Back to Istanbul / by Phu Qui Nguyen

Although I kick myself for not exploring more of the country other than Istanbul, I do have every intention of going back.  It was a volatile time in the history and bombings were rampant.  Seeing emergency vehicles rush past inside Taksim Square and narrowly missing the bombing at the Blue Mosque square didn't make it much easier, with an unnerving feeling.  But I wouldn't give up the experience for anything in the world.  Not that I was chasing danger, but somehow, it was just the right place at the right time.  

I was visiting a friend over there and he had told me about what to expect, how people were, and be prepared for some awkward interactions.  Not that I didn't see where his perception was coming from (we both grew up together) and what he said held some truth, but there was much more.  We discussed the politics of the people, the current natives and neighboring immigrants interaction, the general misconception of brotherly love (men hold hands and kiss in a platonic way, but much closer than the rest of Europe in my opinion).  There's just a fourth dimension to the Turkish people of this three dimension world.  You can see it when you're walking down the dark desolate alleys, surfing through crowded bazaars, and studying the individuals in mid-conversation while rolling a tobacco cigarette.  They will look up, give you a nod and smile, as we're friends that all belong... not just beings in this world, but belonging.  I know I should be afraid going down the alley ways that don't look welcoming at all to a single soul, but as I explored, it just opened up other beautiful skies of Turkey. 

Upon landing in Turkey, I had to collect my bags.  The Ataturk airport managed to lose my luggage and they would have to get back to me.  Hmmmm, sketchy already Turkish Airlines!!    After hailing a cab, I must admit, the airport rides are much more relaxing than the city taxis.  City taxis won't understand our broken directions and half the time won't give us a friendly help to locate where we need to go.  Finally I find my way to Nisantasi, which is similar to Beverly Hills in Istanbul, ritzy and expensive shops surrounded by what is like the rest of downtown Hollyhood and old Los Angeles.  I went to visit my friend. He would be my contact in Turkey, home base, emergency call to in case anything would happen.  Thankful for times like this as exploring with friends can bring you to some cool places that you didn't think to or wouldn't have tried to get lost in.  And most people in Turkey don't speak English, so don't expect them to be ready to help you if you look lost.  But if you smile and give them a, "Merhaba" (hello), then they just might respond back.  Hellos and thank yous go a long way.

I won't bore you with the play by play.  There were lots of food to be experienced in my tummy, so that was happening a lot.  I apologize, I'm not a food blogger, but I definitely try to capture some spirit of the kitchen.  I don't know where I'm going with these posts.  Perhaps the next post will be some interesting folks I ran into or some lessons learned.  

Chestnuts Roasting, December 2015

Chestnuts Roasting, December 2015

The Real Pizza Vegas? December 2015

The Real Pizza Vegas? December 2015

Lahma Cun, Not A Pizza, December 2015

Lahma Cun, Not A Pizza, December 2015

That one, that one, that one, that one....  December 2015

That one, that one, that one, that one....  December 2015