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Türkiye | Kedi Adventures

05/09/2019 - 05/20/2019

Here’s a photo essay of the Istanbul and Cappadocia I explored in roughly 10 days. I went during Ramadan, thinking it would affect my trip in some way, shape or form (but it didn’t). It couldn’t have been more relaxed. I couldn’t have blended in more (I believe I could’ve been mistaken for Kazakh…). I learned a lot about Turkey’s recent political & economic scene and felt the anxiety from locals about their re-election at the end of June.

Egzi, a tattoo artist in Kadiköy, told me about the Gezi Park riots in 2013 (which I had no idea about) & the shift of bringing life from Taksim Square over to the Kadiköy area - now that’s a conversation I’ll never forget.

I will never forget the importance of the soccer (football) game on May 19, 2019, where the underdog neighborhood team won against the team funded by the government. The happiness Ekin’s boyfriend and all the new friends he made on our ferry back from Burgazada was beyond a sports fan-type happiness. This was the type one would think they’d only experience if they were watching the game in person. It was also a big screw you to the government, and the fact it happened on their Independence Day (Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day) was a double whammy. (Though Ekin’s boyfriend did bet on the game so he was incredibly elated to have won his bets as well). The city was on fire all night, horns honking and people cheering throughout the streets.

Istanbul

Cappadocia

Friendly Faces

It’s not a trip for me unless I meet up with old friends and make new ones! I had such great conversations with the people I interacted with on this trip. For me, even if we only have the opportunity to hang out for X amount of days, I cherish those specific memories/they remain very vivid in my mind for a longer period of time.

Kedi Adventures

Only when you set foot in Turkey and see it for yourself will you finally understand the fascination around cats in this country. I didn’t watch Kedi before going to Turkey and honestly, I think it was actually more beneficial for me to watch it after. I was able to pinpoint some locations and imagine myself back in the city, absorbing all the sights, sounds and smells it has to offer. But true to the documentary, I did see so, so, SO many cats. And even better, witnessing the kindness of people in the neighborhoods taking care of the returning cats made my heart swell ten sizes. I saw fearless cats watching people pass by, accepting any and all the stomach rubs and head scratches. I heard them meow for food and succeed in getting fed. I saw them laze on the couches in a hammam and befriend tourists in a hostel, being passed around from person to person. As I was walking on the streets of Istanbul with another traveler, she told me the best way to find friends is to carry cat food. She taught me how to feed cats without scaring them (although I don’t think cats in Turkey are scared of anything, if you were to ask me) and by the end of my run, I had grown used to seeing little heads pop up from every nook and cranny. That’s something I’ll miss seeing in Toronto.

Montréal

It's been awhile since I've visited my friends from Montréal! Before I start my new job, I headed over there for a couple of days to bask in the remainder of the glory unemployment has to offer. The glory included a ton of delicious food, free time to enjoy the nice weather and photo opportunities. I also had the chance to drop in for a class at Carlson Gracie BJJ - Byoung came with me and tried a class, too. Click on the photo below for the more extensive album on Flickr

Yeseul brings me to yet another amazing brunch place (Lawrence) - click on this photo to access the full album on Flickr!

Yeseul brings me to yet another amazing brunch place (Lawrence) - click on this photo to access the full album on Flickr!

Byoung in deep thoughts nearby Berri-UQAM Station as we wait for my ride-share to bring me home.

Byoung in deep thoughts nearby Berri-UQAM Station as we wait for my ride-share to bring me home.

Michigan for the Weekend

07/07-07/09 Michigan, why did you want to be on the same time zone as New York?

Michigan, you're basically midwest. Take on the central time zone.

When I finally got off the bus at Ann Arbor station, I didn't understand why my Greyhound ticket said my ETA would be 11:30PM. It was clearly 10:30PM. That was before Nate pointed out the time zone shift.

This weekend, I took a trip up to Michigan to visit Anna. I met her when we were studying abroad in Singapore, and we haven't lost touch since. She was definitely one of my closer friends in Singapore, and we lived in the same hall (Hall 8!).

On Saturday, Nate, Anna and I started our day with a trip to the county fair. At this point, this was the most American activity I've done to date. It's everything you'd expect from a stereotypical fair- the greasy, fried foods, the amusement park getup, the farm animals, the pop up tents selling everything and anything you don't need, and the tractor competitions. I had 50 cent bottomless chocolate milk and watched a video of a cow giving birth. I also contemplated on getting an airbrush tattoo with the message "FROG- Fully Rely On God" beneath a cartoon frog. Trust me, I was amused.

We drove into Detroit afterwards, passing the exit for 8 Mile Road. My inner Eminem fangirl got really excited. Anna and Nate replied with a simple "you can get out of the car to take pictures, but we'll stay in the car."

Downtown Detroit was nothing like I expected. The way stereotypes made it out to be, I expected this industrial wasteland of nothing. But they've really cleaned up since, at least in the downtown core. It wasn't bustling like Chicago even on the weekend, but I didn't feel sketched out to be walking there in broad daylight. We ate lunch at American Coney Island, where I had my first Coney Island Chili Dog. I could've had two. Stuff was heavy but still, I could've done two.

Campus Martius.

Campus Martius.

Campus Martius is really beautiful during the summer. The emphasis on open space, public parks and a safe area for kids and families to enjoy really played out well. They even had an area in the middle of the plaza with sand to mimic a beach. Lanterns were hanging on wires, and colourful chairs were scattered around.

The Guardian building was another treasure. It's an art deco building, and the interiors reminded me of Spain- the way they decorated with colourful tiles and an almost symmetrical Gaudi style.

General Motors

General Motors

Passing the General Motors offices, I got Hunger Games flashbacks. The GM buildings looked like its own futuristic city. But it was located in a very beautiful spot by the river. It was my first time seeing Windsor across the river. Detroit and Windsor are SO close to each other. We could even hear the sounds of a concert that was happening over on Windsor's side.

Shinola District

Shinola District

Anna and Nate

Anna and Nate

Portions in America are insane.

Portions in America are insane.

Afterwards, we had an afternoon snack at the Punch Bowl Social. It was such a swanky restaurant, and it had a section for arcade games and bowling, too. I ordered an almond milkshake and struggled to finish it because it was so heavy. But that didn't stop us from eating dinner shortly after.

I have 3 exploration highlights from today:

  1. We discovered THE BELT, an alleyway full of bikes, murals, graffiti, cute hanging lights, galleries and back-building bars. Turns out they have a marijuana delivery service (like Uber Eats but for weed) called 'Leafly'.

  2. Nate had his first classic black milk tea bubble tea today. It blows my mind how he's never had bubble tea before, even after Anna got back from exchange. I thought she'd force feed him a huge selection of Asian cuisine.

  3. On Canfield Road, there's a couple of really hip and expensive (but super, super adorable) shops that sold plants, designer clothes, bikes, music, gifts, kitchen utensils and more. Jack White's record store was located there. I'm such a sucker for stores that carry one, two or all of the things I listed above.

For dinner, we ate at Pho Lucky and bumped into our waiter from Punch Bowl Social. It was also Nate's first pho (thankfully he enjoyed it) and today was also his first time on the QLine, Detroit's new streetcar. Nate was so excited about improved public transit coming to Detroit. I never gave public transit a second thought, since the TTC was always around and I used it daily. It shocked me to come to terms with how excited people must've been about this addition to their repairing city.

On Sunday, we visited Kensington State Park. Anna, Nate, Eddie, Anna's dad and I ate a breakfast pizza before heading out onto Anna's dad's boat. He drove us around the river and tried to catch some fish, but was not lucky today. Probably because of the amount of human activity around there. We also tried feeding the birds, but no birds came and we ended up feeding chipmunks instead. On the same hiking trail, Anna's grandparents from her dad's side had their ashes scattered in a specific area. It was their favourite trail and Anna's dad said they'd used to watch the sunset from a nearby bench. Kensington State Park was a breath of fresh air. I don't think I'll miss the piss stench that floats on by in the Chicago subway platforms.

After the park, we ate at an Indian buffet for lunch and went to look for Fairy doors around Ann Arbor. At first, I thought they were talking about 'ferry doors'- I expected gigantic, majestic gates by the harbour. But then I realized Ann Arbor wasn't exactly bordering any major lakes or rivers, unlike Detroit. And Nate kept saying we had to look for them. Why do we have to look for gigantic gates? What's so hard about that? Nate also said that these doors were on the side of buildings, and artists contacted these businesses about building doors on the side of their walls. At this point, I was wondering if Ann Arbor had some sort of underground drug operation, where all these doors were anonymous pick up points. I was wrong on both occasions. Turns out 'fairy doors' were basically miniatures (think back to the Art Institute of Chicago - miniature rooms) that were spread out across the city. The fairy door in the library was my favourite. The interior was decorated like a cozy living room, with a fireplace and books.

Thank you so much for having me, guys. It was a short visit, but I really like Michigan and I'll be back.