Best things about living in Turkey..

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I may complain a lot, but I do love living in Turkey too, and going back to the UK soon has made me realise just how much I do love it. I thought I’d share a list of the best things about living in Turkey, in my opinion. Don’t worry, I’m not wearing rose tinted glasses.. I’ll be posting the worst things about living in Turkey soon.

Weather
This is actually on both my best and worst lists.. The good is the constant, guaranteed sunshine for 4-5 months of the year, sunny days cheer everyone up, and when the rain and storms do come in the winter, we welcome them with open arms.

Scenery
Nobody can deny the views and scenery in Turkey are amazing. I am so lucky to live near the sea, something that I really take for granted, the sunsets are amazing over the sea in winter. The natural beauty of the beaches and the mountains, the contrast between the holiday resorts on the turquoise coast, the fancy hotels and office buildings and landmarks in big cities like Istanbul and Izmir, and the typical Turkish villages in the rural countryside, they are all beautiful in their own way.

Public transport
I can’t comment about other cities, but the public transport in Fethiye is brilliant, especially the dolmuses between Calis and Fethiye, they run every few minutes and are reliable, cheap, and there’s hardly ever any traffic. There are bus links to and from all the main cities in the country via main bus/coach stations, and with car and petrol prices so high, these buses are very popular. The coaches go all over the country and are relatively cheap, often a lot cheaper than flying domestically (people think nothing of hopping on a coach for 12-24 hours to visit somewhere, rather than flying). In other main cities they have trains and trams, but I haven’t experienced either so cannot comment.

Turkish pride.
Anyone who has visited Turkey will know how proud of their history and background Turkish people are, as a whole. They are very patriotic, and you’ll find paintings, posters, monuments and statues in every town commemorating the founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Many people have his signature tattooed on their arms, others have stickers of him in their cars, jewellery with his name on, posters in their homes. In Fethiye there is a giant neon light up in the mountain of the shape of Atatürk’s head (It is surprisingly much less cheesy than it sounds). The Turkish flag is also very highly respected, you will see it everywhere, I very much doubt you’ll find any home, village, town or city without a flag somewhere around. It isn’t something that appears once a year (lets face it, the only time you really see English flags is when they’re playing in the world cup or it’s St Georges day) it’s a permanent thing, a permanent reminder of how proud Turks are. If you ever say bad word about Atatürk, Turkey or deface a Turkish flag, it is a great insult and you’ll know about it.

Food.
Turkish food is delicious, and often homemade and fresh. It is very difficult to find ready meals in shops, even the big supermarkets, it is becoming more common though- I found fish fingers in the frozen section and nearly peed myself with excitement (small things amuse small minds..) Another thing I love is how cheap fresh fruit and vegetables are, at least here in Fethiye (You all know how much I love market day), in fact that is the only thing I do find cheap here (in comparison to wages) but that will be discussed in another post.

Way of life.
We live a very simple life. We don’t have a lot of luxuries but we enjoy this simple life. We basically live on a farm, surrounded by cows, camels, goats, chickens and sheep, fruit trees and vegetables growing in the garden. I love it. We don’t go out to bars or restaurants, we don’t go to shopping centres or the cinema, we don’t drive, we don’t even have a TV, we really don’t do a lot of things that require money, but we don’t need those things to have fun. From my experience, a lot of people living here are the same, they love nothing better than going for a family picnic on a Sunday, taking a long walk or having the whole family gather for tea. We go for a walk every day with our dog, it’s honestly the highlight of my day, I love just walking in the hills with Berkay and Boncuk, I love being outside (never thought i’d say that..) and taking photos of our surroundings. Sometimes, it really is the small things and when my family visit they really struggle to see how we live such a simple life but still manage to enjoy ourselves and be happy. When you have no choice, you realise you don’t need money to have fun, sometimes just going for walks outside, a little picnic on the beach  or dinner and a game on the balcony is enough to make you smile.

People.
I’m sure some people will disagree with me, but a lot of Turkish people are very friendly and will do anything to help you when in trouble. Of course there are bad everywhere, and some people want nothing more than your money, but on the whole, I have found people very kind. Everyone says ‘günaydın’ and ‘Iyi akşamlar’ to each other, we often go to the corner shop and come out with a bag full of food on a ‘pay later’ promise, when on the bus Berkay always stands up to let the older people sit down (in London on the tube last April, he stood up to let an older lady sit down, her face was priceless – pure shock), people really respect and look after their elders, everyone knows everyone (Berkay can’t walk down the street without stopping to say hi to at least 5 people..it’s something that is alien to me and is really quite frustrating actually). Last winter Berkay and I were struggling for money to pay bills and buy food, his boss didnt pay him for 2 months and someone that we’d known for less than a year helped us out, our landlord also lets us pay rent late if need be. A lot of things are very relaxed and people are laid back with a ‘no panic’ attitude.

I know, of course these traits aren’t limited to Turkish people, there are friendly people all over the world, but all you ever hear about nowadays are the bad. These are just things I have noticed from living here.

I live in Fethiye, I am commenting on my own experiences and not suggesting it is the same everywhere, I would love to hear your own experiences in different towns and cities. Turkey is a huge country, I know not everywhere and everyone is the same. Wouldn’t that be boring? (:

What is the best thing about living in Turkey for you?

10 untrue stereotypes about Turkey..

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Anyone who has never visited Turkey, or bases their judgement of the country by what they have seen in one resort, is quite likely to form their own stereotypes of the country and it’s people from things they’ve heard, seen or read.

Anyone who lives here, or who has spent a considerable amount in the country will know most of these stereotypes are not true. Here are a few of the most common ones:

1. Turkey is a strict Muslim country.
Well, it’s certainly true that the majority of the country claim to be Muslim by religion, but the country as a whole, is not. Turkey is actually a democratic republic. Turks are very proud of their history, particularly that of Ataturk. Ataturk is the founder of the Republic of Turkey, he reformed and modernized the country. Turkey is a secular state, meaning its government do not (or should not..) favour Islam over any other religion, and religion should have no effect on public life, politics or law (although this is arguable after recent events.)

2. Women walk around in Burkas, covered from head to toe, only showing their eyes.
Wrong. It’s very rare to see women wearing Burkas in Turkey, it is discouraged.  A lot of women do wear headscarves, although this is changing too. In fact, those women working in government buildings are not permitted to cover their head while working.
Walking around Fethiye in summer, I have seen plenty of Turkish women wearing revealing clothing, leaving little to the imagination, beaches are full of Turkish people sunbathing in bikinis. I imagine a lot of the big cities to be the same. Of course, in strictly religious rural towns and more traditional families, a lot of women do still cover up, but it is their choice.

3. Turkish people are uneducated.
Wrong.  School education is compulsory for 6-18 year olds. There are over 100 universities in Turkey, some of which are very good, well respected and internationally known.  I think this stereotype is one which comes from people judging the whole country based on their experience in holiday resorts. A lot of resort workers are from small villages and towns far away and come to resorts to find work as they are not qualified in any area of expertise. A visit to Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir or any of the larger cities would most likely change your mind.

4. Men are dominant, women are submissive and stay at home.
Technically, women and men have equal rights, but in practice, I’m not so sure. As before, in remote, religious and traditional villages, it is the norm for the male to be the main breadwinner and the wife to be the housewife; to cook, clean and be a good host to guests. Of course, women being housewives doesn’t necessarily mean they are submissive, many prefer this than working, lets not forget that stay at home mums and housewives are still a common thing in the UK too. However, with more and more women having university education and being welcomed into professional jobs, families are being modernized and women becoming more equal, even in tourists areas, it is not uncommon to see female waitresses and bar staff now. The country is very divided though in my opinion, between those modern and traditional families and their very different customs and beliefs.

5. Turkish men are lazy.
I can’t speak about all men, as I only know a few, and living in a tourist resort, my view is somewhat limited. What i will say though, is that the men who work in these tourist resorts do work ridiculously hard, long hours, often in the boiling heat, for very little money. Those who have professional, higher paid jobs may work less hours, but often just as hard. There is very little government help and certainly no real benefit system here in Turkey, nobody gets anything for free, they have to work hard for it. Turkish work ethic is the polar opposite of laziness, in my opinion. 

6. Turkish men are allowed x amount of wives.
Wrong. Polygamy is illegal and can be punished with a prison sentence.

7. All Turkish men are love rats and just after your money, or a visa.
Wrong. Again, a stereotype based on ignorant views from people who have only ever visited holiday resorts. Sure, a lot of Turks working in resorts are liars and cheats, but not all, and they do not represent the country as a whole. Some resort workers take advantage of the foreign tourists and see them as easy targets for sex, money, a visa etc. The warning signs are there for these types of men, most men are very proud and would never ask for money, if anyone does, it should be a huge red flag. Turkish men are also very family orientated in general, and would never cheat on their wives, families, etc.  There’s a lot of bad eggs out there, but there’s a lot of good’uns too. Lets not pretend adultery doesn’t happen elsewhere either, there are bad men, and women in every country in the world, it’s just thanks to ‘take a break’ magazine that Turkish people have arguably the worst reputation of them all.

8. The water is dirty.
Wrong. In most areas the water is perfectly safe to drink, especially those where the water is freshly sourced from melting snow on the mountains, springs, etc. There are some cities where old plumbing pipes affects the safety of the water, but on the whole the water is clean, however it may upset people if they are not used to it, as it has a higher mineral content and particularly high chlorine levels. I have always drunk it and never been ill, but bottled water is cheap enough if you’re here for a holiday and wary.

9. The country is unsafe.
Not really. Crime happens all over the world, certain areas are more dangerous and it could be argued that gun and knife crime are more common in Turkey than the UK, but I have no statistics to confirm this either way. On the whole, Turkey is safe, the people are friendly and you’ll never be far from someone willing to help you if you get into trouble. Some people board their plane and leave their common sense at the airport, stay alert and keep your wits about you, as you would in your home country, and you’ll be just as safe as you are at home.

10. Everyone wears a fez and has a mustache.
Don’t think there’s really any need to comment on this one is there?  (; Thought I’d end on a lighter note (:

Having a Turkish partner, naturally I am constantly defending Turkish people and trying to change peoples narrow view of the country I currently call home. As I have said, there are good and bad people and customs all over the world. Turkey is a beautiful country with plenty of kind, beautiful people. You have to know to look in the right places and not get caught up believing everything you read or hear, and know there is often a lot more to the country than we see in resorts and areas designed purely for tourism.