very little that we can talk about with locals, since our Turkish is limited to basic words. So after we inform them about our nationality, where are we coming from and where are we heading we leave. The joy and surprisement on the faces is something worth telling the same story dozen times a day.

At the end of this week we started to wear long trousers again. The villages got more rural and we felt this will be more suitable. Not even 10 km in morning and we got our first invitation for çay. What so significant about it? Well this time it was to a old family living in a small house next to a road. The tea was cooked on a old Turkish style cooker, working on wood. What a nice sign, for our decision.

Soon after we got out from mountains and hit some flat land again. This meant an encounter wind good old friend: wind. It allowed us to travel only 10km/h witch is just bit more then during an uphill ride, but this time with no reward in exciting downhill ride, plus the noise.

It's almost a weak since we left Istanbul. Good thing on it is that we are finally of the beaten track Istanbul - Ankara, so anywhere we go we are the main attraction. This is very interesting. But also the quality of the road changed and I started to be bored. It's for the first time on this journey that I felt something like boredom, but you have to understand that the land hasn't changed for the last few days, wind is making it extraordinary difficult to progress, and of course my body needs a rest. Surprisingly even after month I have a sore muscles in the evening. It's much better than it was during the first week or two, but still, I thought that the body will adjust completely. Well but what I want, right? Five to six hours of excessive exercise is not very normal.

Today we took a break in Amasya and we are heading to a small lake where we will take a whole day off. Both of us need it. We got enough of dusty roads, tooting of the trucks at us and monotonic riding. You may ask what will we do in the Pakistani desert, but this hasn't come yet, so it doesn't boder us.


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