Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Allison Harvey

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Final Sprint for Home....Back to the Land of Kangaroos and Vegemite!

Well I thought I'd better finish this off, lest any readers thought that I was born in Namibia where the blog started and died in Turkey!

After another cold night we pack up and head out towards Istanbul. The back of the truck was freezing, I had packed up my sleeping bag and was huddled in one of the blankets that Lara had left on the truck, loaned to me by AK as there was no way I was fighting to fit my sleeping bag back into my well packed bag again! (thank god we had been robbed of everything otherwise we would have had no hope in packing our bags!) We drove through snow and the temperature dropped, and dropped and dropped, so much so that a few were able to engage in a few snowballs during one stop. Spencer, ever the scientist, brought a snowball into the truck and sit it on the floor, it didn't melt a bit!

We drove into Istanbul with heavy hearts and frozen fingers, I was sad to be saying goodbye to a great group of people (and one tightassed wanker) and wondered how some of the 'west coasters' were feeling after 43 weeks together.

Spencer and I headed off with all our gear in tow. This was the first time in three months we had to carry everything and our gear had tripled! We track down our hotel, we had managed to get a great deal on it and it was very flash, we got inside, turned the TV, heater and every other appliance on and rested for the afternoon. That evening we caught up with everyone for some beers, for me those beers hold a great memory, the last beer to be taken into my body (been almost three months now since I drank). After tea and beers and sheesha and beers and more sheesha Spencer and I headed back to our hotel and all the luxuries it contained.

The next day I was suffering a sheesha hangover, and realised that I had sucked way too much sheesha into my non smoking system, I downed a red bull in the hope of feeling marginally better but a super size redbull downed fast on top of a hangover and too much sheesha was not good. After Spencer warning me about drinking after my New Years Eve effort I wasn't in a spot to complain and just had to 'suck it up', much like I had the sheesha the previous night.

That day we wandered around all the main sights in Istanbul then met up with all the remaining others in Istanbul for a last feed at a local place. The following day we were out to the Airport headed for the warmer climate of Doha.

We arrive in Doha to rejoice in warm temperatures and being one step closer to being home, we see the main sights and clock up a fair few kilometers of walking. For one of the last times we miss our lonely planet guide and our GPS that were stolen when we 'misplace' our self. The wonders of technology have us sitting on a footpath in the dark with the laptop tuned into google earth for directions back to the hotel (we couldn't remember the name to get a taxi!)

Doha immigrant transport, in stark comparison to the luxury transport of the locals

The last day we spend the last of our dollars on a new pair of shorts for me, Spencer looks for a new pair of footy boots, much to my disgust, I get a feed of sweet and sour fish, some face cream and a small north face duffel bag and we head back to the hotel to pick our gear up before heading to the airport.

Now I have seem some airports in recent years, the good, the dirty, the ugly and then's a hole. Limited food outlets, one which had a line close to 100m long for hours upon hours! And all I want to do is get on that plane and get myself out of there! and home! I head the boarding call, Spencer is at the duty free trying in earnest to do a deal to get rid of some ridiculous amount of change on a magazine, then we head down to the bus out to the plane and wait, wait, wait.

Qatar Airways are good to fly with but don't live up to their 5 star advertisements, their food was good, service OK, but they had me a little nervous when they started asking for their blanket back! And we hadn't seen their blanket! honest! (may be similar to one we have at home...errr, I only said similar!)

Arriving back in Australia close to midnight we have the federal police board the plane as something has been stolen mid flight (I said that the blanket is similar! not the same!) then we realise that Rafael Nadal is seated in the row in front of us and the dickhead behind is hassling him then we are finally allowed off the plane and manage to get through customs and immigration (one positive thing of our robbery was Spencer getting a new micro chipped passport, so we were through in minutes, instead of me having to wait for him). Customs didn't even want to look at my wooden crocodile or ask about the multitude of internal parasites I brought back into the country, just welcomed us back and let us through whilst yelling at the man behind us for ducking under the same barrier that we had minutes before! You just gotta love returning to Australia!

"errr, where you been Red?"    Red m&m man returns with a tale to tell...

We return to Victoria as most of the place is flooding, including the creek and dam in my parents bottom paddock, the paddock across the road had 1m of water flowing through, The next day we hear that my folks static display at the Lake Goldsmith Steam Rally site has had 6ft of water through it causing irrepairable damage to most of the old engines and home wares.

The creek near my folks house
Caledonian Creek
The paddock turns into a river

The following morning we were up and about and into town to check out our new car, yes, we had managed to purchase a new Nissan Navara from Turkey (well we were in Turkey, the car was not!) Of course that didn't go smoothly (nothing has for us lately) and several days later we are driving the car out of town towards Darwin when they ring us to tell us that the finance had been approved, they had stuffed up after someone had got the story that I had been on maternity leave (oh dear, I must have left someone in Africa!) and the finance was stalled. The dealers were too worried to tell us we couldn't get the car on that day as they knew we had to get back to Darwin so they let us take it without the finance being finalised (gee we must be trustworthy!, although it may have something to do with my mother having a reputation for accountability and her working only 50m away!) 50km from home we are diverted around floodwaters and end up taking the long way around...we are starting to think if we will reach Darwin at all!

So we get the big, black Nissan Navara with tinted windows, (looks a bit like a mafia vehicle), but we have no rego plates on it as be purchased it in Victoria and had a permit to drive to Northern Territory. So all good, until they tell us that we can only drive the car between the hours of 7am and 7pm and we have 4000km to do in 3 1/2 days! arghh! And my driving is struggling from lack of practice, so badly that I hesitantly admit to Dad (with massive embarrassment and a loss of respect on his behalf) that when I took his patrol into town the car salesman had to back it out of the park for me as I had a couple of issues (hey it's got a big canopy on the back and I couldn't see!, besides the first issue was with the immobiliser!)

Navara through the fisheye

Somewhere in Central Australia
"Navarus" gets his Territory Plates

We spend the first night with friends in the Adelaide Hills and get an early start the following morning, managing to pull the swag out on the side of the Stuart Highway 40kms south of Alice Springs that night....not bad for 12 hours of driving! And great to be back in the Northern Territory, we did have to have a stop at the border, wee and photo and a discussion of how anyone could steal the territory emblem off the border sign! (all in about one minute!) Around this time in the dark (hmmm, maybe it was dark just before we stopped driving at 7pm because of our permit he he or maybe we made a mistake with our clock when we added on the extra hour when arriving in the NT...) a bird was the first victim to the Navara and the Navara was the first victim to the bird. Spencer and I were just glad that it was something else that put the first scratch in the new car! We didn't have to argue about who was responsible for it! The following morning we wake up, me half out of the swag, to the sounds of dingos howling nearby, we are in the car and waiting at the pumps in the Alice Springs service station by 6am ready to fill the beast up with diesel, and comment about how cheap the Navara is to run! Excellent.

I indulge in a 'territorys own' iced coffee, oh dear, how I had dreamed of that moment for over six months...don't usually drink coffee, but there is nothing better that a Paul's Iced Coffee when in the Territory. We are now driving at 130km/h up the Stuart Highway loving the green outback and the flooded rivers and claiming our love for the NT and looking forward to seeing our friends and not looking forward to work the following morning!

We are amazed to see Tennant Creek flowing... and glad at the superb handling of the Navara when I drive into a mirage that turns out to be floodwater over the road! "what the f&*k! we are in the outback!" "Oh yeah, mirages don't usually have a warning sign besides them!"

That afternoon we really test out how far a Navara can run on empty, turns out a long way as we coast into Katherine in the rain with the fuel needle well below empty and the alarm buzzing! Fill it up again and we are off, three hours out of Darwin, the final leg in an epic adventure.

We arrive into Darwin at about 9pm that evening, breath a sigh or relief and congratulating ourselves on managing to survive-

- 13 1/2 months travel together
- 21 countries visited
- 15,000 kms in New Zealand
- three months of living in a van
- six months of living in a tent
- 30,000 kms in Africa
- one robbery
- one hospital visit
- one wild animal incident
- about $20 000 lost in rental income
- about 500gb of photos taken
- countless shitty toilet visits
And the last 4000km sprint to home.

As I said in a previous blog post that I have had good luck in my life...well with good luck comes bad luck too and we were to have more of it.

Our tenants were evicted from our unit and destroyed it in the process, ink poured on the couch, TV stolen, mattress destroyed, crockery smashed, linen ruined, damage over $15,000.

Our gear in storage damaged, much of it went straight in the bin, even things like our esky were victims to the humidity, cracking and crumbling.

After a couple of weeks we are hit by Cyclone Carlos.

I spend weeks upon weeks tracking down a copy of our South African police report, thank goodness for contacts at school, turns out a lady that I work with has a brother who knows the head of Tourism Safety in South Africa, whallah! One police report!

My health declines and they find that I have contracted a rare strain of Dysentery not heard of in Australia, the doctors still haven't given up their search for Bilharzia, nine negative tests and they are still certain that the worms are in there somewhere! They have found and killed three other types of parasites already.

Spencer smashes his shoulder whilst losing his football grand final, his doctor is amazed that he is still well when I seem to be a Noah's ark for parasites

Our travel insurance laid the final blow, bastards! Who dares to tell me that my brand new Middle East Lonely planet is worth $12 less!

2010 really was the year of liquidation! red crocs and red zebra t-shirt followed me home...true survivors!

See the photos on

Tree across the road down, Cyclone Carlos

Two days of no electricity, Cyclone Carlos

Rain, Cyclone Carlos
Damage, cyclone Carlos

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The gypsy wagon is begining to run out of steam....Turkey; Gallipoli, Selcuk

We left Gorome after indulging in one last breakfast at the Rock Valley inn. The back of the truck was cold and only got colder as we drove. It didn’t take long for most people (including myself) to be huddled up in sleeping bags, I had mine zipped all the way up and the hood on, exposing only my eyes and mouth to the world. After a few toilet stops and checkpoints we pulled up for our last bush camp of the trip at an abandoned service station. Son and AK were on dinner that night and whipped out a huge batch of minestrone soup with pancakes and hot chocolate for desert, perfect for when the weather is so cold.  I indulged in too much hot chocolate and had an upset stomach so went to bed early.

"Bush Camp"....

Breakfast on the truck
We woke early to the sound of rain, not a good sign when our tents are to be packed up for the final time.  We had breakfast as we rolled along in the truck, including the left overs of last nights hot chocolate.
We had a few toilet stops along the way, (due to a combination of cold weather and hot drinks on the truck), arriving at Pamukkale for lunchtime. There were a few upset people onboard the truck when we pulled up in a camping ground, some people have summer sleeping bags and have suffered from the cold in the past couple of weeks. The truck was only parked in the campground until Mark found us some accommodation, warm rooms; hot showers at a nice little place right off the main street. Myself, Ronald, AK, Ish, Son and Yoich wandered into the world heritage site of thermal pools and old ruins up the hill. There was an initial hesitation at the 20TL entry fee (more than the pyramids) but it was well worth the coin and the barefooted walk over the calcium soak to get to the top of the hill. The ruins were not all that impressive (yeah usually I would be a little more inspired about it, but I have just seen way too many tourist sites lately) the most impressive sight was the huge amphitheatre which is still in quite good condition. We had dinner and a few beers before heading off to bed; Spencer and I were in a room with Burbs and Daniel. The room had about two beds too many in it, there were three single beds all against each other, another against a wall and no floor space to think of, but it was very warm with a shower and toilet next door, so it felt like luxury. Burbs didn’t even snore that night, the last time we had shared a room with him I kept thinking that he was dying in his sleep and taking his last one stage I though it was Spencer snoring and smashed him over the head with my pillow only to see that Spencer was actually awake and not very happy with me!
Gee, no one else quite has the ten of an overlander...
Ish cools (warms) his toes in a thermal pool
AK wakes up the local dog
Pamukkale, World Heritage site

We had a good breakfast for New Years eve and loaded into the truck bound for Selcuk, once we arrived we had the task of cleaning and drying our tents ready for them to be packed up for over two months until the truck arrives in West Africa ready for another adventure. We set our tents up in the street, a couple of the boys even set them up on the roof of the truck (I think they just wanted to see if it could be done!) after scrubbing and brushing and re packing the tents we headed inside for a sleep and then out to dinner. Mark very generously shouted the group dinner for New Years Eve at a local Turkish restaurant which dished up a really tasty vegetarian dish. We all piled in there and took full advantage of BYO alcohol. I ended up suffering through a bad bottle of Turkish red wine that had so much sludge in the bottom that you couldn’t see through the stuff, and then started on a raspberry wine which tasted far too like lollies for my liking. The boys handed around a few too many shots of red wine (the wine that was purchased for Christmas day to be mulled) and before we knew it the time was nearing on 12.00, we legged it our of the restaurant and down to a local park where someone decided that hedge surfing was the thing to be done, hedge surfing is just that, throwing yourself into a hedge, I have to say that it looked like good fun.
From there my memory of the event fades, but the evening went something like this (as editor I uphold my right to leave out some details.....errr, well maybe MOST of the details...) We went up to the rooftop of the pension where we were staying, someone started us on shots of whiskey, we were too loud and asked to leave, we went to a pub, I somehow fell and hit my head on a table, just how this happened I am not sure about, there have been reports that I was getting thrown around by Gab, I left that place and went home (Thanks to Ish and Son for aiding me on the journey) Everyone else continued onto another pub and arrived home later. There were very few of us who ate breakfast the next morning, most people stayed in bed until about 5pm....err, Spencer and I are included in that. We eventually drag ourselves out for dinner, Turkish pizza and Coca-Cola, just what is needed.
The following morning we wake up feeling much better in health, after breakfast we walk out to Ephesus, old Roman Ruins. Usually I would be a little more impressed by such sights, but unfortunately I have grown a little travel weary and am just not that excited about things that I would usually be quite impressed with, at this stage I am just excited about the number of days until arriving back in Australia shrinking. The most impressive sight again was the amphitheatre which held 24,000 people back when it was used, it is currently getting restored.
Front of Library, Ephesus
Amphetheatre, Ephesus
Library, Ephesus

After returning from Ephesus I started on my washing, Spencer has decided to stick with his dirty clothes until he gets home; I haven’t washed since Damascus over 2 weeks ago and had really run out of clean clothes. After scrubbing clothes in one of the truck hand wash tubs whilst kneeling on the floor of the shower I then had the task of finding hanging places for all my items in a small room, turning the split system onto 30 degrees and the fan right up, for an hour or so I almost felt like I was back at home in Darwin!
The next day was pretty uneventful, life on the truck was cold, so I climbed into my sleeping bag from the word 'go' and was asleep most of the day! We arrived in Canakkale to take the ‘ferrybot’ or what we call a 'ferry' across to the Europe side of Turkey. As we arrived in Europe the temperature dropped further, very close to 0 degrees, we quickly gathered our gear for the night and clambered out of the truck for the warmth of The Crowded House Hotel, which is clean, neat, and new and has hot water, towels and pillows that are actually pillows and not sandbags in pillowcases! After a hot shower Spencer, myself, Burbs (now our roommate for a third town), Ronald and Mark headed off in search of dinner. We didn’t loiter long, it was way too cold for that, first place we saw got our custom! There was not a great deal of vegetarian food on the menu, so I made do with soup, asking for some beans and potatoes on the side, a little later I asked for salad on the side, only to be greeted with one bowl of soup, bread, one bowl of beans, one bowl of rice and a plate of salad! No worries though, finished it all off easily! (I guess the last five months of overindulging have been put to good use!
After a later start the next morning we headed off to explore Gallipoli, in freezing temperatures! It could not have been any warmer than one degree and with a slight icy breeze was almost unbearable. Standing at the place where so many Australians battled and died was almost surreal, although not as moving as standing at the Sandakan memorial in Borneo or on Brigade Hill on the Kokoda Track (or maybe it was the effort to lug myself and pack up Brigade Hill?) We had a guide on the truck and stopped at all the main sights; I was quite surprised to see that there is a lot of vegetation covering the ground now, and that the climb up to the sphinx is a lot steeper than old photos that you see. Past the Australian memorial at Lone Pine you can walk through many trenches which are still evident in the ground, the temperature up here was even colder and all I could think about was how lucky we are to not have had to fight in any war in these conditions with the poor equipment and clothing that the diggers would have had.
Only another 6 days until we land back in Australia, I sure am looking forward to it. I think most people on the truck have their minds in other places the past few days, most people are starting the homeward shift from here and everyone has been trying to fit the contents of their locker into their bags, similar to a game of Tetris or that sum in year 8 maths that you could just never figure out.....
The Sphynx, ANZAC Cove

Headstones, Lone Pine, Australian Memorial

Turkish Memorial, Gallipoli

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas in Turkey, Paintball, Cappadocia and the infamous "Dead Sea Desert"

We spent the day after my birthday (the day that I have always classed as the WORST day of any year, which turned out to be a pretty good day) wandering almost aimlessly around Aleppo, which has lived up to the description of beings a ‘pretty cool town’.  First stop was the citadel, yep another citadel! This one was set on a small hill and boasted great views of the city; most of the citadel was pretty ordinary, except the views and the impressive entry gates which contained underground passages. From there we headed through the souk (local market) in an attempt to find some grub for lunch, grub there was a plenty, but for a vegetarian and a ‘try hard vegetarian’ (Spencers attempt at humour) there was little. I wasn’t even taken by the camel carcass that had been butchered and was hanging in the narrow alley of the souk, “now there’s some spare ribs!” the poor animals head and neck were hanging from a meat hook which just did not seem strong enough for such a huge chunk of meat!
Aleppo Citadel, Syria
Spencer looks professional, Aleppo
Myself, Aleppo
Donkey in the Souk, Aleppo
We found a little bakery which served some great pastries, the standard of bakery food has improved the further  north we have travelled. After the ‘try hard vegetarian’ has picked the chicken off her pastry we continue on in the search of an internet cafe. We didn’t get very far before we were stopped by a couple of university students who needed some help with an English exercise in a workbook, we sat in a park whilst Spencer did his best with what appeared to be a pretty ordinarily written book before being offered ice cream to thank us for our efforts. Always a little wary of accepting food from strange men in foreign countries we decline but ask for directions to an internet cafe instead. They did better than just give directions, they actually walked us there, although we did wonder if they actually knew where one was or did just walk around until they found one!
After a couple of hours of sorting out issues from home and sorting out money and uploading photos and blogs and trawling through the ridiculous amount of emails which seem to accumulate between countries we headed back to our accommodation at the Spring Flower Hostel, upon which I could possibly fill a whole blog entry....but here is the condensed version...
The place was the inspiration for the television show ‘Fawlty Towers’, but Basil Fawlty at the Spring Flower Hostel is the most anal person to have ever walked the planet, and someone who is actually more security conscious than me, like even to the point where the dodgy home made soap was even locked up! And the fridge! And the only person to have the key was the manager, who doesn’t arrive at work until lunchtime! In all the random places I have stayed this year I have not seen another place with their bookshelf locked up! And not only is the book shelf locked up, they charge a fee to borrow a book! AK tried to trade an Africa lonely planet guide for a Turkey one, the bloke wanted 15 euro for the trade and the book! and the bloke put on white gloves to handle second hand backpacker books? Basils two employees both spoke little English and between them didn’t have enough brain cells to rub together,, one had been the inspiration for ‘Where’s Wally’ and the other was just a waste of space, oxygen and food! Oops! I forgot this was supposed to be the condensed version, I’ll cut to the chase...The useless bastards held my Birthday Cake remnants for hostage...well not really...but it sounded like a good story. The left over’s of my cake ended up in the fridge, which is kept locked and the manager keeps the key, and only works half days, ‘no key’ says Where’s Wally, ‘Can you get key?’ says me, ‘No manager’ says Where’s Wally....hmmm... over three hours of hostage release negotiations the cake is freed! My advice....never stay at a place where you have to ask for toilet paper each time you go to the toilet or a place where you buy internet hours and the dic^&*ads keep changing the password every hour to kick you off the net! 

The following day we had a relaxed start as the agent who was to take us across the border was not available until about 1pm to take us across (By using an agent we get a cheaper rate and supposedly an easier passage through the border) The Syria-Egypt border would be better suited to Africa, no processes or systems. You take your passport to the desk, they take it and give you a recept for it, but take so long about this and serve anyone who has pushed in, that you walk off and have to be called back for the receipt, you then carry this receipt about 400m away, through he duty free shops, past the toilets, money changers and ATM to pay for your visa, then walk the 400m back through the shops, etc etc with the visa sticker to get it stuck in your passport, then have your passport returned to you and walk the 400m back through to the shops etc etc! I needed to go to the toilet, I figured it was far too easy to spot a WC sign and be able to use it free! Hmm, well I did see the price sign on the way in $1USD, crazy, even with the strength of the Aussie Dollar currently! With no one at the desk I took my chances, the man caught me on the way out, I acted as though he was a money changer...."No, I don't need money changing", "No, no, money, thank-you", "No my husband has the money". From there we loaded back into the truck, the sun had gone down and so had the temperature, drastically! I huddled up in two jumpers, thermals, beanie, and scarf around my face and my Maasai blanket and we waited, waited and waited to get out of the border gates, another wonderful legacy of the border designer is the five lanes of traffic that must merge into one lane to exit the gates, it took us about 40 minutes. During this time, unbeknown to us, kids have tried climbing up on the cab, they swiftly had their fingers bent back, so they reverted to throwing stones at the cab, in retaliation to this Gab got out and chased them down.
After a couple of hours in the truck we make camp at a truck parking bay, Pat and Kim were on food group that night and did extremely well to get dinner on laps before an hour had passed. I look into the distance and see the burn off of a local refinery, the flame must have been 20m in the air, I wish to camp under that flame! Mark tells us how he camped in the same place last year and it was too hot for people to put their tents on the bitumen, I went to bed in my thermals and a beanie!

We have a 5.30 get-up for a 6am departure on Christmas Eve, after a few hours in the truck we stop at a town for Christmas dinner shopping and a grog roundup. We arrive in the town of Goreme in the Cappadocia region, which is an old ancient city, consisting of rock chimneys and towers which have dug out caves and houses which used to be inhabited. The landscape looks a little eerie, sort of like the outline of ghosts. We check into the nicest accommodation that Spencer and I have seen in many, many months, it’s warm and dry and has clean toilets and showers and a great lounge area with fire and free wi-fi, uh, oh! We make a ban on the overuse of Internet and start hitting the grog. (Yep the Rock Valley Pansion (Turkish word for Pension which is like a backpackers, but better) is so cool, that they even let the overland trucks drink their own grog in the bar!) I get stuck into my $1.50 for 750ml Syrian Vodka, which seems to have even less taste than normal vodka, I am worried that it is watered down, but still take my time lest it comes back and kicks me in the ass later that night. Spencer falls asleep on the couch, others wander off one by one, I head up to bed but the sound of Spencer and Burbs snoring scares me back out of the room with computer in hand for some internet time. Internet wasn’t very successful, not due to any technical error, more so the dic^&ead man who though he was super fantastic and started bagging the s*$t out of Australians, despite himself holding an Australian passport! He is a Turkish man who has lived in Australia for 7 years but who claims that ‘all Australians are racists’, ‘all Australian men are as&*%les’ ‘Australians are idiots’ and ‘anyone can get an Australian passport, they give them to everyone’ I cracked at the stage that he called me a racist and said I was scared of people from other countries moving to Australia! I yelled at the dic%#@ad and said something like “well send your Australian passport back’ etc etc (I went on for a good 3-4 minutes) loser! I have no problems with anyone from outside Australia immigrating so long as they are proud to live there! And for those of you who know me, know that I have a lot of friends who were not born in Australia. So the next morning when I wake up with the worst hangover ever (I totally blame the cheap Syrian vodka) I am still filthy cranky that some asshole would hate Australians so much, that in between vomits I attempt to tell everyone about it, later it turns out that this loser is actually the brother of the owner of this place. (I finish vomiting at 1pm....Just in time for lunch!)

On account of being close to death from my affair with cheap Syrian vodka I miss breakfast and wait for Christmas lunch, Italian style. Gabs, an Italian and our driver Mark who has an Italian Nonna cook up a fantastic lunch of lasagna and ravioli. Many others (not me) help out with salad, potato salad and trifle. 
Later that night we assemble for the opening of our Secret Santa gifts, the previous day I have a sneaky feel of my gift and announced that it was a pair of donkey slippers, I was close and super impressed to see a pair of fluffy, stuffed lion slippers and a donkey fridge magnet! Thanks Kyle! Great choice, they have hardly left my feet since receiving them!

Spencer and I headed out on Boxing Day for a stroll around town and through the valleys of chimneys and rock carvings, Spencer tells me that on Christmas Eve he received an email about our unit, more issues, two of our new tenants have been into the office and told the agent that the third person has done a runner with the rent money, the agents have given then until the 6th to pay up or the eviction process starts. I start crying, after loosing close to $4000 in rent and paying a $600 re-letting fee and $500 of advertising costs I really hoped that the tenants would stay longer than a month. Shall have to wait and see what happens, I can assure LJ Hooker that when we get back we will be closely looking into what has happened and both rental checks, background checks etc.
Myself, Goreme
Feeling pretty down in the mouth we wander almost aimlessly through the hills and meet up with Pat, Tanja and Ish and decide to walk to the next town to go wine tasting with them at the Turasan tasting centre, turned out to be a good day, with ordinary wine. I didn't particularly like any of the tastings that I had, so took a punt on the merlot, which was quite good and well enjoyed over dinner that night.
Pat, Tanja, Ish, Spencer and myself 'cheers' during wine tasting

The next day most of the group decided to go paint-balling, as a virgin paint-baller I was a little apprehensive (I have seen way too many bruises on others in the aftermath). As we had 15 people playing and only gear for 10 at once we had to play in two groups. I sat out the first game to check out exactly how it is played, after watching for half an hour I had decided that the aim of the game was to run around, crawl a bit, add in a couple of commando rolls and shoot as many people as possible. Soon enough I was kitted up and running around, crawling a bit, no commando rolls for me though...way too old for that rot....and trying to shoot as many people as possible (not so easy as the only things I have ever fired in my life have been a water pistol and a cap gun! I get hit first in the knee; it didn't hurt as much as I had expected, then instantly I am hit in the head, the culprit? Spencer! So I spend my 30 seconds out before restarting and getting hit in the head again! Another 30 seconds out and then bam, hit in the chest! More time out and I see AK running towards our flag, I hunt him down, gun in one arm firing, and maybe hit him, but at the same time he hits me a little more convincingly (it’s amazing what two hands on your gun can do) I am out again and sometime around this we win the game and start again. This time though Mark changes teams (he has his own paint-ball gun which is much more powerful and a whole lot more accurate than our dodgy guns), this makes a big difference and Son, Kim, Gabs and I are soon in dire straights. A hit on my upper chest is luckily exploded by the tyre I was hiding behind first so no pain, sometime around here I am out (again) and restart the game and shortly after realise that I am crouching behind a pile of sandbags beside Ronald (who is on the other team), he is shooting at Kim, I look at him and figure that there is a mutual truce here....hmmm. Yeah until he shoots me in the thigh at point blank range, now that hurt! After we lose the second game Spencer and I have a shoot out to use the last of our balls, I hide behind a tyre and move to a barrel before my gun runs out of gas, Mark tells me to use his gun, which is a whole lot better, after a shoot out with both of us hiding behind tyres, Spencers gun runs out of gas, if not egged on by everyone else, I may have found the compassionate side of my heart, but still seething from my head and knee shot I was out for revenge so ran behind his pile of tiles and pelted him with paint at close range. From there we headed back to the Rock Valley Pansion, Son had offered to cook tea and Ish had offered to help so I figured I would join them, it turned out to be a very interesting few hours of my day. Veggie tarts, roast veggies and salad followed by a sticky date pudding. Sounds easy? Hmm, all went according to plan, the tarts were topped with pastry leaves, salad was dressed and veggies soft when the desert sauce failed to thicken, we start a search for the corn flour, no luck, turn the truck inside out no corn flour, turn the heat up, no thicker? Hmm, I cannot understand what the issue is, I have used the same ingredients as last time, ‘maybe it’s the shape of the saucepan?’ I say...After 40 minutes of boiling I am back out at the truck searching for something else to save the situation when Ish comes running out saying “it was salt, it didn’t set because it was salt!” Instead of using 1kg of sugar I have added in 1kg of salt! It had been inadvertently purchased as sugar (it was labeled in Turkish and was the biggest grained salt I have ever seen, with the exception of rock salt!) Ish heads down the street and I head back into the kitchen laughing my ass off, he buys nutella and we try to resurrect the pudding, luck has it that it turns out a treat! I start thinking scientifically and start sprouting words such as saturated salt solution (where you cannot dissolve any more solid into water), and start saying that it is 3X more salty than the Dead Sea! The nutella desert is fantastic and I learn the lesson of taste testing as you cook! I also take  moment to check out my leg, I already have a round ring of bruising from my thigh shot!
Gab under fire during paintball
Before the war began
Myself, paint ball
I won!

The following day Son, AK, Burbs, Ish, Pat, Tanja, Spencer and I hired scooters and headed out for Derinkunu Underground City which was a good 30 odd kilometer away from Goreme. I was a little nervous that I was not going to like scooters as it has been a long time since I have been on a motorbike. The first couple of kilometers were a little wonky, but once I realized that speed equaled steadiness I was away. I even hit 90km/h at one stage! We had a few stops and had to wait for a couple of people who were still getting used to their scooters. Some of the little towns that we went through were very cool, it was also very cool where we stopped to play in some snow on the side of the road (I mean cool as in cold, but not as cold as we had expected!). Eventually we arrived at the underground city and were not disappointed, it was 50 odd meters underground and contained a wine cellar, food cellar and even a school room (although i would never want to teach in this room!) Possibly the best part of the day was realizing that I got to ride my scooter home again! It was getting late and the sin sets at about 4.30pm so there was little dilly-dallying on the way home, although we did find the time to hit some gravel roads and Spencer did take some time to get airborne over a median strip (he claims that it was the accelerator that stuck on!). We stopped at Rose Valley to watch the sunset, yep, we had actually missed sunset, but the colors in the sky just got better and better the longer we waited. From there we headed back into Goreme, not an easy ride as it was pretty dark by then. Upon returning to the shop we had our good day shattered, Ish had had a 'mishap' on his bike, caused byt eh fuel gauge not working, the man at the shop wanted 250 TL (about $170AUD) for the damage, and this is despite no condition report being completed and them having absolutely no proof that he had done the damage. i was standing around a little nervously at this stage as I had a 'little spill' on my bike, embarrassingly so it was in the main street of a town and i hadn't had an issue all day, I was hardly moving when the back tyre spun out on gravel and I couldn't hold the weight of the bike, i sort of jumped clear but got a foot stuck underneath and two very sore kneecaps where they slammed into the cobblestone roadway (oh, and a little bit of a bruised ego after several men came to help and told me to drive slowly!) The bike had started leaking fuel and the mirror was bent and there were a few scratches...hmmm, maybe i will put off buying a Harley for a little longer yet!
Myself on my scooter
Scootering! Whoo hoo!
Fisheye in the mirror
Burbs, Ish, AK, Spencer, Myself, Son, Tanja and Pat
Myself, underground city
Underground city
Sunset at Rose Valley
Scooter view sunset