Day 12  September 11, 2010                                              Day 13  Table of content for Eastern Turkey Turkey tour Journal
Saturday  Van , Tatvan, Bitlis, Midyat,  Mardin
Submitted by  Ken Mitchel

Day 12, September 11, 2010 Van to Mardin, “Progress and Speed”

It was a beautiful morning when we left at 0700 for the long drive to Mardin. Last night a party at the hotel celebrated a young fellow’s circumcision ceremony.  On the bus, we stopped along the road for photos of shepherds leading their sheep out to pasture. We discussed the significance of this day; as we were reminded of nine years ago when we heard the news about 9-11. On the news front, we were all relieved as we heard that the small church in Florida decided to postpone the Koran burning. Intolerance continues as a serious concern during this electronic age.

As SE Turkey was having unusually warm temperatures, the bus quickly heated up after the belt for the AC unit broke. Meli dazzled us with her ingenious idea of buying a rotary floor fan for temporary strapping inside the front of the bus. Genghis also demonstrated his resourcefulness by mounting the stand of the fan securely using a cutup plastic bag, an automotive fan belt, a donated belt from Ken and his own personal belt. It covered all possible directions for driving swerving. Hurray for “invention follows necessity!!!

We stopped to see a Kerravansary named El Arnann, which means “I’ve had enough!” I’m sure many Silk Road travelers shared this sentiment. This site was restored beautifully by a local university – however, it lost some of its charm as an antiquity. The “han” included many shops to support the needs of the travelers, private rooms for the bookkeepers and large stalls for the animals.

As we drove through Mus; Genghis sang a traditional melodic lament of this town. The next town, Bitlis had a new road, apartments and hospital. We were impressed how much the government spent on infrastructure improvements. However, we notice the bull dozers leaving behind a heavy footprint on the beautiful sculptured landscape of the mountain river valleys.


Next we stopped to see the arched Malabadi Bridge over the Tigris River and had a scenic picnic lunch in the bus. The city of Batman had many new apartments decorated with colorful tradtitional kilim tile designs.  As we stopped in Hasankeyim, there were sights amid ruins of a beautiful old bridge and two beautiful minarets with intricate designs. The hillside above the Tigris River was covered with many caves carved out of the tufa. This historic site is threatened by potential plans to build another dam as part of the Anatolian Project.

Finally we were delighted to arrive in Mardin around 1800 hrs. We felt a little exhausted and dehydrated from the heat, so we welcomed the hotel’s ice cold orange Fanta. It was paradise for our parched throats.

The Tatlidede Butik Otel is a restored mansion with spacious rooms on three levels with functioning AC! We had a delicious dinner of lentil soup, salad, cheese pide, meat stuffed bulgur, lamb kebab, rice pilaf, and a walnut date dessert. The open terrace overlooking the city, fortress, a minaret, and a crescent moon (celebrating the end of Ramadam) provided a perfect setting for our evening meal. Genghis finally got to the hotel at around 2130 after getting a completely new AC unit installed. We truly appreciate his patience, thoughtfulness, cheerfulness and expert driving skills.     

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