istanbul

Episode 15 - A Turkey in Turkey

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Recoded: 1 - 9 aug 2007
Locations: istanbul, turkey
Tags: luck of seven, istanbul, turkey, big apple hostel
Music: (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding - elvis costello
About: after a month of bouncing around europe, i decided to cool my jets and regroup for a week in istanbul. many thanks go out to the following - the big apple hostel crew, öznur özkurt, memhmet irdel, canan irdel, hayal pozanti, matan kaminer, gokce gunel, kenan kilictepe, andrea barker, tomas saledo, eduard trinidad, stephen warren, larz (stephen's buddy), michael the brit, and keith the american

day 45. a month & a half (now in cairo)

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it's been a month and a half since i left NYC and now i am in cairo!!

after a 15 hour bus ride from tel aviv, i have finally made it to africa. upon arrival and in the confines of the Sheraton Cairo business center, i discovered that i had no place to sleep. the super kind attendant, imat, hooked me up with an internet connection and offered a special hotel rate with the price tag of $260 USD. in all honesty, i thought about it... and decided to let my fingers to the walking.

twenty mins later, i discover a little hostel named Lialy. after a herroing taxi cab ride that ran three lights with one featuring a near head on collision, i "arrived" at 3am. with complete understanding of my situation, the midnight attendant shepherd me into freezing three bed room.

waking at 9am, i was presented with two options...
1. wait to see if a room is available.
2. make my own booking at another hostel.

in haste, and after looking at fellow blogger reviews, i have made arrangements at Meramees hostel but have also been told that there is no availably after tomorrow. so, if you are reading this and know someone in cairo... help a brudda out and have someone contact me via my american sim (+1.917.657.6999).

in the meantime, i'm going to find an egyptian sim, check into the meramees, find an internet connection and start pounding away in some IRC chat rooms.

(update 13h30)
well it appears that i have more night in the luxurious accommodations of midan talaat harb square. in a striking similarity to columbus circle in manhattan, cars, scooters, motorcycles, bicycle peddlers, street merchants, and pedestrians all vie for the right to pass. littered with parked cars, torn up sidewalks and air conditioning water droplets, the sidewalks wreak of mayhem.

there is one sad passing note that i should mention about the little hostel named lialy. when i went back to pick up my bags, the day attendant told me he now had a room for me. a little shocked, i told him that i already had found accommodations and that i would be moving on.

after already charging me a egyptian pound (EL) for one hour's worth of internet usage (25 US cents), he proceeded to ask for payment. despite the fact i had already paid him 50 EL (10 USD), he now wanted 150 EL (30 USD). full aware of this scam, i politely told him to check his records. after confirming my payment, he asked that i hurry up and clean my barely used room.

in the room, i was pleasantly surprised to discover the two other travelers whom i awoke at 3am. (btw, they also loved staying at the big apple hostel in istanbul.) in my departure i mentioned the small billing snafu, and they proceeded to tell me about another little shamble. apparently, while my roomies were eating their falafel breakfast, a group of three arrived. at 100 EL per person (twice the normal price), the three french started their negotiations to secure a room. after a few fleeting moments of delight, one of the day attendants noticed my roomies and ended negotiations.

note to fellow travelers in cairo, be armed with a big smile and distain for comical negoiations. don't be rude, but be prepared for the unexpected.

first - get a receipt!

two - once you have decided to move around, get to a hostel quickly. while many people might have great things to say about their experience, most of these places are on a first come first serve basis. while hostelworld.com really does not overtly tell you, the small deposit you are charged is just a shrewd formality for the possibility of a booking. hostels are not big chain hotels and are frequently owned and operated by a family or a few friends. things change at a moments notice.

three - always remember, get in good... get good service...

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day 34.1. jordan, the shortest kingdom.

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today's journey brought me through three countries, currencies, and languages; fifteen check points, six bag scans, five metal detectors, one air puff blowing device; six taxis and one bus.

luckily, i was greeted with open arms by adylin luckle, her family, and a feast of knish, hummus, cucumber, tomato and ice cream. ah, how wonderful it is to have a simple, healthy meal.

day 34. join me into a journey of insecurity

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shopmobility

today, i venture into the unexpected.

from istanbul, i fly to amman jordan and hop on a bus to one of a handful border crossings into israel. while i could have taken a plane, my wit and fortune did not find a suitable route. after reading several other travelers entries, i do not fear the crossing nor the 6 hours or more to travel 50 miles across disputed territory.

after traveling through the west bank, i'll find my way through jerusalem to a train bound for tel aviv. by the days end, i will have traversed more security checkpoints in 24 hours than i've traversed in the past 34 days.

with my whole life wrapped around me in two bags, will i feel safe?

not one bit, i will always fear losing sight of my thoughts, dreams and tools. no dog, metal detector, security checkpoint, will make me feel safe in a world where the pursuit of liberty is masked in the search for next new phone, social tool, president, ipod, car, stove or relic.

freedom is not a tag. freedom is not a twittering digg or new application for you ponce over. freedom exists beyond the loose keys that sit beneath your fingers. freedom is what you find beyond the thunderdome most call the work place.

i'd really love to see your thoughts on freedom... ann frank house

for the next few days, please take A photo and add it to the flickr group luck of seven and tag it "luck of seven."

the rule, you can only upload one image that best illustrates your perception of freedom. if you do not have a flickr account, point me to the URL or email me a copy of the photo...

see you in israel...

day 32. -= 07.08.07 =-

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it's been 768 hours since i departed and it's time for a bit of reflection.

first and foremost, it's been grueling.

zoom zoom in the taxi there are many ways to think of the situation. first, one can view this as work and prepare everyday with a schedule of productivity and think that you can accomplish what needs to be done. then once you start traveling, you start to realize that all those things are hog wash....

on the other hand, now that i've started this journey. i can quickly see how this trip can quickly turn into a whole nother realm. honestly, backpackers and fellow global travelers have some really funny stories to tell. but it's better creating those stories, than actually retelling someone else's. ;) AND that's a whole nother story all together!

...before coming to istanbul, i pushed my self hard to be the man of many feats. between interviews and late night conversations, i found my self blowing quite a few mental flat tires. needless to say, that's why i haven't uploaded an interview in a week... i needed a break from both...

since the meal to end all meals, i have tried diligently to reflect on the past month, and honestly there are thousands of stories that flow once . actually, there are thousands of words to describe every second that passes. i've been torn on how to lump it all in....

it also helps that i'm at a hostel and have been wetting my chops to impress the english speaking women... but that's not the point of this self reflection... speaking of self reflection, i've lost a few inches around the waist and my shoulders and back are taught as steel. (are you listing ladies?)

as i gear up for my next round of travels, i recognize productivity comes from being able to sit someplace quite and a working electrical outlet. then again, i've been thinking of ways to tell this story via video, but without having to go through so many interviews. maybe this is where i scream and ask for a producer, editor, and camera person...

burds. being consistently creative is demanding. trying to be creative while depleting every mental, physical and emotional reserve is pointless.

during this contemplation period, i've been thinking about how to tell my story. just two nights ago, i realized that i have a wealth of on the road stories. shortly before the teeth get longer, or the faces get uglier, the mountains taller and the rivers wider...

...before all of that, i want to think of a ways to preserve the morsel of truth and honesty. i want to tell my story before it gets lost in the mundane of the world's bitching and moaning. more importantly, i want to tell you my story before i forget. i want to tell you a story that will not lead me to edit a 30 min interview into seven minuets.

so, how do i accomplish this?

flying higher than an eagle for the next few weeks, i have four goals...
1. make, my stop overs longer. i'm estimating a week in each location.
2. more on the ground research into the areas and communities i visit.
3. relax and get 8 hours of proper sleep.
4. write more.

day 29. btw, are you going to eat that?

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the meal to end all meals

it's been two days since i've eaten a real meal. two nights ago, i headed out with hayal pozanti and her two friends, gokce and matan. after bouncing around from a street cafe, to an open air cafe, we climbed into an elevator to a roof top cafe for a taste of traditional turkish delights and anisette. covered in yogurt and rich sauces, we dinned in blissful content.

around 1am, we strung up our sails and departed to our abodes.

after a few hours of delightful dreams, i found my self in a place like none other. surround by unspeakable horror, i struggled to pull my self from the nightmare on elm street horror into the real world.

my eyes opened, my head swelled and my mouth filled. lucky, i was able to jimmy the door open, and rock my head toward what this hostel called a toilet. needless to say, you can put the rest together.

(warning, graphic content ahead... but like that night, if i don't get it out now... you might never make it to the plot...)

every thirty minutes or so, i found myself in another unpleasant world; desiring i was not shackled to a six room dorm room with five other unhappy, i managed to make it to the bathroom.

after the first hour, i howled every imaginable curse world and drank two liters of water.

after the second hour, i debated calling an ambulance and in between the dry heaves, munched four tablets of pepto and drank another liter of water.

during the third hour, i prayed, shat my pants and with all my might extruded the three or so liters that sat unpleasantly within my system.

somewhere among all those things. something worked. something unexplainable worked. for lack of a better term a miracle...

back in 1996, a similar incident happened, sans the alcohol part. for 48 hours, i convulsed in an american university dorm room. depleted of everything, i was rushed to the emergency room and placed under 24 hour supervision.

back in 1996, my father rushed from ohio to take care me...

alone. cold. rotting in hostel more apropo to a squat. i wondered what would take care of me this time...

one of the more interesting parts of this journey has been the discussion of faith. from the jewish quarter in prague, to a brief mash-up discussion on the streets of paris, to dries and an intimate conversation about baptism, to a punk rock bar in amsterdam drinking with three dutch jews and debating Mormonism, to openly debating religion in istanbul...

faith has become a current, but my faith does not have a title, name or singular belief. when i departed, i set out not knowing what i will find, but knowing what i will change me and embolden my faith....

... but if i was to discuss religion, what faith do i espouse?
... do i say i was a catholic, because my parents baptized me when i was born?
... am i mormon because i was raised in the mormon church and know it best?
... do i say i'm i a Buddhist, since i once studied it?
... i'm not just agnostic ...

BUT what i will say... faith comes in all different shapes and colors. don't be afraid of your passions, desires and most importantly your beliefs. refuse to take the world at it's face value... prove to yourself that mind is stronger than matter. if you want to change your world... take it by the horns and run!

to my dear friend istanbul

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dear istanbul,

seeing how i'm addressing a city of 10 million, i'll keep this brief.

on 7 july 2007, i started a seven month global journey to explore the intersection humanity and technology at 12.15 on 1 aug, i will land and embark on a seven day journey in turkey. while i'm not sure if all of that time will be spent in istanbul, i'm sure that a good portion will.

i would love to meetup, grab a drink and chat about your couchsurfing adventures, mind blowing open source projects, or artistic creations. if you get a chance, i hope you send me a message so we can chat!

cheers!
noel

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on the luck of seven was an open-source, around the world project by noel hidalgo, a new york city based activist, organizer, barcamper and coworker.

for seven months, he traversed the globe. using a new media voodo (blog, vlog, wiki, flickr, couchsurfing, twitter, myspace, dopplr, and facebook), noneck harnessed the collective knowledge of the internet, and report on seven topics of freedom. this trip was funded by 253 people and supported, house, fed, and loved by countless others.

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