Facing Arrest in Turkey

Facing Arrest in Turkey

I was surprised to see an SUV switch lanes and pull in a few yards in front of me. I hadn’t been even looking at the traffic never mind thumbing as I walked along-side the main road from Istanbul to Silivri. It wasn’t a motorway but the traffic still had been speeding by quickly for the last hour.

I stopped by the window of the SUV, a fella alone probably in his mid-thirties with a tidy beard and serious yet friendly face, he wasn’t on the phone he had pulled over to offer me a lift even though I hadn’t signalled him.

Some people are just on the look-out in life for chances to be sound human beings I reckon and I love it when they spot me on the road.

“Autostop?”

He nodded in reply so I opened the back door and wedged my rucksack in between the passenger seat and the rear seat. Then I left my tent-bag, camping-bed-bag and my plastic-bag with food and water on the empty child’s car seat in the back.

There was the obvious language barrier between myself and himself but he gathered I was Irish and hitchhiking to Bulgaria via Edirne.

He brought me further than Silivri to a busy crossroads near Corlu where I had to jump from the car in a hurry since he wasn’t allowed to pull-over. I grabbed my rucksack plus the bags from the child’s seat quickly and let them drop to the ground as he took off again. When I looked down I felt the blood drain from my head.

“Shit, how the fuck?, o no”

I could see the guys fanny pack, you know them sort of wallets that tie around your waist on the ground with my bags. It must of been on the child’s car seat and had fallen out when I pulled my bags out in the hurry to get out of the car.

Might aswell see what’s inside sure I thought as anyone would.

About €320 in Turkish Lira, the guys driving license, some prescription medicine and a set of keys. Well that’s enough to land me jail time in these Muslim countries I figured.  A loaf of bread or a car? Isn’t all the same to Muslims I thought once you steal then your a thief and you get fucked into some overcrowded jail for years.

Arrested in Turkey.

I can’t go a year without a bacon sandwich I nearly cried.

I wasn’t thinking rationally in my mini panic.

OK lets sort this mess out I thought, one things for certain is I can’t hang around here. I got to move, if he realises his wallet is gone and comes back here then he will probably just drive straight into me, or at least get the police involved.

No way will the police believe some smelly hitchhiker with about €100 to his name accidentally robbed the law abiding citizen by accident. How can I explain myself anyway without Turkish?

I had to get out of here fast, then make a plan.

I began thumbing immeditaly and the third car to pass pulled over, thankfully hitchiking in Turkey isn’t difficult.

I jumped into the back of the old Citroen Xsara, there was two local guys in their twenties in the front who spoke English, it took me a second to regiister the potent smell of marijuana because of my panic.

“Where you from my friend?”

“Ireland”

“Aww, nice. You want a smoke?”

Just to calm the nerves I thought, then a plan will come to me. Weed dosent get offered to me that often when hitchhiking but what a potentially disastrous time this could be for a joint to be passed around.

We talked for a bit then the guys pulled over at a petrol station, they wouldn’t go further. I ended up explaining the situation to them.

“Fuck it man, do what anyone else would do and keep the money. Sell the ID to some fucking Syrian”

“But he knows I’m Irish and on my way to the Bulgaria border, supposing he called the cops then I can’t get out of the country because the border police will be waiting on an Irish hitchhiker”

“Shit your right, hmmm well don’t go to the border then just, well fuck I can’t help I’m stoned man. Don’t leave the country for a few days, just disappear for like a week. Don’t go to the police either, they won’t understand you and will definitely put you in a cell tonight, that story won’t check out with them man. Turkish police are shit they can sometimes be bastards. Good luck though”

“I can’t keep the money of someone who offered me a lift too, I’m not a suspicious person but that would be completely shitting on Karma. Thanks anyway for the lift”

I began hitchhiking again and got collected soon in a small hatchback. The guy looked like a young father and a good guy. Don’t you know when you see a guy and just know that he’s an honest, decent guy, well an honest, decent Muslim will always try to help anyway they can.

“Hey do you speak English”

“A little”

Good a plan had come to me by now.

“I have a problem”

I explained everything right from the beginning and he (Givi) believed my story about the accident. Now I wanted to find the man who owned the wallet on Facebook using Givi’s phone to find out if he had contacted the police yet.

Givi found him on Facebook using the drivers license and messaged him in Turkish asking for his number, no reply though.

Givi then rang the doctor who wrote out the prescription for drugs in the wallet. The nurse provided a contact number he could use.

The man’s wife answered the phone and Givi chatted for some time. The police had been contacted, the border police at Bulgaria were aware of my Nationality and description. She said however that her husband had remarked to her that he wasn’t sure if I was a thief. We needed to go to the nearest police station and her husband would clear my name.

First though we had some Chai (Turkish Tea) then went to the police.

They didn’t quite like my story, there was four of them in the station, luckily they only spoke to Givi. I became uncomfortably aware that there might be a smell of weed off me too so I kept my distance.

When the wallet owner did call and declare the inventory of the wallet and exact amount of money it matched up perfectly with the contents of the wallet. He told the police he believed I made an accident too and they did clear my name.

They had actually been driving the roads I hitchhiked looking to arrest me!

Givi dropped me off near the main road and I hitchhiked one more lift to Edirne before camping there. I will forever be grateful to that guy, I couldn’t of gotten out of that messy situation where I had no Turkish or internet without his help. All I had was my word that the wallet had been an accident and he believed me.

 

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Hitchhiking in Turkey Tips

Hitchhiking in Turkey Tips

Capital : Ankara

Population : Around 78 Million

Languages : Turkish

 English (Common in Istanbul)

 German (Common in Istanbul)

Difficulty : Good for Hitchhiking.

Money : Lira, (Not very Cheap in Istanbul to eat and sleep, Alcohol is expensive too)

chai
Turkish Tea

Visa : Gotten online from here (USA and most EU countries) for about €10. Print the receipt and bring it to the border.

Hitchhiking in Turkey is not as difficult or dangerous as many people assume.

Though I did nearly get arrested here.

Waiting times are quite minimal and truck drivers can be very helpful, often making you Chai (Turkish tea).

The roads in Turkey are far superior to those of Eastern European Countries such as neighbours Bulgaria. The traffic often moves fast and Turkish drivers are unpredictable on the roads.

Its best to find somewhere good to hitchhike at the edge of towns and cities where traffic moves a little slower and a car can pull in. Hitchhiking with your thumb or a sign works. Looking clean will also help a lot hitchhiking in Turkey.

I found camping easy here too, at one stage I camped for three nights in a row with two friends on a beach without any trouble at all.

camping in turkey
Cooking up a meal in Turkey by the beach.

The country is absolutely immense but moving long distances in a day is possible because of the good roads between most cities. Getting out of Istanbul is a nightmare though because the city is so huge.

To get off on the right foot with your driver just be sure to complinet the nice Mosques and food (lovely kebabs). Don’t ever joke about Turkey or insult Turkish men or women! Some guys are quick tempered and have huge pride in Turkey and the language. That’s why learning a couple words in Turkish is great to help get lifts.

Is it safe for girls to Hitchhike in Turkey?

I’m not being ignorant here, I’m just trying to be honest about the culture in Turkey.

Women definitely are not respected 100% as much here by the men, even if you visit Turkey with your girlfriend and walk around holding her hand clearly stating that you are a couple. She is still likely to get hit-on by at least one idiot virgin.

Not all Turkish men are awkward like this around girls, most are friendly people but there is one every now and then.

That said I did meet girls who have hitchhiked extensively and safely in Turkey with truck drivers and regular traffic, having a great time. So don’t fear it! But I would recommend not hitchhiking alone for girls, because of what has happened in the past.

My friend Lea of L’Spirit Cross from Switzerland hitchhiked in Turkey and told me about her experience.

“To travel in turkey as a woman is a must.

Imagine standing on the road with thumbs up, you well get right away chai and sometimes a chorba (Soup) but mostly you even don’t have time to finish it, because cars stops soon. 

I had a good experience with trucks drivers. I learned the basic turkish.

It’s beautiful. the country and the people and they are very happy if you know some words and they really like to talk to you, try hard to understand English.

No worries they all have smartphones and you also can use translation app. and also they love to take selfies.

About the men, they have a different attitude,but if you travel and understand the history and culture, I feel is not that much different as somewhere else.

Take care , go for what you love and enjoy having no plan. Turkey is a organised chaos and will surprise you. have fun.”

Driving into Georgia with UK or Irish Car

Driving a UK Car into Georgia

There is little to know information about driving in Georgia with a UK car or Irish registration. So I thought I would share my own experience being a sound punter.

Basically I came across the border between Trabzon and Batumi in a Peugeot 206. Some of the regulations which were needed for driving in Turkey (insurance, fire extinguisher etc.) had been meet (not all).

The car was British and under my Scottish friend Connor’s name (UK license) and my license is Irish.

At the border I had to get out of the car and go through customs separately, only one person is allowed to remain in the car for some strange Georgian reason. I quickly came across with little delay and waited for Connor.

We had been expecting to need to buy Georgian Insurance as we did in Turkey however that wasn’t the case. In the end Connor said he was asked for evidence he owned the car. He handed over the log book which the border police-woman looked at briefly (she couldn’t speak English). Then his passport was stamped with a car stamp and on we drove.

That was it! No fee.

We ended up selling the car in Georgia too after the engine seized in a flood and hitchhiked back to Turkey.

Our worries about the lack of a car leaving Georgia with us (seen as the passport was stamped) never materialised. The police waved us on without any questions.

So there you have it, Georgian police most likely won’t care what you drive into their country.

 

Driving into Turkey with UK or Irish car.

Driving a UK Car into Turkey.

Driving to Turkey with a UK car was not much trouble. I had an Irish driver’s license and my friend Connor had a British License (the car was under his name).

The car was a Peugeot 206 by no means flash or fancy.

We were clearly two young guys who could be carrying lots of alcohol or weed too in the eyes of the border police.

Vignette

This is some sort of road tax, required in some European countries (Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary included). We got caught out at the Romania Bulgaria border for not buying one. The fine was over 200 euro, a 50 dollar bribe sufficed though in our case.

It’s better to get one though at the first petrol station you find (usually less than 10 euro for a month).

We never bought one in Turkey and I don’t think you need one, instead you pay motorway tolls.

Motorway Tolls

These can’t be paid by cash or credit card. Instead you register your car registration at a PTT (Yellow Post office in Turkey) to enroll in the system and credit your account. Then every-time you pass a toll the cameras will charge your account.

At least that’s the jist of what I was told.

I was told in theory that every-time we passed through the toll without this set-up we were receiving a fine, the cameras had the registration after all. If my friend didn’t receive the fine by mail we would be charged when we drove the car over the Georgia border.

In reality we drove though many tolls on our way across Turkey to Georgia, setting of an alarm every single time. In reality also much to our relieve the Turkish police’s computers at the Trabzon to Batumi border did not know that we had skipped all the tolls across the countries northern coast. We never paid this fee.

I would recommend you do visit a PTT if staying in Turkey a while though, we could of just got lucky in the smaller 206 which didn’t catch attention.

First Aid Kit, Fire Extinguisher and Two Warning Triangles

Never checked at the border but you might aswell buy these bits, we got them all as a kit in a Practikar in Bulgaria for about 15 euro.

GB Sticker

Nope, I’m Irish and Connor is Scottish (the failed referendum was soon) so we decided that we could talk our way out of this one if we got caught, never did get questioned about the sticker.

Headlamp Converters

Seen this mentioned on a sign, ignored and never questioned. Can’t see the point once your dims work fine.

Certificate of Ownership

Something that will prove you own the car, like the log book with your name written on it just the same as on your passport.

Home Insurance

Something that will prove your insured inside the EU, probably not needed but bring it anyway in-case.

Cash is King for Insurance

Cash (Euros) to buy Turkish Insurance. Pounds are probably good too but not Scottish pounds for some stupid reason. Best to just have Euro at the end of the day.

The cost will vary depending on your car size, we got the diesel 206 insured for 6 months (no shorter period allowed for us) in Turkey for around 60 euro. This was cheaper then the signs suggested so be sure to try chat with the border police, I’m sure it’s a bit at their discretion to give a good price.

You will get a printed certificate of insurance, keep it with the car at all times. In our case either of us could lawfully drive the car (both full license) but a crash would be liable to Connor (the owner).

Good Bulbs

You always have your dipped lights on here, even during the brightest days by law.

The Search

Be prepared for a search of the car, they didn’t look rigorous but don’t be bringing tonnes of Alcohol into Turkey (even though it’s a good idea since its far more expensive than Bulgaria). No recreational drugs either, Marijuana is a big deal in Muslim countries, a prison cell big deal.

The Driving

Turks are dangerous drivers, be careful on the roads and expect that 30 foot truck to over-take you on the bend. Good idea to always have a passenger to help you with over-taking since you will be driving on the right-hand side of the road in a left-hand side car.

Istanbul is insane to try drive around with a population of like 20 million, bring a sat-nav.

stray dog bulgaria
Meet this stray dog near the Bulgaria-Turkey border, throw him a bit of bread if you see him. 🙂