Kon-Tiki is Home.
Les and Margaret (Kon-Tiki) are safely back in the UK. Meanwhile Clive and Ann (K-Nine) are sunning themselves in Turkey and Maureen (Womble) is on her way back to the UK.
The rest of this page is based on K-Nine's report of Christmas in Turkey and Womble's departure for the UK.
Christmas day and another very cold night. We set off along more snow covered roads and gradually made our way towards Van. We were worried as the road took us over a 2700 metre pass. As we drove ever higher it started to snow again. Soon the snow covered road was covered with even more snow and the wipers were hard pressed to keep the screen cleared. All this time Womble was driving without any snow chains so progress was slow. K-Nine had badly fitting chains but we had no trouble with the road surface.
Eventually we reached the top of the pass and descended gradually down the other side. The snow was thicker here and we decided to miss the town of Van (pronounced "One") as it was not directly on our route and go directly to the lake-shore. Van is located on the west side of the lake (called unimaginatively Lake Van) and our route was along the southern shore.
Eventually we arrived at the lake, which could easily have been mistaken for the English Channel. It is a very large lake and had large waves crashing on the shore coloured that sort of grey dirty colour that made it seem so familiar. Not so familiar was the snow piled up right to the waters edge (it is a fresh water lake).
A local garage said that the road to Bitles was closed (we had another two passes to get over) so we were somewhat despondent. All this time we felt that the longer we were delayed the worse the weather would get as winter really took hold. However we saw a couple a coaches come by. Knowing that it takes a lot to stop them we decided to go and see for ourselves. The road along the lake-side was dramatic; the colours of the water, snow and mountains in the afternoon sun provided us with a spectacle we had never seen before.
Eventually we started climbing and we reached a police post. They said "no problem" so we continued. There was some snow but we were able to keep going over both the passes and through the next town until we reached Bitles.
Here we stopped at a service station and we made a special effort to celebrate Christmas. We put up tinsel in the vans and set up the (miniature) Christmas tree. Our meal was Coq au Vin with mashed potatoes and vegetables, followed by Christmas pudding and cream washed down with a couple of bottles of beer. Due to a translation error however, the cream turned out to be cream cheese. The effect was not unappetizing but did not seem to be quite right. The event caused a great deal of merriment and mirth and resulted in a few phone calls to regale the family with the story.
Again Womble was left with the engine running overnight. K-Nine had the diesel heater running but this shut down during the night so the engine would not start in the morning. I was not surprised as the depth of snow around us was the greatest we had seen - cars were completely covered.
It had been the coldest night we had experienced (-20.2 Celsius). Everything was now frozen. Our fresh water had now been frozen for a week and we were boiling water made from melting snow. We had worn the same clothes for a week and gone to bed wearing them. We were quite warm under 2 duvets and a thick blanket. The toilet was frozen and so was the waste water system. It was surprising that the fuel was frozen as we had gone to great lengths to resolve this problem by adding petrol and industrial alcohol to the tank both recognised ways of stopping the fuel freezing up.
We enlisted the help of the station attendant. After a slow start he got the general idea and eventually his boss showed up. Soon someone arrived with a bottle of propane and a torch attachment. This did not faze us at all as it was probably the third or forth time this method had been used to start the engine. The heat was applied to the fuel tank and gently over the fuel line and filters in the engine compartment. Unfortunately they became a bit too enthusiastic and set fire to something underneath! However handfuls of snow and jugs of water soon put the fire out. Which still left the problem of starting the engine. By now K-Nine's batteries were struggling and reinforcements were rounded up. A jump start was attempted from a small bus. But this seemed to make matters worse until I discovered that the bus was 12 volts and K-Nine needs 24 volts. A quick rewiring job meant that just one of K-Nine's batteries was boosted, but it was enough to get the engine going.
We departed thankfully and downhill. It was now downhill all the way to the coast of the Mediterranean. The snow gradually diminished as we went westwards. However Maureen needed to stop to get some cash so we visited a bank in Dyarbakir. This was a mistake. Firstly the ATM machine refused to cooperate, then Maureen made another mistake and went into the bank. After filling in a form and having her entire passport photocopied she discovered that they wanted to change her UK Pounds into US Dollars and then into Turkish Lire. Clearly this would cost more. So instead she changed her US Dollars cash into Turkish Lira. Another form and a repeat of the photocopying job. Eventually after 40 minutes (including tea) she had changed some money. Back at the ATM she had another go at getting money - no problem, cash quickly delivered!
It was now too late to continue any further so we found yet another service station and camped up for the night. The snow here was only a few centimeters. It was also quite warm (only -16.0 Celsius) overnight. K-Nine's diesel heater worked all night and the engine started in the morning as if it has been a summers day.
We set off again across the plains described in the guidebooks as steppes. They were certainly boring and although there were some ups and downs generally the road was descending. The snow gradually disappeared. Sometimes it came back but it was not until we reached a mountain range near Alana and went through several tunnels that it disappeared completely. At the same time the temperature leapt up from freezing point to plus 14 Celsius within a few kilometers. The thick blanket of snow on the roof of K-Nine and Womble began to melt so rapidly there were streams of water pouring from the roof. Everyone was fascinated to see such a thick blanket of snow no other vehicles had anything to show at all.
At last we reached the sea it was a sunny day and the sea looked just like the Mediterranean should look, a sparkling blue. We stopped at a roadside restaurant by the sea and sat outside for teas and later we had lunch and admired the view. We felt no need to hurry any longer this was the ultimate stress relief.
A bit further down the road we found an idyllic campsite. We
parked right on the seashore; there were all the facilities we needed including
an excellent restaurant. We chilled out for a couple of days while we decided
what to do next.
It started to rain so we decided to move on and find somewhere to spend New Years Eve. A few kilometers down the road we found a camp site (listed in Lonely Planet) in Anamur. It had a private beach and as we walked into the large buildings it clearly had a good restaurant. We spent a day cleaning and tidying and updating our computers. That evening (2002-12-30) we had some excellent fish. The owner was most helpful and we decided to attend the New Years Eve party. We were given a room for our own use and so cleaner and more presentable than we had been for many days we found our table for the celebrations. We worked our way through a buffet of meze(?) followed by grilled chicken and trimmings, fruit and of course beer and chai. There was lots of dancing to western style music at first which gradually became very Turkish and a lot louder. There were two or three singers, one who walked around the entire restaurant allowing money to be stuffed in his shirt collar!
The stroke of midnight (22:00 to those in the UK) Maureen broke into "Auld Lang Syne" - only to be immediately overwhelmed by music, a belly dancer and bright orange marine flares brought into the restaurant. Such is the way the Turkish celebrate New Year. We gave up after a while and went to bed somewhat deafened.
Next day Maureen decided to make a run for home. We were very sorry to part and it was a sad moment as we waved good-bye, but we managed a few photos despite the nagging hangover. We (K-Nine) will amble along over the next 5 weeks or so along the coast to Istanbul and hopefully meet up with our friends and eventually get back to the UK at the end of February 2003.
After Maureen left we went back down the road to see the Crusader castle we had past on the way in. Very imposing and built right on the sea shore. Then we drove to Anamuryum, a ruined city a few kilometers along the coast from Phoenician times. We wandered around for a couple of hours some of the time with the help of a chap with lots of keys who introduced us to some of the better kept secrets of the site in exchange for a few million lire and some tea-bags. In one place he carefully scrapped off the soil with his foot to reveal some beautiful mosaics beneath.
It started to rain again and following his directions we parked up for the night on a deserted car park and a deserted beach. Tomorrow we move on a bit, who knows what the new day will bring. As our personal saying goes - "every day is different"
|Clive and Ann Barker.|
Home - This page last changed on 2003-01-06.