The first week of my trip has, much like the unforgiving hills of the Black Sea coast, had its dramatic ups and downs.
The Airport Incident
My troubles started before even leaving Australia when at Melbourne Airport trying to get my bike box onto the aeroplane.
I had decided not to weigh my bike box before leaving for the Airport. I had travelled with a bike before and was almost certainly sure that I was carrying far less this time than I was then. As it turns out I am a bad judge of weight.
My bike box was propped up on the baggage carousel and I was told it weighed 36 kilos. My ticket allows 30 kilos. ‘That’s impossible’ I confidently protest to the Singapore Airlines staff, but after trying the box on a neighbouring scale I concede that it may in fact be me and not the machine that has made a mistake. The box is torn open in the Airport and parts are rearranged, moved to and from my hand luggage. It makes no difference. Parts are split into a second box because the carousel can only handle bags of 32 kilos. I separate my tools, cooking equipment and various nick nacks from the main box – praying they both end up in Ataturk Airport on the other end.
Next comes the long wait to see whether I have to pay the $600 fine – yep that’s how much it costs – in excess baggage fees. I tell myself that money is just a social construct and it only has value if I choose to give it value. Luckily I am flying with my Dad who is on his way to Singapore, regularly flies with the airline and is allowed 50 kilos. They let me off with a warning and I skulk away to departures.
Istanbul, and Theft
My stay in Istanbul was smooth after I moved to Uskudar, but it didn’t start so well.
Before moving to my hosts I was staying in a hostel. The hotel was easier to get to from the Airport and I had booked a big private room so I had space to build my bike slowly in peace and quiet. This led to my second early low point of the trip.
On my first full day in the city I kept my panniers in the (unlocked) luggage locker of the hostel and went out to see the city. It was only a cupboard – sure – but it was inside the hostel behind a door with a pin code. I trusted my fellow travellers enough to leave my things there for a day.
I was out until late so decided to stay one more night in the hostel and move to my hosts the next evening. Upon unpacking my bags for my second night, I realised some things were missing. Other things weren’t where I had left them.
Sometime between 10am and 10pm someone had rifled through my panniers.
1. All my electrical charging cables,
4. Down jacket,
5. Power bank for my phone,
6. Head torch.
My heart sank and I nearly cried. Discovering this late at night on my first full day in a strange new country left me feeling very alone. Everything was unpacked and checked. I racked my brains to think if I had brought anything else, and thanked whatever gods had made me leave my emergency money, passports, kindle and iPad behind the hostel desk.
After a bad nights sleep and some distraught calls home I set about replacing my stuff and parting with some cash. The thermos and speaker were unnecessary and weren’t replaced, and the rest of the stuff was found around the city thanks to some camping stores in Karaköy. My new head torch is bulky and my new jacket isn’t as warm, but they will both do. It’s all part of the journey I suppose. I won’t let my guard down like that again until I am home.
The next few days I hung out with new friends, watched videos online with my hosts and planned a rough route out of Istanbul and across the country. A lot of time was spent wandering through bazaars and smelling the spices, and watching the fishermen on Galata Bridge.
Along the way my faith in humanity was somewhat restored – but I still hope that whoever robbed me electrocutes themselves on my iPad charger.