Monthly Archives: September 2016

Mosques and parkour in Istanbul

After checking out the things in the basic vicinity of my hostel, it was time to go further afield and also test out the Istanbul subway. I can say that the subway was pretty confusing compared to the ones in China, which I wasn’t expecting. Combining this with inaccuracies in Google and Apple maps, I did quite a bit of extra walking. That said I finally made it to my destination.

picture of Acrodemy Istanbul
Acrodemy Istanbul, an excellent spot for parkour training, if a little hard to find…

As a keen parkour guy, when I found out that there was a parkour gym in Istanbul I knew I needed to go check-it-out, despite the heat. It didn’t disappoint. I got a solid workout in and had a lot of fun too. I then made my way back towards the subway station, checking out a Mosque along the way.

Author in front of a mosque in Istanbul
A massive and totaly deserted Mosque; not used to getting the place to myself!

Overall it was a great although exhausting day, I covered a lot of ground and had a blast. I’m definitely loving Istanbul, despite the warnings about riots with recent political instability, it feels really safe here. I’m also enjoying the more relaxed pace of life in general, compared to the madness of China.

Balik Ekmek and exploring Istanbul

After recovering from my flight with a good night’s sleep I was back up to speed and ready to explore.

Sunrise in Istanbul
The morning sun rising over Istanbul
The twisting hilly and organic feel to the architecture is a stark contrast to what I was used to in China. The look of the place is also just so different – the absence of temples, insane driving and pollution, and the presence of grass and trees all makes for a very different experience.

Street food stall selling fish sandwiches
A typical street stall making Balik Ekmek (fish sandwiches)
The food is also very different. My standard meal has become Turkish bread with chicken and salad which can be bought to for the equivalent of $1.50 Australian. I also really like Balik Ekmek. This is a fish sandwich made from fish grilled right in front of you along with lemon, chilli and fresh salad all wrapped in crusty bread.

Gelata Tower at night
The Gelata Tower makes for an imposting structure.
My accomodation is very close to the Galata Tower, which initially I thought would be really handy for navigation, however the streets of Istanbul are often so narrow and windy that it’s impossible to see any useful landmarks. That being said, the tower looks rather impressive and makes for a nice area to hang out and grab food, although the banks of the docks seen to have better food at night.

Late night flights and arriving in Istanbul

After three weeks it is finally time to leave China! It’s a bit disappointing, I’d finally felt I’d got the hang of the place, understood the customs and the food. That being said it’s exiting to be on the move again!

picture of food and authors writing impliments
Decent healthy airport food, what is this madness?

I had a very late flight so I sat at the airport and ate a decent meal while doing some writing and waiting for my flight. As it turns out I should have not been so relaxed, as giving myself an hour to wait in line and get through security was cutting it fine.

picture of narrow street in Istanbul
My first look at Istanbul. Very different to China!

Getting in to Istanbul was great though, it has such an instantly apparent difference to China in pace, look and feel that I’m sure it’ll make for an interesting time.

Final days in China

I was up early and launching in to things in the morning. Early starts are a way of life in China. If you’re not up early you miss out on a decent breakfast (all the street food vendors pack up and leave), plus the buns all go cold. This leaves you with the option of mediocre and expensive restaurant food or waiting for lunchtime.

picture of deep fried bannana
Deep fried bannana, fruit is healthy right?

I met a massive group of 90 Chinese architecture students, all of whom thought it would be a good idea for me to tag along on their school excursion. This was pretty hilarious as they included me in everything, including school photos. There must be a bunch of photos in their university with me as the token white guy, which I think is pretty funny. They were all very nice though and we had a laugh as we all checked out the main attractions in central Xi’an.

picture of model of xian at xian musium
Scale model of Xi’an at the Xi’an Museum

The school is surprisingly controlled and orderly for an old group of students. They’re all 18–20 which in Australia makes you an adult. Here they still had regular roll calls to make sure everyone is there, along with a student hierarchy and the teachers as a leadership structure.

I tried this frozen yogurt stuff, which was really interesting. I didn’t know what it was, so when the guy poured the yogurt on a metal surface I assumed he was cooking it. The metal was actually insanely cold and he added jam and nuts to the yogurt to make a frozen dessert. It was actually pretty nice but amazingly cold, much colder than any ice cream I’ve had back home.

picture of very long abd thick noodles
Not a dish for the chopstick novice…

For lunch we had these amazingly long and wide noodles, this was very entertaining for the students I was traveling with as my poor chopstick skills were put to the test.

picture of men hanging banner
Wouldn’t want to be under that while theyre trying to hang it up…

Finally we went to the art gallery. Normally I dislike galleries, finding them to be rather boring and pretentious but China managed to inject enough chaos and excitement in to the place that I actually found it pretty cool! There were people in teams of two racing every which way with paintings wrapped in bubble wrap – always almost colliding with doorways and other paintings, swearing at each other as it happened. Over the entryway there were four guys all trying to hang up a banner. They clearly had no idea what they where doing, dropping spanners and screws on the the concrete down below. Overall it was a pretty mad scene, which was a very fun and memorable experience. I certainly wouldn’t have gotten that opportunity if I hadn’t run into the students at my hostel either, so that was a very lucky coincidence all round!