I was in the historical and colorful city of Istanbul last two months and I scribbled down something in between conferences and forums and somehow forgot to post them.
2 months ago
Movenpick Hotel, Istanbul
It's my last day here in Istanbul. I've taken to spraining my ankle whenever I travel. It first started off during the Redang trip, and then it was Bandung and that was the worst and now here, in Istanbul. But that's another story for another day.
It's cold outside. Windy and cold. My cheeks would feel like it's been stuffed with cotton balls whenever the cold air breezes past me. But I like the change in weather. It means I could let my hair down without worrying that in an hour, my head won't look like a giant frizz ball and the cold air gives my cheek that subtle hint of red, without having to wear any blusher. 13°c is definitely a welcome change to the hot and humid 31°c back in good'ol Kuala Lumpur.
I was welcomed to Istanbul with style. And by style, I mean a hair rising taxi ride with me clutching the headrest in front of me and praying silently whilst glancing at my travelling companion and wondering whether we would make it till the end of the ride. I had glimpses of homes built on hillsides and Turkish girls in colorful hijab walking together, giggling and clutching their overcoats tight around them. I had to keep up as the sights of Istanbul zoomed in a flurry past me. I wanted to laugh and throw up at the same time. The friendly cab driver kept insisting for my travel partner to smoke in the cab. A welcome gesture on his part. It was definitely a different kind of welcome. Different but hilarious.
Dinner on a cruise on the Bosporus. I was in between continents. Asia and Europe. Culture, tradition and modernization meshed into one. Being in Istanbul is like being transported into a world of two dimensions. You have skyscrapers and ultra modern hotels, and yet you see subtle traces of history past.
I ventured out alone in the city. I had my heart set on the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar. Armed with a few hundred liras, a digital camera, the hotel's business card and a map of the city, I thought I was all set. Apparently, I should've thought of it more thoroughly. Leaving behind a map of the city's underground railway system is definitely a result of the lack of thorough thinking on my part. I nearly didn't make it back to the hotel. I knew how to get from Levent 4 to Taksim but that was it. I had no idea how to find my way beyond that. The local Turks didn't speak English but they tried really hard to help me find my way. I even spoke in Malay, out of sheer frustration since they wouldn't even be able to understand me either way, pointing to the spot on where Taksim is located.
Cinta, City of Istanbul.