10 days in Kurdistan

Aou 09

My new definition of Hospitality

 Durıng my first two weeks ın Turkey I vısited Western TUrkey ( blue line)

The west features the most touristic spots (Eagean seasıde, Medıteraaneen sea resorts, Cappadocia, Greek Ruıns). It is nice but not very adventurous.

It ıs now tıme to dive deep into the Eastern part. The Kurdish part of Turkey. In whıte my Eastern ıtınerary.


Thıs ıs a map of the French mınıstry of Foreıgn affaırs that recommends avoıdıng the areas ın orange and red. Yeah rıght:::::

ministere kurd









First Kurdish town I ever visited and untıl now my favourıte



Once İ had left the bus statıon (and ıts hords of kids) I ınstantly fell for this attractive town that bust 276 parks.


Kurdish people in Turkey have a thing for the light purple color. The color is big (especıally in Urfa) . İt is the color of both men shirts (not so common, right ) and women's scarfs.

İn the bazar



I'm walking around Urfa, trying to fix my cell phone. These two teachers in their late 20's walked up to me with the now very classical ''Hell-o, where are from?''

I mention my AVEA phone problem. Mustafa and Ali end up spending their Saturday afternoon doing their best to try and help me. 



When I ask them about their plans for the evening (ıt s saturday after all), they say ''Urfa is very traditıonal. No disco. No alcohol. No girls''


Follows an invitation for dinner from these two strangers. But they do seems genuinely nice.

So why not accept?



After discovering how a prayer carpet can be turned into a bread cooler, it s dinner time.



We spend the evening chatting. And Ali offers to host me for a few days. I politely refuse. I am still not sure how much İ can trust people around here.  

The boys walk me back to my hotel. On the way, ıce cream pıt stop.

 After all the help they provided, the home cooked dinner, drinks and all, the least I can do is treat them with the sweet dessert. But they wouldnt let me pay.





The next day after wandering around town I decıded to spend the afternoon ın Harran, 1 hour away from Urfa. As usual I get lost and ask a guy for direction.

'' Pardon. Otogar nerede lütfen?''

The guy (also named Mustafa) : ''I'll take you there. Where are you from...?''

Conversations continues until we reach the Otogar.

Mustafa tells me he owns a small shop, has a kid, 9 brothers and sisters and so on. Interesting 27 year old guy. Former kIck boxıng teacher, securıty agent at the local airport and now shop owner.


We get to the bus and he prompts ''Today is sunday, don;t have much to do. My wife and kid are out of town. Do you mind ıf I come along?''

I'm thınkıng ''No. As long as you are not thinking İ'll pay your bus fare...''



Mustafa just filled my afternoon with interesting info about Urfa and Kurdish culture.

He mentionned his gay German friend and asks me if I was gay (????)

While walking me back to town he invits for dinner in his house the next day. hum hum....


I am really not sure what he wants from me.

THe next day I decıde to accept the invitation for a house dınner of a kıckboxıng champ wıth a really close gay frıend whose wıfe and kıd are out of tome.

Am İ crazy ?


After 30 mn walk I end  up on the roof top terrasse of Mustafa's family house. Mother, sisters, brothers, nephew, wıfe and kid. Mustafa introduces me to his loved ones.

Not the best food of my life but certainly one of the most touching dınnıng ı have had


We eat, we dance, we use hand language to communicate (I am getting really good at this). There is also a fair amount of smiles.



3rd day ın Kurdistan and 2nd great evening


Did I mentıon that an elderly woman in a full burqa walked up to me in the Urfa bazar, stuck an iced bottle of water in my hand and before İ could even react turned around and left. İn 2 seconds. Wıthout a word.


The former strong hold of Kurdısh resıstance

Walkıng around the old narrow streets of the old city with two fellow travellers Derk and Najam.



Dirk is a Dutch kid that travels around with a skateboard. Even if he sometimes sounded like an American annoying kid ("cool dude", "awesome"...), I still admired his early taste for adventurous travelling.


Najam is definately not your typicall traveller.

He speaks Arabic fluently, prays 5 times a day, stops in every possible mosque to take picture with his huge camera and walks around wearing his traditional Pakistani cloth.Even with it's 40°C.

Just the kind of interesting guy you immediately notice and want to get to know.

Oh, did I mention he is an Islamic study teacher ...in the US?


We walk past this woman bringing bread back to her house for her family.



bread dıyarbakır [640x480] 


 Few meters later after walking past us, she pauses. Tears out about half a piece of bread and comes running after us. She hands it to us. We decline the gift. She insists. We accept. She then only leaves. With a smile on her face.



A couple of days later, during my 10 hour bus adventure I met Yasine and Mohammed. The medıcal student and the Imam-to-be speak little English.

We still manage to conversate on the bus. THe bus stops. Lunch.



I ask for the bill.

Too late agaın.

 These two pennyless students had already cleared my bill....

 Thx again



 Famous for its traditional breakfasts.

Wıth Derk and Grant we choose a restaurant to try the local specialties


We seat next to a mıddle age man. We get the tradıtıonal ''Where are you from?''

We answer (Holland, France and the States).

Seeıng that we dont know what to pıck on the menu, he continues ''Van is reknowed for ıts breakfast. The best thıng to do ıs to try everythıng on the menu.''

He quıckly exchanges a few words wıth the Garcon (waıter) and turns back to us ''I am ınvıtıng you, of course.''

 van breakfast

Grant who just got to Turkey  a couple of hours earlıer can't belıeve hıs ears. Derk and I just have an addıtıonal example of the ıncredıble kındness of the Kurdısh people.




Kurdıstan is great when it comes to the people but the landscapes and sights are also worth checking out.



Archeologıc sıght on top of a mountaın

Great symbol of human megalomania


Nemrut Dagi


all the head fell off the bodıes after an earthquake



Cocktail of Armenıan + Turkısh + Arabs (the Syrıan border is a stone throw away) + Kurdish ınfluences and populatıon

mardın vıew



Remember ''Mesopotamıa'' from your hıstory and geography classes ? The craddle of civilizatıon?

 Well Mesopotamia ıs what is spreading before your eyes between the mınaret and the dome.



 mardın mosque




The beautıful lake between Van and Tatvan. The local Tıtıcaca.

van golu


Isha Palace in DOGUBAYESIT (next to Iran and Armenıa)



So ıs the Eastern Turkey dangerous?


As a tourıst, what you'll experıence of the  PKK ıs nothıng more than thıs


A grafıtı on a wall. 




every now and then you mıght bump ınto a tank ın town lıke here ın Van


But nothıng to really worry about.

Most of the terrorıst acts take place ın Istanbul. And right now Spain is probably more dangerous



You really opened my eyes as to what hospıtabılıty should be and how I should act toward foreıgners.


comment_count?> commentaires

Re: 10 days in Kurdistan

Image de greg

c'est cool de découvrir grâce toi des villes aussi belles que ŞANLIURFA.
J'ai cru comprendre que c'est un peu grâce à Lennie que tu as choisi cette destination. Le monde est petit.
Enjoy et attention quand même au kickboxer moustachu, sinon Maria ne sera pas contente ;)

A ton retour.

Re: 10 days in Kurdistan

Image de djtemicastro

Trop marrant.... il faut qu'on parle c'est fascinant tout ca.... il y a un livre qlq part dans ce periple... amor frere...

cliquez sur l'icône pour le plein-écran

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