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Published: June 16th 2017
Geo: 37.4213, 38.366
This morning we all met in the lobby at 9am, packed and ready to go to Turkey. Fahad has left Aleppo, but made sure that the next tour guide would be here ready to meet us. According to our itinerary, there would be taxi's picking us up and taking us over the border. We soon got a phone call to say that we would not be taking the taxi's over the border, instead a bus will soon be there and we would all travel together with the guide over the border. Okay, so we waited at the hotel as he said he would be here soon. Waiting, waiting, waiting, got another phone call to say he won't be long. We continued to wait and we were starting to get impatient. This was wasting our time. Got another phone call and he said he would be another hour. So we decided to go for a walk in the search of food- we were starving as most of us didn't eat the breakfast on offer. Walked past all the dodgy market food stalls to the cafes near the castle. By the time we got there we decided that we didn't have enough time to eat so we walked back to the hotel and continued to sit around, cursing this new Turkish tour leader. We were so hungry and grumpy that we were still here and should have left at 9am.
At 2pm a man came into the hotel and asked if we were the Geckos group and introduced himself as Hussein- we were hoping that this guy wasn't our tour leader, but he was. We said yes. Boy did he have some explaining to do! He didn't make much of an effort to apologize to us and made no effort to make it up to us either. He decided to change the itinerary at the last minute and cancel the taxis. Instead he drove through the border with the bus that we should have boarded on the other side of the border. There was a long line at the border into Syria and he tried to bribe the guards to let him through sooner with no luck. His story didn't get any sympathy from us. We told him that we were hungry and not happy. He didn't realize that we were serious, so some of us then yelled at him, then he realized that we needed food. We got into the bus and drove around, right out of town where I'm sure there would have been somewhere to eat. But we drove to his friends, cousins, dads, uncles, brothers, etc's restaurant which ended up being closed, so we ate at the place next door. Our itinerary said that we were to have a BBQ lunch in Turkey- looks like we missed out on that. A BBQ would have been great!
Another border to test our patience. We finally got through and a few kilometres after the border the bus pulled over. We had to change from a large bus to a mini-bus! About 30 minutes later we arrived at Gaziantep and checked into our hotel. I got a great room again- large, comfy bed. Hussein wanted to take us to dinner. A few of us didn't want to spend any more time with him so we declined on his offer to get into the bus, drive and eat dinner with him. Instead Angie, Wayne, Mike and I found a Turkish restaurant with locals eating there. The food was great and the entertainment interesting. There was a Turkish lady singing and dancing and moving her way through the room entertaining the men with her cleavage- was something for the boys to enjoy and for the girls to laugh at!
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