Eastern Turkey. Vast and untamed. People warn of wild dogs and roaming terrorists. My biggest problem, I’m happy to say, has been a plethora of punctures! Having made it from England to Eastern Turkey with only a single puncture, I’ve had four punctures in the last five days!
The long ribbon of asphalt that I’ve followed for most of the breadth of this enormous country has left me in the frontier town of Dogubayazit, the last town in Turkey, at the foot of Mount Ararat, the country’s highest peak at 5176 metres. The mountain, which was, according to biblical accounts, where Noah grounded his Ark as the floods receded, looms high over the arid landscape. It is capped with snow, and wispy white clouds emanate from its peak. I can see where it got its biblical connections.
The sun sets early in the mountains. I watched the sharp silhouette of the distant chain of jagged mountaintops slowly recede into the darkness. The call to prayer echoed across the arid landscape, wild dogs howling along to the sound from the dark distance, and I’m glad I find myself once more in the comfort of a hotel. This is becoming an expensive habit!
When the sun rises over the mountains tomorrow morning, I will ride the final few miles to the Iranian border. I hope to leave my westernised preconceptions at customs, and head into this culturally distant and often mistrusted land with a open mind and a friendly smile. Finally, I enter the Middle East.