Kizkalesi Thursday

The weather has been very hot recently. Thursday morning Hamdullah, Zeyni, Izzet and I caught the bus (5 YTL each way) 70 km west along the coast to Kizkalesi.

With a metre-long pide (bread) at the restaurant

The island castle of Kizkalesi (Maiden’s Castle) provides the backdrop for beachgoers, swimmers, a simit (bread-ring) seller and a dog.

A family on a pedal boat enjoying the late afternoon sun. Korykos, the castle on the land in the background, used to connect with Kizkalesi in ancient times via a causeway.


Turkey Elects, Sunday 22 July 2007

The almost constant noise and colour of political campaign vehicles has finished and, in a few hours time, Turkey will go to the polls to elect a new parliament.

If I could vote, who would I vote for? Definitely not the ultra nationalist MHP or isolationist Genc Party. I would probably vote for an independent candidate.

Who will win the largest number of seats? Probably the currently ruling AK Party. Will they retain a majority? Who knows…

The Turkish Daily News provides a run-down of the Mersin election candidates, parties and issues.

For the overall election issues and latest news, visit Wikipedia’s Turkish General Election, 2007 page

Hamdullah, my flatmate, as he is a public school teacher, will man the election booth at his school today.

My 2004 local government election special is here

PS: Like on previous election days, the sale of alcohol is banned today.

ELECTION RESULTS (2007-07-24): As expected, AKP recorded the highest vote percentage with almost 47% of the total. AKP’s percentage actually increased from the 2002 vote but their number of seats gained was reduced although they will still have a majority in parliament. CHP and MHP were the other 2 parties reaching the 10% vote threshold required to enter parliament with 21% and 14% respectively. More than 20, mainly Kurdish, independent candidates also gained enough votes to enter parliament.

Mersin Province was one of only two provinces (along with Osmaniye) to give the most votes to the fascist MHP. However, in Mersin there was only 6% difference between 3 parties with MHP gaining 31%, AKP 27% and CHP 25%.

Election result maps are displayed by the BBC and Wikipedia.

For the most comprehensive Turkish election news and coverage in English see Erkan’s field diary.


Beirut Lebanon – Photos Part 2

Following on from part 1.

What does ‘heart’ mean?

A old mansion, a mosque and various-aged apartment blocks, Ras Beirut

The Corniche

Hard Rock Cafe – I mainly included this photograph because of the super guitar shadow

A Lebanese Army jeep and tank cruising the streets

A typical yellow Beirut-Damascus service taxi and driver. I was going to take this vehicle back but ended up in a newer car.

The mountains splitting Lebanon in two get cold in the winter

Posters of this man and boy were common on the highway towards the Syrian border.
UPDATE: the people in the photo are “MP Walid Eido and his eldest son, who were killed in the massive Manara car bombing last month”. Thanks adiamondinsunlight!


Beirut, Lebanon – Photos Part 1

The writing linked to these photos is located here.

A bridge destroyed during the 2006 war with Israel, part of the main Damascus-Beirut highway

A new shopping centre under construction in central Beirut

Razor wire in the foreground, Place de l’Etoile’s clocktower in the centre and Al-Omari Mosque in the background.

A skyscraper left abandoned after either the 1980s civil war the or 2006’s war with Israel.

CORRECTION; from comments: The abandoned skyscraper is the Burj El Murr (Murr Tower), which was only partially built when the civil war broke out in 1975. Its frame was finished during a lull the following year, making it a prime militia location for the “hotel wars” of 1977-78. Your photo is of the old Holiday Inn, which was open and functioning for a few swinging years before the war started.
(If you look at the top floor, you will see the tell-tale bulge of one of the old-style Holiday Inn revolving restaurants!)
The Holiday Inn was _also_ used during the hotel wars (hence the name …).”

Thanks again adiamondinsunlight!

A bullet-holed street sign

Hezbollah’s tent city in central Beirut

Around Beirut I saw several pictures of Rafik Hariri, the businessman/politician assassinated in 2005

The entrance to the American University of Beirut. The ladies in this vicinity were particularly beautiful.


Damascus, Syria – Photos

Jeff securing the Ambassador’s Residence

Bashar al-Assad signs leaving Damascus on the highway to Lebanon

The view from Jeff’s place

Trivial Pursuit night

A boy delivering pistachio sweets in Damascus’ centre

Soldiers walking in a Souk Al Hamidiyah alleyway

Looking towards the Souk Al-Hamidiyah entrance. Both Damascus and Aleppo suffer growing traffic problems.

Kind of ironically, one of the most common birds I witnessed in Beirut and Damascus was the dove, the symbol of peace.

Two opposites: a classic black Citroen 2CV and a modern white BMW X3/X5

Joe and Jeff at the jazz. This time inside Damascus’ Citadel.

The Syrian Swiss Jazz Big Band on the final night of the Jazz Lives In Syria 2007 festival in Damascus


Aleppo, Syria – Photos

Aleppo’s main square. Note the outline of the map on the banner, particularly the top left-hand corner.

This self-portrait photo was an accident (I didn’t realise the camera was zoomed in) but both Bangali and I loved the result.

The Frescobaldi Quartet from Italy playing in the Aleppo Citadel as part of the Jazz Lives In Syria 2007 festival.

With my wonderful hosts, Bangali and Celine

The citadel surrounded the concert area

The Aleppo Jazz Quartet

The moon, as viewed from the citadel entrance bridge


Back From Syria

I returned to Mersin Monday morning after catching the 2 AM ‘Smuggler’s Express’ bus from Aleppo to Antakya. I think I and a young Iraqi Turkoman studying in Turkey were probably the only ‘genuine’ passengers on the bus. The bus’ fuel tanks were very full and there were assorted goods packed into various crevices.

The wireless Internet at home is not operating properly so I have been without access for the past week.

When I get the opportunity I will post some photos of my trip.