From the small town, Osmaniye to the metropolitan and historical Gaziantep – these two towns in Eastern Turkey have totally opposite vibes, the former being Middle Eastern-ish and the latter a bit European.
We arrived early morning and Osmaniye was sunny, dry and charmingly simple. Roads were covered with dust, yet the weather was interestingly cold. It’s similar to a small town in the Philippines’ municipality or a barrio with only a few infrastructures. Some roads remain unpaved, old markets remain busy, house doors remain unlocked, and everyone a family member in whatever degree.
There was nothing much to see in Osmaniye, but the welcoming attitudes of the people are worth to experience. The people don’t speak English, but it’s surprisingly magical when they have expressed their feelings not on words but by warm gestures and genuine smiles.
Our host, a businessman who never spoke English to us, while driving us around, we burst out laughing when he would randomly sing us funny Turkish songs. I also managed to meet a new friend through the Google Translate. I was listening to boom boom music while waiting for my friends to come back, when suddenly Latif, smiling, approached me without a word. His gesture asked me to follow him to his desktop. He started typing words into the Google Translate – he said, he liked my music and wanted to know more about the latest international clubbing music. We talked for an hour through the Google Translate about music.
It’s amazing how friendship and laughter need no common language and translation.
Gaziantep, despite being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world since 3650 BC (thank you, Wikipedia) is more modern, and is European-looking. People commuting modern railways, shopping in megamalls, studying in huge universities, they have hotels, zoos and a lot of things to do and to see around. I’ve seen people sitting, sipping frappes and coffees along the streets. Also, I’ve seen many Syrian women in abaya (long dress) and hijab shopping in Gaziantep malls. The great city of Aleppo in Syria, is only less an hour drive.
We stayed in a private university dormitory, and god! It was considerably a 5-star hotel; the student cafeteria was even looking better than expensive restaurants in the Philippines. To our surprised, these lucky students have their own exclusive cinema house inside the dormitory building. They also got an Apple store inside the campus, because all university students enrolled are automatically given a MacBook.
The road trip from Osmaniye to Gaziantep was a bit luxurious, seating in a Mercedes Benz limousine, and funnier when we had a clueless 9-year old Turkish boy seating around five useless Filipino childish men, and a funny driver who was driving his own car and the only Filipino he knew was Manny Pacquiao; he thought all Filipino men were boxers.
The trip took us over the mountains, driving through unbelievably huge tunnels and sky bridges connecting the mountains. The view was spectacular, imagining I was James Bond chased by the bad guys – flying cars over the sky bridges, suddenly shifted to being Indiana Jones jumping from a running horse to the old train’s roof – still chased by the bad guys. It was such dreamy scenery looking over the beautiful lakes, mystical rivers and misty mountains.
Sorry, I wasn’t able to take good photos. I found few photos from my old phone’s memory card.
a school fence in Osmaniye The whole road trip was about food – lamb meat overload Inside the limousine, this photo doesn’t do it justice at all lunch time, and look at the food – too much! Our way to Gaziantep Old trains are a regular sightings on our way to Gaziantep The Gaziantep University’s gate Gaziantep’s metro railway system Random photo at Gaziantep Zoo. Crossing the railway @Gaziantep