Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Regional Turkey

Regional Turkey

It really is sureal to be in a place where over half a million souls perished due to some idiot commander in the British Empire thinking "it will be easy to take Turkey and control the connection between Russia and the Med"
This place is amazing, sad and brought a new respect for the Turks like I have never had before.  Their Commander Attaturk was truly amazing, strategic and defended his country with honour and I respect him and his people more and more as I travel through it.
The tour although not completely necessary was a good way to see this, especially since they added a boat part, where you actually drive up to the section of the coast those first 1500 Aussies attacked, and you can see in some way the aspect they dealt with - absolutely amazing really.

Salcuk / Efes
Salcuk was a nice little town just an overnight bus ride from near ANZAC cove, which sucked btw.  An overnight bus ride in Turkey is simply terrible for a tall person.  The seat pitch was worse than Tiger Airways (Ryan air for my European friends) but one thing was for sure, they had a TV screen in the back of the seat that was awesome.  You could just plug in your USB and play anything from it.  That was good.  Sleeping on the other hand was not an easy task when I had to move every 5 minutes as people walked past and I had to move my legs.
There is a lovely Mosque and some ruins here next to Marys house, so you get to know a bit of Christian History here.  The local beach was a typical Mediterraen beach, which is pretty terrible in Aussie standards - rocks, no waves, no sand.

Efes on the other hand was one of the most amazing places I have ever been.  Total respect for the Romans, they really knew what they where doing, and I find it really strange that they perished, like most great empires I guess, everything comes to an end :)
This city had an amaing Theatre - total respect for the arts here - we are a pillar for Civilized society, with out it we would still be bashing women over the head and dragging them into our caves - oh wait they still do that in some parts of the world - probably the parts that it is to hot for creative people to think in :) haha
The Libary here is pretty amazing too, and a funny rumour that the men used to tell their wives they where off to the library, but there was a secret tunnel to the bath house across the street they would go through instead of studying - oldest industry in History good old Sex Industry :)

This is one of the most amazing things I have seen in the world, and in my life.  I literally was "walking on water" up a hill.  It was incredible.
[link to google images]
There was also a Theatre here which was bigger and had more structure/ reconstruction, and more ruins (old broken buildings - how many do I need to see...really...)
A short bus ride later I was finally in a coastal town where I could do some Diving! Awesome!  See you next post

Monday, 18 July 2011

Privacy Information - ID Scanning at Venues

If a venue scans your ID, they can potentially steal your identity. .... how easy is it to take a Bank Card Number, your Name, Address, DOB and Driver License No. to impersonate someone.... VERY!!

I recommend only allowing them to scan your DL Number and Photo, ask them to cover the rest of your Private Information, as per the Privacy Commissionar they are only allowed to collect necessary personal information.  They say the scanning is for Police viewing only, and the police can easily look up your info from your DL number, and identify you from the Photo, so this should be sufficient.
Excert from Key Message in above Link:
A business may only scan customers' identity documents if it is necessary for its functions or activities. In the first instance businesses should consider whether identification is required and, if so, whether simply sighting a 'proof of identity' document without scanning it would be sufficient.
Businesses that do seek to use scanning technology must make sure they comply with the National Privacy Principles in the Privacy Act which regulate the collection and handling of personal information by businesses. In general, if you scan customers' identity documents, the Privacy Act requires that, among other things, you:
  • collect only necessary personal information;
  • give customers information about why you are collecting their personal information and how it will be handled;
  • only use or disclose the personal information for the purpose of the collection, unless an exception applies;
  • only retain the scanned personal information for as long as necessary, consistent with the collection purpose;
  • store the personal information securely and allow access to it by the individual if requested.
Businesses may be able to have greater confidence about meeting their obligations under the Privacy Act by getting the express consent of customers before scanning identity documents. Seeking consent is also good privacy practice and likely to promote trust between the customer and business.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Sitting in a cafe on top of a hill over looking bosphorous, that is the bay of istanbul.

Has been a long day of walking around the city after a very good night out with my local friends.

I think turkish are very similar to hungarians in a way, hospitable like crazy once you warm them up.

This city its truly a harbour city, with ferries going continually from asia to europe and back.

Not many photos from here as Is a city, so nothing interesting, and the historical stuff, really just wiki it. :)   Sophia  Topkapi palace  Galata kulesi   Grand bazaar  Istanbul university 

My favourite line from a carpet shop spruicker to another at the blue mosque "he doesn't want carpet, look at his shoes he just walked down from a mountain" which I had, ands was true.

Spent my fourth night around taksim square, which reminds me a lot of londons west end, the shopping street is busier than oxford st on a sat, till very late at night.

Istanbul is larger than london, but surprisingly easier to navigate and the people see nicer, must be the sun.  No way I would live there mind. Hot, slow and I'm not a huge fan of the food, much like london, except the hot bit.  Transport suppliers to new good, well organised and runs to a good schedule. Except no ferries on a sunday morning, so a trip that usually costs 2L, cost 38, but I dogs get to see the city from a sydney harbour like bridge at dawn. :)

Overall, had a great time, met some amazing new friends and enjoyed my time immensely.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011


NTKs (That is Need to Knows)
1 AUD = 0.7JD = 1USD
Full photos at
PS. I have a couple of "will insert" notes along here, when I get to them ... I will remove this :)

Arriving in Jordan, I was a little pessimistic after my experience in Cairo, so I didn't expect much, but here it was much more pleasant, the people are much nicer and with a little effort you can get around without taxis fairly easily.
I arrived at 5am, and wanted to spend the day wondering around in Amman (the capital), but the problem was that I had to put my bags somewhere.  I spent quite a bit of time trying to work this out, like hours of time.  It was quite amusing.  They have no lockers, no bus station as we would think of it, and not even an office for the bus companies where you might leave your things for a while.
So the journey - as fun as it was - take the airport express, to Jordan Nth bus stop, 3JD, then take another bus Jordan South Bus station (this was 1JD, but really only .37), this is where the bus to Petra leaves from, which was reasonably easy to find out :)
On arrival, I was hoping for an office, but no luck, so I went to find a local hotel that I might leave my bags there for a fee.
The local taxis here are as bad as in eypgt, which is annoying - "no I do not want a cab"
I got offers galore to take me and my bags around the city for the day, driving around in the horrid traffic of Amman, adding yet another vehicle to the mess that it was, so I decided against it.
A very friendly local was going that way and was happy to take me in a cab, for 1JD I got to the hotel, where the manager happily took my bags, and issued me a receipt, so I was a little skeptical, but had a good feeling, so left everything, including my laptop and other random expensive / hard items to replace.  Then I went off on my journey through Amman.  You wouldn't believe how suprised I was to find my bags still there, untouched when I got back later that afternoon.

[photo of hotel card]

So I found a random bus, there are stack driving around taking people all sorts of places, and I just got on this one, and got off when I it was at a Souk, which is market in Arabic.  Seemed like a good place to start, and I was pretty close to the "city" and the bus appeared to be heading out in another direction, so it was time.
I wondered the Souk for a while, then found a lovely little spot to stop and have a Shisha, it was about 10am by this time.  I was slowly learning the value of things, and most things are Very expensive here, even for locals (I did get the local price a few times)  A shisha was 2JD or about 3AUD, not to bad, had to be done, but won't be doing this again for a while, my lungs have been paying me out since with a chesty smokers cough, haha - either that or this place is so full of 2nd hand smoke that I was getting my piece from that - no one here appears not to smoke, in cabs, in restuarants, on buses, it is everywhere.

Anyway.  I then walked the 4-5 km into town, up and down hills in about 30d C, which was actually pleasant here, unlike Eygpt or even Brisbane where it is humid, here it is dry, and there was a beautiful cool breeze in the shade.

I wondered around, and followed signs to "city centre" only to find another street with some shops on it, hardly a "CBD"  I did find an area that was being built, that appeared to be a bit more like a western CBD/ downtown, but it wasn't built yet :)
I did find the "city" of finance district, with its banks etc.... the traffic was the worst around there, check out this photo of the jam I walked through, as friendly as people are, they are a bit stupid on the roads.... way worse than in Melbourne where people drive with absolutely no consideration for others, it was actually worse in this area of town, unlike Eypgt, where people drove with total communication with the cars around them - ie. Honking continuaously... haha

I walked back to the road where I knew the bus went from Nth to Sth bus station, but a bus didn't come at all, nor did any of these little random private buses, so I ended up gettting a cab, which had people in it already - and it was a metered cab.  Awesome! He took me to the hotel, picked my gear up and dropped me at the bus, like next to the bus, all for 3JD (on the meter), was about 10km.

I got on this little 21 seater bus, and paid for 2 seats, so I could take all my bags with me - was only 5JD each, for a 3 hour bus ride, pretty good value, a taxi/driver was about 95JD or $135AUD - no way I was paying that.
The bus left within 20mins of me arriving at the stop - enough time for me to get some food and a drink from a lovely shop keep across the road, related somehow to the bus company, but totally didn't rip me off, was good price.

I arrived in Petra, the ancient city about 3.5 hrs later after a quick Prayer stop on the way.  The cabs in Petra almost as bad as the ones in Eygpt - welcome to tourist land, but was all good, I eventually found one that at first told me he had a meter, so I agreed, but on getting in the cab I couldn't find the meter - we then negiotiated, and I got a good price for quite a distance.  Much more than in Amman for 10km, but good price for Petra of 7JD.  This cab driver comes highly recommended if your in Petra - call him Haroon 0776778763 or email in advance - very honest and helpful, after a quick negiotiation down from 15JD to the fair price of 7JD I paid.

[card of taxi driver photo]

I hit camp Ammourin around 7pm, which was perfect timing to stow my bags, take a much needed shower (I hadn't showered since Singapore 5am the day before, then overnight flight from Hong Kong to Amman - around 40 hours I would say)
I then met the locals and the family group of 4 families from the USA that meet up once a year for a week, this trip after some pushing from one of the families was over in the middle east.  Pretty awesome adventure for the 12 kids and 8 adults.  Busing around the middle east, Jerusualam etc... amazing stuff I think for a family to do.  I also met an Aussie chick from Port Melbourne no less, Journalist, that was on a 12 month journey around the world doing her Bucket list - pretty cool - will be a book on it in a year or so, look out for it, will be interesting.
And a girl she had just met in Israel and was travelling with that comes from San Francisco bay area, so I might have a friend to stay with and a couple of VC contacts in SF already :)
Lights out about 10pm as the generator is turned off.

Next morning up at 6am to start the hike to Aarons Tomb, which was amazing.  My guide, who I probably didn't need wanted to stop an aweful lot.  I was quite happy hiking the 8 or so kilometres to the top, got a bit puffed in a couple of spots, but nothing like the poor guide... he laid down and slept a couple of times on breaks...
Was interesting, but totally not necessary to have a guide, and for 70JD or $100AUD for the day it was a complete rip off.  But as I was alone, it was kinda necessary to ensure I didn't get lost.
I had lunc up at the Tomb and took in the view.  Then hiked back down.  Took about 8 hours total, which was not a bad little hike for my first in a while.

At the bottom I said good bye to Ali the guide and decided to hike up to the Monastry, which was about 2km, straight up, 850 stairs.  My poor knees are not so happy after coming down from there. :(

I then hiked back to the visitors center seeing the amazing high place, treasury etc in great detail.
I have to say, these ruins cost 50JD or about $70AUD to get in and see, which is pretty steep for a bunch of 2nd hand buildings that aren't even standing up, and where built by no one around here.  It is not like they do a lot to keep them in order.  Easily the most expensive tourist thing I have ever paid for.

Petra by Night
Even though I had walked about 30km that day, I was convinced by my friendly cab driver to come back that night for the extra 12JD for the Petra by night.  I had a little rest and some dinner then headed back for the 6km more of walking along the Siq to the treasury by candlelight.  At the end of the 3km walk to the treasury they had a bodiun musician playing a tradional single string instrument, which they believe the guitar and other stringed instruments originated from and then a flute player.  It was pretty awesome, and was in my plan, so I was glad to do it, but OMG was it hard.  I played a little game on the 3km walk back, after waiting for quite a few people to leave, I then walked along, and tried to pass everyone on the way out, and I did.  Was a good way to get the legs moving, as they where in quite a bit of pain :)

[Insert vid of Petra by Night]

This morning I have had a nice sleep in to 8am, when I got up and packed and had the taxi driver drop me at the bus station, after negiotiating with the camp to "not" pay cash.  The damn camp only takes VISA, which is a pain, I would be happy with None more than teasing you with only taking VISA, mind the Petra archeological society only took cash!  I was a bit upset with all this and had them reduce their inflated prices to cover me having to get cash from an ATM.  Which I note didn't ask me for the account I want to draw from, and did a bloody cash advance! Damn it, I wanted to draw from my CASH account.  haha the fun of travelling :)

I also managed to rip my big toe nail off my foot somehow today - I am really not sure how this happened, or why it isn't more painful, but it just ripped off, still kinda of attached, I rushed to push it back into place, and band aid it into place.  I am hobbling a little, and won't be doing any 30km hikes around istanbul, or maybe I won't be able to dive, but we will see - I am hoping it will be all fixed shortly and re-attached, cause it would kinda suck to lose it.

After being dropped at the bus it left about 20min after I arrived (lucky again - as no timetables, just leave when full is the rule) and they dropped me at the Freeway exit to the Airport, where I got a lift from a nice man driving a hire car back to the lot or something - was expecting to get a cab here, so pretty happy.
I have been sitting in the airport or a bit longer than expected, but I have therefore managed to write this, answer some emails and the like :) - unfortunately my download credits have ran out before I could post this, so maybe I will get to it later!

Have you been to Jordan? Want to go? Is pretty special place, I highly recommend, just don't come for to long, is expensive.