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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

EXITING GEORGIA, ARRIVING IN TURKEY


GEORGIAN CUSTOM

If you sneeze while someone else is talking, it is proof from God that they are correct in whatever they were saying. [Logan thinks this is some goofy stuff.]



MONEY MUSEUM OF THE NATIONAL BANK OF GEORGIA

I had gone to the "Money Museum of the National Bank of Georgia" on a whim during my last day in Tbilisi, Georgia. I was hanging out and looking at a case of coins when one of the people who worked there came up to me. In typical Logan fashion, I look at him, smiled and said "Hi there! You want to be my unpaid tour guide?" Well, it turns out he did! His name is Roland and he literally knew more about coins than I ever want to. He is pretty good in his field and history in general. Sending out a big thank you to him for his excellent tour. Below are a few of the notes I put down.

Old coins were made by stamping. "Mint" means to stamp.
Silver coins were often measured in grams. The silver coins I saw were four grams each. There were also three and six gram coins. Some coins were twenty or thirty grams. Clipping would be rough as merchants would weigh the money. Amount of metal equals value.

Money was known in some places as 'taler' which became 'daler' which then became 'dollar'. I found that interesting.

Some very small coins had holes in them for women to be able to wear them.

The small money in Georgia is called 'tetrie'. Tetrie means white. This change use to be made out of silver - silver is white hence the name. Pretty neat.



DROP YOUR TROUSERS AND GRAB YOUR ANKLES

I decided to go scope out the Tbilisi Marrott and see what they were charging for a room. If you wanted breakfast with that, it was $220 USD +18% VAT. Without breakfast is only $205 +18% VAT. VAT is a way for governments and people to pay more and get extra hassle. Plan on paying it. What an amazing rip off. Naturally, there were some tourists in the lobby as well as taxi drivers outside the hotel. These taxi drivers could speak some English and could literally 'take you for a ride'. [For readers not up on US slang, the phrase 'taken for a ride' could refer to someone literally taking you for a ride, robbing you or taking you off to be killed. In this case, I am referring two two of the three in an amazing play on words. Sit and look amazed.]



EXCHANGING GEL FOR NTL

When I was exchanging lari for lira I went to a bank to see what the best rate I could get was. I found that exchanging 70 GEL I got 70 NTL - with 1.4 GEL change. So, it's pretty much one to one. Just shit here (in Turkey) costs more. Joy! But I was warned. Repeatedly.



PHILOSOPHY

I was in a park with many paths.
People wandered the paths, distracted by their own thoughts
and appearing not much pleased with them.
When a path went a direction of my choice,
I walked along it for a time.
when there was no path toward where I wished to go,
I made my own way.
The grass against my sandaled feet brought faint happiness.
A simple pleasure
in leaving the path.



SHOES
These shoes are only a few weeks old! I think they are three weeks old. Obviously, I'm trying to walk a bit more than before...



INTERESTING ARTICLE

I found this article on boat hitchhiking to be of interest although honestly, Adam had already covered it when I spoke to him in the past.



LEAVING GEORGIA

Not a peep from my new travel alarm today. My cheap wristwatch I was worried about not working worked like a champ to get me up and going on time. Well, to be fair, I was already up. Excited at what the day would bring. Not sure what's up with the travel alarm. Piece of shit.

Until today, I've never had a 'bad' cup of Turkish coffee. The bus station obliged me.

It turned out that the 'direct' but to Kars wasn't really. To me, 'direct' means you get on one bus and your ass stays in that seat for the trip. Instead what happened was we got the meanest ugliest way to travel in Georgia - a marshrutka. Note that in Turkey, these traveling torture machines are called 'dolmus'. They called it a 'service bus' because 'automatic torture machine' would have sounded a bit negative. The driver, however, spoke some English and was much less insane than others in the same field of work. This is why they had him only driving a service bus I suspect.

After waiting there for forty five minutes, we had to wait another twenty because three asshats who had bought tickets didn't show up. Rather than doing the thing that makes sense (putting up a sign saying 'no refunds, mutherfuckers' they delayed the bus twenty minutes. After we got going on the road, the tardy people showed up and convinced them to have the bus wait en route while they got a ride out to it. For another half an hour. I was fantasizing about riding in a German bus, I've got to say. Whole different story.

Because I didn't know when or if I'd get to eat within the next eight hours, I bought some sort of bread which looked less and less appetizing in it's plastic wrap. Eventually, it became 'dwarf bread'. If I felt hunger, I would take it out and examine it and ponder eating it. This caused the hunger to go away.

Due to early arrival, being personable and of course asking, I got to ride up front in the marshrutka to the Turkish border. It was nice but after enough dramatic mountain views, I just fell asleep.

Eventually, our 'service bus' got us to the Turkish border. Nothing much to look at as most borders are. I ended up getting served in preference to the other passengers because my passport was blue rather than red I'm guessing. Or, they detected I had nothing other than 'dwarf bread' and might eat the other passengers. For an entry visa into Turkey, $20 US or (in my case since I didn't offer any dollars), 35 NTL.

I met up with a guy motorcycling through the world. Tbilisi was on his route so I suggested Friends hostel as a good party hostel. He seemed interested. I also gave him the last of my coins from Georgia as it wasn't much and they can't usually be cashed. I also warned him about insane Georgian drivers and cha-cha.

At the time of this writing, I have only a 10 GEL note left so even if I can't get that cashed, it's not a great loss.

For those wanting to hitchhike at the border near Posof, Turkey, I wouldn't try it there. I don't think the amount of traffic is heavy enough to make it work. Sarpe near Batumi is a much better choice for hitchhiking.

Also, for those traveling in this part of the world - rolling suitcase is not your friend. We had to get off the service bus and walk across the border. A long walk. Fortunately, I had on my backpack but for those with the rolling suitcases, I've seen people during funerals looking happier.

We then got on a nice big bus to continue on. But, not long after that we got transferred to a dolmus to take us the last hour or two into Kars. More nightmare. Fortunately on the dolmus I met a nice girl named Mary Ann who is from Switzerland and also headed to Kars. Like most of the women I meet, she seemed comfortable with me and we decided to share a hotel room for our two days in Kars. I didn't know I'd be doing two days here but it kind of makes sense - I can see the town after the lost city of Ani and buy a ticket to the next destination. I just need to find out where the bus station is and such. As a side note, don't get a taxi to the hotel - there are some within walking distance. We went to one she had heard about rather than any my research provided the names of. The hotels in this area are pretty crappy overall and a bit pricey. This is a town that could really use a cheap hostel or few.

Kars is a town on the way from Tbilisi to Iran. We had at least three Iranians in the transport with us.

The first sound I heard in Turkey was the call to prayer.

Next up: Are Turkish prisons really that bad?



COSTS

Tbilisi to use a bus station bathroom a blind man could easily locate by smell, .2 GEL.

Hotel room (double) in Kars, Turkey; 55 NTL per day (hence half that for my cost).

Going to Kars tomorrow morning, 35 NTL. Bit pricey but it's door to door service.



VIDEOS

The things on the stairs

2 comments:

  1. It might be of interest to have a bit (a video?) about what's still in your backpack and how packing your life into one small pack is going.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'd be happy to. I'm going to have to wait till I get to a better place than where I am. The light is perpetually dim in the cave room and the camera doesn't like that. I will try to remember to do that when/if I can find a better place to 'broadcast my pirate signal' from.

    ReplyDelete

PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia | Michigan | Illinois | Colorado |

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