Where am I?

Created this blog to document my travels, experiences & thoughts thru Central & South America but hell plan to blog my travels to where ever. Goofy harmless Free Spirit hoping to spend most of my time with locals & enjoy the world! So hang on as I travel, drink cervezas, raise a little hell, maybe piss off a few people & hopefully not give Canadians a bad reputation! Of course don't do these things on purpose but while having a good time well "Shit Happens"!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Yeah Iraqi Kurdistan was a different adventure cus we all know about the Iraq Wars & figure all of Iraq is dangerous but the Kurdistan part is cool!!

So although we saw signs to Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk, etc. well we never entered any of those dangerous areas. Shit even the Kurds didn't want to go to those areas. But some Kurds go to those cities cus they have family there! So when we travelled in Iraqi Kurdistan all the taxis and mini buses detoured around any possible treks in regular Iraq.

Hell it seemed even the Iraqi's didn't want to go to those cities never mind the Kurds or foreigners! We met a few Iraqi's who were vacationing in Iraqi Kurdistan. We they they probably found it a lot more peaceful and safe (hell we know they did with out them telling us) in Iraqi Kurdistan rather than in regular Iraq. We found the Iraqis we met to be friendly and curious about where we came from, etc. A lot of Kurds and Iraqis asked us why did we come to Iraqi Kurdistan. Our answer to their question was "We came to Iraqi Kurdistan because we could!!".

Saw all these American army equipment hanging there by the Iraq - Turkish border. Don't know if they are being ready to be used or left over from a previous time. Shit there was a lot but luckily didn't see any in action. Hell in South East Turkey we were closer to seeing military equipment being used as the Turkish army ere chasing a bunch of PKK militant or terriorist guerillas who killed a Turkish soldier so we heard.

Roland sends a postcard from every country he visits but he couldn't find any post cards in Iraq. So even tho I don't send postcards well decided to send a couple as we made a couple of home made postcards. We had to get a picture printed and put a backing on it. Then we wrote the postcard and had to find the post office to post our home made post cards. So the pic below is of the people working in the post card. As u may notice not all girls or women wear the head scarves as they are Kurdish not Iraqi Muslims.

We also bought a couple of Kurdishstan flags as Roland likes souvenirs from each country while I can't be bothered as it takes a lot of space. But did buy a small flag so decided to wear it rather than carry. I later gave it to this Kurdish man in eastern Turkey who had us stay at his home overnight.

I don't mean to knock Roland cus we got along super but he sure liked to shop in bazaars, souks or markets. I found myself waiting for him a lot of times. He wanted to buy a small water heater for a cup to make tea or coffee. So he must have checked all electrical type stores in iraqi Kurdistan I think. I kept wondering why doesn't he just look for it when he gets back to Germany cus sure they have everything there! The only thing I bought was a cell or mobile phone in Iraq cus the battery in my old phone was dead & I couldn't get another battery for it cus the phone is so old. I use my phone as a clock & alarm cus need it catch buses, etc. So I paid $25 for this Nokia phone cus for some reason thought it would cheaper in Iraq but think I guess wrong but oh well I always guess wrong!

These pics don't do it justice but there are some very scenic beautiful sights in the Kurdishstan mountains, so check out my shitty pics and try to use ur imagination.

I thought that Iraqi Kurdistan was a great country as the people are all so friendly, helpful and kind. In fact they get so few tourists that when we went anywhere the 2 of us were the main focal point as people just gathered around us to most just stare as few could speak English!

But it got to the point that it was starting to get to be a pain in the ass for me but I think Roland kind of fed off it! Hell he'd stand and chat with these people using a word or 2 of Kurd and the rest of the time he'd talk in German! Hell neither the Kurds or he knew what the hell they were talking about! But most of it was like What's your name?, Where are u from? It was the same old small talk shit over and over & I'm not big on small talk especially when I can't understand them or them me! It was just hard work which I didn't need cus dislike work, ha ha!

Roland and I were a strange looking pair which added to the stares and attention by these people who hardly ever see foreigners! He's tall 2 meter & 3 cm he says which in my calculation is about 6 ft 9 in or so! While I'm just a midget next to him! Plus he's German and well I'm Canadian of Japanese descent. So I don't how many times we had to explain " he is from Allemania (German in Arabic I think) and I'm Canadian but yes I'm Japanese so go figure dude!

One night there was the final game of the European Championship football match. Roland wanted to go and watch it cus Munich was playing Milan. Plus there was this German guy who has a German restuarant in Erbil. Guess the guy likes to open restuarants in off beat places. Roland told me the guy had owned a restuarant in Afghanistan a few years before. So we went to this restuarant and watched on big screen TV drinking German beer. There were a lot of German business men there so the resturant prices were geared to them as it was dam expensive. I enjoyed watching the game even if I know very little about soccer/football. But was really getting into the game and started to know the players as watched a semi final game played by Munich in Syria before that time. But unfortunately the outcome wasn't what we wanted but u can't have everything. Wil probably end up watching some World Cup Games too in June as most people are soccer/football crazy in this part of the world - hell in most parts of the world but US and Canada I guess!

A Kurd told us u have to go to this resort type village in the mtns called Plank! So of course we took a mini bus and got off by the highway! So we hitch hiked to this town Shaqwila which is a beautiful town with trees (don't laugh cus some don't any). Then we got out and hitched again and got picked up by this man and his family! He was friendly and so was his wife as she didn't shrink into her seat and hide like some women would! So when we got to this village by Plank we got out and the guy wanted some money for the ride! We had no problem with that cus most people in Iraq, Turkey and some other countries around aren't familar with hitch hiking. So they think that we are just flagging down a car to get a ride as the car will act as a temporary taxi for the trip! So we gave the guy 5 dinars each or about $3. But the guy wanted double that amount but we weren't going to pay that so he got a bit upset (only incident we had in Kurdistan Iraq). So we gave him the 10 dinars and walked away as didn't want to create an international incident or get shot by some upset driver. So that ended that incident as we didn't have to call in the Marines, ha ha! We ducked into a restuarant cus it was lunch time anyway! So the driver just drove away a bit pissed at foreigners probably! But this guy eating in the restuarant was friendly and bought us lunch. Shit Roland eats a lot and had 2 or 3 sharmwas and I only had 1 but would have had 2 also if I knew this guy was going to shout (slang for buy in Aussie) us lunch! So our celebrity appeal hadn't been tarnished I guess.

So we started to walk up the hill to this resort area called Plank to stay the night. But we got a ride to the place by this local. (no we didn't have to pay as only paid for a ride once in Kurdistan Iraq). But shit we found out that it was really touristy and the prices of a place to stay was going to cost us mimimun $175. So of course we almost ran away in fright! Hell we could have stayed in budget hotels for a week for that price. So this man and woman gave us a ride back to town. Then another guy gave us a ride to the bus station in another town so we could catch a mini bus or taxi back to Dohuk a city close to the Turkish border. But when we got to the bus station we found there were no more mini buses that day. But we could take a shared taxi to Dohuk. Unfortuantely the taxi has only space for 4 people comfortably. But there ended up 5 of us including a woman plus her kid. So we had a choice either we wait for another taxi but it was getting late and there may not be any more people going. So we decided to squeeze in the taxi but negotiated a better price. The driver wanted $10 each (a king's ransom to us) but we got it down to 1/2 the price by both of us sitting in the 1 front seat together. Shit Roland is 2 meter and change and I'm just change so the front seat was crowded and it was a 3 hr trip. But one has to do what one has to do to get around. Shit when we both got in the taxi the guy couldn't change gears with Roland's long leg spread across the gear shift. But hey we made it back to Dohuk in 1 piece but my back felt like someone sat on it! But it was just one more funny experience on our crazy fun adventure!!

One time we were in this village Amadie sp? which is a beautiful village built on top of this mtn and is suppose to be the most beautiful village in Iraqi Kurdistan! So of course we had to check it out! We also had to take a shared taxi there and had to wait in the hot sun to find enough passengers to get a shared taxi back to Zohan the last city we went to before passing back into Turkey!

But I think going to the village of Hadeja near the Iranian border was the best time we had in Kurdistan Iraq. We took a mini bus from Suylamania for 3 hrs. The village is like spitting distance from the Iranian border. We went to check out the museum dedicated to the 5,000 anhilated by Chemical Ali's work commanded by who else Saddam Hussein. The pics and people who died there didn't know what hit them. They hid the chemicals in the bombs with some very nice smelling aroma so the people inhaled it and died.

There are still a lot of buildings that are destroyed. But the people were all friendly and nice to us! Shit they all would crowd around us to stare and try to talk!

Then we hitched back to Suylamania in 1 hr by this man and his son including a stop for lunch. So when we got back to the city we hit the Terror Museum showing more of Saddam Hussein's handy work with the Kurds! Kind of gave us the opinion that he didn't like Kurds!

But with all the distruction to them the Kurds all have a friendly and kind dispostion. They seem upbeat cus guess they got their own region now and self governing!

So we had an awesome trip to Iraqi Kurdistan and enjoyed it thoroughly.

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