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Turkey - Dangers and Annoyances


Forget safety first - in Turkey, safety is the last consideration if it gets a look in at all. Holes in pavements go unmended and unlit at night; precipitous drops go unguarded; safety belts are worn only as long as it takes to drive past a police officer before being released; lifeguards are conspicuous by their absence. Don't even ask yourself how safe it is for a dolmuş driver to be negotiating a bend while simultaneously counting out change! Things are changing slowly in the west, but parents of young children in particular will need to be on their guard at all times.

Wear a money-belt under your clothing and be wary of pickpockets in buses, markets and other crowded places. Keep an eye out for anyone suspicious lurking near ATM machines. The laws against insulting, defaming or making light of Atatürk, the Turkish flag, the Turkish people, the Turkish Republic etc are taken seriously. Be warned that even if such remarks were never made, Turks have been known in the heat of a quarrel to claim that they were, which is enough to get the foreigner carted off to jail.

Unfortunately Turkey has a terrible record when it comes to road safety, which means that you must drive defensively at all times. It's particularly unwise to drive in the dark on country roads where tractors may be ambling along with unlit trailers. When travelling long distances, it's worth paying slightly more to use a company with relief drivers, rather than risk being driven by someone who has been at the wheel for a straight 18 hours.

In high summer mosquitoes can make a stay along the coast a nightmare. Some hotel rooms come equipped with nets and/or plug-in bugbusters but it's a good idea to bring your own mosquito coils to burn as well.

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