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Published: September 2nd 2008
I hadn't planned to visit the city of Diyarbakır
but I'm glad that I did. Being the centre of Kurdish identity as it has the highest population of Kurds in the country, it felt like I was venturing into new territory. Even though you can't really tell if someone is Turkish or Kurdish the vibe in the air is definitely different. And they speak a different language. I'm now onto my 6th language in as many weeks and my brain is starting to slow down so I was happy enough just to learn how to say hello and thank you in Kurdish.
The old walled city is only second in length to the Great Wall of China even though the walls are only 6km in length. It was great to be able to ascend the walls and walk along the top to get views of the city but also to see the inscriptions and decorations along them.
Walking through the narrow cobbled laneways we were invited into family homes to drink kahve
. The turkish coffee was so good that I drank it and I don't even drink coffee! We watched the women in the family
work while the man sat back and got served food and coffee before heading off to pray.
We were also accosted by heaps of children. In the space of 1 minute 5 kids turned into 30! They were entertaining at first but hard work after they wouldn't stop asking for their photos to be taken. We tried to shake them off only to find that more would appear from nowhere and they kept following us until an old grandma became our saving grace. We were walking past her house and suddenly she lost it, picked up a shoe and started chasing the children away!!! It was kind of scary at first because it all happened so quickly that I wasn't sure what she was doing and whether she was trying to shoo us away too! It ended up being quite funny because after all the children ran away, they started creeping back towards us only to come up against the grandma again. I wish I had of had the chance to take a picture of her!
After that incident, we realised we were a bit lost while trying to lose the children and we started asking how to
get back to the town centre only to find that nobody could tell us! We found out later that the people here assume that we are not speaking Turkish or Kurdish and hence when we ask a question they think we're talking another language. Finally an English speaking local appeared and told us he would be happy to take us to the centre and started explaining how he was a Dr. He then proceeded to ask if we had a hotel and instantly I put my guard up thinking that he was probably going to try and convince us to stay at one of his relatives hotels or something and then take us on a tour of a carpet factory - the token activity that takes place as part of any tour in this country. So I kindly thanked him and said we had a hotel already which did not go down well at all. He started getting defensive and saying he wasn't trying to sell us something and to follow him. So off we went until he said get into my car! At that point we said thanks but no thanks again and he got quite abrupt and got
this was the home we got invited into
into his car and drove off! In the end we found that we were only a few hundred metres away from where we were actually wanting to go. Who knows where he was going to take us!
That evening we came across another English speaking Kurd who we were a bit skeptical about but you can't really refuse an invitation to drink çay with a local in this country! We ended up talking to him for a while and were so impressed with how well he could speak English and how much he has travelled. He has been to Europe and the States and even Cambodia! He has worked in tourism for a while but didn't really try and sell us any tours until we asked whether he could take us to visit a few places on the way to our next stop. I had wondered where he got all his money from to travel until I learnt that it is by ripping tourists off! He wanted to charge us exorbitant prices for what we wanted so we resolved to having to catch the bus the following day.
Our time in Diyabakır ended off perfectly with a lovely
meal in a traditional restaurant. The food was so good that we were almost licking the plates clean!
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