Jan 30, 2012

The kids are alright: Coolspotting in Istanbul

Turkey had been more solitary than I was used to for my Eurotrip, everyone assured me “I'd find it all in Istanbul”. I purposelessly teased it for last. The initial onslaught of salesmen and scammers clouded my vision when I eventually got there, I knew Istanbul had been voted Wallpaper's Best City for 2010 so I admittedly came in with expectations. But 'cool' is supposed to be elusive and the challenge of the search is what makes it even more special when you find it.

When I did find it my initial reaction was 'Crap its just like every other place I've seen!'. The feeling evolved, it dawned on me that the shared humanity is what ultimately connects me to people. When I find artists are pondering familiar questions and I spy a Turkish Miranda July, I came to realise that despite the barriers of language and traditions once you look deeper we're not that different after all.

This experience made apparent how subjective this Coolspotting collection has been. As I'm the arbiter, I can't escape the prism I view things which is realised by the fact I'm ultimately drawn to the same stuff. Ummm what do you think is cool?

Istanbul Art kids
Edisyon Gallery is part of the Tophane Art Walk of Istanbul. It was the first place I stumbled on and I took pleasure in introducing new friends to the find. Its an independent space which allows those curious intimate access to the Turkish art scene. It supports emerging photographers and artists and unveils a new collection each Saturday afternoon.

If you're after more traditional art, you can find Ilhami Atalay in action at his punk rock studio in Sultanahmet.

Comic Books and Graffiti
I discovered Turbo-S2K through his wall mural at GON Comic Shop (Nr. 34/A Yeni Carsi - no website). A selection of his shirts are also available for sale. Find video of Turbo S2K creating his piece here - Gon Comic Graffiti Making: Turbo (S2K) & Funk

The new comic shop stocks graphic books from local artists in Turkish as well as your familiar Western titles. If you're wondering whether there are Turks involved in English language books, I present Istanbul-born M.K. Perker.

Jazz and Cafes
Cafe Mitanni (Çukurluçeşme sokak.no:6/A) offers live music on most nights. Its a cosy space space showcasing Turkish bands playing new jazz, its not uncommon for the audience of music afficionados and internationals to be welcomed on stage to jam with the bands onstage.

This is where we met Aysu and friends, from Melbourne she returned to her roots in Istanbul where there is a vibrant and evolving music scene. Find her music here - Aysu Cogur music

The Kids are Alright
- Coolspotting in Frankfurt and Barcelona
- Coolspotting: Subculture in the South of Spain
- Coolspotting in Netherlands
- Coolspotting in Netherlands Pt II
- Coolspotting: Nerding out in England - Comics, CosPlay, Video Games and Wrestling
- Coolspotting in Berlin
- Coolspotting in Istanbul
- Coolspotting in Sydney
- Coolspotting in Melbourne

Jan 28, 2012

Day 365: Life as a movie - Movie tropes and Travel cliches

Its been exactly one year since I left Sydney and embarked on this remarkable EuroTrip. I will write several posts to mark the occasion, perhaps some flashback humour.
They say when life is eventful or too good to be true, it can sometimes feel like you're in a movie. The last few days have me thinking just that.

We've all laughed at observational comedy, nodded after reading a poignant quote and gotten emotional at the movies. But sometimes we experience things in life that brings a new enlightenment. Things start making more sense and we we find a deeper resonance. Then you realise that what you thought you knew, you didn't truly know. Until now.

Below are some classic movie tropes that travelers might recognise:

Pulp Fiction (1994)
- "What's in the briefcase?"
pulp fiction, briefcase, orange light
"I believe everyone should experience travel because..."
1. Travelers often say they're on a journey to find themselves' - a search for adventure, the "perfect wave". A 'higher purpose', some direction and (gulp) the meaning of life. This is called a Macguffin.

The Matrix (1999)
- "After this, there is no turning back"
matrix, red pill, blue pill
"That kind of stuff never happens at home"
2. Through travel we get to experience many new things, largely because we dare to pose the questions we might ordinarily be scared to in the comforts of home. You take the plunge - you'll try new foods, approach the girl or follow that stranger. You go down that Rabbit Hole.


Lost in Translation (2003)
- "I'm looking for, like, an accomplice"
lost in translation, accomplice, hyatt"I found out what really matters"
3. After you've realised your dreams and overcome your fears. Now what? Some of the easier questions get answered but the harder stuff (refer to 1.) remains a mystery. It's a Riddle for the ages.


Total Recall (1990)
- "We call it the Ego Trip"
total recall, mars, dream

"I did so much stuff"
4. By the end of your trip you've amassed plenty of experiences and emotions over a concentrated time. Depending on the reliability of your documentation and the availability of running mates you may start to forget what happened. Disbelieve some of your crazier adventures and wonder, Was it a dream?


The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
- "Home is behind, the world ahead..."
lord of the rings, return king, hobbits
"Nothing's changed, none of my friends at home understand"
5. Your trip's over and now your home. Life returns to its normal pace and you find yourself slotting back into routine. You feel detached from your friends and find yourself chasing after travel ghosts. You start getting restless, plotting your next adventure. You realise you feel like a Stranger in a Familiar Land.

Jan 26, 2012

Spotted: Carnival Shooting game by the Bosphorous

Spotted in: Istanbul, Turkey
Çarşamba, Ocak 25. 12:30pm
Around Europe everyone has their hustle, in Turkey its abundant and gets really creative. Some are legitimate enterprises whilst others are not unlike Rigged Carnie Games.

I spotted a spectacle by the port towards the IDO Feribot that put a big smile on my face. A man was blowing balloons and tying them onto a wire between two poles wedged on the port rocks. Around him, cans and whisky bottles were arranged in rows. On the main boardwalk a few metres away lay a stool with 2 pellet rifles affixed to it. It was a Carnival shooting game, wıth the Bosphorous as the backdrop.

It cost 1 Turkish Lira for 4 shots. No prizes to be won, simply paying for the privilege of momentary awesomeness! I watched as he proudly arranged his target fantasyland, helped him up from the rocks below and patted him on the back.

As I walked away grinning, I saw another man setting up the same game. The first was more elaborate but reluctantly I had to deduct 'cool' points from the originality column.

Jan 23, 2012

Scams in Istanbul: Why I trust people (1 of 3)

<< crossposted on 'The 30 Home Games' blog

up in the air, clooney, connection, travel
"The best adventures happen when you trust somebody"
- paraphrased quote entered into a running mate's phone
The third week into my Turkey experience and I was in snow-covered Göreme. It was a foggy day. I was eavesdropping on an exchange between a Tour operator and a representative for a busload of tourists. The owner of the nearby horseranch came out and we chatted about the unreasonable expectations people have. "If you come to Turkey in Winter be prepared for snow" he began. "It doesn't matter that it was sunny last week in Dubai. Today you're in Turkey". We connected, he invited me inside where it was warmer.

I hung around for about 5 hours. He commanded a staff of 6 or so of varying ages and experience. They came in and out and we talked about the usual - girls, dreams and life. One associate had been living in Japan for 2 years, it was his second day back in Turkey. He confided that he had a miserable time there but he loves his newborn son and his Japanese wife (they met when she was a tourist). He had a lot of thinking to do. We drank Raki and Efes beer, ate some kebab and smoked.

I mentioned my time in Turkey has been more scenic than social. These are the types of interactions I value and what I've enjoyed most about how I travel. Having had difficulty finding it in Turkey, I cherished this experience all the more.

Its ultimately what connects me to a place - being accepted or feeling like I belong in some way. The ranchowner described the feeling like a mirror, "we tend to like things when we can see ourselves in it" . The ranchowner commended me on my openness, the feeling was mutual. I explained that all my best experiences and adventures have come with an exchange of trust. Strangers off the street, Couchsurfers have welcomed me into their lives and homes. As a stranger I've been welcomed into classrooms and house parties and been handed house keys from people I've just met.

Times I've trusted in others and vice versa:
- CouchSurfing: I accompanied Latvians as they delivered flowers to beloved former teachers and been escorted by scooter to a wrestling show in Germany.
- Strangers met on Lithuanian streets have invited me to parasail and pick mushrooms
- Gone on road trips and slept in unfurnished apartments with new friends
- I was an honorary Student at the SpoHo in Köln. Eating at their Mensa (cafeteria), joining them on social theme park trips and participating in University classes
- Had amazing meals in Portugal through the kindness of strangers
- I surrender myself each time I Ego Trip

We tried to figure out why two strangers could be so trusting so quickly. The Ranchowner offered "When your soul is naked, people can recognise". Its just my nature, I have faith in people and my 'Spidey Sense' has served me well.

Enter Istanbul...
- Scams in Istanbul: Why I trust people (1 of 3)
- Scams in Istanbul: Why people trust others (2 of 3)
- Scams in Istanbul: The reality of trusting (3 of 3)

Jan 21, 2012

Road Music: Songs to be happy to (Not Sad New Year)

Schadenfreude: (German loanword) delight in another's misfortune
At first glance these songs might not seem like the typical feel-good tunes you've come to expect from 'Songs to be happy to'. You'd be half right.

I was so blissful closing my year in Germany that I began lamenting my good fortune on the trip. I'd been intrigued by the thought of misadventure, to quote a friend "You need to experience the bad to fully appreciate the good". On Boxing Day in Berlin, Skyping with a good friend back in Australia we bemoaned how well-adjusted our upbringing was.

In hindsight it was not my proudest moment. I realised now that being in a good mood is not unlike when you're in a bad mood. Sometimes you have filters on and only see what you choose to see, moreover - choose to remember. My trip has superficially had its ups and downs but often you forget certain aspects after the fact and create a larger narrative to rationalise your current state of mind.

Its human nature to be curious about the things you don't have. I always thought "the grass is greener on the other side" only related to glamorous things but I guess you can really convince yourself of anything.

These were the songs that hyped me into 2012, the songs I hummed to myself as I strolled around Kuşadası, Turkey on the threshold of the New Year.

VIDEO: 'Jet Black New Year' by Thursday

This has been my favorite New Year song for as long as I've known it. It has the right balance of hope and anger to energise the spirit.

VIDEO: 'I'm So Ronery' by Kim Jong-il (Team America: World Police)

My early experiences in Turkey were amongst South Koreans, whether it was being surrounded by Tour groups at touristic sights or finding them solo in hostels. Turkey during the low season has definitely been lonely, the spectacular vistas only highlight this sentiment as I sometimes wish I could share the views with special others. Having to negotiate around the Salesman and Scammers is also a reality of Turkey that adds to the isolation.

That said, Turkey would make a great Honeymoon destination.

- Find the entire 'Road Music' Track listings here

Jan 18, 2012

Trigger Doodles of Spain and Italy

When I first lost my camera I started doodling views to capture my memories. My Doodle Book unfortunately also made its way to the 'Land of the Lost'. I did manage to preserve these pages though:
'Doodle Book' cover

Parque del Retiro, Madrid

View from Valencia hostel

Park Güell, Barcelona

Vıew towards my Venezia place of employment

Jan 14, 2012

Mixtape: 'Loz in Translation' Sampler II (Turkey)

My original Mixtape Sampler was set in Spain, early into my trip. Its been a long time coming but I'm compelled to compile a new one for scenic Turkey.
  1. A question answered with a quote
  2. Other People' stories
  3. Road Reading
  4. Road Music
  5. Road Movies
  6. Spotted
1. A question answered with a quote

I'm happy now so I'm prepared. Bring on the pain whilst I'm ready for it

Has it defeated you?
2. Other People's stories:
VIDEO: Kurt Angle takes down Brian Kilmeade
KURT ANGLE: I never got to soak it in. I don't remember the Olympics. I don't remember the opening ceremonies. I don't remember enjoying the Olympic Village. I don't remmber winning the Gold Medal. I don't remembe-- All I remember is having a sense of relief.

I made it a job. I put a lot of pressure on myself. So much pressure that I lost a lot of sleep, a lot of weight. I lost 8 years of my life that I don't remember. This time around I want to soak it in, I want to enjoy the experience.
I'm a wrestling fan. Just like podcasting its one of the few habits I indulge in whilst on the road to keep me feeling connected to home and normalcy. This sentiment dovetails with my resolution to be more conscious and live in the moment. Its mindboggling to imagine that a seminal point in one's life, a moment that ultimately changed its course can be forgotten and leave behind little feeling.
3. Road reading:
"Memory is Fiction"
- Keith Richards
This captivating biography was on the Hostel bookshelves, I've been reading it whilst soaking in the breathtaking Antalya vistas. This review from the New Yorker captures its spirit beautifully "it’s an entertaining, rambling monologue, a slurry romp through the life of a man who knew every pleasure, denied himself nothing, and never paid the price". Jeeeealous.
4. Road Music:

VIDEO: 'Hep Yaşın 19' by Mfö
I've been enjoying the guerilla aesthetic of the new school 'Black Eyed Peas' music videos. I'm a fan of the understated glamour that exudes from documentary style video clips. Whilst enjoying a Turkish Breakfast, I happened across this Turkish Rock video that mirrors BEP's 'Just Can't Get Enough'. Both videos capture the energy tempered by the melancholy that comes with being on the road
5. Road Movies

VIDEO: An Idea can transform the world - Inception Movie Trailer
I've been running into cyclists around Turkey, so far a Japanese man and a New Zealander both with long term missions spanning years. The New Zealander was cycling home to the Auckland after living in London for 10 years. He's aiming to be back by May 2013.

The Kiwi explained to me how on his second date with a prospective long-term partner, knowing he'd inevitably be embarking on this epic journey he conceded "I want to be honest with you - I have this idea..."

I laughed knowingly. I thought of 'Inception' (2010).

Update 2015:
Jeremy Scott incredibly finished his journey 2.5 years and 29 Countries later, publishing a book documenting his tale. Find it here - The Long Road From A Broken Heart

6. Spotted in: Antalya, Turkey
Ocak 11 2012. 9pm
In Sydney you can find them by the Downing Centre, Liverpool St. In London at the Trocadero underground level. In Antalya, Turkey you'll find your local BBoys at the arcade across from the Muratpaşa tram stop.

- Mixtape: 'Loz in Translation' Sampler (Spain)
- Mixtape: 'Loz in Translation' Sampler II (Turkey)

Jan 13, 2012

Trigger: Day 350 - What I'll miss most about traveling (Ego Tripping)

"Choose your own Adventurer"

Its day 350. Wow!
I find myself getting nostalgic already. In just over a month I'll be back on home soil. To be honest, I welcome it but I already find myself reminiscing on my many Ego-Trips.

I'll miss being a Venezian labourer
I'll miss being an American Vagabond
I'll miss being Brazilian Erasmus student
I'll miss being German Artist
I'll miss being German Sports student
I'll miss being nekkid in the mountains
I'll miss being a "rainy Lithuanian"
I'll miss being a Slovakian Adventurer
I'll miss being a touring English chap
I'll miss being Louis Theroux
I'll miss being upside down on a waterslide
I'll miss being a coffee enthusiast
I'll miss being Anne Frank
I'll miss being the "New Amim"
I'll miss being On a Boat
I'll miss being a Basketball scout
I'll miss being a poet
I'll miss being a scene kid

Jan 11, 2012

Trigger: Day 114 - An NBA day in Portugal

<< crossposted on the '30HomeGames' blog

Day 114: It was the front end of our roadtrip north from Lisboa, the sun was shining and we were deep into the NBA playoffs.

The day began in beautiful Ericeira

and we awoke to a beachfront view.

After scoring some roadside fruit we met up by the van for breakfast.

We spent the day hitting up various beaches,

stopping by Mafra

before settling in Obidos for a burger dinner.

An advertised acoustic night wasn't available
but we befriended the guys from the Restaurant.

VIDEO: Chicago Bulls vs Miami Heat Gm3 recap (May 23, 2011)

We camped by the Post Office steps at 1am to access the free WiFi
to watch Game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.

Our new friends passed by and invited us to join them for a drink.
When we couldn't find anything open we were welcomed in their home.

Our host felt the occasion was worthy of popping open his 200yr old Port.
We chatted and had early morning walks learning about their village.

We discussed sleeping by Obidos' castle walls but instead
crashed at a secluded area along the tracks by the Church.

We never did get to finish Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals but being outside at that moment gave us the opening for the invitation. Sometimes its just a pretext to be at the right place or meet the right people, thats my ultimate wish for the '30HomeGames mission'

The game was a bit of a bummer anyway as the Like-a-Bulls were trounced by 'Heel' Heat. We managed to see highlights of the OKC vs Dallas nailbiter the following day at a library in Leiria. Basketball Never Stops.

- Find all my Trigger Days here

Jan 5, 2012

A question answered with a quote: Turkey edition

I've just spent the day in Pamukkale, Turkey and I'd have to rate it as one of the most spectacular sights I've ever witnessed.

My experiences in Turkey have primarily been sightseeing, not incredibly social with many early nights. Its uncharacteristic but in some ways I welcome the different energy - For Now. Outside of social Turkish salesmen most of my interactions have been with other travelers, interestingly its largely been Koreans. As such I've been learning more about the Korean psyche more than Turkish. Turkey assisted South Korea during the Korean war and have a brother relationship, I suspect an effective Tourism (after Turkey faced hosts South Korea for Bronze at the 2002 World Cup) campaign is also somehow involved.

There are plenty of tour groups shuffling around with bafflingly few backpackers in comparison during this winter offseason. Its only early days and there is far more people and land to explore. As always its just a matter of making the best of every situation and more importantly creating the right environment around me to make it happen.

With that I present to you AQAwaQ: Turkey edition.

Find the collection of quotables here:
- A question answered with a quote: German + Italian edition
- A question answered with a quote: Spain edition
- A question answered with a quote: Portugal edition
- A question answered with a quote: Holland Edition
- A question answered with a quote: UK Edition
- A question answered with a quote: Lithuania Edition
- A question answered with a quote: Latvia + Estonia edition
- A question answered with a quote: England edition
- A question answered with a quote: Germany Revisited edition
- A question answered with a quote: Turkey edition
- Listen to my Podcast inspired by AQAwaQ: Lets's Get Real podcast

Sometimes feelings are more powerful than thinking

If you gain something, you should also lose something

You have no control over other people's perspectives

Where are you from?

You can't see everything, the only guide I use is being happy

I don't want to talk about logic, I just want you to get out!
Do it cuz you enjoy it, not cuz you feel guilty

You want someone in outer space who gets the work done,
you don't want them to be writing poems

Some things you enjoy. Some things you live.

If you're cunning, somehow its ok but stealing is bad. One is on them, one is on you.

- It doesn't matter how macho you are, noone likes to see their mother cry
- Jesus only lived till he was 33, I'm 44. I can't die
- Losing, you learn better
- When your soul is naked, people can recognise
- You can surprise everyone. But not your mother.
- Its egocentric. You get along with people like mirrors.
If you don't see yourself in them it won't work
- Friends and family can f*ck off with their compliments,
it only counts when its from a beautiful woman

- You should embrace their moment
- How come with girls, you won't let it play itself out
- But first... the ice cream needs to be sold and the game need to be played
[It needs to be offered. It needs to run its course]

If they don't like me I move on. I know I'm not for everyone.

- Wear Life like a loose garment
- Serenity Prayer: God, give us grace to
accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

You can find yourself in the mirror. Its free!

- It might not be awesome awesome but since you have nothing to compare...
- 活著是好 (Chinese: living is good)
- You learn to relax your core
- At the end of the day, you only have yourself to lose

- Maybe reality is when the stereotype is closer
- When you go deep we are all the same

- Insist on your beliefs

- To capture happiness, you have to be outside of it

- Artist 1: Can I take a picture of your painting?
Artist 2: No picture! Just buy a painting.

- I'm not ready for heaven yet. But I want to be...

- Artist 1: Thinking too much is not good
Artist 2: I think so

- Revolutionary 1: What are we going to do when our revolution is over?
Revolutionary 2: We can join another one. We have the experience.
- When you have power, temptation looks different

- I don't need to understand but I understand
- Comedy makes obvious the details