Caucasus + Western Asia

Here you’ll find all the articles and short posts I’ve published about hitchhiking and hospitality in the Caucasus + Western Asia. I traveled in countries such as Georgia, Armenia, Iran, and Turkey mostly in 2014.

  • Georgia: my best friend whom I met at university comes from Georgia, so I visited there for the first time for New Year’s in 2012/2013. Then in summer 2014, I hitchhiked from the Netherlands to Tbilisi in five days to attend her wedding. After that, I traveled back and forth to Georgia from Armenia and Abkhazia, living in Tbilisi’s Vake Park with a band of cool people and absolute weirdos.
  • Armenia: I visited Armenia twice in 2014. Once with a Polish friend on a short trip, and once on my way to Iran.
  • Abkhazia: I visited this disputed territory after getting travel permission in Zugdidi. It was a strange place, but also incredibly beautiful. I had a lot of fun at Stalin’s Dacha and in Gagra.
  • Iran: after picking up my visa in Armenia, I hitchhiked around Iran for 28 days in October/November 2014. These were some excellent times!
  • Turkey: I’ve been to Turkey four times, of which twice with my family. The last two times I was there speed hitchhiking through to get to that wedding on time. The second time, after Iran, I had more time to explore between Van, Batman, Hatay, Mersin, Northern Cyprus, Ankara, Eskişehir, and İstanbul.

Because of the top-tier hospitality in the Caucasus + Western Asia, I’m longing to return pretty much every day I’m feeling a little uninspired.

Northern Cyprus! Ferry from Taşucu (Turkey) to Girne (Kıbrıs)

After a rough night on the rolling sea, pretending to like immigration officers and a heavy rain shower to say welcome, I have arrived in Cyprus. Northern Cyprus. Vake yeah! Getting to the port town of Taşucu to make it to the night ferry was a hellish experience. But I made it. That’s what matters. Now I’m in the port town on the other side. The Turkish people call it Girne and the Greeks call it Kyrenia. Likewise, the island of Cyprus is known in Turkey as Kıbrıs, it’s capital Nicosia as Lefkoşa. You know. So let’s talk about the big elephant inContinue reading

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Turkish Animal Shelter in Hatay, Turkey

I brought last night’s puppy to a Turkish animal shelter in Hatay today. My contact at the construction site took this photo for me this morning before he drove me – under slight protest – across Hatay to an animal shelter (Turkish: hayvan barınağı). That’s why I look so happy. After that, I started the journey with this pup wrapped in my arms in the car and into the shelter. To be honest, I don’t feel good about dropping the puppy off at the Turkish animal shelter. It’s the cruelest thing I’ve done in my life. Upon arrival, there were a lotContinue reading

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Puppy Savior Complex (Hatay, Turkey)

Here in Hatay, my host asked me to move to the office of a friend’s construction site to go (sort of?) couchsurfing. The old place I was staying at wasn’t suitable, or something like that. I was there all alone sleeping in the darkness of night on said couch when I heard the cries of a puppy outside. I waited for half an hour until I couldn’t take it anymore. Like a night watch, I ventured out and into the cold to approach the call for help. I searched and searched by torchlight for the source of the squeaks untilContinue reading

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Trusting One’s Gut Feeling: Four Truckers, One Hitchhiker (Turkey)

I took this hitchselfie with my four Kurdish truck drivers while hitchhiking in southeastern Turkey. I don’t remember exactly where this was. But from the date I posted it, I’m assuming it was somewhere between Şanlıurfa and Gaziantep. Somehow in my mind, this happened between Batman and Diyarbakır or Van and Batman. I don’t remember exactly and I can’t find the original photo! Anyway, this is a short story about trusting one’s gut feeling when hitchhiking. Anyway, this truck stopped to pick me up in the morning. I said hello in Turkish and asked where they were headed. They wereContinue reading

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Ashure with a Kurdish Family in Şanlıurfa, Turkey

A Kurdish family in the city of Şanlıurfa kindly hosted me. The mother prepared this dish called ashure, which I’m not sure if it’s to celebrate or to mourn. I think it’s celebratory food because it’s a wholesome hot porridge that feels fuzzy on these cold days. It’s with fruits and nuts and grains and sugar, which sounds like peak comfort food. Mourning because I was just in Iran on the 2nd and 3rd of November, which is when Shia Muslims mourn the martyrdom of Husayn. It has a very similar name: day of Ashura. I was in Orumiyeh back thenContinue reading

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Hitchselfie: Gaziantep to Hatay/Antakya/Antioch (Turkey)

I hitchhiked from Gaziantep – also known as Antep – to Hatay in Turkey. But Hatay is also known as Antakya and Antioch. Which version should I even write down on my cardboard hitchhiking sign? Speaking of signs, somewhere at the on-ramp of the highway, I took this hitchselfie next to a road sign. I really like the composition in this photo. The sign says that this is a highway and that one shouldn’t walk, cycle, ride a horse cart, or a tractor from this sign onward. I’m super neat, so I’m not walking beyond the sign. When a car eventuallyContinue reading

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Wish Tree at Göbekli Tepe (Şanlıurfa, Turkey)

I’m not the superstitious kind, but I do love a wish tree every now and then. When walking around at the archaeological site of Göbekli Tepe (close to Şanlıurfa in Turkey) I found one and did what anyone in need of a portion of good luck would do: get a piece of fabric, tie it somewhere on the tree and make a wish. My driver took this nice photo for me. My wishes are quite predictable. The other time I made a wish at a wish tree in Tbilisi, Georgia, it actually came true for both me and my friend.Continue reading

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Hitchhiking from Lake Van to Batman, Turkey

When hitchhiking out of Van, I had to thumb my way around Lake Van (Van Gölu). I’m on my way to Batman. Why? I don’t know, it sounds like a funny place. I don’t want to study ever again, but Batman University does pique my curiosity. Hitchhiking around such a huge body of water is also a good time. It’s incredibly beautiful here, though it’s cold. I’m very happy with my spanking new leggings from Iran. They’re really thick and have an inner layer that’s made of fleece. Fashionable and warm! While waiting for a ride nearby the ferry toContinue reading

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Iran to Turkey by Hitchhiking: A World Apart

Though I’ve already been back in Turkey for two days, I’m still getting used to things once again. Just across the border from Iran to Turkey in Van, the mosques look different and the mountain peaks are snowier! The crossing from Persian to Ottoman architecture is actually much starker than expected. Especially considering there’s Ottoman architecture in tons of places outside of Turkey. Pictured is the Sobacı Hamit Yörük Mosque in Van. I arrived in Van at night, so all I could see were the elaborate neon lights upon entering the city. Seeing Van in daylight is a much better experience,Continue reading

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