5 days in Istanbul

Ayasofya columns

I flew to Istanbul for a job interview at a university for an English teaching position. I also spent a couple of days exploring the historic sections of the city, visiting Ayasofya, the Suleyman Mosque, and other areas. Istanbul is a fascinating place, and I barely scratched the surface. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the teaching job, but having a short holliday in the city and sampling some of its delicious food made the trip worthwhile.


Ayasofya from Karakoy ed3 sm

Ayasofya from Karakoy pier


My first view of the old city of Istanbul was from the Karakoy pier, looking across the Golden Horn toward the New Mosque, Ayasofya, and the Blue Mosque. I traveled mainly on foot, crossing the Galata bridge several times, as well as by tram. The sky was deep blue, the sunlight strong, and temperatures warm.

Among my favorite experiences: a huge breafast of eggs, cheese, bread, and olives in Karakoy, eating superb baklava at Karakoy Gulluoglu, observing the huge local cat population, and a side trip to view what remain of Istanbul’s Ottoman-era wooden houses in the Zeyrek area.


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street view in Beyoglu district


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Spice Market



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Ayasofya interior



across the Galata Bridge




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cemetery cat



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baklava at Karakoy Gulluoglu

three days in Bangkok

Street Food at the Weekend Market


My friend and I took a well-deserved short trip to Bangkok over the New Year holiday. Unlike in China, the weather was warm, and the air was clean. This was my first time in Thailand, and everything, from the sky train to the street food, the open-air markets, riding express boats on the river, and the architecture of the temples, was fascinating.

We ate our fill of street food, enjoyed the hot sunshine, and explored both the ultra-modern shopping centers and the narrow lanes of the older quarters. In addition, thanks to The Hairy Bikers Asian Adventure, we visited locally famous restaurant Krua Apsorn (also known as Auntie Daeng’s) twice. The food was superb. I drank lots of Thai iced coffee during the trip to keep up my energy.

The trip was much too short, but a welcome year-end break and an escape from the damp cold of the eastern China winter. It left me wanting to return soon.



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Riding in a Tuk Tuk on the way to the Grand Palace



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Food seller at Train Night Market




Grand Palace 2_opt

Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Grand Palace, Bangkok




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Grilling fish, Train Night Market



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Fried sea bass, Krua Apsorn Restaurant



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Temple of Dawn



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Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Grand Palace, Bangkok


Chao Phraya night_optChao Phraya River at night