In a Nutshell: Careless or Clueless?

Generally speaking, my trip to Turkey was full of surprises, like a non-stop long roller coaster ride for the whole week. I expected it would be the one of the most relaxing holiday moments to escape daily routines. But somehow, it happened otherwise. I still believe I could reduce or avoid the surprises, couldn’t I? Well, behind all the incidents or surprises during the trip: was I careless or clueless?

she’s either a pet, an animal farm or a public transportation and hopefully not food!

ALANYA

1. Almost locked up abroad for entering without visa: careless

Was I bullied at the immigration office in Alanya Airport regarding the visa? I checked the Turkish Embassy website and damn, they were right! The regulation has changed, so it’s true that Indonesian passport holders need a visa to visit the country. No matter if you just went there 1, 2 years or even 6 months ago, and which passport have, always verify bureaucracy regulations before visiting a place outside your own country. Everybody knows, but sometimes underestimates this issue.

2. Leaking shower hose in the hotel bathroom: clueless

Who knows whether you get a room with dirty bed sheets, broken remote control or leaking shower hose? Just be critical, report immediately to the hotel officials. If the complaint is too unbearable, get a replacement room when available if you want. It’s your right to get a decent and comfortable room – you paid for it, didn’t you? I  visited the country 6 years ago, websites and online bookings were not as developed as today. Nowadays, it’s very easy (and advisable) to check testimonials from visitors who previously stayed in the place you’re going to stay before making a decision.

rock house window, cappadocia

CAPPADOCIA

1. Local excursion didn’t fulfill some of their promises: clueless (with hints of careless)

“The tour includes the famous underground city and rock churches.” Yep, that’s what they said. They took us to the underground city, but not the most visited one. They took us to the famous area of rock churches in Göreme, but actually they only stopped right in front of the entrance gate and the entrance fee was not included in the package.

Having a preliminary research about your future destination will be helpful, either online (internet cafe, mobile internet – your choice) or go to Tourist Info if you prefer talking to the officials. Well, perhaps asking tourist info officials in Alanya about Cappadocia is not the best choice. But at least you know something and you can take the national tourism board brochures showing destinations in other regions when available.Therefore, you can take notes or keep in mind some names of the most visited places.

But in my case, it was completely a sudden decision! Yet I should have gone to Tourist Info or internet cafe first. I didn’t have to decide right away. Or just let the rest be adventure and suck it all!

Regardless, each city or country has its own way of doing things. Before taking an excursion from a local tour company in a city you’re not familiar with, make sure you ask more details about the tour packages they offer. Elaborate more questions such as, “Which underground city?”,  “What’s the name of the castle?, “Is the entrance fee included?” and so on. It might sound you’re too critical or suspicious. However, some destinations could be once in a lifetime for you. Unless you have much time, choose only the most popular and recommended sites that suits you.

Too much information results in lack of adventure, but too little results in ineffective time management. Nonetheless, getting lost and meeting unpredictable things are part of the art of traveling. Otherwise, what’s the fun? Where’s the adventure? What will you tell your peers about your trip? “Nothing much and as planned”? Even sometimes you meet unexpected things from a 9 to 5 job, don’t you?

2. Leaving a luggage in the baggage after getting off the minibus: careless

Just check your things to ensure nothing left behind before leaving the minibus, as simple as that!

Just don’t think Indonesian if you come to a store called “Pelit”. I don’t know what it means in Turkish, but in Indonesian it means “stingy” – unappealing translation, huh?

Well, probably some of you have had the same experience before and to be honest, I didn’t present any new traveling advice. I’m just learning from my mistakes -my introspection-, share them to you all, and hopefully they will be useful for everyone. Have a great trip!

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Careless and Clueless Journey – Alanya

Time flies… it’s been over 6 years ago since the last time I went to Alanya and Cappadocia, Turkey. My seven day trip to Turkey was probably the most roller coaster journey ever – distinctively memorable for the unexpected experiences, sometimes unpleasant, that took me to the next level of learning by traveling. Regardless, combination of breathtaking nature and fascinating history has made them top destinations you should not miss before you die. 

PAY THE FINE OR LOCKED UP ABROAD 

Arriving at Antalya Airport in the morning from Amsterdam, an immigration officer suddenly lead us to a smaller room that no other passengers came except us. My schoolmate and I sat there and looked each other, not knowing what was going on. Shortly after that, a dark blue uniformed lady came to us.

“You have no visa.” said the lady, starting a conversation. We were genuinely shocked. Indonesian passport holders need a visa to Turkey?? It had been part of the regulations that Indonesia passport holders doesn’t need a visa to go to Turkey as the moslem country solidarity agreement.

I was scared, confused and angry at the same time. I insisted, “Two years ago, I came to Istanbul and visa was not required. You can check the stamp in my passport.” Coincidentally, I traveled to Istanbul using the same passport number. She checked and found the stamp in my passport marking my arrival in Istanbul.

She replied, “Yes, I see. But now you need a visa to Turkey.” I still believed that she bullied us with visa as a pretext to get some extra income, aka a tool to get some bribery from foreign visitors. I just couldn’t accept it, but didn’t know how to solve it.

She added, “The flight from Amsterdam to Antalya only comes once a week. You have 2 choices, either pay the fine or stay in jail until the plane comes.”

Arguing about the visa thing would be a never ending story. We finally agreed to pay 100 euro fine each to end the nightmare. After that, the immigration officer stamped our passport with the biggest purple stamp we’ve ever seen, of which the size was almost as big as a regular visa sticker. 100 euro fine was nothing compared to joining the fellow convicts in jail. Leaving the airport, I was still wondering whether the visa issue was part of bribery tricks or purely a regulation change. I would find out after returning to Amsterdam.

ALANYA

Before Gazipaşa Airport functioned as an international airport in 2011, all international flights to Alanya could only land in Antalya Airport. From Antalya Airport, it took 2 hours to Alanya by bus. Alanya is situated in the eastern part of Antalya Province, the Mediterranean region of Turkey, 115 km from Antalya city.

Being in Alanya felt like being in Greece, rather than Turkey. Alanya is not Istanbul where grand mosques are the main tourist attractions. Somehow I forgot I was in a moslem country since caves, beaches and a fortress are more popular sites than mosques. The city has been a popular destination and (second) home of many European people due to its mild climate and picturesque view of the beach. Real estate business flourishes in Alanya thanks to them (if economy crisis doesn’t count). Needless to say, real estate in Turkey costs much less than that in Europe, especially in western Europe. Villa and apartment agencies claim in their pamphlets that their marketing team speak other European languages besides English. “Wir sprechen deutch”, “We spreken nederlands”, “Nous parlons français”  were written in front of their office.

SELJUK FORTRESS

The most dominating landmark of the beach city is Seljuk Fortress (also known as Alanya Castle), stretching 6.5 km including 140 towers, situated 250 metres above sea level. It was built in 13th century under the remains of Roman and Byzantine fortress after the conquest of Seljuk Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat in Alanya.

The fortress viewed from the Byzantine Church

one of the fortress gates

BYZANTINE CHURCH INSIDE SELJUK FORTRESS

Remains of Byzantine Church signifies the Christian era before the conquest of Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat. The frescoes once covered the dome and the wall are damaged, you only can see a slight trace of them nowadays. The old church was renovated in 1873.

RED TOWER

The Red Tower or Kizil Kule was named after the red bricks used to build the tower of which is 33 metres high. Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat completed the tower construction in 1226 to protect the Tersane or shipyard from the enemies. It is also one of the most important Sultan Alaaddin’s legacy depicting his power besides the fortress.

staircase to the top
the red tower
Turkish flag marking the fortress existence

MARINE LANDSCAPE: SELJUK SHIPYARD AND THE BEACH

cafes and restaurants facing Seljuk Shipyard
Ulaş Beach

DAMLATAŞ CAVE

Damlataş Cave is famous for its capability to heal asthma because its high rate of carbon dioxide, which is 8-10 times higher than normal and high rate of humidity. The site was accidentally found during the harbour construction while opening a stone quarry by a dynamite explosion. The beauty inside the cave drove the people to shift the explosion to a different location.

A SHOESTRING BUDGET TRAVEL

an Ottoman coin

The holiday offer we took to Alanya was a very good deal. It costed 250 euro all-inclusive: free breakfast, lunch and dinner in the hotel, 7 nights stay in a 3 stat hotel (for us, 3 star hotel was already good), a return flight ticket Amsterdam – Alanya, and a return shuttle bus from Antalya Airport to Alanya. The food was fair enough for saving our budget, especially after paying an unexpected 100 euro fine! But of course, eating the same kind of meal for 7 days in a row was killing us, too! We didn’t really do that, actually. The local food outside was much better, indeed, as long as they were hygienic. The hotel location was strategic since it was close to public transports and a local supermarket.

The only drawback we had – apart from forgetting the hotel name – the shower flexible hose leaked while we were out. When we returned to our room at 10 PM, our bathroom floor was full of water and the water almost reached the entrance door!!

IT’S JUST THE BEGINNING!

We accidentally found a row of local travel agents on street offering a package to other cities and regions outside Alanya. Seven nights in Alanya was enough to optimize our time in Turkey by exploring another city within the country. Nearly locked up abroad and flood in a hotel bathroom were just the beginning of the adventure. Regarding the visa issue, were we actually bullied or just careless? “Careless and Clueless Journey” will be continued – in Cappadocia!

the edge of a fortress