Thursday, 15 March 2012

Camel Wrestling and Istanbul Boat Show

If you have not experienced ‘Camel Wrestling’ it is a must see – or so we have been told.  On 15th January Jill & Will came to join John and head off to this event.  We hired a car and at 1000 set off to find the arena where they hold the wrestling, not without some apprehension as we had heard that it had been cancelled due to the weather, whilst others insisted it was still happening.  Regardless, we were not going to miss this once a year event, and with directions from one of the local shopkeepers we hit the road.

Thanks to Allah (as our Turkish friends would say), and our local shopkeeper, we found the arena pretty easily. Thousands of people had already arrived, camping, picnicking and sheltering from the cold weather. We noticed several camels were dressed beautifully with lots of jewelry and colorful clothes adorning every part of them. 

As time passed, more crowds arrived as did the number of colorful camels. We were told that camels are put to fight and the winner’s prize is to be mated with the female camel, thus the wrestling day is also the camel’s ‘wedding’ day! Not a bad deal for the camel!

During the event, John and Jill (the celebrities that they are) were interviewed by the local TV, asked about where they from and what they thought about the event. 

Will was busy taking photos for his new career - online photos sales, shooting every single item that may make him a star of the industry, and of course $$$. The smell of the camel was everywhere, and was exaggerated by food stalls cooking and selling their meat.

There was really authentic music that had lots of people dancing including several aspiring belly dancers.  All in all a great experience, and although it is an annual event – John summed it up by saying “you would only visit once in a lifetime”, 

Woei Haw came back from the Chinese New Year in Singapore at the end of January, and spent two days at work in Istanbul while waiting for John to return from a short trip to Australia. The weather is bitterly cold in Istanbul, which was covered with snow - snowball fights everywhere, which was indeed a new experience. Woei Haw departed early to the airport after a shocking experience the day before when heading north to visit his business associates.  He was trapped on the highway for hours due to a heavy snow storm, causing major congestion, made even worse by slow moving vehicles on the icy motorway. Thousands of people were stranded waiting for a bus home, wandering around under the dim moonlight looking like a Michael Jackson MTV - the trailer zombie!! He reckoned he would freeze to death if he were to alight from the cab and join the waiting crowds.

Most of the flights were either late or cancelled. John's flight being one of them arriving two hours behind the scheduled time, which caused them to miss their connecting flight to Izmir. The whole airport was in a real chaos however after hours of arguing, we managed to change the tickets to the following day. We were the lucky ones as thousands of people were trapped in the airport, with heaps of shouting and screaming over the counters and loads of very upset people.

We returned to Taksim and spent a lovely night in town, experiencing an unusual heavy amount of snow fall in the most vibrant town of Istanbul, and hoping the weather would improve the next day to allow our return to Awatea as soon as we could.

The saga continued after we successfully boarded the flight and took off for Izmir. The heavy snow moved to the south and hit Izmir forcing the airport to be closed. All the flights to Izmir were diverted to Bodrum, and we had to spend half an hour circling over Bodrum airport waiting to land. Finally and much relieved, we were then put on the bus to Izmir airport. The trials of Winter - a real nightmare!

Awatea is in his good shape!

It was fine Friday morning in Kusadasi, we headed back to Istanbul for the boat show. We were a bit doubtful if the Turkish could live up to their claim as being the second biggest indoor boat show of the world. Since we had four entrance tickets, it was worth a visit just for a look.

Istanbul was still cold and lots of snow when we returned. We spent a lovely evening wandering around Taksim checking out the nightlife and had a very good Chinese meal - Chinese black mushroom and tofu that we have never been able to find in Izmir, and other great dishes.

As instructed in the boat show guide, we find ourselves queuing up at Taksim Square early Saturday morning to catch the shuttle bus to the show. Just as well we were early as the queue attracted more and more people as the departure time drew closer. Whilst waiting in the queue we also received advice from the gentleman ahead us for our expedition to ‘West Marine’ in Istanbul tomorrow.

It was a long drive to the show venue and on arrival noticed several international flags flying around the entrance which really boost our confidence. There were thousands of people arriving from every direction with loads of flash cameras and videos,, and after a grand opening speech at the front door it finally is 'Show Time’.

It indeed was a big boat show, and we are once again surprised by the Turkish organization for this event. We spent a whole day at the show, finding some good gadgets and valuable contacts for getting items serviced, and received an attractive offer for a new mainsail and AIS system. 

We also visited the showboat of Hanse – the new 495! We both fell in love at first sight. The interior space has been redesigned making better use of the space, a bigger kitchen, heads, bedding, and the finishing of the boat just make this production boat close to custom level.

We had a bit of bad luck as the carrier with all the materials, brochures, flyers we had collected from different exhibitors was taken by someone! Bummer. After the busy day it was a pretty quiet evening and we decided to have an early night.

On Sunday, we headed across to the Asia side of Istanbul to find West Marine. It seemed to take us a long time to travel to the other side of Istanbul despite picking the shortest passage and the fastest public transport. The size of the West Marine was virtually the same size as their Marmaris branch, however we managed to find an Istanbul coast chart and new pilots books for Turkey and Greece.

On Monday Wei haw heads off to work, while John returns to the boat show alone and signs off on the new main sail contract with Dolye. Claims it is an early birthday present to himself! He was interviewed by local TV which leaves us wondering maybe that was the real reason for the sudden commitment to buy the new sail!

On the following day, we met up with Sue’s friend Tanju, who used to be stationed in China for ten years for work, and who makes heaps of trips to Woei Haw’s business. Tanju took us miles away to a famous Chinese restaurant which happens to be one of his customers. At the same night and same restaurant, China’s Vice President was here an hour earlier for dinner!!!!! The guy who will soon become the president of China, one of the world most powerful nations!!! We missed that which was a bummer, but according to the owner Mr. Wang, many Chinese big leaders and business associates visit their restaurant regularly! So another good contacts for us!

It is a fruitful trip for us, returning with lots of new information and tools for Awatea. Staying these five days in Istanbul has definitely brought our understanding and love for this mega city to a new height.

No comments:

Post a Comment