America, April 16, 2001
Turkey Exit Strategy: Steal the Flag
---- Wayan's Note ----
In my lazy mood, I'm gonna continue my trend of stealing other travelers' stories. This one is brought to us by the Eastern Europe Brad who stared in A Small, Yet Very Confusing World and Sean, the Stud Cuz writer of Jakarta Corespondent, for Sean introducted Andrew to Brad in Sydney.
Hello all, this is a hilarious email from a friend and fellow traveler, Andrew, that I thought you might enjoy. You may remember me mentioning him. We met in Zagreb and Budapest. He knew my roommates from Sydney. He is an Australian and kinda forgot that things you do in your country you shouldn't try in other countries.
Don't worry I think I have more sense than this. Sorry Andrew, but you are constantly getting yourself into some pretty wild situations.
Enjoy all, Brad
---- Wild Turkey ----
I mentioned that I was going on a tour in Turkey for ANZAC day - well plans can quickly change...
I arrived in Istanbul late one Friday morning quite proud of myself, as I had reached my final destination. I was to spend the next three weeks touring Turkey before flying to London to find a job. During the day I paid 1.25 million lira for a shoeshine I didn't want and nearly bought a Turkish carpet. As I hadn't had more than a couple for 3 days and hadn't been on a bender a week, I got very drunk on Turkish beer very quickly. Everything was getting a bit hazy while watching the belly dancer later at the hostel bar.
The next thing I knew I was trying to steal a Turkish flag for a reason I cannot work out. The cops were waiting for me when I climbed down and locked up for the night. I got a small bump on the head when I refused to sign something in Turkish - which made me promptly sign. Late the next morning I was taken to court where I got off a jail term only cause I was so pissed the night before and a foreigner. I couldn't understand a word my lawyer was saying but did shake his hand!
After escorting me back to the hostel to pick up my bags, the police were very quick to point out every single good-looking girl on the street. Kindly they then gave me a left to the detention centre where I spent the next 24 hours. This was a real lovely place - 4 cells containing at least 30 people per cell. There wasn't enough space for everybody to lie down and sweet fuckall to do besides stare at walls or sleep. Luckily there were some prisoners who could speak English who gave me some of their bread and eggs, which they purchased off the guards.
The next day I was glad I kicked up a fuss when I arrived, because they managed to change my return flight to Sunday. Otherwise they would have sent me back to the great land of OZ (I do want to go back of course, just not yet) which would have been a sad ending considering my past adventures. I was escorted to the airport and all they way to the boarding gate. Thankfully that's when my ordeal came to its end - almost!
In London I was in a bit of a depression because it was raining, expensive (yes, I did expect these things) and I was meant to be in Turkey. I was lucky enough to be able to "doss" at a house in Forest Gate (East London) where a Kiwi girl I met in Prague lived. There were two Kiwi's, two South Africans, and another Aussie (and no Turkish fuckers!) and they helped me cheer up a bit.
During the week after careful inspection of my passport, and discussion with various people, I decided to try and get back into Turkey. I really wasn't in the mood to work, I had a fair bit of money left, and the qeenslanders weren't beginning their tour for a few of days. My best bet was to try and enter by rail as I had done early on the fateful day - I knew the procedure, times, and rated my chances at 50-50. The whole deal in Turkey seemed very unofficial and there were no big black stamps on my passport. I also had a backup plan, which was to see more of Bulgaria and then head down to Greece instead for the two weeks.
I flew into Sofia, Bulgaria for my covert operation, and headed straight for the train station. As soon as I bought the ticket I knew I was locked in. Back in London the house decided that there were three possibilities:
1. I get in and successfully join the Qeenslander tour and later get in more trouble while doing something equally as stupid. 2. Get rejected and taken back to Bulgaria. 3. Get roughed up, rubber gloved, money stolen and then dumped in a heap in Bulgaria.
I smoked a whole pack of ciga's shitting myself for the whole 10 hour train ride wondering whether deported was on my computer record or not. Arriving at the border I walked into the "passport" office and queued up. I picked out the line with the lady; I thought she might be more compassionate to my cause.
Well it turned out that the normal looking stamp on my passport was actually a Turkish deport stamp. They made me stand around for 45 minutes while laughing at the deport stamp and about how my 1997 photo looks nothing like me with dyed blond hair and a goatee. The only word I said was "English please" and they only thing they said to me was "deport". I the meantime I saw my train getting smaller in the distance - I'm glad I was smart enough to take my bag off it.
Then on of the border police indicated that I should follow him. We walked past various sorts of buildings, which were all deportation centers in my mind. There was also a lot of barbed wire everywhere. Then we went though a hole in some fence, walked up another road and he pointed "Bulgaria" and gave my passport back. I don't think I've ever been so relieved in my life. The funniest thing is that the Bulgarian's let me back in their country without a care in the world even though Turkey had just bumped me!
Anyway, now I'm back in Sofia where it was snowing very heavily last night (damn, I left my snowboard gear and warm clothes in London). Tonight I'm catching the train to Greece and am looking for a relaxing two-week break on some island to get over the events of the last 10 days!