Istanbul, Turkey

Phone-less for (nearly) the past week and it’s been doing quite a good job in helping me get my shit together. I have decided not to get a new phone or reactivate my Singapore number, so here’s to hermit life without WhatsApp for the next 2.5 months until I return home.

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I honestly loved Istanbul. It was beautiful in many aspects: the food, the sights, or simply the sounds. I’m really saddened by the terrorist attacks that continue to hit the country especially in Ankara. Turkey is an amazing country and I’d definitely return again, hopefully when it becomes safer to travel there in the future.

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My favourite sights are where it looks rundown and shabby, because I think they capture life in its rawest form. This was near the Sea Mansion Suites Hotel where I stayed — which was really nice and cheap because the exchange rate proves to be extremely competitive now, with the refugee crises and bombing attacks in the country.

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A market… with tons of scam shops but ok because I didn’t get scammed.

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My adventures with rice pudding, which was really delicious but I could hardly finish most of my food back in Turkey because I ate so much for every meal (and I had maybe… 5 meals a day?). The next picture shows dessert at MADO when the waiter took away the menu after we ordered two items — and we went “oh we’re not finished…” and ordered another two. I guess the exchange rate was way too favourable to miss out on all these food 😦

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The Hagia Sophia, half of which was blocked out for construction and improvement works. Still a stunning sight to behold though, even though I could not understand anything because of the language barrier (it was either Turkish or Arabic).

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The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque). In Rome, do as the Romans do. Here’s me and my failed attempt at putting up a headscarf, with my hair all over the place. Interestingly, there was a time of the day where visitors were not allowed to visit because those hours were blocked out exclusively for praying: I thought it was an excellent move of Turkey to ensure tourists did not get in the way of life of local citizens.

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What greeted me in the late afternoon/early evening, what an amazing sight to be walking along. Istanbul was so different from all the European cities I had visited, and I really welcomed the change in sights.

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Travel buddy: Joey! Thank you for bringing me into the SIA lounge, and the Turkish Airline lounge of course. I have no qualms taking economy class anytime because I am not 195cm and can comfortably squeeze onto my seat, but the “shit” Business Class you talked of was truly a luxurious experience that I’d always remember. Stealing food and drinks from the lounge to feed me for the next two weeks (until now), and looking like little kids scrambling around the lounge. Also, for not judging my endless eating and even joining me: the kebab supper, the dessert, the expensive (in local terms) dinner, 2 “high tea”s, and the lounge binging because no one says no to free food. Definitely gained tons of weight from the short weekend trip, and I guess weight loss from the trip continues to be in progress 😦

I hope Turkey will be eased of its conflicts and tensions soon, because I want to go to Cappadocia and so many other places. It was so beautiful :’)

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