Istanbul Reunion - A Pictorial

Here is the slide show of some of our pictures of our trip to Istanbul, Turkey in February 2007. It was great seeing my sister, brother-in-law, nephew and mom. We had been to Istanbul before, but going back is always great.

For full size images, please follow the link below:


You can also see our Istanbul 2007 videos here:


Thank you for reading all our posts and thank you for your friendship and love. The table of contents for the travelog is below with easy links to each entry:
Hope you all enjoy.

Until the next trip then.....

Queenie and Paul

Istanbul Reunion 6: Goodbye Turkey…

All good things must come to an end and saying goodbye to family is especially hard.

Goodbye Mom.

Our first goodbye was to Mom who returned to London on the Sunday before we left. We were due to leave the following Wednesday. On the morning of Mom’s departure, Judith and Ahmet took us to this great restaurant where they served an awesome buffet breakfast. The restaurant was in an old fortress or something similar and still had the castle battlements. It was a great place to eat.

It was then that the reality of the impending departures really hit us but then we know that it only means there will be a future hello. We tried to spend the time constructively talking about the time we had spent together and the great time we wanted to spend with each other in the future. But the time passed all too quickly and we had to leave.

We took Mom to the airport in the afternoon and the security measures were stunning. While we were waiting for the plane we spent our final moments joking around and drinking coffee. The time together had come to a rather abrupt and all too sudden end.

Of course there were tears, but there was also joy that we had reconnected and that we had more shared experiences and more memories together. My nephew was sad to see his Aiya leave. He never says goodbye to people. He has said to many goodbyes in his short life.

Of course when mom left we promised to see her in London during Chinese New Year 2008. We will indeed be going home to the motherland then.

Goodbye Ahmet

After Mom left, Ahmet decided to drive us into Taksim for a few beers and some food. As we said earlier, Taksim is a great hangout. We loved being there and walking around the neighborhood. This time they were trying to find some games for Tibet. We were unsuccessful but the restaurant was wonderful, the beers chilled, the food great and conversation uplifting.

Ahmet was due to leave on the Monday morning. We asked him to wake us before he left so we could say goodbye. He didn’t. This is Ahmet’s way.

We were happy to spend the time with him. For Queenie to meet him for the first time was great and for me (Paul) to see him for the first time after 10 years was wonderful. We hope the next time we meet will be less than 10 years and that we can see him in Taiwan soon.

Goodbye Judith and Tibet

Our final day in Turkey was on a Tuesday. Judith took us to her school and we had breakfast together. Afterwards, while we waited for her to finish, we went down to a quiet park in the middle of Istanbul. There were birds and a lake, but it was winter so the park was a bit barren. As usual there was a smart restaurant overlooking the lake. We went there, had a few cups of Turkish tea and then wanted to leave. They didn’t charge us. Said it was for free. What a great country.

We went back to Judith’s school where we observed two of her classes. They were fun to watch. Kids are the same everywhere (Taiwan or Turkey) and watching them try their best to learn English is always fun. They seem to derive so much pleasure from it.

We spent the last night together at the restaurant in the Kultuur park. We ate great food and had a great conversation.

The following morning we woke-up and said a difficult goodbye to Judith and Tibet. They promised to come to Taiwan in Summer 2008. Here is hoping it all works out and that they can make it.

The Journey Home

So the journey home was also tough. On the way from Istanbul to Frankfurt there was a thunderstorm that seemed to get a little too close for comfort. Actually some lightning seemed to strike right outside the plane. We slept practically all the way from Frankfurt to Hong Kong and arrived as sick as two dogs as the people behind us had the flu and coughed all over us.

We landed in Hong Kong on a Thursday morning. Queenie left her iPod on the plane so we took a long time to get out of the airport as they had to recover it. In the evening I (Paul) had to attend a lecture on corporate finance. All good things do indeed come to an end…

Final Thoughts…..

Our family is truly international. My mother lives in England, my sister, nephew and brother-in-law in Turkey (and different parts of Turkey as my brother-in-law is on the ships), my father lives in South Africa and we live in Taiwan. Queenie’s father works in China and so we truly are in international.

Although we are a family apart, we are a family close at heart. We continue to love and care for each other even though the times we spend together are short. It is when time is a treasured commodity and not in abundance that you truly start to understand the impact and depth of your love for those you care for. Living apart is tough for us all but the love is real.

I guess the greatest lesson from this is that time is precious, and time with loved ones even more so. So next time you get mad with someone you love, put aside your differences and your pride, say you are sorry and get over it.

Time is short, too short.

Until the next journey then!

Queenie and Paul


Istanbul Reunion 5: A Day in Sultanahmet

Hi All,

(On a horse carriage in Sultanahmet)

Why Sultanahmet?

Sultanahmet is the must see district of Istanbul! It is the main tourist district with three of the biggest tourist attractions in Istanbul: The Topkapi Palace, Aya Sofia and the Blue Mosque. Each building and museum has its own special attraction that makes it worthwhile. The great thing though is that you can see all three sights within a day (but that would be very quick and there are also other things to see and do in Sultanahment). This time we just spent time visiting Aya Sofia and the Blue Mosque. We gave Topkapi a miss.

(Aya Sofia)

(The Blue Mosque)

The first time we went to Istanbul, we spent an incredible amount of time in Sultanahmet (at least three ~ four days). There is a lot to see and do there and since it is one of the main tourist sites it is relatively easy to get there (unless you are coming from my sister's house).

Since we had already been there once we weren't too fussed to go there again but then, after we found we had nothing to do one day, we dragged off Mom and Tibet for a crazy journey to the famous district. Once again getting there was a 90-minute journey on a bus, train and tram!

Another Long Journey Ends

By the time we arrived we were exhausted. Queenie wasn't feeling very good so we decided to find a café, get some refreshments and relax for a short while. We were in no rush as Mom and Tibet had also been to this area a few times before.

We found a great little café buried in the ancient walls of one of the buildings with a great view of Aya Sofia. We sat outside, ordered the usual Turkish tea and watched the crowd go by. It was still cold but sunny so we were enjoying the day out. We weren’t in a rush to see everything.

Memory of an Arrest

We have great memories of this place from the first time we visited in 2001. However, one of the most shocking memories occurred outside Aya Sofia. On one of the days I (Paul) was standing outside Aya Sofia where I was approached by an illegal street side vendor selling postcards. He started showing the postcards too me but I was impetuous and not understanding him reach for the postcards and took them from him to look at them. In a flash we were surrounded by police who handcuffed him, threw him in the back of the car and left us standing there in shock with me holding the postcard.

We were hoping this time not to cause too many waves and that we could get into and out of Aya Sofia without too much trouble. So, after our break we decided to start moving around a bit more. We headed off for Aya Sofia. The parks outside this landmark are beautiful and we really enjoyed the walk through the park and looking at the flowers and trees.

Horse Carriage

On the way to Aya Sofia we were distracted by some horses and a carriage. These were the latest tourist attraction (they weren't there six years ago). Of course Tibet wanted to go for a ride and so we did. We negotiated the price (sorry can't remember what it was) jumped on the carriage and off we went. Now these horses for a time run on the road between the cars, buses and trams. It can be quite scary. After a short time though, the horses turned off into the park beneath Topkapi palace. While on the road we managed to greet Istanbul (see video below).

So after a 20-minute hair-raising journey on the horse carriage, which we all thoroughly enjoyed, we were delivered back to the entrance of Aya Sofia alive.

Aya Sofia

After some debate we decided to go into the cathedral/mosque/world heritage site. Aya Sofia was apparently the first cathedral (Church) ever built. After the fall of the Istanbul it was converted into a Mosque. When Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, took over Turkey from the Ottomans, he decommissioned it and turned it into a museum. Since Muslims do not have any images or representations in their religion, they had painted over the walls. Many ancient paintings have since been discovered on the original walls of the museum and so there is a lot of work being done to uncover the paintings so the world can see them now.

Aya Sofia is an impressive building. The main hall is huge and spacious. There are also many nooks and crannies which one can explore. It is certainly a must see for any first time visitors to Istanbul. We spent an hour and half inside Aya Sofia. We thought that would be enough.

The Blue Mosque

After leaving Aya Sofia, we got a bite to eat for lunch and then took a very short walk over to the Blue Mosque. This is another must-see structure and its free. We walked across the park to the Blue Mosque and went inside. There is no entrance fee but you have to take your shoes off. Also, non-Muslims are only allowed in the rear portion of the Mosque as the front is used for praying. You are also not allowed to sit on the floor at the back and of course they ask you don’t make a lot of noise.

The Blue Mosque is also beautiful and spacious inside. There is not much to see except stand there and take in the space and architecture of the building. We never went in at prayer time (I don’t think we can get in at prayer time but not sure) so there were only a few people praying in the front part of the Mosque. We stayed inside for about 15-minutes and then left as quietly as we came in.

The Carpet Street

After leaving the Blue Mosque we took a walk down to the carpet market at the bottom of the Blue Mosque, down some stairs. When we went to Turkey the first time many of the market store owners wanted to show us their carpets. We were fairly honest with them telling them we didn’t want to buy any carpets. They still insisted we go inside with them and take a look (I guess they thought we would change our minds). Unfortunately for them we really didn’t want to buy carpets but at each carpet show we were treated like royalty and were given tea and snacks.

This time however we were invited inside the stores but when we declined it was accepted. The first time we went to Turkey the country was in economic decline. Things are better now so we weren’t so desperately sought after.

We spent some time walking down the street, looking at the different shops. At the entrance to the market is a rather large outdoor café. Well of course after our meander through the streets we went to get some refreshments before the long journey home.

After taking another small break we headed out home. Another 90-minute journey saw us arriving back in time to meet Judith after work. Once again another wonderful day with Mom and Tibet had come to an end.

Thats it for now.


Queenie and Paul


Istanbul Reunion 4: The Kultuur Park

Hi All,

(Mom and Tibet in the Kultuur Park)

A First Dinner in the Hubbly-Bubbly

A short fifteen minute drive from my sister Judith's house is the Kultuur Park. This little park is a great place to drink tea, eat authentic Turkish food, smoke a hooka or just spend time relaxing.

On the first day in Istanbul, my sister took us to her school. We spent time in the afternoon playing with our nephew Tibet and in the evening we went to the Kultuur Park for dinner. On one side of the park is a bunch of traditional hubbly-bubbly restaurants. These restaurants are typically small and are geared for the Turkish men to come in and smoke hookas.

The décor inside is very simple and no one inside speaks any English nor are there any English menus so it is best to go there with someone who can speak some Turkish. We randomly selected a restaurant. It was really cold outside but inside was warm and welcoming and the perfect place for a meal.

Judith ordered some simple but incredibly delicious food that arrived very quickly. We also got reacquainted with the ayraan (Turkish yoghurt) and some other dishes that we had eaten in Turkey before.

While we were waiting for our food, three men walked inside, sat at the table opposite us and ordered tea and three hookas. It was the first time we had actually seen people smoking them and so we were quite interested to see how it all worked. Well, it wasn’t that exciting and I guess, instead of hanging out in bars, the men in Turkey would hang out in these places and smoke. Not much wrong with that.

The waitress, realizing we were tourists, also gave us a wonderful tour of their small kitchen. The stove was a coal stove, not electric, and the kitchen really looked very rustic, but it was very clean.

A Second Visit

On another day, after visiting the Marmara sea, my Mom and Tibet took us there for a few hours in the afternoon. We got to play some soccer with Tibet but unfortunately, after about 10 minutes, the ball landed up in a thorn bush and went flat. Well, what else could we do but stop off in another hubbly-bubbly, eat some snacks and drink some tea. And so we did!

The weather on that day was fantastic so we sat outside and chatted. We played some games with Tibet and just spent some great time with the family. We also got to see a little more of the park.

(All of us in the Kultuur Park)

The Silk Road Runs Through

On one side of the park are these ancient bridges and roads that cross over a river that runs into the Marmara Sea. One of Judith's colleagues told us that those bridges and roads were part of the old Silk Road that went all the way to Beijing. Well I doubt the traders went from there to Beijing but they certainly went some of the way.

The hill behind the Kultuur Park was known as the screaming or wailing hill (can’t remember the exact name) because the hill was so steep that when the camels went up it they would scream and wail in agony. Poor camels! Actually the hill was fairly steep. We had to drive up it whenever we went to the center of Istanbul.

On the river side of the Kultuur Park is a boardwalk and a few boats anchored to the pier. There were many seagulls flying around and it was just a great time spent watching the birds and relaxing.

A Final Dinner - Return to the Hubbly-Bubbly

The last night in Istanbul we spent with my sister in the same hubbly-bubbly we went to on the first evening. We ate the same food. It was a great way to spend the last night in Istanbul. It was great just relaxing and chatting after all we don't know when we will see each other again so we made the time count.

All in all we would say the Kultuur Park is a great place to spend an afternoon and/or early evening. It is relaxing, there is not much to do except sit and chat or read a book and drink tea and eat great, authentic Turkish food. If you are in the area, why not head out there and take a look.

Anyway, that's it for this time.
Take care all
Queenie and Paul


Istanbul Reunion 3: The Shores of Marmara

Hi Everyone,

The Marmara Sea

The Marmara Sea is that small body of water surrounded by Turkey. The chilled waters of the Black Sea flow through the Bosphorous into the Marmara Sea and then out through the Dardenelle Strait into the Aegan Sea. These are the waterways on which my brother-in-law Ahmet, a sea captain, learned to sail and the shores of the Marmara Sea is where he and Judith (Paul's sister) have made their home and where we chose to wander.

Just Like Heaven

On the first day, a short 15-minute bus ride saw us arriving in Buyukcekmece and, after walking for 10 more minutes we arrived at the shores of the Marmara Sea. What a sight it was! The expanse of the ocean exaggerated by the deep blue sky was a breathtaking view. The sunlight danced on the water and competed with the gentle breeze blowing chilled air off the calm surface of the sea. The absence of man-made noises and the gentle sound of the ebb and flow of the water amplified the effect. We thought we were in heaven. The congestion of Taipei and Taiwan and the lack of open spaces filled with the echoes of nature really help us appreciate moments like this.

We spent some time walking along the seashore playing with our nephew Tibet. There was an old airplane sitting on the pathway. We walked up to it but couldn't get on because the doors were chained.

We then found a restaurant that had a verandah overlooking the sea. We decided to sit outside and eat some breakfast. After some broken Turkish from my mother, some translations from our nephew, and some deft hand movements and attempted Turkish from us, we managed to place our order. What a breakfast it was! Our amazing breakfast comprised of a variety of delicious cheeses and breads (which are a rarity in Taiwan), sejuk (Turkish bacon) fresh juice and Turkish tea. While we ate, we watched the ocean and relaxed for the first time in a long time.

We must have sat there for a couple of hours. Tibet got up to play football with a can and Queenie and I joined him for a short while, but we mostly sat there chatting and whiled away the time. What a wonderful, stress free morning it turned out to be! Just sitting there with family on a Tuesday morning, in the bright sunlight overlooking the ocean is a treasured memory.

When we finally decided to leave, we bumped into a bunch of school children. They were very excited to meet someone from Taiwan and were very interested in talking to Queenie. Eventually Queenie taught them to say a few Chinese words. They thought this was fun. But we not being able to speak Turkish and them not being able to speak English meant that communication was brief. But we persevered.

Beautiful Park in Florya

The second day on shores of Marmara was spent in the district of Florya. We caught a bus from where my sister lives and my Mom navigated us to the park. To get there we had to hike through some kind of construction site that our nephew absolutely enjoyed.

We finally arrived at a fairly desolate park which did not look that attractive. We finally figured it out that we were at the wrong place! Never the less, we managed to negotiate with the driver of a car to take us to where we wanted to go. In the beginning he wanted to charge an exorbitant fee. But after I (Paul) laughed in his face he dropped his price.

We finally arrived at this amazingly flush park with trees and a trampoline. Well of course my nephew wanted to jump on the trampoline and, even though it was closed, the park attendant opened it for us and allowed him to jump for free.

After the trampoline we found this incredible restaurant perched on top of a hill that had amazing views of Marmara. Hiking up the mountain was fairly challenging but we eventually got there. The view and the food made the climb worthwhile. We must have sat there for at least an hour enjoying the food, the sunlight and the ocean view. It is not often we get a bird's eye view of the ocean in Taipei.

After lunch, we went for a long walk along the sea front. We must have walked for at least 2.5km. There were not many people around. A few pensioners, and a couple of kids but that was about it. The walk on the boardwalk was slow but pleasant.

We eventually crossed to the other side of the park and found (you guessed it) another wonderful tea-house. We went inside and of course Tibet was exhausted so he slept. We on the other hand watched the sea some more and chatted while we of course drank Turkish tea.

A Final Visit to the Shores

On our second last day in Istanbul, we decided to return to the first place we had gone to and eat breakfast there. It was much easier to order. The owner of the restaurant recognized us and brought us exactly the same food which was exactly what we wanted. This time however, after breakfast, we took a long walk to the tip of the peninsula and got a grand view of the ocean and the bay.

The Marmara Sea on a cold but sunny winter's day is a wonderful place to relax and breathe the freshness of life. Hopefully one day you can get there too.


Queenie and Paul


Istanbul Reunion 2: To the Pera Palas and back again!

Hi All,

The Pera Palas

You have all heard of the Pera Palas hotel right? It was the last stop on the Orient Express from Paris to Istanbul! It was the hotel made famous by Agatha Christie! It was where the famed Dutch spy Mata Hari spent a night or two! The Pera Palas is a a place of memories and history! It is Istanbul in a capsule: Grand, Historic, Bold and Proud. Some of the famous guests of the Pera Palas are listed below:

Room No:Name:Position:
101AtaturkTurkish President
102Pierre LottiFrench Writer
103Greta GarboActress
104Mata HariDutch Spy
105Franz von PapenGerman Ambassador
106HerriotFrench Prime Minister
107ElisabethQueen of Austria
108Musbah Muhayei
109PierreKing of Serbia
110Vasa PrihodaViolin Virtuoso
112Sir Edmund PoeEnglish Fleet Commander
113FerdinandKing of Spain
114Ahmet ZogoKing of Albania
117Edward VIIIKing of England
118Nivette De ValoisBallet Teacher
119MaryQueen of Romania
121CarolKing of Romania
411Agatha ChristieEnglish Writer

The Story Starts

What follows is a true story of comedy, of fate, of unfulfilled travels. Although the journey starts on the shores of the Sea of Marmara and ends outside the doors of Istanbul’s history and its treasure keeper! It is the story of a journey to the Pera Palas hotel! But it is not my journey! The story has its roots in another place.

My sister Judith moved to Istanbul way back in the middle of 1995. Ever since then my mother has faithfully traveled to see my sister on a fairly regular basis. After my Mom moved to London she went there three to four times a year so that she could be with family and get to know her grandson. Yet, allthough my sister and my brother-in-law Ahmet have taken Mom to every other conceivable nook and cranny in Istanbul, they have never taken Mom to the Pera Palas hotel!

The Beginning of the Journey There

So there we were, finally reunited in Istanbul on a crisp, winter’s Monday morning (read freezing cold). We had already planned the night before to go to Taksim, a bustling cobbled-street shopping center in the middle of Istanbul, and then walk to the Pera Palas and have lunch (or at the very least, a cup of tea!). Queenie and I had in our minds to overcome distance, language and all other obstacles to get my Mom into the Peres Palais, and we are a determined couple!

So early on Monday morning we set off. My sister lives on the shores of the Sea of Marmara far from the center of Istanbul. We were on the bus for over an hour. The highways were filled with cars and people going about their day! We finally arrived at the last stop and asked a million people how to get to Taksim. Eventually we were led to the subway, hopped on the train and, after two wonderful traveling hours on buses and trains (read arduous, hectic and crazy) we arrived at the entrance to the main Taksim street.

Arriving in Taksim

We spent some time at the exit of the subway (see video below)orienting ourselves and congratulating each other on managing to navigate so successfully to Taksim.

And then we started to look for the Pera Palas hotel. The way we did this was to walk up to random people and then say: “Eskuss moi, Peres Palais” and after much friendly banter (they could have been swearing at us or calling us fools) we headed in the general direction of pointed fingers!

But as they (don’t ask us who the they is!) say the real destination is the journey and so it was for us. We ambled down the cobbled roads of Taksim watching the tram, popping into different stores, buying beanies (woolen caps) for cold heads. We admired the beautiful ceramics in the shop windows, we popped our heads into the flower arcade, we looked at the Mosques, deciphered menus of the roadside cafes, we bought more warm clothes for cold bodies and we ambled and ambled and ambled! And every so often we would find a poor soul and say “Eskuss moi, Peres Palais” (is that really Turkish or some kind of cobbled up French?) and follow pointed fingers!


As it happened, we got lost! Well, we never got lost, just merely confused. We kept on walking straight, which is where the fingers seemed to be pointing. Eventually we saw a police officer standing guard at an official looking building and asked him for directions. He pointed in a different way! He indicated that we should go into a side alley and walk straight down the alley that was in the direction from where we had come. He said 5-minutes (so we weren’t too lost, merely misdirected).

So we immediately trooped back in the general direction, went down the alley, passed a whole bunch of wonderful looking cafes and headed on our way. We eventually went past a non-descript building being renovated, walked down the road a little more and behold, there were no buildings that could possibly be a hotel ahead of us! We were stunned! The hotel was meant to be in front of us! Where was it? We never knew!

Arrival at the Pera Palas

Well we must have looked confused. A man came up to us and in surprisingly good English asked us if he could help us. Well of course we asked (this time in English). He developed this big broad grin on his face and said:

"Its right behind you."

We looked back at the building being renovated and sure enough, this was the Peres Palais! We trooped round to the front of the building and grand doors were barricaded. There was no way in! We walked around to the third side and there were some guards at the front taking a break. They said come back in six months!

So, regardless of how determined we were, regardless how brave and adventurous we were, we were finally outdone by the need to upgrade. My mother did get to the Peres Palais, but she never did to get inside and so, what else could we do but take a picture of her outside!

(Mom outside a closed Pera Palas hotel)

Journey Through Taksim

There wasn't much left for us to do except hang around in Taksim. We found an excellent restaurant that served really great Turkish food. Walked around the shops. Did some window-shopping. To be honest, it is difficult not to enjoy Taksim. It is a vibrant place with a lot of interesting shops. Actually just standing on the side of the road and watching the crowd go by can also be quite satisfying too.

At one point, while Mom and Queenie were buying some hats and clothes, I (Paul) was standing on the side of the road watching the crowd go by when all of a sudden, some youngsters with a statement to make arrived. They had brightly colored purple and orange hair, some of it spiked, and they were out having a good day. Of course, soon as they realized we were filming them they bacame shy and ran off. But this is part of the new Turkey I guess, part buried in the past and history, part in the now, and part of it reaching out into the future. It was fun watching these kids.

One of the highlights of the afternoon was drinking Turkish tea in the flower arcade. The flower arcade is an old building that florists used to use as a point of sale. After falling into disrepair it was renovated with restaurants and tea-houses inside. Well we went into one of the tea-houses and had a wonderful time of talking together and drinking tea.

Another of the highlights of the day was looking at the ceramics shops in Taksim. Ceramics and ceramics glazing are big in China and Asia but the ceramics in Turkey had very different patterns. There were many many of these ceramics stores in Taksim and we did spend some time looking at their ware.

We spent a few more hours just walking through the streets of Taksim. We finally arrived at the top, near the subway where we came accross a MacDonalds. Now, this MacDonalds was interesting! In Taiwan, MacDonalds don't deliver. In China, MacDonalds do delivery but only within walking distance. Here, at this MacDonalds, we saw an array of MacDonalds delivery scooters that were already to go. MacDonalds on wheels, who would've guessed!

Return to Marmara

So finally we were to return. Another two-hour journey lay ahead of us. Unfortunately for us we got onto a different bus and the route was strange. We never really recognized any of the landmarks we had noted or seen coming into Istanbul. It was getting late, it was getting dark and we never had a clue as to where we were. Queenie and I had long ago concluded that if we got lost we would just figure it out. No need to be concerned or panic! If the bus was going in the wrong direction we would just get off at the last stop and figure it out from there. This is the adventure of travel!

Happily though we were on the right bus. The bus started to go through the familiar landmarks of my sister's neighborhood and before we knew it we had arrived. We ended the day with excellent Turkish kebabs, reminisced about our journey to the Pera Palas and had a good nights sleep.

Until the next time,


Queenie and Paul


Istanbul Reunion 1: Six Years On!

Hi All,

Getting There

It seems for us getting places is never easy! Firstly we booked our tickets late so we could not take Cathay Pacific, our preferred airline. We were forced to fly Lufthansa. As a result we flew from Taipei, to Hong Kong, changed over in Frankfuhrt and went on to Istanbul.

Frankfuhrt was disgusting. We got into an argument with a security guard. The people working in the airport were fairly rude and unfriendly and the airport restaurant was dirty too. The food wasn't delicious and the promise of the end being in sight kept us going.

By the time we got onto the flight for Istanbul we were exhausted. We sat in our seats and fell asleep immediately. The next thing we knew we were in Istanbul. So much for the on-board meal!

When we landed in the Mustafa Kemal airport we were greeted with a passenger arguing with five or six policeman. We also had to stand in the visa line for a long time. By the time we got through customs and picked up our luggage it was close to 1:30am. We had been on the move for about 26 hours.

Long Awaited Reunion

When we finally walked into the airport waiting area there was my sister Judith with a big broad smile looking great as always. We hadn't seen her in six years and she hadn't changed a bit. It was an exciting and wonderful reunion and one that we had looked forward to for a long long time.

These reunions are never soon enough. Our family are a family of gypsies. My sister lives in Istanbul, I live in Taipei, Dad lives in South Africa and Mom lives in England. We dont see each other very often but when we do it is always wonderful.

My sister drove us home and we talked late into the morning finally getting to bed at around 5:00am. It wasn't too bad since we had that great three hour sleep on the flight to Istanbul.

Sometime during the night Judith's mother-in-law woke up to say hi as she was staying at the house and our nephew Tibet, who we had seen only when he was one, woke up for a short bit and came to meet us. It was great to meet him finally and to be able to speak to him. The time spent with him and the bonding that we did as a family over the two weeks was an incredible experience.

And then came Mom

On the first Friday in Istanbul my mother arrived. We all went down to the airport and met her. It was great. This was the first time Queenie, my Mom, Judith, Tibet and I had ever been together.

Of course with my Mom comes all the razzmataz of life. She had brought tons of Christmas crackers, hats and gifts (even though it was February) to ensure we celebrated something as a family.

Ahmet's Arrival

A week after we arrived, Ahmet, Judith's husband, came up from the South of Turkey to spend the weekend with us. Now Queenie had never met Ahmet and I had not seen him for more than 10 years. He too has not aged a bit. He looked as young as ever.

When we had all finally gathered, we spent a fantastic few days together, eating in some wonderful restaurants and just spending quality time together.


So the family was all together for the first time ever. We had a wondeful time and hopefully we will be able to do it again sometime soon. The lesson of course is that we should appreciate every moment we spend with people, especially close and dear family. We never know when (or even if) we will ever see them again.

Hopefully they will be able to come to Taiwan next year. If not we will have to make a plan to hike back to Turkey within the next couple of years.

Take care all,

Until the next time, blessings.

Queenie and Paul


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