Quirky Turkey

Uniquely Turkish Transportation

Photographs by Mike Vickers

Feature photo above: Ducks swimming between fishing boats in Kaş harbour

If you’re planning to travel around in Turkey in any conveyance and at any speed faster than a walk, then there are advantages to keeping your eyes open. On the roads, it could easily save you from having an accident, which experienced drivers will tell you can happen in any place and at any time. As a general philosophy, expecting the unexpected when driving will stand you in good stead.

That said, keeping an eagle eye out also means you occasionally glimpse the truly wonderful. Whether on foot or bike, in the car, on the bus or travelling by boat, there are plenty of opportunities to see things that bring a smile with their cheerfully unique Turkish eccentricity. Make do and mend is a fundamental philosophical bedrock, and this album contains one or two prime examples that I’ve seen over the years. Enjoy!

‘Evening, Mr Shifter!’ Moving house in Fethiye. This was taken through the windscreen of our car as we followed this lorry out of Fethiye late one summer’s afternoon. The two passengers were there to make sure nothing fell off the back.
This ingenious but hardly aerodynamic winter tent is designed to keep out the cold and wet. Sadly, that level of protection is not extended to anything slung in the front basket. I thought the roll-up sides were particularly clever.
Seen many years ago in the mountains near Denizli, this ancient Transit flatbed was struggling up a long hill. Seven men were packed around the two horses to stop them moving about too much. Horses are heavy – see how far down the suspension is depressed at the back. Love Dobbin’s the purple and gold coat.
Tranquil dusk at Akyaka and the last boat chugs back to its mooring.
You never know what you’re going to find in the middle of a road, including Fethiye’s famous 2000-year-old Lycian pillar tomb. Although it’s been there for an awfully long time, the dead bollard suggests at least one motorist still didn’t see this well-signposted and very substantial structure.

And while we’re on the delicate subject of hitting things, I saw this in Seydikemer. The electricity supply people are occasionally inclined to plant their concrete poles in the most inconvenient of places, which in this case is in the middle of a road junction. Clearly, someone has lumped into it on at least one occasion, and in response a civic-minded individual has tied these large truck tyres to the pole to soften the impact the next time someone else takes their chances – which they will.

The great thing about a gulet cruise is that you don’t have to wear shoes onboard.
In the bus and on the glorious corniche between Kalkan and Kaş. This is one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever had the pleasure of driving along, with the Med always so close and the island of Meis directly ahead. Jan and I like to sit at the front on this particular journey, for obvious reasons. You can see us in the driver’s mirror.

We saw this young man delivering water in Kaş. Why buy a van when you can load just as much onto a scooter. The added advantage of this cargo is that if you do get launched into the air by the impact of an inconsiderate truck, your descent to the pavement is broken hydraulically. Just remember to wear your budgie-smugglers.

A symmetric perspective of boat bums seen in Fethiye marina.

If wheels don’t float your boat any more, why not try something a little more leisurely. This gorgeous girl would be happy to show you around Kaya, but she’s a traditional gal by nature – there’s no satnav, bluetooth or electric windows, but then she does have lovely eyelashes.
All part of the service we used to offer at Yakamoz Hotel. Yvonne’s birthday wish was to drive a tractor, so our handyman, Bayram, wandered off and came back with this classic orange Fiat. There he is, sitting on the mudguard just making sure she doesn’t run over any sheep. She absolutely loved it. Now that’s what I call a result!
And seeing as we’re on the topic of sheep, I like to think these two were off to pastures new, but quite possibly not. I’m pretty sure that was what one of the girls was asking while we were all waiting at the lights.

Easy Rider Fruit & Veg Man on his rounds with this homemade, motorbike-powered conveyance. His customer is lowering her basket with her shopping list and money, then hauls up her order. Well, saves wearing out her knees on all those stairs, doesn’t it. We’re witnessing an embryonic version of Deliveroo in the making here.
The politicians are always banging on at us to go green. Here’s a scooter owner who’s taken their advice onboard with admirable enthusiasm.
One man’s misfortune is another’s home. Winter storms left this boat upturned off the kordon, but the local ducks soon moved in.
Some folk like a nice rockery to brighten up their front garden, but others are much more visionary and prefer the full-on high-viz ship’s lifeboat approach.
This grand old lady may have seen better days but still must be of great value to her owner – the anti-theft saddle feature remains fully functional. That’ll sting in the morning!
The ancient stadium at Kibrya. We turfed up on a visit years ago and found the place deserted. Eventually, we found the stadium and drove our Fiat Palio up and down, just like in Ben Hur, but without the snorting stallions. Or the vicious knives sticking out of our wheel hubs.

Highways across the country have improved immeasurably since our first visit in 1996, when even a simple visit to Saklikent involved negotiating miles of hot-holed and dusty dirt roads. This bustling stretch of superbly smooth blacktop lies between Lake Cildir and Kars over in the east near the Armenian border and is ploughed every day to keep it clear. It was absolutely perishing. Those aren’t snowflakes by the way, they’re actually lumps of frozen wax blown out of my ears by the howling wind.
Hybrid home-made – er, something. The front third is a ladies bike complete with bell and basket, the middle bit is presumably the battery compartment and the rear third comprises a cannibalized electric scooter, complete with rack. Three things immediately sprang out at me when I spotted this gloriously inventive vehicle. Firstly, believe it or not, someone thinks it’s worth locking to the tree. Secondly, the only way to stop it is to use a front brake designed for a bicycle, and thirdly, it’s actually got a tow ball on the back! Seeing this reaffirmed my faith in Turkish ingenuity.

First published for Fethiye Times 4 December 2020

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