TURKEY
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United States Department of State issues Turkish Travel Warning

I had read and heard a little about Turkey and also reviewed "Midnight Express" before our trip. I'd read somewhere that because Turks drive automobiles like madmen, motor accidents happen very frequently, and because of the hot weather plus the fact that it takes a long time before the authorities can take care of accident victims, all vehicles are required to contain one (1) body bag. While I do not know if this is an actual law, it might be a good idea. Indeed, on the hour long drive from Antalya to Side we saw one accident that appeared fatal. You really have to be careful while crossing streets, as it seems like the cars whizzing by are simple machines with no brains and will not stop.

We were in an area called Kumk÷y, about an hours walk from town. We stayed at a hotel called Sun Suite Center, a nice relaxing hotel close to the beach. Kumk÷y is a real dump. It reminds me of some sort of makeshift marketplace in a desert somewhere that had been abandoned for years, then all of the sudden people are there again, only they haven't fixed up anything - the place seems to be falling apart. The hotels are nice, but there is nothing to see in Kumk÷y besides the beach. There is an area a few kilometers north of the Kumk÷y Tourist Area where the locals live. Christina & I checked it out. It was pretty run down. We did however meet 3 children there. I asked if I could take a picture of them and they didn't understand. I took out the camera and they just stood the so I took a couple, then gave them enough money to buy some candy somewhere. They ran off. We walked on, and later, they came running up to us. The oldest one was saying something I couldn't understand at all. I figured they wanted me to take more pictures for more money. But then, I understood - they were inviting us to their home for tea! We were really touched by this, but we said no thanks. It didn't feel right.

Side is a nice town, lots of shops and bars. Everything seemed inexpensive. Eating out was a cinch: Order anything you want on the menu, you can afford it. Beer was also cheap. Their local brew - Efes - tasted pretty decent to me and it went for around 1 USD or 1 EUR at the bars. It was insanely cheap at the supermarkets, along with everything else.

Getting to Side from Kumk÷y was a hassle for us. Taxi's are expensive and it's too far to walk after a night out. A popular transportation method is the use of "Dolmuses". A Dolmus is a van that picks people up on the road. There are no designated stops, they stop when you flag them down. The only problem is they drive so fast, you have a hard time making out the final destination printed on the vehicles. When you get in, the Dolmus can be packed with people. You the money is passed up to the driver, and the change is passed back to you.