Time Travelling Postcards: Anatolian Road Trip, 2003

I didn’t always live in Shanghai. Or Hanoi.

Although this blog places my online identity firmly in heart of east Asia, I have actually spent more time living in Turkey, both in European Istanbul and Asian Anatolia- 6 years in total.  Sometimes even I forget what a huge chunk of my formative adult years that was.

See that photo immediately below?

That was me at 28. 28! Still in my 20s! Holy crap!


Celin - Erik & Mao

Born to be relatively chill


And next to me was the lovely Erik, whom I met in a crappy backpacker hostel in London in 1999. He’s a professional storyteller and, after a few debauched, wine-soaked nights out on the town, I ended up working for him for a few seasons in Cape Town, doing sound and lighting for both his kids’ shows and cabaret acts.

You know how those things go- one bottle of supermarket plonk in a trespassed private garden in Kensington and the next thing you know, you’re sitting at the back of a school gym in Gugulethu cueing sound effects for a puppet show.

Anyway, he came to visit me a few times when I was living in Turkey and we embarked on some excellent road trips. This one was in Cappadocia/Kapadokya, where I lived for my first two years there, teaching in a private K-12 in super-conservative Kayseri. In exchange for a month’s accommodation in my school’s echoey concrete housing block, he did puppet shows for the mad, screechy primary school kids. Brave man.

At weekends, we escaped.

We rented a motorbike and just drove.

Look at that light! So bright! So dry!

Did I mention that it’s knee deep in rainy season here in Hanoi right now? And that everything is puddly and mildewy and generally moist?

Without further ado, let me show you around the wilds of central Anatolia, over ten years ago…


Road down to Sahinefendi

The Road to Sahinefendi


It’s super easy to meet Turks in serendipitous ways. We met the family below by just pulling off the road to check out a lake. Next thing we knew, we were joining them in a picnic.


Ahmet and family on the road to Yesilhisar

Ahmet and family on the road to Yesilhisar


Ahmet's fire for tea

Ahmet’s fire for tea


Mustafapasa - Green door (2)

Mustafapasa. Years later, I found out this blue door belonged to the family of a friend back in Kayseri. They sold wine downstairs.


Familiar streets in Mustafapasa.

Familiar streets in Mustafapasa.


Traffic jam

Traffic jam a la Turca


The local women's institute

The local women’s institute


One of the things I liked about being one of the few foreigners who lived in the area year round was that nearly everyone at least knew of my existence and I was easily recognized- I was one of the 4 foreign teachers at the big kolej in Kayseri. This meant I got a lot of rides back to town and lots of spontaneous dinner invitations.


Goreme - Mao & Fatma (1)

Fatma made me a big batch of stuffed grape leaves in her cave kitchen. As you do.


And he sorted out dinner.

And he sorted out dinner.


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About MaryAnne

I live in Hanoi. I used to live in Shanghai (hence this blog’s title) but I left in 2013. I tend to travel. I cook stuff. I read a lot. I try to scare myself silly with regularity. I write about it all. A lot.