the reason for this is that it is so close to the Qandil Mtns of Iraq where the PKK are supposedly based.
So in our ignorance we just went to the mini bus company and bought a ticket and no one told us that it's been more dangerous in the past few weeks than usual. We weren't advised that if were went thru that area we do at our own risk! What we were told or so we thought was that the minibus wasn't going all the way to Hakkari but would be turning off the main highway to go to a small town or village! So we thought well that was a help getting to Van and we'd either hitch hike or face the situation when the time arrived.
The Kurdistan Workers' Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan or Parti Karkerani Kurdistan), best known as PKK also called KADEK, Kongra-Gel, and KGK, is a Kurdish separatist organization which fights an armed struggle against Turkey for Kurdish independence.
The PKK's goal has been to create an independent Kurdish state Kurdistan. Kurdistan a geographical region that comprises southeastern Turkey, northeastern Iraq, northeastern Syria and northwestern Iran This goal has now been moderated to claiming cultural and political rights for the ethnic Kurdish population in Turkey Since 1978, the PKK has been engaged in armed conflict with the Turkish state.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization internationally by a number of states and organizations
Then we noticed a very heavy military presence on the hwy and a huge number of checkpoints like every 10 km or so. The distance we wanted to go was like 200 kms from Sirnak to Haddari which even with the windy rough roads should only take about 6 hrs. But we didn't get that far in the day so we sort of resigned ourselves to having to find some place to sleep along the hwy!
But a friendly Kurd offerred to let us sleep at his home for the night. Then we could continue our travels to Hakkari and onward to Van in the morning!
So at one point in our journey the mini bus dropped us off on the hwy with a couple of armed men who looked like locals and drove up this canyon. Then a truck came down the road and one of the men suggested we go with them up the road. But we decided to stay with all the other people from the mini bus who were also standing by the side of the hwy. We weren't quite sure why the mini bus went up the road or why this man suggested we go in his truck. But Roland said he thought one of the other men sort of signaled to him that we not go with the guy in the truck.
So the minibus took a detour up this windy road along this river between some magnificent view of hills (to Canadians) /mtns (to people living on flat countries). So we go to this guy's house and we meet his wife and a whole bunch of people from the neighborhood come swarming around to gawk at the foreigners. So guess we're still celebrities to this people who don't see people like us. So they brought out tea and munchies and we chatted in broken English. So I dug in my bag and give the guy my Kurdistan flag and a couple of other Kurdistan stuff I bought in Iraq. So now I felt better about accepting his hospiatlity. So the guy's wife makes this great dinner as they bbq'd some chicken, salad , bread, cheese, eggs, etc (all from their garden or home gown chicken and cheese). It was great cus they all sit outside till dark eating and talking.
So then we go inside as there are 3 rooms with no furniture but carpeted floors with mats laying around. So in room is a tv with probably satellite viewing as even remote areas seem to have satellite tv. Then I think 1 room the wife and any female sleep. So the last one is for Roland, the man and me to sleep.
What is odd is a neighbor comes by and brings his laptop with internet. I think where the hell in this remote area is he picking up a wireless signal but guess one neighbor must have a router!
Anyway we had a good sleep and set our alarm for 6 am. Then the man's wife makes us a real nice breakfast. We say goodbye and the man walks us to the road cus he has arranged a minibus to pick us up at 7 am (but it's Turkish time so it was 8 or 830 am). This minibus driives us 3 hrs to Hakkari without any incidents but a lot of road checks. The soldiers look at our passports and then can't make a decision so they take us to the commander of the post. So the other poor people on the minibus have to sit and wait. They must hate travelling in a bus with foreigners. But funny thing is after Hakkari the road blocks were checking the Kurds and just taking a cusory glance at our passports! So did we lose our celebrity status? ha ha
In Hakkari we only had to wait 1 hr and then were able to catch a regular bus. Then 3 hrs later we got to Van.
So what started off as a shortcut to Van in 1 day turned out to be a 2 day trip with a stay overnight in a small village tucked in the beautiful valley and mountains of far southeastern Turkey! Plus it was another real interesting and great adventure and experience!