Update #7 A True Story from Turkey

Hello Travellers – here’s a true story for you!

The Route East IRL adventure actually started in London – a journey that wound its way through Europe and into Istanbul, before the adventures through Asia began. So why did we start Route East in Turkey, and not the UK?

Good question! Well firstly, purely from a practical point of view. Europe’s countries are pretty small and it would have been hard to do them proper justice from a design perspective. Secondly, wrapping even more of a map around a circle – well that would also have been difficult. But, more importantly, the real adventure truly started in Turkey.

It was Jonny and George’s second night in Turkey. After losing a wing mirror in Istanbul (this has made it to our Ignition Cards) they decided to try their luck wild camping in the countryside.

It was a moonless night and brisk wind made the landscape pretty uninviting, but after a few hours driving, the guys came across a spot that seemed perfect. Note:wild camping is not allowed in Route East,unless you have a ‘You’ve got a tent’ Action Card.

After setting up for the evening by the side of a quiet country road, they stirred up some instant noodles on a small stove and started to wind down. Out of absolutely nowhere, three cars, beaming their headlines through an eerie mist, skidded up to the back of Judith (their car). 11 men jumped out of the cars holding crow bars, baseball bats, and crude DIY tools. They were speaking loud, and very fast, in every direction both to them (Jonny and George didn’t understand a thing) and to each other.

While Jonny and George couldn’t understand a word, they could certainly tell they weren’t welcome. The men tugged at their tent, pointed to the car and herded them and all of their things back into Judith. Somehow they managed to fit a fully erected (but now slightly broken) tent onto the back seats!

The men moved their cars to surround them and chaperoned them back down the road they’d come from. They were petrified – literally for their lives. Although they’d both been in some hairy situations before, this was an entirely new level of uncomfortable.

10 minutes later, they arrived at a fork in the road. The car in front stopped, and the men got out. They knocked on Judith’s window and indicated for them to get out, whilst pointing over to a dodgy dirt track towards disused farm in the distance. Judith’s brakes were pretty sharp, having been newly fitted just a few weeks before. With the guys on high alert, they’d stopped short and left around half a car length between their bonnet and the car ahead. So, they took their opportunity. Full lock to the left and foot on the gas – they legged it!!!!

The next day, they booked a small AirBnB. It was just a small private room in a family home in Tbilisi. It was a stark contrast to the night before, and they reflected on the events with their new friend Emir who showed them some Turkish games and shared his alcohol collection. In between the noodles and the men arriving, Jonny and Goerge had started to film a video diary. It was mainly for their mums back home, but also for a record of their travels. They realised that they’d left it recording for the whole evening, and the full events of the night had been captured – well at least the sound.

Emir was listening in as they looked over the footage (it was mostly darkness apart from shooting lights as the camera got bashed around). He was laughing. In fact, more than laughing, he was in hysterics.

“You silly British people. You camped in a cemetery!’. You should have seen their faces.

Jonny and George asked Emir to listen to the whole thing. Turns out, the Turkish guys themselves were scared because they didn’t know who Jonny & George were (hence the makeshift weaponry). Their loud shouting, well that was just standard Turkish dialogue, as they decided between them who had would accommodate Jonny and George on their land instead . And, as they set off, they weren’t following them to impending death, instead, to soft safe ground to camp on with probably a Turkish breakfast in the morning!

Never judge a book by its cover – even if it’s shouting at you!

Jonny, George, Petra, and the Route East Team

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