Being alone; how a restless girl copes.

Okay. Without wanting to sound macabre, this blog post is going to be about being on my own. It’s not one massive sulk, so you can all just put away your eye rolling and miniature violins. I’m in a self-inflicted solitary confinement over here, so I’ve had plenty of time to think this through.


The first step of being alone whilst on your travels is this strange sense of overconfidence when it comes to strangers. All of a sudden, I’m this social butterfly, befriending people from all over the world with my charm and boundless self-assurance. I don’t know how it happened. It just did.

Touring Blue Bays of Fethiye :)

I went on a boat day trip thing the other day, and the relaxed atmosphere and gorgeous settings led me to casually striking up conversation with complete strangers. Dasha, the Ukranian schoolgirl, impressed me with her English and we chatted about school and university. On hearing an English accent while taking a boatside dip in the sea, I swam right up to a couple from Essex. I’m now welcome to visit them if I ever find myself in the part of Fethiye they have a B&B in, which is nice. I also braved speaking a little Mandarin to a Chinese family- which considering the last time I spoke Chinese I burst into tears, can only have been down to a surge of misplaced confidence. They more or less understood what I was trying to say, but their English skills far outshone my Chinese ones, so I was spared the mortification of singlehandedly ruining the beauty of a language. The day was a success, and I can now safely archive this unlikely bunch into the group “Met On Holiday” and move on. Woo!

Only just managing to stay upright in Saklikent Gorge.


In trying to recreate my sudden surge of social ability, I went on another day trip. Well, that’s not exactly the reason. Saklikent Gorge is mindblowing- and warrants a day trip regardless of whether there’s any likelihood of making new mates or not. Whatever. My friend-making skills were scaled down to zero, as no one spoke any English. In fact, I felt very conscious that I was the only person in a group of twelve who never had the faintest idea of what was going on- how long the journey would take, the price of entry, how to not fall and die in the gorge. It would have been pretty maddening, but instead, it just got boring. Not speaking to anyone frustrated me. I became sulky in the evening, having not uttered a single phrase other than “sorry, I’m English” all day. I’d read all of my books, the wifi connection was failing me, I didn’t feel like going to a bar where I wouldn’t know anyone and have to sit on my own. So I frowned all night instead.

I’m my own worst enemy when I get like this. Nothing anyone says can swing me out of a grump like this one. But that was irrelevant. No one was saying anything much to me at all, nevermind trying to lift my lonely spirits. So I moped around my hotel room and bitched at my friends when the wifi connection lasted long enough for me to send a facebook message (sorry, friends).  I was lonely and bored and I wanted to watch fucking Coronation Street already. Moodily, I went to bed for lack of better things to do. 


After a good telling off via email from a few friends, I decided to shut up whinging and make the most of having some time to myself. How often do you get an entire week, unimpeded by any responsibilities, unmarked by any urgencies, to do exactly what you want with? And considering how rare this week is, what better place to do it than on the edge of the Mediterranean coast? So I packed myself a little bag of pens, books, notepads and my iPod, and marched out to the dolmus station.

I spent the day writing. And I mean the entire day. I wrote things I’d intended on publishing for The Yorker, I wrote reviews of the places I’d been, I wrote things I wouldn’t dream of publishing on here for fear of people actually reading them. The bemused waiter asked me if it was my diary. “Sort of“, I replied, flashing a quick smile and accepting my third refill of fresh orange juice. The orange juice glasses got increasingly decorative and elaborate as my time in the cafe went on. The first glass had been simple, ice, straw, drink. By the time I left, I was getting flashing straws, umbrellas, slices of exotic fruit wedged onto the glass, fireworks. I like to think they were playing a game of “How-much-shit-can-we-put-on-her-glass-before-she-looks-up-from-her-notepad”. They were probably just trying to increase the chances of a tip, but a girl can imagine.

Pen running out of ink, and myself running out of writing-steam, I popped on a water taxi back home and went for another walk along the harbour. I sat and idly watched the sun set over the bay with some fishermen, meandered back to the hotel, and had a long shower. Today’s been good. This is the kind of solitary confinement I could get used to.

Sighh. I guess I can go without speaing English for a day if this is what the evening looks like. 


All quiet on the Fethiye front. Thank god.

With all the drama of yesterday slowly fading into obscurity, I figured it was about time I got round to some of this exploring lark I was so keen to do prior to being unceremoniously shown the door in Kayakoy. Having shook the last of the shakes off, I dolled up and strode out, in what I guessed to be the right direction, towards the centre of the centre.

Fethiye is stunning. It’s quite difficult to justify exactly how beautiful it is without getting soppy, or sounding like I’m exagerating. To put it plainly, if I lived here, or saw this view everyday as of now for the rest of ever, I don’t think I’d get bored. I wouldn’t stop marvelling at how bloody pretty it is.

Fethiye bay.

York campus lake, eat your heart out.

It is a slight shame that I’ve come at a time of year when they’re remodelling one area- the town square on the edge of the harbour. Though it hardly detracts from the beauty of the bay, it’s quite an odd sensation walking along a gorgeous pier, busy looking out onto the Med, and finding yourself to have stumbled into a construction site, complete with bemused workmen who see straight through your attempts to look like you’ve ended up there on purpose. That aside, this has been my favourite place to go for a walk, anywhere, ever.

My paper rose!

I ate at a great restaurant overlooking the bay, Address. The staff were a touch overly attentive, but it was quite nice having someone to talk to. Travelling alone can get pretty quiet, and talking to myself in public just won’t do. So the chatter was welcomed- even if they only wanted to list names of football players upon finding out I’m from Manchester. I got made a little tissue rose- for “being gorgeous” no less- and was asked to return to the restaurant after they’d all finished work, which I politely declined. My boyfriend would have been horrified, after all. I neglected to mention he doesn’t exist, but that’s irrelevant.

I’ve done more touristy things, mostly wandering around the old town looking at fabrics and spices and trinkets- I bought a gorgeous handwoven cushion- and headed back to the comfort of my air conditioned room while the sun was a its harshest. Then, a surprise visitor! Regina, of heroic fame, turned up unannounced. Delighted, we headed out for some chai, gossip, and a game of backgammon.

I suck at backgammon.

I’ve had the worlds longest shower, stocked up on Fanta, and have my outfit planned for the boat trip I’ve booked for tomorrow. Now I’m off to watch the sunset in a bar some place. I’m trying not to be smug, having seen all of your complaints about the weather in emails and on facebook/twitter, but it’s really really hard. I’m not even sorry.


Being kicked out. (Or; The second thing to go wrong in Turkey)

Today, I was kicked out of my hotel. I know that immediately summons up images of me being the tourist from hell, but I didn’t throw a TV out of the window or anything. I didn’t even have a TV. Or a window, come to that.

Long story short, I was staying at a boutique place through this workaway scheme I’ve talked about. It means I got free bed and board in return for five hours work a day, five days a week. That’s a reasonable commitment, and a reasonable offer, imho. Unfortunately, the hours turned out to be much longer than I’d anticipated. Anywhere between nine and twelve hours became the norm, the expected.

Up at eight, washing up, serving breakfast, cleaning the pool, hosing down the paths, gardening, lugging wheelbarrows of dead leaves and egg shells to the compost heap, nipping to the local farm to top up an empty coke can with milk, preparing rooms, incessant sweeping of leaves, and waiting up until all of the guests have returned from their wanders at gone midnight. It wasn’t difficult, though occasionally strenuous in the baking sun. No, the work itself was easy. There was just so much more of it than I considered fair.

(Side note- Jack Smith, on planning a possible trip to Croatia, snubbed the idea of a workaway placement there, as the level of work (about eight hours) the hostel place wanted in comparison to how much simply paying for the rooms would have cost, worked out at less than minimum wage. I’m no mathematician, but this is exactly what was happening at my place in Turkey. I’m not afraid of a little hard graft, but this was getting ridiculous) 

The free time was excellent, of course, when I could get it. I had maybe, four, fivehours a day? I’ll write another post on what I got up to later, but for the most part I waited for my next instructions by the pool. This hardly seems like I was having a tough time, I’m aware, but I wanted to actually see Turkey. You know, outside of the hotel grounds.

Anyway, I digress. I told my boss that I was going to leave the next day, as I wanted to do more travelling. She kicked off. According to her, it was dishonest of me to come to her hotel with the intention of leaving after a week. She didn’t believe my protest of not setting out with that intention. She rebuked my argument that I work more than the advertised five hours a day (!!!!!). She told me I could leave. Not tomorrow, not later, now. I packed my bag.

Now, a grown woman, knowing full well I had nowhere to go, no way to get there, and no place to stay, kicked a nineteen year old girl, on her own, in the arse end middle of nowhere, out onto the streets of a country I couldn’t even speak the language of. I don’t mean to sound accusing, but if that isn’t a touch rash, then I couldn’t tell you what is.

Luckily, I had Regina. She’s a German teacher on sabbatical, and we’ve become quite close since meeting at the hotel. She speaks Turkish and English, and upon seeing me, hysterical and lugging my suitcase, found me a taxi and gave me some advice as to what to do next. A few phone calls later, my taxi arrived, Regina negotiated a price, and I was on my way to central Fethiye. Without her, I’d be lost in the woods of Kayakoy dragging my face and 14k suitcase behind me.

I’ve arrived in central Fethiye, and am booked into a small hotel near the dolmus station. I rocked up, slightly hysterical (you know me, never one to get upset in the face of chaos) and was shown my new room. I phoned my mum and a friend to let them know I was safe but in a different place, and sat and thought for a while.

Half in shock still, half relieved, I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I showered (they have two settings here, scalding hot, and “off”.), wandered round Fethiye village, ate something, and stared at the balcony in a daze. I think tomorrow, I’ll go to visit Paspatur . Hopefully it’ll be slightly less eventful. I don’t think my mum’s nerves could take another surprise.


Turns out I don’t speak Turkish

One of the more disheartening things about having an unusual first name is the variety of pronunciations people use to address you with. Over time, I’ve learnt to respond to Ferrar, Faye, Faya, Fairer, Freya, Sarra, Tara, and Fa-rur. None of which are my actual name. Sometimes, people don’t believe that Kelly is my surname, so refer to me as that instead, and are indignant when I don’t immediately respond.

So it’s a nice novelty to be in a country where the name “Farrah” is actually not all that uncommon. It’s spelt differently (Ferah), and the /r/ is more of a trill (phonetics friends might dispute this, I was never any good in phon&phon), but it’s my name nonetheless. I was pleasantly surprised how easily the staff remembered it- whenever I’ve met second language-English speakers, I’m known as anything but my actual name. When I worked in a Chinese restaurant most of the staff got my attention with clicks or hand gestures. The rest didn’t bother to learn my name. I’m loving this temporary honour.

Short of this bemusing highlight, the language differences have, naturally, been a pain . I rely on confusing hand gestures and interpreting mimicry to gain my instructions, which you’d think would be easy enough. But, no. Pointing at a chair and miming sitting down and opening a book, does not in fact mean, “go and sit down and read a book”. It means “wait here while I mop so you can put the floor rugs down after I’ve finished”. Obviously. Which I learned the hard way- and managed to get told off, like a child, for innocently finding a book and seat and doing what I thought I was told. 

  It’s  pretty hard to not use phrases and culutre references- offering to brew up is met with confusion and comparing a hotel guest to Cheryl Cole charcter draws blank looks. Most of what I say, whether to the Turkish or Germans here, is replied to with polite-I-don’t-know-what-you’re-talking-about laughter, or ignored all together.

Not having any difficulty in understanding when they tell me I can “sit down”.

We’ve developed our own little quasi-language, a pidgin, if you will. “Make it work” means “turn the washing machine on”. “Hep” means  ”follow me”. A high pitched hum means I’m doing something wrong. My communication is surviving on half sentences and  Turkish and English words mangled together. 

The upshot of this whole language barrier is that I’ve basically forgotten how to speak like a normal person. I find myself awkwardly imitating their accents when trying to ask them for the next job- “Me mop?” “Where this?“. It’s pretty hard to not feel like I’m patronising them. It’s even harder not to laugh at their botched attempts of English “You shut up” for “Empty the dishwasher” was a personal favourite.


So no, I’m not fluent in Turkish. I’m holding out for another hidden talent.  Statistically speaking, if I’m so crap at everything else, then I’m logically bound to stumble across something I’m blindingly brilliant at. Eventually.