Stop 31: Istanbul, The Publishing Consultant

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I miss Bulgaria already! There and Macedonia are 2 places I’m definitely looking forward to go back to the next time I do Europe and finally get to explore Albania, but the next place on my list was Istanbul, Turkey. Not so much by personal choice but simply because a flight from there was over $100 cheaper than anywhere else. However I’m glad I did…

The bus was just like any other night bus: shit… We rocked up at 5:30 in the morning and it was still pitch black outside. I looked outside the station and saw tons of taxi drivers standing outside like vultures reminding me of pretty much everywhere in Cambodia. I’d planned a vague route to get to the tram line and then get onto the tram to Sultanahmed (Istanbul’s bus station is nowhere near anything…) and from there I knew to walk along the tracks until I found some obscure restaurant called Neyzade, and finally I would be able to find my hostel. Of course that was the plan; and of course like most of my plans after 2 minutes it went out the window as the station looked nothing like it did on Google Maps…

I trundled over to the information desk and asked if they had a map. The girl behind the counter said she didn’t have one but could use the internet. I then asked where Mehmet Akif was, as from there I could find my way. The girl looked at my extensive notes and noticed the word ‘Sultanahmed’ on there, and she said there was a shuttle bus going to Fuckknows Square and from there Sultanahmed was a 5-10 minute walk.

If she wasn’t a probable Muslim saving herself until marriage I would have jumped over the counter and fucked her to death like Mr Garrison does to people on South Park! So I politely said thank you and asked how much it would be (Not to fuck her to death, I’m not that confident! For the shuttle bus…). “No problem…” She replied.

“Maybe I should have asked how much it was to fuck her to death instead of for the shuttle bus…” I thought.

When the bus got to Fuckknows Square the driver told me to follow two random Turkish kids; about 15 years old, 4’10 tall and moustaches gay men in 80’s American nightclubs would be proud of. I followed these kids and they were wheeling their bags down the street throwing them out of arms reach without a care in the world. I gained confidence knowing that if these kids felt secure enough to do that then I didn’t need to worry about getting mugged or feel that anything dangerous was going to happen.

Eventually I said goodbye to Charlie and Chaplin, and made my way to the hostel. I was shown to my room and it stank. I took a deep breath and asked for the password.

“No Wi-fi in room…” Was his blunt response.

“Minifucks soaked in ice-cream…” I thought. Oh well, I’ll just use the Wi-fi in reception. Except my Wi-fi wouldn’t connect. When I asked I was met with the guy shrugging his shoulders. “Perfect!” I thought, and I went to get some sleep. I was on the top bunk. I looked up and saw the ceiling falling apart two feet above me. Welcome to Turkey!

Fortunately for me this hostel is just like me when it comes to first impressions; The smell was gone by the time I woke up so I can only guess it was a smelly guest who had checked out. I went downstairs and met the owner, Saad. He was really cool and gave me a tour of the place, explaining there was Wi-fi on every floor (Which there was, I have no idea why the other guy said there wasn’t) and showed me up to the terrace, which was a really cool area to chill. On top of that, he said for 12 Lira (about £2.50) he would cook me a traditional Yemeni meal in the evening. He wasn’t Yemeni (He was Syrian), but he’d lived all over the Middle East, and now Turkey, so he was quite a cultured fellow.

I thanked Saad and did some sight seeing. Here’s some photos, please like them on my social media pages so I feel important when I’m huddled up in bed at night in some random country wondering why the fuck I haven’t gone and got a career yet like everyone else my age has…

When I got back Saad told me that he was a writer and had written a book about his experiences in Syria. We swapped stories about books and he then said he’d love to publish it but had no idea how to get started. I gave him a few tips like a writer friend of mine once gave me. He seemed really appreciative.

Just then a tall girl with South Asian origin wearing a hijab walked in the room. When I went to India 6 years ago I noticed when girls of that culture covered their faces with a hijab you could really appreciate their beauty; there’s no fancy hair styles to tart yourself up, it’s all about the natural beauty in their face. It’s mesmerising. Of course I would never dream of touching a girl from that culture unless I had fallen in love with the girl beforehand, but it was still nice to admire her beauty. She seemed quite shy, asked Saad some questions and headed upstairs.

Soon it was time for our Yemeni food. It was a spicy shredded chicken dish with rice. It was amazing! Afterwards me and the South Asian girl played a game of chess (she fucking destroyed me!) and got chatting. She had a British accent so it surprised me when she said she was born and raised in Australia. The conversation naturally drifted to travelling which then went into origins. I said I had Indian family and she replied that she was of Pakistani origin. I asked questions about her culture as I’m always interested in learning, and asked if arranged marriages were still common in her culture. She said it was, but it was far more lax than it used to be. Now you get to know people as friends and if they get on then they would probably begin proceedings to go into a marriage together. In fact she said she was seeing a boy at the moment as a friend and feels that she would probably marry him in a couple of years. I was happy for her as she was beaming while talking about him, and maybe one day I’ll meet the pair of them in Chiang Mai, or wherever I am in the world…

The next day Me and Saad had 2 hours to kill, so I took him on a crash course showing him how to self publish a book. We went through the ins and outs of the legal bullshit and he said he wished I was here for a week, and he would have given me a free bed so we could get this book finished and ready for the world. I gave him as much info as I could before my shuttle bus came and than it was time for me to finish Europe with a tear in my eye and go back to Asia.

So the hostel was a lot better than the first impression suggested, and I gained two new friends in the process. Not bad for a days work! When Saad’s book becomes available to buy I will post a link if any of you are interested in finding out about the regime in Syria from a Syrian’s point of view (I’ve read a bit, and it’s very powerful), and now I can add ‘publishing consultant’ to my ever growing CV list which now somehow includes football freestyle teacher, flare teacher, Thai teacher, hostel worker, bingo caller and fire juggler. If only I knew how to turn these diverse experiences into cash I’d be laughing…

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2 thoughts on “Stop 31: Istanbul, The Publishing Consultant

  1. Pingback: Stop 32: Unexpected Stopover in Dubai | sirlewisofclarke

  2. Pingback: Balkan Hostel Reviews: Part 3 | sirlewisofclarke

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