Wok China Restaurant

Just how far would you go for a decent Chinese meal?  Is it across the street?  Maybe it’s a few blocks from home.  Nice eh?  Back in Sydney I wouldn’t have needed to go far at all but here in Mersin?   Here in Mersin you need to leave the city.  Yep despite living in a city with a population of 1.1 million people you need to get on your bike because nowhere in this city of 1.1 million can a person get a decent Chinese meal (and the first person who mentions Blush to me will be banned from my site).  So where does a person need to go?  Does it require airfare and a passport?  No just a car, some travelling companions and the willingness to travel to the city of Adana (85 kilometres east of Mersin) to hunt out the elusive Wok China Restaurant.

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Was it worth it?  Hell yeah!  Coupled with a good 4 hours spent shopping at M1 (seriously where does the time go?) and a quick drive through the city we arrived at Wok China Restaurant exhausted but totally psyched for our Chinese banquet.

[The following paragraph is going to make me sound like one of those pretentious prat restaurant reviewers!  I am not an asshole but you have been warned!]

Despite the fact that we had to wait for our alcoholic bevies (a sacrilege in my mind) the food was delivered with a flourish, freshly prepared and delicious.  Beginning with a plate of sushi (courtesy of the chef), followed by various stir fry’s including a pretty good Szechuan Beef and a fantastic Chilli Chicken our taste buds were definitely tempted and my waistline was definitely growing ever larger.  The thing to remember with Chinese food being cooked by a Turkish chef is that it is Chinese food prepared by a Turkish chef so the dishes may not be quite as authentic as they could be or perhaps should be.  Having said that every single dish served was distinctly Chinese – not a kebab in sight!  The effort was definitely there and the staff were all lovely so put aside your expectations as you walk through the door.  It may not be exactly what my memories conjure up when I recall my last Chinese banquet but it was definitely more than I had hoped for.

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Price wise, it was very, VERY reasonable.  We ordered 4 mains plus rice and noodles, a couple of rounds of drinks and 3 separate orders of takeaway (Daughter was desperate for me to bring home spring rolls) and we still spent much less than we would have here in Mersin.  Does this say anything about the prices of the high end restaurants in Mersin?  It sure does!  I have said before that the only people who can afford to eat at the high end restaurants here are international drug barons but of course we still go to them as there are no other western style restaurants to be found.

To those of you in Adana get over to Wok China and have an excellent feed.  To those of you in Mersin – let me know when you are going and I’ll tag along!

wok china

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Wordy wisdoms by The Turk

After a string of messages from you guys about The Turk’s most recent blustering crapfest in “Grow The Feck Up” I realise that he really is a wealth of ridiculous quotes and is constantly sprouting off nonsensical crap.  I really do not utilise his blathering often enough and, as I have been hasta and confined to the couch for a few days, I have had the opportunity to experience more of The Turk than any sane person should have to.  Thankfully I feel the need to share absolutely everything with you so you will appreciate a few of his most recent crapalicious spewings about life, love and everything in between.

kemal collage

Daily conversation – Him:  Has the dog done a bok?  Me:  Yes.  Him:  Was it big?  Me:  Would you like to see it?

Stupidity – People are being stupid today.  I will not speak to anymore of them.

Professing his Love – Him:  Darling, I lurrrvvveee you.  Me:  OK.  Him:  What do you say?  Me:  Thank you.  Him:  This is the reason why I will leave you for Cameron Diaz.  She will appreciate me.  Me:  I think she just got married.  Him:  I hate you.

Religion – You should pray to Beyonce.

A compliment – Him:  You look nice.  Me:  *smiles sweetly*.  Him:  Imagine how good you would look if you were thin.

Movies – Him:  Where is Al Pacino?  Me:  What are you watching?  Daughter:  Twilight.

His funeral – If I die (me:  If?) can you play this on repeat.  (It was “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus).

Walking through our salon – Him:  Did you make me çay (tea)?  Me:  Do you see çay?  Him:  You are a good wife.  Me:  I know.  (Wait 10 seconds).  Him:  Would you like çay?  Me:  Thank you.

Watching me while I yell at him – You look like that girl from The Exorcist but with nicer eyes.

Squeezing my bum – Your ass is like a pillow made of fat.

Pride and Prejudice (the BBC miniseries) – They stare.  They talk.  They walk.  What is this never ending pile of bok?

To Daughter (on love) – All men are assholes.  Daughter:  You’re a man.  Him: *shrugs*

After reading these back I realise that The Turk may just be as mad as a hatter!  I might have to make this a regular post because these few juicy snippets are only over the past few days.  Imagine if I really started to pay attention!

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Mum’s Doing a Lamb Roast

We recently got Digiturk and I have been watching the Home and Entertainment channel, sometimes in Turkish and sometimes in English.  It was a rare occurence to watch any of these shows back in Australia and now I find myself with an addiction that cannot be quenched and sadly that addiction is – cooking shows.  I know.  I need to find a support group.  Like most addictions I cannot get enough of it and worse still it has resulted in me attempting to replicate whatever I have seen on the screen.  Desperate attempts at ridiculously difficult cakes, fancy pasta dishes and over the top dinners generally results in a messy kitchen, inedible food and a very grumpy Turk.

food collage

Yep all I have really achieved by subjecting myself to this new addiction is the realisation that I really am a crap cook and really, really miss good western cooking.  Here in Mersin it is hard to have this desire for western fare fulfilled.  Don’t get me wrong there are a few good western style restaurants in the city but their dishes are not quite to the standard that you would get in your home town.  For me it is a roast dinner.

Side note – Aussie readers.  Who remembers this commercial of Naomi Watts (before she was famous) “Mum’s doing a Lamb Roast”.

To follow in Naomi’s footsteps and in light of my drooling desire for a good roast last night we feasted on a leg of lamb with all the trimmings.  We had potatoes and oodles of roasted garlic.  I made a mint sauce (which kind of sucked) and finished it off with peas and carrots.  Finally gravy.  Yes I had some gravy sauce squirrelled away for such an occasion.  I heard the moans in the audience – no I cannot make my own gravy although I have tried on many, many occasions (my mother would be so disappointed in me).  Yes I used the juices, I added the flour and the Vegemite (probably an Australian thing) but my gravy always tastes horrible and lumpy and doesn’t thicken so gravy mix I will continue to use until I become Nigella Lawson.

Speaking of Nigella and again as a cooking show virgin I don’t really know how these things go but honestly this chick is sexing up everything that crosses her plate.  The episode I watched yesterday had her sprouting these beauties “This meat is so soft in my mouth”.  The Turk turned to me in surprise and said, “I bet her husband prefers when the meat is hard”.  Not sure who is more inappropriate Nigella or The Turk!

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“Grow The Feck Up”

There are days when I just cannot do it.  I just cannot “adult”.  It’s a thing you know.  I used to go through it on a Monday morning when I would be getting ready for work.  I would morph into the petulant child.  I become bitter and mean.  I would stand in my living room in my pyjamas and I would stamp my foot.  I would sulk all the way to work while sitting on my bus.  I did NOT want to “adult”.  Now it happens to me when I have to go into a Turkish Government office.

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You may all recall my recent yabanci post; well this is my follow up.  Shortly after that post we lodged my Residency Permit for renewal.  Now I am not going to bore you with all the idiosyncrasies with your RP.  Go to YellAli or Doc Marten for all the information as these are my “go to” websites.  Anyway, we lodged my RP.  We had everything that we needed.  We went over the documents – twice.  The Turk checked it.  I checked it.  His brother checked it (the smart one).  It was perfect.  Done and dusted.  The appointment date was easy to get and I went for my appointment on Tuesday morning.  I knew I had to “adult” but, as mentioned above, I spent my morning sulking, stamping my foot and, well, sometimes I can be just damn difficult.

And I know I have to be on my best behaviour when we get there.  I know that I need to smile and say teşekkür ederim and wish them a merry day despite their gruff behaviour but, honestly, when you know you are going to be ignored, talked about, ignored and spoken to in a manner that is nothing short of condescending and finally, ignored, it makes it very hard for me to “adult”.

Before we stepped through security The Turk whispered to me, “Don’t act like a bitch.”  Awwww.  He knows me so well.

Up to the 3rd floor we went.  We found our door – can you feel the excitement?  The Turk knocks.  In we go.  We stood at the counter while three men sat diligently ignoring us while updating each other on their scintillating personal lives.  We stood.  Patiently.  I counted to “87 Mississippi” before The Turk clears his throat to get their attention.  We have an appointment.  Without even stopping their conversation, without even looking up, one of them did the head flick (you know the one) and “tskked” us before flicking his wrist indicating we go to the desk on the right.  At this point I laughed out loud.  I had to.  How fecking rude is that?  Would this fly in a Government department in your home town.  No it fecking wouldn’t!  I stared at him and said, “Well aren’t you an ass”.  Of course, no one understands so that works out well for me.  The Turk gave me the death stare that would make Emperor Palpatine tremble in his hoodie before turning to the appropriate desk where sitting behind it was a woman who had, by her appearance and demeanour, obviously just caught her husband in bed with a supermodel.  I mean she was practically catatonic.  You could literally taste her despair and melancholy.  Seriously her aura would be a big black cloud of death!  For the sake of this post she will be known as Misery.

Documents were handed over and hurried conversations were had.  Not to me of course but between The Turk and Misery.  After a few false starts (that had us running to the other end of Carsi to obtain additional documents) Misery gave us the all clear and said we were good to go.  The new ikhamet should arrive in 4 weeks.  Yah!!!  Petulant child clapped her hands and skipped out of the building.

Friday morning we were called back into the Government office.  “Don’t wanna”, said I as I wanted to go to the beach with my friends.  Again my other persona of petulant child appeared.  I stamped my foot.  I sulked all the way there in the car.  I was NOT going to “adult”.  We got there.  Before we walked through security The Turk warned me, “Grow Up”.  Alright that was a lie.  What he actually said was, “Grow the feck up”.  (see how I keep this PG-13 after all feck is much nicer to read than FUCK isn’t it?).  I sighed.  Okay.  I can do this.  Taking The Turk’s excellent advice (and knowing that I wanted to get this done so I could go to the beach) I put a big, fat, fake smile on my dial to which The Turk sidelines me with, “Is that your Bitching Rest Face?” Yes.  Yes it is!  We were first through the door on Friday morning.  First through the security check and the first ones up on the 3rd floor.  We were ready for anything.  We sat.  We waited.  It was soooo fecking hot that my ass was sweating freely but I still kept Bitching Rest Face on my dial.  Finally we were called back to see Misery (who was only slightly less miserable in our second encounter).  She pointed at the last page, “Işaret”.  Signature.

Oops!

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Fantasy v Reality

Well it is that time of year again when I hear from those who have fallen head over heels, met their one true love and are looking at moving (or perhaps have already moved) to Türkiye to live the fantasy with their beloved.

Holiday romance

This is the epic love story isn’t it?  This is the love story that The Bard wrote about centuries before, a love more powerful than Napoleon and Josephine and a love that will last through eternity like Jack and Rose.  But just before you go packing your bags and dreaming of a new life in Türkiye with your true love let’s go over what you are getting yourself into – a little bit of a reality check shall we say.

For the sake of this post I am going to assume that you have met your true love in Marmaris or Fethiye or Bodrum (like me).  A holiday romance (like me).  And for the sake of this post I am going to assume that you are female (although no discrimination intended guys).  Finally for the sake of this post I am guessing that your man does not live permanently in Marmaris, Fethiye or Bodrum and instead comes from a small village some 18 hours away (or 12 hours or even 4 hours) where he will return to his family home for the winter months (again like me).

Right – let’s get started.

Can you imagine a life living in a quaint Turkish village?  Would you be happy living with your in-laws, his family, literally surrounded by hundreds of people and yet somehow being incredibly lonely?  Are you ready to immerse yourself entirely into a culture that is incredibly foreign and can be relentlessly unforgiving at times?

Take off the rose coloured glasses people.

Look again at that quaint village?  In daylight what it might really be is a bit of a dump.  If this place was back in your homeland you wouldn’t be caught dead living here.  Right?  Am I right?  I’m right.  Electricity comes and goes.  So does the water.  And speaking of water, is it safe to drink? Maybe.  And those people around you?  Are you merely a slave to wait on them or perhaps you are seen as nothing more than a yabancı and generally get ignored from morning to night.  I am not saying that they are going to treat you like that so don’t start losing your mind and writing me horrid messages, I am saying they might be.  It happens.  You, as the gelin, may be expected to do a lot of running around for the fam bam.  Be prepared for that possibility.

What about that lifestyle you were after?  Do you picture yourself spending your days on the farm, perhaps walking through the quaint village, arm and arm with your love, waving to your neighbours and having time to smell the roses?

That’s not roses you are smelling people – its horse shit, or cow shit, or goat shit, or … well you get the picture … and it is everywhere!

Are you designed to live on a farm or did you grow up in a wing at Buckingham Palace (or in my case Manly Beach).  Trust me when I say the sounds of chickens clucking and cock-a-doodle-dooing is like a jackhammer to my ears and I believe that meat should be purchased from a supermarket and not retrieved from your driveway after Baa Baa was slaughtered before your very eyes.

But you will make allowances after all you will be together with your love.  It will be wonderful.  A happy life.

*Cough, cough*

As long as you realise that he has been working away from home for over six months and, now that he has returned home, he will no doubt need to get another job to continue to support his family (and you) for the next six months until the summer season re-starts.  Work can be scarce for many here in Türkiye.  He will no doubt work extremely long hours leaving you at home with his family or maybe all by yourself.  Perhaps he will disappear for hours to the local cay ev for cards leaving you to stare at the four walls making you feel like your home is your prison cell.  Of course he will need to visit all of his extended family and you will be dragged from home to home like a show pony.  Are you ready for that?

Don’t get me wrong people, I love Türkiye but I arrived here in The Village with my eyes wide open.  I had travelled here every year for a decade before we made the decision to pack up our lives.  I knew what I was getting myself into and I still find it difficult.  Every single day.  Difficult.  If you think that this is going to be your very own Shirley Valentine or Eat, Pray, Love then do yourself a favour and unpack your bag right now, get on the telephone or on Skype or Whatsap and nut out some ground rules for you and your love.

He will need to support you 110%  I don’t mean financially, I mean emotionally.  You have moved here from your comfortable home, from a country that is your mother tongue and you have left your family and your friends behind.  He cannot get angry at you.  He must not get frustrated or ignore you.  You will have questions.  Hundreds of them.  I still do.

You will be lonely.  Thank God for Facebook (don’t diss me I mean it).  Find expats groups.  Find likeminded people.  I know this might be difficult in the small village (I’m the only one in our village) but look in the neighbouring towns.  Some from our expats group here in Mersin come from small villages in the mountains or even from neighbouring cities to spend the day with friends.  Offer to help at the local school.  Your English is a gift to the teachers here.

Really, really do your research.  Find out where you will be living and what it means to live in that area.  If it is a teeny, tiny village you need to throw yourself into that lifestyle wholeheartedly.  Find out what allowances you will need to make – culturally that is.  Will you be living in a conservative area?  Can you do that or do you want to wear your cut-off shorts and to hell with them all?!  Perhaps you will be living with his family.  You will have no privacy.  They will come and re-arrange your drawers or walk into your room unannounced at all hours.  Boundaries.  Draw that line in the sand and make sure he (and his family) abides by it.

Finally a little bit of advice for your partner from me –

This lady is your true love.  She has moved here to be with you.  Don’t make her regret that decision.  Do the right thing.  Treat her with the respect that she deserves.  Treat her like a fecking princess!  She IS a fecking princess!! Spend time with her.  Don’t disappear for hours on end leaving her to your family to entertain.  Help her settle in to her new environment.  Please don’t get agitated at her when she is unsure of herself or of what is going on around her.  Understand the difficulties that she is having with the language barrier or the culture.  Most importantly don’t be a complete douche or you will lose her forever!

Now breathe … and go pack those bags!

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