The recent earthquake in Nepal has bought back memories of an unforgettable trip I did the Nepal in late 2008, I hope most, if not all, of these places are still standing.
Also see my subsequent post Ama Dablam Trek, Nepal – A Photo Essay.
We were really pleased to receive this article from Mac about the Evliya Çelebi Way 2014 ride and to hear that other riders joined along the way to complete the journey. Hopefully we will have more stories from Mac and Donna this year about their forthcoming horse-riding adventures.
Central Anatolian Trek, or Büyük Anadolu Tür 2014, Completed Successfully!
Gerald Maclean (Mac)
Donna and I reported on the early days of the 2014 ride from Avanos across the Konya plain to join up with the Evliya Çelebi Way in Kutahya, and we’re delighted to report that the ride was successfully completed (almost on schedule). Caroline Finkel left the riders once they reached Kutahya, but Tim Grace arrived from Australia to join the group on the final leg of the journey, which picked up the Evliya Çelebi Way.
Plans are underway to develop a series of equestrian extensions to the existing Evliya Çelebi Way in the Bursa-Inegol area. Tugrul Avci has met with Caroline Finkel to discuss proposals being put before the local provincial mayors to open up routes suitable for horses and walkers that would extend the ECW to take in the villages of Cumalikizik and Oylat.
Cumalikizik has recently been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This unspoilt village in the foothills of Mount Uludag provides an amazing example of early Ottoman village design and architecture; just as it was in Evliya’s day. Oylat is an ancient hot-spring ticked into a ravine which people continue to visit in pursuit of the beneficial effects of the mineral baths.
In addition to offering new possibilities for walkers trekking the ECW, the new route will provide new equestrian possibilities since the Cumalikizik-Oylat extensions would make for short-term riding expeditions of one to three days in the saddle. These shorter rides should suit anyone who cannot find the time to ride the Evliya Çelebi Way for the full two weeks from Kutahya to Iznik (or Yalova).
There are also hopes that the new equestrian route will be suitable for further development as a course for use in Equestrian Endurance Trials. If all goes according to plan, there will be an initial horseback expedition to find the best ways in May.
Meanwhile, the ECW remains open for trekking and spring will soon be bringing the flowers in profusion! Despite the troubles hundreds of miles away to the south, this will be a great year to visit Turkey since tourist bookings are down, making deals available. The exchange rate makes Turkey excellent value. Equestrian enthusiasts should know that the horses used on the Evliya rides are in fine form at the Akhal Teke Ranch in Avanos, and there are spaces available on most of the scheduled rides (see: http://www.akhal-tekehorsecenter.com/en/index.html )
Catching an autorickshaw for the first time can be quite scary, but is a cost effective alternative to taxis and is great fun if you are prepared for a lot of noise, traffic chaos and the challenge of trying to communicate with local drivers with very limited English. Here are a few tips that may help to make your first autorickshaw journey a pleasant experience:
- Make a mud map. Just on a piece of scrap paper make a rough map of the destination, you can hand this over to the driver. It doesn’t matter too much if he doesn’t hand it back or you loose it.
- Record the destination address accurately, make sure that you include the suburb or area name. If the driver doesn’t know the area that well they can always pull over and ask for further directions from a local shop keeper when they get there.
- Record the phone number of your destination. If possible write down the phone number of the destination so that if the driver gets lost you can ring up and ask for directions.
- Record major landmarks. On your mud map record any major landmarks or major cross streets close to your destination if you happen to know of any
- Ask a local, who uses autorickshaws on a regular basis, what they would expect to pay to go to your destination. This gives you a rough idea of what to expect as a fair deal.
- Agree a price beforehand, or insist that they use the meter. Autorickshaws are equipped with a meter but are not always used. If you have a rough idea of a fair price, or of what you are prepared to pay you can agree on a price before you accept the ride. However an agreed price will usually be more than the metered price, unless you are an exceptional negotiator. If you are after the cheapest option insist that they use the meter.
- Track the route. If you have a smart phone it is useful to track your progress to maake sure that you are heading in the right direction.
- Do not hand over your phone. Unless you really trust the driver, it is best not to hand over your phone as you may not get it back.
- Flag down a driver rather than picking one from the queue, if you choose an autorickshaw from the roadside queue (the equivalent of a taxi rank) it seems that you are charged an extra fee for the time that they spend waiting in the queue.
- Keep your stuff secure, hang on tight to your personal belongings as it is easy for a passing motorcyclist or pedestrian to reach in and grap what they want.
Hang on and enjoy the ride!