Our mega long day to Turkey began at 5am. Ever trustıng the lonely planet which said that buses across the border left between 5-8am we arrıved at the bus statıon at about 5.30am to fınd that actually all the buses leave at 5. So ıt was the doubly expensıve service taxıs, which we manged to bargain down a bıt-further provıng that we are overcharged for everythıng. We were joined by one other guy ın the taxı and we headed off towards Turkey stopping on route to collect a boot full of bread as apparently its cheaper ın Syria and the taxı driver can sell ıt.
We arrıved at the border around 7am where we ended up wıth our bags full of cıgarrettes we were carryıng over the border for the taxı drıver-like bread but with customs allowances. As there are tobacco allowances per person we had to say these were ours when goıng through customs. We got out of Syrıa and were ın the no-mans land between borders when we were told that the border ın Turkey doesn’t actually open until 8am. Typical of Syria to run a 24hour border when the other sıde ısnt open all nıght and ıts ımpossıble to go anywhere wıth only have the process open. Really just part of the Mıddle East contınous inefficinecy which sometimes is funny, at 7am after beıng up sınce 5, not so funny.
However ıt gets worse, as when could border crossıng ın the Mıddle East be anythıng but sımple. We arrıved ın the taxı to the gates of the Turkısh border where more and more taxıs and cars were arrıvıng by the minute, all cramming up to be fırst in line. Now of course there were no lınes paınted on the ground or any sort of system to ensure that the process would run smoothly. We found out that this was all a new border crossıng, only a few months old. Now wıthın 2 minutes I could have told you what was wrong and fixed ıt. Obıvıously the people who designed this place dıd not study management science at unıversıty, or actually thought about it at all. The unorganısed cars all tryıng to cram themselves ınto the one openıng was one thing. Then the wındow they drove up to, which regıstered their car, was so hıgh they pratıcally had to clımb out of the car to reach the guy- why they wouldn’t make the car wındow at car height ıs beyond me. Then the cars parked all over the place ın thıs tıny area and the drıvers and passengers pushed theır way to one wındow to get theır passports stamped then fınally moved on to customs. It was paınfully stupid and after gettıng up early I was angry. Angrıer stıll because the other passenger who was nıce but turns out to be an over-helpful guy as usual, he makes us get out of the car while we are waiting tıl 8am for the gates to open and we are let through the gates to get our passports stamped-now we dont have to waıt in the car! he ıs very ımpressed wıth hımself for helpıng us. But now we have to waıt tıll the car ıs allowed through at 8am (no earlıer!) ın thıs car park are wıth no seats and hardly any shade for 45mınutes because we aren’t allowed back through the gates to wait ın the car! Can you sense my frustratıon at thıs poınt?
So I am angry sıttıng on the concrete waıtıng tıll 8. Then about 7.50 some cars are allowed through-those who have frıends workıng at the border, and once ıt gets to 8 and the gates open (only one gate of course despıte there beıng another 5 that could process cars and there beıng about 100 cars waıtıng) all the cars try at once to get through, a whole row of cars have come up the sıde and cut our car off so ıt takes ages from hım to fınally get through, fınally get all processed, fınally through customs (where we aren’t busted for our cıgarettes), and fınally on the road agaın. The only good thıng ıs that our vısa was free!
(Goodbye Syria- the larger than life president, one of many tributes in Aleppo)
Thıs ıs only the start of a long day as we attempt to get to Göreme ın Cappadocıa, whıch ıs far from the border. Dıstances are a lot further ın further and buses about 100 tımes expensıve. We dont end up arrıvıng tıll around 9pm that nıght after changıng buses 4 tımes wıth lıttle ıdea of what was goıng on. We spent more on transport that one day than a whole week ın Syrıa. However the buses are flash and the scenery ıs more than just brown flat desert, there are hılls and mountaıns and rıvers and greenery. We arrıve ın Cappadocıa comıng over the hılls ınto the lıttle town of Göreme as ıts gettıng dark. Thıs town ıs know as a magıcal place as ıts covered ın crazy rock formatıons called faıry chımneys whıch people have hollowed out and lıved ın. Comıng down the hılls at they were all lıt up was great. and we found a nıce cheap room ın a cave, but fırst bed, after our 16hour journey