Being in Ankara was an opportune moment and not to be missed for me as we had not intended to visit the capital city. Why so? Because we went to all the capital cities of the countries that we visited during our trip. Not visiting Ankara seemed rather a loss to me. We checked out out of the hotel and bade farewell to the manager, Mr. Mustapha who was very helpful and always went out of his way to make our stay comfortable. Before we left, Mustapha said to me that we would be seeing each other again soon. I smiled and answered Insya Allah ( If God Wills) to him.
First stop was the Iranian Embassy. After filling up the forms, the Counsellor Officer told us that it would take 2 working days the earliest for the Visa to be ready and as for Malaysians we are entitled for a Visa On Arrival at the Iman Khomeni Airport. We told them we knew about the latter. The train option to Iran was now not in the picture as our flights from Tehran to Kuala Lumpur would be in the next four days. The train service takes 2 days and it is also subject to delays. Not taking any chances here. We decided then to fly back to Tehran from Ankara as it was only our last available option….sigh….
We stopped at a travel agent at nearby Hilton Hotel to enquire about flights to Tehran and they were two available that night. A direct and another one via Istanbul. We then took a cab to the Malaysian Embassy in Ankara to say “hello” to the officer who assisted us during our time in Ankara. Suddenly I had a sudden change of mind and I asked my travel buddies if it’s okay I stayed on. They were okay with it. Alhamdulilah, (Praise be to Allah) they had no problems with it. We found a travel agent that was recommended by the Malaysian Embassy and both Dato Wan Zali and Hassan booked their tickets to Tehran for tonight flight. I bought lunch for all of us at nearby McDonald’s. We went back to the Malaysian Embassy and thanked the officers who helped us. We then took a taxi to the bus station where we arrived yesterday and I bade farewell to both of them whom I truly enjoyed their companionship during this trip. I sat down and made a few calls to postpone my flight back to Kuala Lumpur. Travel arrangements on my future travels were made and booked, with Istanbul being my next destination. I bought the ticket to Istanbul for tomorrow’s night bus which would take me six hours as told by the ticket operator.
Mustapa was smiling when I arrived at the hotel and said, “See I told u so” and I replied to him, its all Gods will. Amin. After checking in I wandered around Ulus and found that it has one big “souk” (shopping mall) there. There were a lot of shops selling stuff from garments, hardware, paintings and all touristy products plus full of Japanese tourists. Not for me though and I walked on until I found a market for the locals. It was quite interesting as you could see how locals live and carry on with their daily life. Street vendors were yelling trying to sell kebabs to fruits, livestock etc. etc. etc. Haggling between buyers and sellers was heard everywhere. I was enjoying myself until I noticed that I was being followed by two men. Okay…time to go back to the tourist area. Did not want to push my luck and time but to follow my instincts that it was not safe for me then.
Quickly manoeuvred myself to the tourist sector of Ulus and made a getaway to the Polytechnic nearby which has a square with a nice garden and pool, where people spend their evenings playing backgammon and having a cup of Chai (tea ). I too had a cup of chai there and did the normal “people watching” and let the world go by in front of me again.
It was dusk already and I walked back to the hotel and had a good night’s sleep as tomorrow would be a long day I guess with plans made.