May 2014 - Turkey & Jordan
In true Jonno style the only request he gave at the beginning of his adventures with us was to go shopping at one of the many malls in Istanbul - a very tough task for Mum and I to agree to. Of all the expectations I had for shopping in Istanbul after the last three days there was one factor I failed to think about until our entrance to the mall.
On this trip so far we have seen police and military with semi-automatic weapons and every major tourist site has a metal detector and x-ray machine, but it is not just their tourists sites, it's their shopping malls too. In fact, they first checked our taxi's boot before allowing us on the mall's driveway. Sometimes you have these sobering moments when you realise how far away you are from the safety and security you find in Australia, Canada or elsewhere.
Bring on Jordan where it takes two customs agents to process you at immigration and a bevie of people at the security check point (at least 4) watching your every move as you walk through the x-ray machine. When you finally make it to your domestic destination (Aqaba) your passport and visas are checked again. The ominous gates at the entrance to the airport are less than inviting and not since Jakarta have I had a security check at the entrance to the Hotel and a vehicle check which included a small radio device that is meant to pick up any C4 explosives. It is a different world out there and sometimes we forget that our small piece of peace is as precious as our lives.
I will emphasise that although security was quite present in Turkey at no point did I feel unsafe. By the unfortunate end of our 6 days in Turkey I wished it could have been longer, if only to plant myself by the pool, sun-chair facing the Bosphorus and all the action (which I successfully did on the last day). Istanbul is a vibrant clash between the ancient, old and new and is much more European than I ever gave it credit for and to prove this point I'll leave you with a few photos from the last day on the Bosphorus...