The big day has arrived! ANZAC 2015

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Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Gallipoli
April 30th 2015
Published: April 30th 2015
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We start the day of going to The ancient city of Troy wow, how cool is this place, feeling a little over seeing rocks, but the history that comes with it is rather amazing!

We spend a few hours there and head off to the supermarket to get some supplies for the Anzac ceremonies. Got some cool gifts and a few things for me too yah! We walked into the shopping centre excitedly to head to the supermarket and were so surprised that we saw a Burger King! Omg. Large chips, chicken tenders come at me baby! YUM! We get a whole bunch of Pringles, pretzels, some dark chocolate for me and some other for Kaine, get some lollies, Kaine got some sandwiches, and I had some fruit from the fruit platter we got at Adina spa the day before for my 'healthier option'. We spend about 60,000 Lira, which is about $30 dollars on about 4bags of food, I felt dirty with so much junk food, but with limited options we did our best.

We get back to the bus and I repack my day pack (now weighing in at about 13 kg) I finally feel ready for the night and day ahead of us.

We jump in the bus and head to Gallipoli.

On a ferry after waiting about an hour, apple tea and a spot of shopping!

Off the ferry and drive around the peninsula.

Coming to the first check point shortly after 11 am such an organised event, a lovely kiwi girl gets on board and tells us how the day will go and checks all our passes by scanning them and matching the info to our passports, another kiwi guy (from Chch) gives us wrist bands and a tag with our bus number. (Over 300 busses, they need to get this right) they stagger the busses too to control flow and security.

So the excitement is building. We have stopped off at a check point near the Turkish gravesite. I had absolutely no idea how many Turks died in 1915. It is about 8 x the kiwis and the Aussies. Such a waste of life for all, such a waste. We carry on to the next check point and then the next, (3 in total) so many busses!

We jump off the bus with everything being told time and time again there will be no returning to the bus, so if you forgot something, you're basically screwed!

We head to a security screening, body scans, bag checks, so much security, armed soldiers everywhere! First info pack with a book of the day's events and a poncho. We walk into the first holding area and Kaine finds us some hotdogs and a sweet treat for him.

We wait there till our busses are called in order of 10s I can't remember but it was a few hours at Mimoza park. (We were bus 83) so didn't really have to wait too long, plus to be honest, I didn't ask as that was really the least of my cares.

We walked through another security point and get given our second info pack, with a beanie, another poncho, and a pen and a survey and a rubbish bag. The beanie was so big I could have sat in it but it was awesome and soft and warm so it put it on and rolled it up above my eyes, fashion was the last thing on my mind, I only wanted to stay warm, I was determined not to freeze.

We wait a little longer, and then we are told we can head in to get our seats, we had walked I think about 2kms by this point, taking in the scenery so it really went so quickly. We piled in and Kaine suggested we sit in the stands, I asked him if he wanted to sit in the grass area and I am so pleased he gave me his look and said 'ah no'. Boy was I grateful.

We make ourselves at home in the stands and get comfy, I have 5 layers of clothes and my bivvy that I try to strategically time as the night got colder to put on layer after layer.

As the sun was going down so was the temperature, so just before, I make the trek through to the toilets thinking there would be long queues, but not at all, so I put on my thermal pants and top and load on my three other top layers.

Got back and sat down and Kaine went and got a hot drink, he was gone for over an hour and a half!...the queue was enormous! I was ready to send a search party.. Ever so grateful for his return even if it was the worse coffee, it was hot and that was all I cared about,

it was currently 8-10 degrees. I had prayed so hard that it wouldn't rain or be too windy and as the night progressed I felt more and more happy to be there without horrible weather. Feeling blessed.

The night ran quite nicely, they played documentaries all through the night, there was a little time for shut eye but when I did, Kaine's shoulder came in ever so helpful (bless his broad shoulders).

I slept on and off for a few hours and woke up as the sun was starting to set.

It was actually quite magical, we were sitting right next to the the waves lapping and they had it on speaker, and had bright blue lights shining, I felt like it was a dream. It was absolutely breathtaking and magical. Who seriously could want for more when you feel this amount of peace with yourself and with the world.

At that point I had not one care in the world, not one selfish thought about my life, my happiness, my dreams, nothing, nothing but thoughts of respect for our fallen, those who served and those who lost their loved ones. The enormity of my emotions was rather overwhelming and my eyes consistently welled up with tears.

A little after 5.15am there was total silence, like dead silence. For about 5-10 minutes we just sat/stood there in total peace. It was so incredibly surreal.

After some time in silence, the ceremony was opened and proceeded with a couple of speeches, including both Prime Ministers and Royal family.

The crowd sang the National anthems, Turkish was first, then Australian then New Zealand starting with Maori. I sung so loud and proud, tears filled my eyes and rolled down my cheeks.

I remembered every verse of both Aussie and Maori/English anthems. My singing voice is average, but the woman behind me was amazing! I filmed it for mum.

Following a couple of speeches and the anthems there was the laying of wreathes, so many were laid at the Anzac Cove spot from each countries Prime Ministers , Royal family and other dignitaries.

It was unfortunate that I couldn't take photos as the stage was a remembrance point, not to be treaded on.

After this, we waited some more and then one by one our sections were called to vacate. In that spot there were over 15,500 people. Simply WOW!

We make our way through to the starting point to walk to Chunuk Bair and we stop off at Beach Cemetery to pay respects to Jack Simpson Kirkpatrick who I recently found out that I am a descendant of. Found it pretty easily, as everyone was lined up waiting to take photos. I couldn't believe it! so many people. I started to bawl my eyes out.

A lady was standing near to me and I asked if she could take a photo, she asked if I knew anyone with a connection to him as I was crying, and I explained my story, she began to cry and started telling everyone, I was a little bit shy as everyone wanted photos of me too.

Knowing I had been up since 5am the previous day so approx 17 hrs on only a few hours sleep and had cried a few times already I wasn't really 'photo ready' but how could I refuse. The lady hugged me really tight and said that she brought a toy donkey and teddy and she was a teacher and had been telling her school about 'Simpson and his Donkey' and that the school needed another photo of me with the teddy. So I obliged.

I ran out fairly quickly as Kaine was waiting for me at the entrance (about 300mtrs) and we were eager to get to Chunuk Bair in case it rained.

A 6.6 km hike was ahead of us. The first section up to Lone pine was all dirt and rock and was very steep, walking up the hill everyone is peeling off their multiple layers of clothes. We come to a standstill and from a distance there was a sense of relief that they were telling the Aussies to stand to the right to let the kiwis through as we had another 3.3 kms to go. A few Aussies got a bit narky about it but I didn't care.

We hit the fork in the road where Lone Pine is one way and Chunuk Bair the other, and there were toilets! Oh the relief, I peel off my under thermals and phew I can breathe again!

Walking up the very steep hill to Chunuk Bair we pass the Turkish site, they had beautiful horses with soldiers on top and big stallions they were too. There was singing coming from it, there were SO many Polisi (Police).

Carried on walking. I would have to say the entire way up, maybe every 20 mtrs or so there was an armed solider with massive weapons, snipers and all. I felt so safe..yet slightly intimidated!

We reach Chunuk Bair and wait about 3 more hours to go into the seating area.

On the way in a Air Force official asked if I would like a poppy cos he saw I didn't have one (cos teddy was wearing my one) and I graciously thanked him. I had not seen one place selling poppies in Turkey sadly. There were many poppies growing in the wild but I didn't want to pick them, to me, they were on sacred ground.

I thanked him for his service as he had a very decorated chest and he replied by saying that he doesn't often hear that and acted humbled by my manners. We talked a little bit about my grandad and general Anzac stuff and we then seperateD. I wish my grandad Thoms was still alive so I could talk to him more about it, it's funny, he used to always sing the song 'it's a long way to Tippireirie' I never knew where that place was. This song was sung several times during both services. I just know grandad Thoms was looking down at me.

We take our seats at Chunuk Bair as the N. Z high school ambassadors sang a collection of songs. They did us proud!

Could you believe, I sang all 5 Maori songs, 3 that I am sure I have not heard since primary school?

I thought a lot about my late uncle Doug who passed last year, and thought of my upbringing and my Maori Heritage, the latter not something I give a lot of thought to to be honest.

I was trying so hard to pose myself in front of the camera so mum and Kim could see me on T. V. I message Kim with my very last bit of cell coverage and told her I was wearing a bright pink jacket and hoddie. I saw myself on the camera, from behind. I wanted to stand up, turn around, and wave but thought that was probably not the right place to do it. I so badly wanted them to see me on T.V!

We sat down and a similar service to the dawn service commenced, speeches, singing and a minutes silence and tears come again! I was grateful for Kaine as he held me tight, felt so much love, honour, and emotion, it was exceptionally hard to collect myself.

Again! I had sang so loud and proud.

After the ceremony. We went through to another holding area.

A few more hours later and we get picked up for dinner and a four hour drive back to Istanbul, then bed. I was feeling rather groggy but was so pleased That I'd slept most the way. I was really agitated and kept flicking my legs around. We both had had enough of sitting in a bus, and am thankful that we'd be going home tomorrow...well, I was, but the fact we had been on a bus for many hours a day for about 8 days was a bit of a relief to know I'd be back at the gym soon.

The rest of the night was a bit of a blur and I showered, and within minutes was fast asleep.

Up in the morning, didn't feel like eating, just wanted to get to the airport. It was a bit of a confusing place, but we managed to work it out. Back to Burger King for 'brunch' urgh can't wait for some healthy food!

We wait about an hour before I can check in as Kaine had already checked into his flight. He walked me to the lounge and told me to rest, with a big hug and kiss. I grabbed some soup and a cold drink and sat and waited.

Did a spot of shopping for the last 48 lira I had in my pocket. Four packets of the most yummiest green apple tea! Turkish style yum!!! On the plane and homeward bound. Most memorable trip ever!


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