I hope your week’s going well! Instead of writing you from Bali, Indonesia…I’m now writing you from Alanya, Turkey!
Alanya is a city located in Antalya Province in the south of Turkey. Total population is only about 300,000. It’s still tourist season here and the weather is very pleasant! Let me share with you my experience moving from Bali to Alanya. It was actually easier than I thought!
The pandemic has changed the way we travel. We can still travel…safely. Please do not ask me about countries where no one cares if you wear a mask or not. If you’re planning on traveling and/or considering living abroad then take the proper precautions for your health and the health of others. Now that I got that out of the way….
It was a bit unnerving trying to time my PCR test perfectly so I could board the plane from Bali AND take the bus from Istanbul to Alanya. The test must be taken within 72 of flying with Turkish Airlines, but it must be taken within 48 hours for buses. Ugh.
I ended up getting my PCR test, at the latest time possible the night before my flight, at Saline Bali in Seminyak, Bali. They are one of the approved places to get a PCR test IN ORDER TO FLY. This is very important if you are on Bali. If you want to fly out, you must get a PCR from a government approved place.
Then I went back to my humble two bedroom house I was renting for $280/month in Pererenan and started blasting Bon Jovi (don’t judge me) while packing up my stuff.
It was very stressful trying to sleep and worying about the results of my PCR test. I was being cheap as I could’ve paid double and gotten the results in one day. Still, it worked out. My flight was at 15:55 and the results were back at 11:00…NEGATIVE. YIPEE!!!!!!!
Called my taxi to take me to Ngurah Rai airport. Sadly, the owner, a grumpy old git who was married to local woman half his age, didn’t even say “goodbye” or wish me a safe flight. I was renting from him for seven months and left the place spotless. It just goes to show you not everyone has manners and we can’t expect people to behave the way we feel is correct. Perhaps some people were just born to be negative sacks of shit their whole life. Eh.
At Bali’s airport, it was very orderly! I was asked for my PCR test, they scanned the barcode, and waved me through. Easy peasy. Since I spent almost two years on the island, I couldn’t speak some Indonesian. My two bags were about 32 kgs…only 30 kgs were allowed. My carry on was stuffed with books, clothes, and my laptop. The man was very nice and didn’t even care about the extra 2 kgs. However, I had a feeling if I wasn’t my usual charming self, he would’ve tried to charge me. Remember…always be polite.
Be prepared..the airports will be SUPER HOT due to an attempt to control the virus. Apparently, it travels less in hot weather.
So…flight itinerary was this : Bali>Jakarta>Istanbul. Then the adventure of catching the bus from Istanbul airport after a 13 hour long flight and swollen ankles. Still, it wasn’t as bad as before isnce I’ve learned to increase my magnesium intake before flying. It will help you with fatigue and help prevent blood clots. Stretch your legs during during long flights and massage your ankles in a circular motion.
I highly recommend Turkish Airlines and Garuda Airlines. Book directly through them for the best service!
Back to the bus. It was not easy trying to navigate Ataturk airport with three heavy bags. You must pay 1 TYL to use a cart, but you get the money back. I didn’t bother to get a refund. Who does? The airport staff were not helpful, sadly. No one smiled and they told me to get the bus…at information. No number…no platform…just get the bus. Um…okay. Not a good start to my new country.
Then a really nice local man saw how lost I was and literally on the verge of tears with sweat running down my sleep deprived face. He said that the information desk are like that to everyone (Um…Ataturk Airport…work on customer service please!) and he helped me with the cart and took me directly to bus 5, bound for Esenler-Otagar bus station.
TIP: If you’re saving cash and don’t want to shell out a fortune to get out of Ataturk airport…then go to the ground floor and ask, “Otobüs … lütfen.” You’re asking, “Bus to ….please.” The bus cost me 27 TYL/$2.91 USD. Oh…you can pay with your debit card on the bus and there is no additional charge!
Had a lovely rest on the bus and occasionally looked out at Istanbul. The route to the bus station isn’t exactly scenic, so I went back to sleep. Once there, it was a bit overwhelming. Four men approached me and shouted at me…
“Ankara? Antalya? Bursa?”
It reminded me of arriving at HCMC airport and being swarmed by taxi drivers. As a Chicago native, I’ve never took kindly to men shouting at me. Chitown Becca almost came out. hahahahahahaha
Again, a lovely local woman helped me and she helped me choose the right guy.
TIP: Esenler/Otogar bus station. Prepare yourself to be approached by men fro different bus companies. He’ll cary your bags and take you to a booking company. He gets a small amount for each person he gets to buy a ticket and expects a small tip from you. Between 7-10 TYL is enough.
I decided on taking a bus with Buzlu. You will be asked to provide your HES code, proving you’re vaccinated or Covid-19 negative, before boaridng the bus. It’ doen’t need to be printed out. Just show your phone. The ticket TO Alanya was 165 TYL as opposed to another man trying to offer the same route for 200 TYL. The ticket should be between 150-180 TYL and NO MORE.
None of the buses have bathrooms. I highly advise using the toilet at the bus station and hydrating yourself appropriately before getting on the bus. He will stop every 1.5-2 hours so you can use the toilet and get a snack. I think the stops were mainly so the bus drivers could smoke. hahahahahaa
-I had to pay 1-2 TYL to use the toilet. Be sure to have small change as they usually can’t change big bills.
-There are literally no vegan options at the bus stations. Stock up on your food before you get on long bus rides!!!! I’m not a vegan, but I like to like eat mainly veggies, grains, and fruits. Still, the bus stations offered no fruit or salads. Meat, meat and more meat. Sweets and candies. I ended up eating Doritos and almonds for 13 hours.
TIP: You can charge your phone on the bus! There is no wifi despite bus companies telling you there is. Some stations had wifi, but you need a Turkish number to use it. If you need to let your hotel know of your arrival, then ask someone if you can use their phone as a hotspot for a few minutes. 🙂
The bus was scheduled to arrive in Alanya at 22:00. It ended up getting there at 23:45.
I was dead tired and made a message asking the taxi driver to be kind enough to take me directly to my place for 20 lira. If the distance is short, then 20 TYL is the usual minimum amount to pay. I probably could’ve walked there, but my bags were heavy.
Warning: There is a problem with some unscrupulous bus drivers in Alanya. Some might try to take you the long way round and rig their meters to go up quickly. It’s best to take a photo of the license for your protection and report the driver. Plus, they have an “air” about them which pisses me off. They wouldn’t be so high and mighty if the BiTaksi app was here. They’d be out of a job. I love to support local businesses, but their behavior tarnishes the beauty of this place.
This is one reason why I’m walking everywhere!
In short…local people are very helpful..if they don’t work in the tourist sector. The women are especially lovely and considerate. Download Sesli Sözlük for quick Turkish translation help.
Next article will be about life in Alanya and trying to get set up for a long-term stay. I’ll also talk about why I chose this city.
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