My 12 hour journey on the bus from Istanbul on Sunday was made more entertaining by a viewing of the Turkish film ‘Ay Lav Yu’ (I love you). As I sat there, the only yabanci on a bus full of Turks, I tried hard to cover my guffaws. A mouth covering hand here, the occassional pretend cough there, but in the end I just gave up the pretense, thought to hell with decorum and laughed my socks off.
It’s the story of a village boy from a tiny South Eastern Town near Mardin who falls in love with an American called Jessica, bringing her home to the village.
The reason it made me laugh so much was familiarity. I have been in Jessicas shoes and vividly remember the extreme differences between cultures, that are at first shocking.
The welcome scene where the village men let the guns off, the celebratory sacrifice, the communal floor sleeping and the nazar spitting all had me in hysterics.
I am obviously an old hand at village customs these days and what once was shocking has become commonplace.
Refreshingly enough though, I still come across the occassional surprise when adventuring and hope I always will. Thats what makes Turkey so addictive for me. It’s a weird and wonderful country and I echo the sentiments of that film; Turkey, Ay Lav Yu!
I was a pretty late starter when it came to Driving. Spending my twenties in West London, a vibrant place with plentifull public transport, pubs, restaurants and shops, the need to drive was not too strong.
I think I was around 28 when I finally decided to take lessons, all of them around 5ish on the Fulham Road. You can imagine, I didnt get very far distance wise but I was a whizz at clutch control and parking in spaces more suited to a hatbox.
Driving in Turkey can be quite stressful. The Turks seem to have an ‘anything goes’ attitude toward it and will often reverse up a road if they have missed a turning, or drive the wrong way up a road as a quick short cut so, even as a pedestrian, its probably best you look both ways when crossing the road. As a driver, the following tips could prove useful.
I had an interesting conversation with my husband about our funny European ways and our habitual ‘blind spot’ check. It appears, this is not something they teach at Turkish Driving School. Our first conversation of this nature went something lıke this;
Hubby: What are you doing, why do you keep looking over your shoulder
Me: Im checking my blind spot
Me: The blind spot, you know the spot you can’t see
Hubby: Canim, that is what the mirrors are for (this said while pointing to the mirrors both front and side)
Me: Errrrrrr, no canim, thats what a blind spot means, you are blind to it
He shakes his head as if I am crazy and has a wry smile on his face.
This was some years ago now and to this day he will not aknowledge the fact that it exists! Neither do his countrymen and therefore, ever since then I flash my lights wildly every time I am overtaking!
INDICATING AND TURNING LEFT:
Now this little trick I learned the hard way!
Us Brits, who have passed driving tests, know that if we want to turn left we indicate, pull over to the left side of the road and wait until there is a gap in the traffic before turning.
So, there I was driving to work one bright sunny morning and needing to turn left I indicated in good time. I’d already checked my mirrors and seen the yellow taxi some way behind me and had assumed, he had seen my indicator. Nothing coming on left side of the road so I turned the nose just as the taxi sped up behind me to overtake. He then realised I was turning, swerved, lost control of the car and crashed into the high pavement on the corner of the road.
As he got out, his face was dripping with blood where he had obviously hit his head on the steering wheel (not wearing a seat belt is another common habit among the Turks). He started ranting and raving at me while waving his hands and as I responded with my own hand waving ‘Ramazan Amca’ who had seen what happened from his restaurant along the street, arrived on the scene. ‘Kym ofıs’ he said. Well I didnt need telling twice.
There were no repercussions, the whole thing was smoothed over by Ramazan who later explained to me the rules of the road.
When you want to turn left across oncoming traffic, you indicate left but……… if there is anything behind you, you pull over to the right hand side of the road and wait until the cars behind you have passed by before you turn left!
In smaller towns these are largely ignored! However, bear in mind that a flashing red does not mean STOP. Only a non flashing red means STOP. In larger towns the light system has a tımer countdown so you can see how many seconds left before you can proceed.
A law unto themselves. I’ve found the best thing is not to hesitate as everyone else does and you come to a mexican stand off!
Comes as natural as breathing to Turks and is not considered rude. Personally I’ve taken to the habit rather well
Speed limits can also be confusing and not always well signposted (if at all). There is one particularly notorious stretch of road in our area where the speed limit varies dependent on the engine size of the car you are driving (I kid you not). The larger the engine the lower the speed but not a sign in sight to let you know!
There are no speed cameras on the road, just an unmarked car parked on the roadside underneath a tree or bush. This will face the oncoming traffic and in them will sit a little man trying to look inconspicuous while pointing a speed gun in your direction.
If you are unfortunate enough to be caught out by one of these, expect an on the spot fine and a point on your licence. Be sure to always carry your licence with you as without it the Polis will not allow you to drive off and can also fine you for not carrying it.
I’ve driven in quite a few country’s and notice there seems to be one universal sign. The flashing of lights from drivers on the adjacent side of the road in warning that they have passed and you are approaching a speed trap. Its the same here so heed them and slow down.
An average guide to speed limits on such roads: small engine 100km Medium 90km Large 80km
iyi yolculuk lar people