Quirky Turkey

If It Moves…

Photographs by Mike Vickers

Feature photo above: Cinderella’s carriage undergoing repairs in Ortaca. All together now: ‘Three wheels on my wagon, And I’m still rolling along…’

After browsing through my photo library – again – I very quickly came to the inevitable conclusion that the subject of Turkish transportation is so enormously varied, encompassing brilliant ingenuity, surprise, delight and amusement, that it cannot be restricted to just the one article which was published on Fethiye Times back in early December last year.

So, here’s some more photos of the weird and wonderful, mostly taken before the pandemic. The things you can see when out on the roads are sometimes quite simply astonishing, like the time years ago when I was driving up near Seki and encountered an entire wedding party coming the other way, all riding on a long convoy of decorated flatbed trailers towed by tractors. At the head was the bride and groom, sat side-by-side on decorated plastic chairs, followed by the band playing traditional folk music, then at least a dozen further tractors piled high with happily-waving guests. It was a memorable sight, but sadly I did not have my camera with me on that day to record the lovely encounter.

The underlying philosophy that vehicles can be repaired ad infinitum or adapted for any purpose has long been fully embraced by the Turkish nation. Now, I’m not saying that you’ll chance upon examples of any of the below if you find yourself in Istanbul or Ankara, where life is certainly more formal and the authorities perhaps a little less accommodating, but if you keep your eyes open around here then you’ll eventually come across some amazing examples of home-made conveyances or vehicles that have no obvious relationship with the size or nature of the loads they’re called upon to carry.

For example, here’s three incidents involving vehicles that I personally experienced many moons ago during our Yakamoz years. Be my guest and pick your favourite. Firstly, I well remember glimpsing two very large Friesian cows being carried through Fethiye in a dolmuş. Then there was the time I saw a scooter carrying a full-length ladder sideways across the footwell! Talk about a wide load – people literally had to jump over the ladder as he swept by to avoid having their legs taken out beneath the knee, but my all-time number one encounter was on the pavement outside the PTT in central Fethiye. It was there I had to dodge a one-legged man riding side-saddle on a moped with his crutch resting on the handlebars and pointing forward like a jouster’s lance. He narrowly avoided impaling me in the stomach as I leapt out of the way, and it was only after he’d passed I observed the 50% reduction in the usual number of lower limbs. Then it twigged why he was riding side-saddle – unable to straddle the saddle normally he’d have probably fallen off the first time the moped banked around a corner!

Anyway, here’s another collection of photos devoted to anything that moves, whether on land or by sea. Welcome once again to the always entertaining subject of Uniquely Turkish Transportation.

Now does that strike you as a very large trailer for such a small boat? I think we might have a case of either a trailer with low self-esteem or a feisty little blue boat with massive delusions of grandeur.
Dad taking his son out to see proper men’s big toys in action. Massive, chunky and very deep foundations are what’s required when putting up a building in an earthquake zone, although the apparent necessity for the boat to be in attendance remains a bit of a puzzle. Still, this is Turkey so I’m happy run with it…
Plenty of life still left in this old girl. Onboard garden, wooden running board, minimalist bodywork, absent headlight, questionable saddle profile and fully exposed electrics all add up to a unique vehicle. Yes, we’re in lovely Göcek once again, spiritual home of the dilapidated scooter. The yachts may be out of this world, but the land transport is definitely much more down-to-earth.
A geometric perfection of jaunty masts in Fethiye marina. That’s a lovely bright spring sky, don’t you think?
Pedestrian chicane. You’d certainly struggle to get a pushchair past this trio of strategically positioned obstacles.
Propped up boat bottoms on the harbourside in Kalkan. These were all out of the water for winter storage and maintenance.
Sailing the reed sea in Dalyan. There’s plenty of water channels here – you just can’t see them.
Colourful kite surfers at Akyaka last summer. There was an impressive amount of whizzing around at a very lively pace.
Ornamental rigging blocks seen high up on the mast of a day boat in Fethiye. I thought these were a lovely and appropriate embellishment.
The trees have eyes! This scooter is protected from theft by the latest on-street security system near Fethiye fish market.
I find nothing wrong with converting an old Renault estate into a wood store. There are clearly several advantages. Firstly, the wood’s kept dry, secondly, you can stop your logs being nicked by locking the door, and thirdly, you can rest assured no-one will drive off with them – all the tyres were flat and as far as I could see, there was no engine!
Motorcycling has the potential to be somewhat dangerous out here, but this rider has wisely planned for every eventuality – his name and blood group are printed on the tank of his bike to give the medics a head start when he’s trollied into A&E!
Why on earth would you go to the expense of buying a Transit van for your gardening business when a moped with a tow ball is just as good. You see a lot of these inventive combinations, especially out in the sticks. I love ’em all.
Winter boat condom – large size! No danger of an unplanned litter of dainty dinghies here. I wonder what the sticky-out bits are up on top of the cabin.
This thoughtful rider tucked his bike out of the way behind a handy pillar. Whether he could read was another matter altogether.
Occasionally, amongst all this wonderful eccentricity, you witness something truly lovely. We were in Köyceğiz having lunch when this local fisherman passed by, forging slowly across the choppy lake, his boat dipping and rocking in the glittering swell. I recall he was singing happily to himself as he bobbed away. Who wouldn’t on such a lovely sunny day.
This tuk-tuk was parked outside a supermarket in Göcek and filled with everything necessary to keep your luxury yacht well-supplied, in this case bottles of tonic for your gin palace.
And while we’re down that way, what is it with Göcek and unkempt old scooters? This has to be the greenest vehicle I’ve ever seen – it’s powered entirely by cabbage gas! A fantastic idea, but you wouldn’t want to be following this bad boy for too long – I’ll bet there’s a vaguely suspicious odour trailing in its wake. That said, and looking on the bright side, at least this one’s still got a headlight!
Finally, some of you may recall that the first album on transportation included a photo of a lifeboat-themed front garden near to where we live in Fethiye. Well, this has proved to be a surprisingly popular horticultural decoration and the original lifeboat has now been joined by two newcomers, the orange flotilla proudly sailing amongst the hollyhocks. Who needs Alan Titchmarsh when the RNLI can offer everything you need. I think this is just fabulous.

First published for Fethiye Times 16 April 2021