Doggy Biscuit

There's a town in Eastern Turkey which has an affectionate place in the hearts of most overland travellers taking the old Silk Road. Its name is Dogubeayzit, or in more popular speak, it’s known as Doggy Biscuit. In common with all frontier towns, there's a bit of a lawless air about it and its bustling market is a hive of activity where a wide range of goods are available, OK, so what if the instructions for your new Nokia phone are all in Farsi or Chinese, it was cheap from the market. We had finally reached this windy, dusty settlement after some cold riding through the mountains of the East, taking in a route following alongside the Armenian border. We’d spent the previous night at Kars, a town that seemed a bit ramshackle in places but will be better known for the fact that although it had numerous sets of traffic lights, none of them worked, creating even more chaos in that maelstrom that passes for traffic movement in Turkey. In fact, in a strange sort of way, it seemed more controlled than usual as actually for a change, people seemed to stop and take note of what the other vehicles were doing and actually tried to anticipate a bit rather than the usual close eyes, accelerate and hope for the best.

Both us and the bikes were covered with mud and dust, we were tired but we definitely needed to see Ishak Pasha, the fortress on the hill above the town. My memories of it from 14 years ago were blown away by the reality of today, I’m not really too sure why I was so surprised at the sheer number of coaches and mini-buses toiling their way up the steep cobbled street to the hilltop location. Nor by the fact that the Turks seem to have completely re-built the old ruins and have put in a glass roof that covers most of it, in fact it barely resembled the place that I had last seen on my very first bike trip. However the views were still stupendous and the photo I took from the hill-top above still made it look impressive, if you ignore the glass roof.

Our hotel was on the outskirts of town and had a great view of an impressively big snow covered mountain which we assumed was Mount Ararat and accordingly took various photos of it. Only to find out the next day that actually Ararat was hiding behind this one.

The bikes were jet washed clean, rumour had it that the Customs Department at the border are very keen to double check chassis and engine numbers, our bikes were so covered in mud that the number plates were barely readable let alone letters less than an inch high.

Have I mentioned yet…our next day’s riding was going to take us over to the dark side and deep into the land of the Ayatollahs and Islamic beer.  Iran is looming.