North Coast of Turkey

Writing my journal in a bar in Samsun, Turkey

I found a place that serves beer in this predominantly Muslim area, Yay!

It’s been an interesting couple of days, even though I’ve done comparatively few miles.

Cakraz was nice and relaxed and I was able to converse with someone, albeit in a less than grammatical manner – German was our shared language.

After leaving Cakraz, I restarted my eastward pootle. The north coast road is nice and varied, with lots of bends and potential tea-break spots.

Approaching Catalzeytin I noticed (it was impossible to miss it) a huge queue of partying vehicles. A wedding, I assumed, but something was amiss. I pootled past them and there were three motorbikes at the head of the convo, the owner of one of which beckoned me to pull over. He spoke in good English and explained that they were about to form a procession through the town – would I like to join the lead party to bring the bike count to four?

Very much in the mood for saying ‘yes’ these days, the motorcade got moving almost immediately.

With the speed being very slow, and the first car in the motorcade being an unmarked police car and every other person wearing red “MHP” flags, I started to wonder if this was a good idea – and who is/are MHP?

As we enter the town, there are MHP banners everywhere, one of which had someone’s face all over it – 20 feet high.

Ah – a political thing.

I hope there aren’t any… Oh, there’s a TV camera, and I’m in the fucking front row!

Anyway, it was all nice and peaceful, apart from the multitude of bike/car horns and people whooping and cheering.

Approaching what I assumed to be the finale, one of the bikes gestured that I needed to go ‘that way’ to continue to the town of Sinop. I don’t know if he thought it best that I miss the finale, but I went ‘that way’, only too glad to avoid getting deeper involved.

FCO advice – avoid large public gatherings and political rallies.


I found a little place to camp by the sea, and some people who were having a picnic. They fed me well and their kids practiced their English with me.

Not long after, sheltering in the tent and reading a book, some other visitors to the picnic area showed up.

A voice called out, “Great Britain?”. It was in the form of a summons.

In fact, the chap is a public prosecutor and spoke great English. He was able to explain the MHP. From his description they are a nationalist party, but I couldn’t work out if they were BNP-esque or UKIP-esque.

Either way, I’m going to keep an eye on the web to see if I show up on the local news website. I hope I don’t.

Then everybody left the picnic area.

Then I zipped up the tent.

Then the storm came.


It was spectacular and all around.

I didn’t venture out as I was surrounded by trees and feeling vulnerable enough in the tent. I’ve never heard thunder like it!

All said, I’m now in Samsun and it rained on the way here. Yet again I am soaked.

I have a hotel for the night. Posh-looking, but I suspect the bill won’t be more that £50.

I’m going to have to stay around here a while, I think.

I need new sprockets and chain for the bike, and I need to atone for the last Continental tyres.

Annoyingly, my tool roll doesn’t have the correct socket for the front sprocket, otherwise I could do the job myself.

If I can find a nice campsite nearby then I’ll stay there and get the tyres shipped. Hopefully I can just pick up a chain and sprockets tomorrow, although one chap said I need to order them from Istanbul. I doubt it though.

Once I’ve got that lot, the bike should be good for Russia. If the new chain/sprockets doesn’t fix this grinding noise then I need to sort out new rear bearings, but they were swapped out just before leaving the UK so it shouldn’t be them. I hope.

All said, I’m sat in a dark bar (hence the bad handwriting) and I’m drying out. My other clothes are washed and hanging up in the hotel bedroom (classy).

Fingers crossed for the chain-and-sprocket hunt.

Oh, a ‘local’ has just bought me a beer – of course.

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