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In this essay, I will discuss an interesting phenomenon - the issue of male Turkish love rats.

A love rat is somebody who cheats someone of love and money. Actually such 'love rats' can be found all over the world in every single country. But why is it that Turkey - and to a certain extent, men from countries in the Middle East as well as South Asia - are especially well-known for this 'crime'?

And why is it that we seldom heard of male love rats from countries like the US, UK, Canada, Europe etc.?

My argument is that love rats are a by-product of societies in which income disparity prevails and where the majority of the people are prevented by immigration legislation to seek better-paid jobs in foreign countries.

1. The issue of poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunity
Many people who visit Turkey actually have very little idea about the socio-economic conditions of the country. Most people only spend a few weeks in Turkey and the places they visit are either big cities  with plenty of tourist attractions, such as Istanbul or Antalya; one of the tourist places in Central and Eastern Anatolia, or on the country's western and south-western coast.
Most of the European tourists who visit Turkey - pardon me if I say this - are from the working-class background or the lower-middle class background in their home countries. They visit Turkey on an all-inclusive package holiday, do not travel to different cities of Turkey during their visit, and spend most of their time staying within the confines of their holiday hotel or resorts. Many of them do not speak Turkish and do not bother to venture outside of the resort town at which they spend their holidays.
This means: the only Turkish they will ever come to meet are those who speak foreign languages and who work in the tourism industry, namely: hotel staffs, carpet shop/jewellery shop owners, travel agents, waiters, restaurant owners, etc. It is highly unlikely that they will ever meet any ordinary Turkish folk who is not working in any of the above professions, because ordinary Turkish people, who have not lived abroad before, do not usually have a good command of English or other major foreign languages. The presence of language barrier among ordinary Turks and most foreign visitors, coupled with the lack of opportunity for tourists to get to know locals who work outside the tourism business, explains in part the reason why most love rats stem from those who work in the tourism sector).

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Fourteen years after the transition to majority rule, South Africa now face a stern challenge. The outbreak of xenophobic vioence across the Gauteng region this month prove that the current South African government had failed miserably in its mission to provide all South African citizens, regardless of race and colour, with a secure livelihood and a strong sense of democracy.

It is a well known fact that South Africa is now one of the most violent and unsafe countries in the world, with more than 16,000 murders a year. Violent crimes are common place, esepcially in the Townships - slums and informal settlements where the majority of black South Africans still reside.

Many black South Africans are without jobs - the official unemployment figure is 30% and the real unemployment is far far higher - and they lack decent education. While it is true that more and more black Africans have become affluent thanks to the 'Black Empowerment' Programme - a kind of reverse affirmative action - the majority of black Africans are still struggling on a daily basis.

The failure and absolute ineptitude of the current ANC government to address the issue of poverty, AIDS, and prevalence of violent crimes all over the country, suggest that the current political leadership has already served its purpose and should retire from the political scene.
In other words, South Africa of the 21st century needs an entirely new kind of political leadership and political power structure in order to deal with problems that are not heard of during the struggles against the Apartheid in the 1980s and 90s.
Current generation of ANC leaders are mostly in their 70s and 80s, most of them social revolutionaries from the bygone days. Age, in their case however, do not seem to equate with wisdom.
Sadly enough, their political mentality and understanding of what has been going on both within South(ern) Africa and in the wider world are out of date and no longer capable of coping with the current needs of the country/region.
ANC leaders now in power might have contributed to the struggle against the Apartheid during the period 1960-1990s, and their contribution and sacrifice ought to be recognised. But Apartheid days are well over and it is now not racial discrimination that hinders the country's development, but widespread violence and crime problem that put the country on her back foot and seriously threaten to undermine the democratic system in South Africa. It was the black South Africans that suffered under the Apartheid regime; now it IS still the black South Africans that suffer most under the current crime problems. So something must have gone fundamentally wrong. And what is it??

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UPDATE: Good news finally: Greece's Aegean Airlines (http://www.aegeanair.com), a member of the Star Alliance, will launch a direct Athens-Istanbul (Ataturk) daily service, with effect from 09 September 2009. For those who want to visit both Istanbul and the Cyclade Islands within a few days, there is now the option of flying from Istanbul to Mykonos, Santorini, Naxos etc. via Athens.
If you are in Thessaloniki or anywhere in Northern Greece (the province of Macedonia, Thessaly, Thrace) and you want to go to Edirne, Istanbul or anywhere along the Black Sea coast of Turkey, then it is easier to go by bus.
UPDATE: As of January 2011, all train services between Istanbul and Thessaloniki have been suspended.
A) BY BUS: Turkish bus companies Varan and Ulusoy operate long distance inter-city bus that departs Athens, Larissa, Thessaloniki, Alexandroupolis in Greece and drops off passenger at Edirne or Kesan en route to Istanbul.

Check up time-table and schedule at:
http://www.varan.com.tr
http://www.ulusoy.com.tr

Apparently Kamil Koc also operates long distance bus between Greece and Istanbul, but their website does not offer any international time-table. It is advisable to ask details about price and availability at one of their offices in Turkey.
http://www.kamilkoc.com.tr

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It seems there is a growing demand for information about possible transportation links between Turkey and Greece, so I decided to write something about how to get to Greece from Turkey (and vice versa):

The cheapest and easiest way to cross over to Greece from Turkey is by sea using ferries and small passenger boats. As of 2011, following sea routes to seven Greek islands and one mainland destination are available:
- A) Turkey <-> Rhodes:
        -) Marmaris <-> Rhodes Town
        -) Fethiye <-> Rhodes Town
        -) Bodrum <-> Rhodes Town (note: as of March 2011, it is not certain if this route will be resumed for the summer season of 2011 from May - Sept. Please check with http://www.feribot.net  for further details)
       
- B) Turkey <-> Samos
        -) Kusadasi <-> Vathi (Samos)

- C) Turkey <-> Kastelorizo (Meis Adasi)
        -) Kas <-> Kastelorizo

- D) Turkey <-> Symi 
        -) Datca - Symi (Operates on saturdays only. The name of the ferry company which operates the Symi-Datca catamaran is the Dodecanissos Seaways, www.12ne.gr  They have a sales and ticketing agent in Datca. )

- E) Turkey <-> Kos
     -) Bodrum <-> Kos Town
        -) Turgutreis <-> Kos Town
        -) Didim <-> Kos Town
      
- F) Turkey <-> Chios
       -) Cesme - Chios

- G) Turkey <-> Mytilini (Mytilene, Lesvos)
       -) Ayvalik <-> Mytilini
       -) Dikili <-> Mytilini (Note: this ferry service operates 2-3 times a week)
       -) Foca <-> Mytilini (in summer only)

- H) Turkey <-> Piraeus (Athens)
       -) Istanbul <-> Piraeus (note: this is not a scheduled service, please double check with travel agents in Istanbul for further details)
- I) Turkey <-> Patmos (via Turgutreis)
       -) Turgutreis - Patmos: this is a new route which starts operation in May 2011.

- J) Turkey <-> Kalymnos (via Turgutreis)
       -) Turgutreis <-> Kalymonos: this is a new route which starts operation in May 2011.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

1. Marmaris <-> Rhodes (by catamaran,hydrofoil and conventional car ferry)


2. Fethiye <-> Rhodes (by catamaran/hydrofoil)

     --------> For latest Summer 2011 Marmaris - Rhodes - Marmaris time-table and prices, see:
             http://rhodes.marmarisinfo.com/
             http://www.marmarisferry.com/
             http://www.feribot.net
             http://www.yesilmarmaris.com/eng/rhodes,html
For those who want to travel from Rhodes to Marmaris, or to take the Greek registered hydrofoil/ferry departing Marmaris in the afternoon (instead of with the Turkish-registered M/V Marmaris Express or M/F Yesil Marmaris which depart in the morning), please check the following websites for further information, as tickets for the afternoon departure to Rhodes from Marmaris cannot be purchased from travel agents in Turkey unless otherwise stated.
http://www.seaservice.gr/v2/en/index.php?itemID=15

http://www.eferry.gr/en/index.php

http://www.rhodestomarmaris.com


 
 
The International Harbour of Rhodes Town. Ferries and catamarans to and from Turkey depart from there.

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事實上我不是一個很喜歡零食的人,但是土耳其軟糖真的看起來超漂亮的,讓人看了也很想試試看.....

(圖片:http://www.travelblog.org/Photos/  Photo by S. & S. Testa)
這張照片連我看了都心兒亂跳 怪不得C.S.Lewis的長篇故事'那尼亞傳奇'裡的小男孩Edmund,為了這些軟糖,把他的兄弟姐妹都出賣了...


(Photo taken from AMHB Official Website)
五顏六色的軟糖:這裡至少有三,四十種不同的口
味吧??

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到了土耳其,除了一般觀光客常買的皮夾克,地毯這些東西之外,有什麼物品算是土耳其真正的特產呢?

1.) 橄欖+橄欖油
土耳其是全世界數一數二的
橄欖油出產國.愛琴海沿海的橄欖樹品種與西歐其他的主要橄欖油出產國,如西班牙,意大利,法國,希臘,等, 完全不一樣,所以土耳其的橄欖油,在口感,香氣,味道上,都要比西歐其他的產區來得濃厚香純,最適合用來拌沙拉,烹調食品(e.g. 意大利式面食),或者直接塗在面包上配面包吃.
研究顯示,
土耳其愛琴海沿海的橄欖樹品種,如Ayvalik,Izmir等,基因與以色列,敘利亞等國的橄欖樹品種相近;經由冷壓法所榨出來的特級橄欖油(extra-virgin olive oil),酸度低於0.1%,品質屬於橄欖油中最好最上等的,所以價格也要比一般的西歐產橄欖油來得昂貴.
土耳其橄欖油最主要的產區為:
-Marmara Region:包括Balikesir,Ayvalik那附近的區域
-Aegean Coast:Ayvalik,Izmir,Aydin,Nazilli,Mugla區域
其中,Ayvalik又算是土耳其最馳名的產區,不但有自己橄欖樹品種Ayvalik,甚至還有專門的橄欖博物館,展示有關橄欖的歷史,品種,處理程序等項目,興趣人可以去看看.

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打算到土耳其旅遊的朋友,最好不要購買任何貨幣的旅行支票去土耳其使用,因為:
1)旅行支票在土耳其境內非常不容易兌換,幾乎一定要到特定的銀行才能兌換,而且
2)銀行所收的手續費,
是以一張5YTL來計算 (2006年價格,American Express USD 旅行支票,土耳其Garanti Bankasi所收的手續費-其他的銀行手續費也一樣,可能還更貴),而不是以兌換總額的百分比來計算.
這樣一來,就算只換一張50美金的旅行支票,也得被扣5YTL,而且匯率還不是很好,實在太不划算.

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Kas is a little fishing village about 180km southwest of Antalya. Its most famous landmark is the Lycian tombs that still stand in the middle of the town. The town of Kas has a pretty setting, with imposing Taurus Mountains in the background, and beautiful Kekova Bay around the corner.

A traditional Lycian rock tomb in the middle of Kas's Old Town. Pretty Ottoman houses lined the narrow streets in the centre of Kas.

I really like the little balcony of these traditional houses. Nowadays most of the old houses in Kas have been converted into pubs, shops and restaurants catering to the booming tourist trade. When I visited Kas in February 2008, it was still in the off-season, thus most of the shops and bars were still closed.

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一般的人一想到'土耳其逛街血拼',大概會立刻想到水煙管,蘋果茶,地毯,奧圖曼風格瓷器,皮大衣,以及 Grand Bazaar 與 Egyptian Spice Market 所賣的那些可能只有觀光客才會買的東西.
許多人完全不知道,在土耳其其實還有很多其他的東西可以買;土耳其國內也有許多不錯的設計師品牌,不論質感或者時尚感都不輸歐美的設計師.

A) 伊斯坦堡買精品
Istanbul歐洲區的Nisantasi,Sisli,以及Etiler,是愛慕名牌者的天堂.所有想得到的國際精品品牌,在那裡全部找得到.因為Nisantasi,Sisli
等地點的店面租金是全土耳其境內最昂貴的,加上高額進口關稅,因此Nisantasi國際品牌精品店商品的價位,甚至比米蘭,巴黎或者蘇黎士要來得貴.一雙在瑞士蘇黎士的Bahnhofstrasse(蘇黎士最昂貴的高級精品店所在地)以500瑞士法郎可以買到的鞋,在Nisantasi需要至少一倍的價錢才能買到.  
所以嚴格說起來,要買精品的人,應該買一些土耳其本身的設計師所創立的,在別的國家買不到或者不容易買到的品牌,才有意義.
那麼, 土耳其有哪一些值得推薦的牌子?

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While I was still living in Bodrum, Turkey, I had to exit the country once every 30 days due to visa restrictions. The easiest and cheapest way of renewing your Turkish visa is to go to any Greek islands off the Turkish coast, and return on the same day - in the case of Bodrum, the nearest Greek island is Kos.
But after a few times going to Kos on a day trip (plus Schengen hopping visa excursion), I thought it was time to try out other nearby islands too. So I looked at the map and visit all of them one by one.
Chios caught my attention because of two things:
1. Legend has it that Homer was born in Volissos, Chios. Whether this is true or not, is still being disputed by historians, but at least it has been recognised by all authorities that Homer had indeed spent a long period of time residing on Chios.
2. Chios is home to a very unique plant species: Mastic gums (a.k.a. Mastiha, or pistachia lentiscus var. Chia). This is a funny plant: although it could be found in many places across the world, only those grown in the southern half of the island of Chios release resin that has a special armoatic flavour when cut. Those that are grown elsewhere - even on the northern half of Chios - do not release any aromatic resin when cut. Until now nobody can explain why this plant behaves in such a way. Some Japanese scientists had transplanted some mastic trees with soils from Chios to Japan and still the plant refuse to yield any resin as soon as it is out of the southern half of Chios.
As a result, Chios has the virtual monopoly over the highly lucrative mastic trade eversince the Roman times. Despite being ruled by different Empires (Romans, Ottomans etc.), Chios was always given preferrential treatments and semi-autonomous status, thanks to its monopoly of mastic production. Chios mastic is also one of the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) products as well as a protected geographical indication (PGI) name.


A nice cafes in the fairly affluent Mastic village of Pirgi, southern Chios. The production of mastic on Chios has been controlled by cooperatives and 24 so-called 'Mastic villages' in the southern half of the island. Most of the mastic villages have a fairly well-preserved medieval village centre. Pirgi, for instance, is famous for its painted facades, frescos and walls that signify the mast amount of wealth accumulated from the mastic trade. Because the price of mastic has remained stable in the past decades, Chios is one of the few Greek islands that is not dependent upon tourism as its main source of income. As a result, there are neither big hotels nor well-developed tourist resorts on Chios. It was in fact fairly difficult to get any accommodation on the island which cost less than 40 euro per person per night.

Fresh tomatoes hanging on the balcony: this is a common sight at Chios mastic villages.

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After spenting one week in the really really beautiful village of Molivos on the island of Lesbos, I decided to move on to the next island - Limnos (Lemnos), because I read it somewhere that the harbour of Myrina at Limnos is one of the prettiest harbours in Greece.
Because the cheapest hotel accommodation I could find online prior to my arrival on Limnos was more than 70 euro per night, I thought it would make sense to look for cheaper alternatives once I arrived. This turned out to be a grave strategic error, as I found out (after walking around the whole town for more than an hour) that all hotels on Limnos were booked out because it was a major holiday week in Greece: even the most expensive hotel on the island, where I had to pay 90 euro for a single room, was fully booked. Since I am not the kind of person to stay overnight on a bench near the harbour, I decided to take the night ferry to Thessaloniki one day earlier than planned and sleep on the Thessaloniki-bound ferry instead.
The overnight ferry from Mytilini arrived early in the morning at 0700 and I was a bit disappointed by the view of Myrina. The harbour is quite pretty but it is not as beautiful as I had imagined: it looks more Irish in terms of flaire than Aegean (if you know what I mean). The white washed houses, with outdoor cafes (still closed when I arrived) and little lanes remind me of some seaside villages in County Kerry, Ireland. Even the shopfronts and the way houses are laid out around the town are really Irish-like. There are a few taverns next to the little fishing harbour but it was so early in the morning, everything was quiet.
Once I came to the conclusion that no accommodation whatsoever was available on this island on that particular day, I decided to enjoy myself a bit before the overnight trip on a ferry for a second time in two days. I found a nice cafe on top of the hill overlooking the pretty bay near Myrina and spent at least 3 hours there sipping coffee and admiring the scenery:

Another side of the bay, with hotels and guesthouses (all of them fully booked!) - and nice cafes and taverns along the waterfront. It would have been lovely to spend a few days on this island.

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Walking on the streets of Bozcaada reminds me of Lemnos (Limnos), the Greek island not too far away west of Bozcaada. Both places have a very typical North Aegean flaire, with wind swept cliffs, rocky pebble beaches, brightly coloured houses and a very wild, rugged landscape.

I love the stark sense of contrast and solitude as expressed by this photo.

A while ago there were talks of a direct sea link using passenger ferries between Bozcaada and Mytilini, Lesbos, but the plan fell through at the last minute, because the Turks refused to open up Bozcaada for international traffic, citing the lack of customs facilities at the little harbour. Unconvincing as the excuse was, it was evident to anyone with some knowledge of the troublesome not-so-distant history between Greece and Turkey that any direct sea traffic between Bozcaada and Greek territory would bring back problematic memories of events in the 1920s.

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大多數人在希臘坐船,選擇船班時,注意的事情不外乎價錢,班次時間,船班舒適度等等,很少看到有人考慮渡輪安全性的問題.其實這是一個非常重要的因素,因為希臘是西歐國家當中唯一允許船齡超過三十年的老船繼續在它的海域中營運(包括客運)的國家.有一些目前還在載客的渡輪,已經有許多次安全檢查不及格,或者渡輪在海上航行時發生機械故障等負面記錄.所以在這裡要提醒大家,在希臘選擇船班時應該要注意的事項:


A)船齡越新的越好–雖然新船的票價會比老船來得貴,但是一分錢一分貨,因為新船的逃生設備與機械功能都要比老船來得好,所以在海上航行時發生機械故障的可能性相對的也較低.而且新船的設計,有考慮到如果一旦發生船難,必須棄船時,船體本身不會太快沉沒,以讓乘客能夠多一些時間逃生.相反的,許多老船不但機件時常故障,連逃生設備也過時,不足以應付緊急狀況,而且老船的設計,像鐵達尼號一樣,一旦發生船難,在幾分鐘之內就會開始沉沒,嚴重影響乘客逃生的機率.....


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