Announcement: Kabataş Pier in Construction

Hey guys, I just want to inform you that Kabataş Pier is currently under construction for the Metro M7 Line (Kabataş – Mahmutbey) which will connect Kabataş to Mecediyekoy onwards directly. What’s in Mecediyekoy? One of my favourite shopping mall in Istanbul, Cevahir Shopping Mall! It used to be the biggest shopping mall in Europe.

For those who had been in Istanbul, and had experienced the Tramvay, Funikuler & Metro M2 (Yenikapi – Hacisoman Line), there is no direct metro from Sultanhamet to Mecediyekoy, in fact you have to make the interchange in Kabataş; from tramvay to funikuler, and from funikuler to metro. So the governement decided to build a new metro line in Kabataş and make it easier and faster for the folks to travel (and save more money of course, yay!)

Because of the construction, Kabataş Pier had been closed to public and it will only be opened again once it is finished. The metro line is expected to complete by 2018. The new Metro M7 Line (Kabataş – Mahmutbey) stations will be as follows:

  • Kabataş (transfer to: T1, F1, İDO)
  • Beşiktaş
  • Darphane
  • Fulya
  • Mecidiyeköy (transfer to: Metrobüs, M2)
  • Çağlayan
  • Kağıthane
  • Nurtepe
  • Alibeyköy
  • Yeşilpınar
  • Veysel Karani
  • Akşemsettin
  • Kazım Karabekir
  • Yenimahalle
  • Karadeniz Mahallesi (transfer to: T4)
  • Tekstilkent
  • Yüzyıl
  • Göztepe
  • Mahmutbey (transfer to: M3)


So guys,  again please be reminded that if you wish to visit Princes’ Island, you will need to take the boat from Eminönü instead from now, since Kabataş Pier is closed. Hope this helps. Adiós!

#island #istanbul #travelblog #backpacking #budgettravel


Caravanserai: The Hans of Grand Bazaar And Where To Find Them

Caravanserai, the 1st time I’ve heard this word was in 2008 when I came to Turkey for touristic purposes (gosh I sound like I am applying for residence permit!). It was the name of one of few well known restaurant which offers you marvelous belly dancing & other folks’ dances and songs performances while you indulge in your delicious meal. (God, now I sound like I’m selling tours, lol!) 

Back then I didn’t know much about the Silk Road, Turkish culture nor Seljuk history. I didn’t even bother to ask what is caravanserai. I am ashamed to say that I was indeed – ignorant. After living in Istanbul for quite some times, I realized that caravanserai plays an important part in Turkish history. There are many caravanserais all over Turkey, and the biggest one in Turkey is the Sultanhani in Aksaray, which is located on the old Silk Road, heading to Konya.

Okay, what do we know about hans aka caravanserai? They are actually inns for traveling merchants in the olden days. Caravanserai were available everywhere, covering North Africa, Asia, and Southeastern Europe especially along the Silk Road. So basically, in modern day han or caravanserai would be known as roadside motels but with more sophisticated functions, there are rooms to sleep, free services to look after the animals and feed them and also open flea market at the same time. In Turkey itself there were hundreds of caravanserai along the Silk Road and they were all free of charge for the 1st 3 days only. All caravanserais have the same architecture, they all look like a castle, with tall wall surrounding it and there’s always one pavillion mosque for the travelers to perform their prayers in. The government will provide all security guards, imam (for prayers), and general workers to keep the caravanserai running for free. Of course these people got paid by the government, but the government were not making money from the caravanserai itself.

So caravanserai, han, which is which? Well, they are basically the same thing. Caravanserai (Kervansaray in Turkish) is a word originating from Persian language and it was used for huge inn, served as road station outside of towns. However, the smaller inn built inside a town is called by its Turko-Mogolian name, Khan. As time goes by the Turks also started calling it as Han. Since there is no such letter as ‘Kh’ in Turkish language, the Turks find it hard to pronounce it; thus the omission of the 1st letter, ‘K’.

One of many interesting things I have heard about caravanserai or han in the olden days, traveling merchants will drop in, keep their donkey or other animals and belongings there while they have their goodnight rest, but still thievery was something very uncommon. Interesting right? We are now living in a world where we have our doors and gates locked but still people break into your house to rob – Tsk, shame.

Septa Unella Game of Thrones

During Seljuk time, the government assured all people that they can stay in the caravanserai safely, without having to worry if their belongings will be stolen. Sort of like insurance guarantee I must say. It was so safe that the people during those time used to say, ‘nothing will happen to you even if you travel from Izmir to Van with a pot of gold on your head’. ‘Aw, come on! There must be some cases?’ I know some of you will probably be saying this, but as part of the insurance for staying in the caravanserai, if such cases occur, the government will gather all the people from that particular area (to which the caravanserai belongs to) and collect money from everyone to reimburse the person whom his belongings or animals got stolen. But of course, in case of fatality, then there’s nothing can be done for the reimbursement apart from catching the killer. But until now, no such cases had been documented. Cool system I must say.

Okay, end of Caravanserai 101 – Introduction. Let’s move on to Caravanserai: The Hans of Grand Bazaar and Where to Find Them. Okay for those who don’t know what is a Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi), it’s one of the famous closed bazaar in Istanbul. There are approximately around 4000 shops in Grand Bazaar, along with its hidden hans.

Many of them are dedicated to particular staff, small and most are run-downs. However there are few that you still can visit safely. Below is the simplified map of Grand Bazaar along with the hans that I found online.


Istanbul Grand Bazaar Map (credit to original owner)

So, go ahead, try the map and enjoy exploring the hans of Grand Bazaar! Till we meet again next time, and – out!

Madame Tussauds Made Its Way To Istanbul

Hi guys! Great news! The famous Madame Tussauds has finally made its way to Istanbul, Turkey! Located at one of the most happening spot in Istanbul, Taksim is sure not just home to Madame Tusssauds Istanbul but also a home to hundreds of famous brand stores such as Mango, H&M, Zara and many more!

For those who didn’t know, Madame Tussauds is a wax museum in London with branches in a number of major cities. Madame Tussaud’s is famous for displaying waxworks of famous people from all around the world. Founded by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud, It used to be known as “Madame Tussaud’s”. Now, Madame Tussaud’s is a major tourist attraction in not just in London, but also in many big cities around the world. displaying waxworks of famous people. Now, Madame Tussaud’s is not just available in London, but it has its branches in all over the world.

Apart from this, all hotels in Istanbul are currently having a major discounts in their price. So now is your chance! Grab your suitcase and come and join us in Istanbul!







Santa Claus

Instant Fun Fact: Santa Claus Was Born in Turkey

Well who doesn’t know this famous guy?

‘A joyous, white-bearded man, sometimes with spectacles and wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots and who carries a bag full of gifts for children.’Wikipedia

During Christmas’ eve many children around the world will go to sleep excitedly waiting for this guy to swing by and drop their most anticipated gift. Well, the heart wants what it wants. According to the rumor, Santa will come and drop the present for only well behaved children. But do you know that the modern Santa Claus figure is derived from a historical Greek Bishop figure, who was born in Myra, Turkey which is known as Demre today?

Myra, Turkey

Santa Claus, or the Saint Nicholas of Myra, was born on 15 March 270 and passed away at the age of 73 years old. He was born from a Greek Family during the Roman Empire. He was in fact born from a rich family. According to the Wikipedia, he made it a practice on his feast day, which is on 6th December in the Gregorian calendar, to give present in secret, such as putting coins in the shoes for people who had left them out for him.

Well, who would’ve guessed? Ho~ ho~ ho~

Perangai Pelik Orang Kita Bila Ke Luar Negara… (Malay)

Ok, aku x sure bangsa lain macam ni atau x, tapi sebab aku Melayu, aku nak cerita pasal bangsa aku sendiri yang mana setengahnya ni berlagak x kena tempat…


Dari pengalaman aku sendiri, dah ada berapa ekor dah kenalan or total strangers yang aku encountered sendiri buat perangai ni, old friend, neighbours, office colleague, total strangers you name it.

Type 1 – Tak Suka Terserempak Sesama Melayu
Korang pernah jumpa x jenis ni? From my own experience, jenis ni yang paling banyak aku jumpa. Jenis yang bila nampak sama2 melayu, dia cepat2 pandang ke lain buat2 x nampak, and mak pun dengan gembiranya nampak melayu, terus tegur dan bagi salam. Dah bagi salam, jawab salam pulak alahai… Nampak sangat senyum dibuat2 dan terus pandang ke lain agaknya dalam hati tu sebut; ‘Ala… Jumpa orang melayu la pulak!’ Selalunya yang perempuan perangai macam ni, yang pasangan diorang pun agaknya segan sebab xnak nampak biadap, teruskan la jugak conversation yang hidup segan mati x mahu… Phrase yang paling best saya pernah dapat;

‘Dah berapa lama duduk sini? Oh 2 tahun ke? Takde la lama sangat!’…

Hmm excuse me? Berapa lama dah ko duduk sini? *smh*

Jack Sparrow WTF

Type 2 – Denial: Buat2 Tak Tahu / Tak Kenal Member Sendiri Yang Duduk Di Luar Negara
Bagi aku la, jenis ni la paling x semenggah sekali. Apa masalah diorang ni agaknya ya? Datang berjalan ke luar negeri, ada member atau kenalan lama yang memang dah menetap di sana bertahun2, apa salahnya kalau xnak jumpa pun at least give them a heads up? It doesn’t hurt right? Ok, aku paham kalau member tu berlagak, but yang aku selalu kena adalah;


  • Kenalan datang Istanbul
    Aku dapat tahu melalui FB post gambar Istanbul and komen2 yg berjela2 tentang gambar terbabit
  • Aku komen dengan baiknya dan gembiranya tengok member lama datang Istanbul dengan harapan maybe we can catch a chat or two (ye la baik hati sangat kan, nak bawak jalan2 around Istanbul for free, walhal aku ambik upah kot untuk orang yang aku x kenal sebenarnya!)
  • Member abaikan komen aku dan terus menerus reply komen2 lain, Mungkin sebenarnya dia x suka saya?

Case 1: Tapi, masa aku datang wedding dia happy je dengan gembiranya sambut aku dan bergambar?
Case 2: Tapi, dia reply je komen2 aku dekat gambar2 lain dengan baik, xde pulak rasa dia sebenarnya menyampah dengan aku?
Case 3: Tapi, masa kat ofis dulu boleh je kita lepak makan lunch sama2 dan bila aku balik Malaysia hari tu boleh je dia siap ikut hang out mengopi sama2?

  • Dapat tahu dia balik ke Malaysia balik oleh post check in kat airport dengan status ilahi, i.e: ‘Alhamdulillah dah selamat sampai ke tanah air sendiri!’


rolling eye.gif

Type 3 – Aku ke Kau Yang Duduk Di Istanbul?
Hahaha type ni memang kelakar, ok aku setuju maybe sebab dia banyak google dan baca dari blog2 travelers lain jadi dia banyak dig info pasal Istanbul or Turkey before dia datang. But bila kadang2 aku betulkan info2 yang dia dapat tu dan propose dengan something yang lebih membina or actually worth it, mereka abaikan.

Yang x boleh tahannya, kadang2 info about culture atau apa2 bende lain yang dia baca tu x betul pun, tapi beria2 pulak dia berdebat. Pendek kata jenis ni jenis bodoh sombong.

Aku tinggal ko kat celah2 area Umraniye tu kang baru ko tahu! Balik sendiri!

Type 4 – Nak Makan Makanan Melayu 24/7
Ni pun satu hal jugak ni, dah nama pun traveling kan, kalau setakat travel jauh2 setakat nak ambik selfie, xnak cuba langsung makanan local, baik duduk Malaysia senyap2… Sanggup bawak Maggie dari Malaysia banyak2 makan Maggie seminggu sebab x leh masuk makanan Turki…

Let me tell you one thing, makanan Turki ni macam makan Arab jugak, they share the same palette… Kalau dekat Malaysia tu korang excited sangat makan makanan Arab, apsal pulak x leh makan makanan Turki? Come on la, Izgara (grill) kat Turkey ni macam BBQ kot, kat rumah korang boleh plak korang ber BBQ?

Di sini la secebis bab type 3 aku nak masukkan sekali, katakan la ko x leh masuk jugak makanan Turki no matter what, dengar la nasihat aku bagi tau kedai2 lain di Istanbul, makanan Uyghur ke, Cina ke, India ke, Nasi mandi ke… Ni x nak dengar jugak… Kedai mamak or nasi arab kat Malaysia ko boleh pergi pulak? Ok bersangka baik, maybe dia x cukup duit, I can understand that. But seriously, ada je yang jenis terlebih mampu pun masih buat perangai ni!

but why
Type 5 – Penyakit Was Was
Ok type ni pulak ok sikit dari type 4, tapi still dia bawak jugak ke’Melayu’an dia ke Turki. Bila nak pergi makan, dia akan tanya, ‘halal x?’ Dude, Turkey ada population of 70 Million people, dan 98% adalah Muslim. Sini memang rata2 food halal. Pendek kata, nak cari makanan halal di Turki adalah lagi senang dari nak cari makanan halal di Malaysia!

‘Tapi kedai ni jual arak?’ is another form of question yang selalu saya dapat. One thing korang kena ingat. Orang Turki walaupun Islam, diorang memang minum arak macam minum Cola. FULL STOP. X kira la dia Islam ke x, diorang memang minum arak. Ada yang x minum, tapi banyak lagi yang minum! So kalau jumpa kedai makanan jual arak, sila jangan over takut sangat, diorang minum arak, tapi diorang x campur dalam makanan macam western food or chinese food.

‘Tapi gelas dia guna tu gelas bekas arak!’ Ok, jenis ni sila jangan travel, duduk je Malaysia diam2… Gelas arak, selalunya gelas lain, dia x pakai gelas yang sama dengan gelas Cola, or gelas air kosong. Tapi kalau ada pun yang jenis pakai gelas sama dengan Red Wine tu, slalunya tempat high class, tapi yang minded macam ni selalunya xde la pun sampai nak ke kedai2 macam tu.

By the way, gelas yang bekas arak tu, kalau ko basuh dengan detergen and bilas pun dah cukup dah… ‘Eh, kalau dia basuh x bersih?’ Again, sila duduk Malaysia diam2, jangan travel.

I regret nothing.jpg
Type 6 – Cheapskate
Yang ni pun kronik. Suka bargain… Jangan ko bawak penyakit Chow Kit tu ke sini… Agak2 la nak bargain pun, kalau sampai masuk dalam kedai ada brand pun ko nak bargain… Memang aku pun malu beb! Makan midye dolma tepi jalan pun nak bargain, beli simit nak bargain, aku bawak ko shopping kat Tahtakale ko bargain beria2 dengan penjual kat situ, serious aku yang paham bahasa Turki ni malu bila dia maki ko bersepai, rasa nak lari jauh2! Belum lagi bile penjual tu jeling aku semacam sebab bawak pembeli macam ni…


  • Midye Dolma: Kupang inti nasi harga dalam 0.50TL untuk size kecik and 0.75TL untuk yang besar
  • Simit: Roti bagel sesame, harga sekeping 1TL
  • Tahtakale is one of the cheapest area in Istanbul, wholesale area for locals

picard face palm.gif

Type 7 – Terlebih Ramah
Yang ni aku dah x reti nak nasihat macam mana. Kalau di area Sultanahmet tu please do not speak to strangers. Jangan layan pun, kalau dia tegur apa pun buat bodoh je. Why? Sebab kat situ sangat ramai conmen. Dia akan pancing korang dengan macam2 taktik, contoh;

‘I have been to Malaysia!’
‘Dari Malaysia? Nenek saya duduk kat Malaysia!’
‘Kawan saya kawin dengan orang Malaysia!’
‘I love Malaysians, saya nak kawin dengan orang Malaysia!’

Just walk away, don’t say a word, never response. Diorang ni akan guna macam2 taktik untuk get you engage in conversation dan nanti ko mudah terjebak. So please. Dah ramai yang kena, so don’t add yourself to the statistic.

One Does Not Simply Talk to Strangers.jpg

Tapi dalam banyak2 type ni, yang paling aku x boleh bla adalah type 2. It really gets on my nerve. X payah la sombong and berlagak sangat, dunia ni Allah punya. Bukan ko sorang je travel, berlambak lagi manusia lain travel. X payah la nak rasa macam kami yang duduk di sini ni will ruin your holiday mood.

Contoh macam aku, jangan kata member, orang yang x jadi amik tour package, yang aku x pernah kenal pun aku boleh bawak belanja lepak kat Mado makan Kunefe siap… Bukan nya kalau ko datang jumpa aku, aku nak mengemis dari ko pun… Alasan seperti ‘sorry la Wanie, aku busy kat sana, x sempat nak jumpa’ memang x bley terima langsung. Sebab ko datang bercuti, aku kerja kot, boleh cari waktu luangkan masa untuk jumpa kawan lama, apa kejadah ko yang bercuti tu lagi busy dari aku? Ntah ke aku kena bawak client malam ke? Kalau betul busy pun, balas komen aku kat gambar ko or mesej aku explain ringkas pun aku paham, save me ur lame excuses please.

Kudos to those yang datang sini and walaupun x pernah kenal aku selama ni tapi sanggup find a time to meet with me under recommendation of your friends or acquiantances. You guys rock!

What about you? Apa jenis perangai orang Melayu yang x semenggah yang korang pernah jumpa waktu travel?

A Walk to Remember: Princes’ Island (Büyükada)

If you ever visit Istanbul, make sure you have Büyükada in your must visit list. Büyükada literally means The Big Island. But, Büyükada is also widely known as the Princes’ Island among the tourists. However, please note that Büyükada is just one island among 9 islands in the cluster. This group of island is actually called as Princes’ Islands. It consists of 4 large islands along with 5 small ones:

Princes’ Islands (Descending according to their mass area):

 The Larger Islands:

  • Büyükada (Big Island; this is it, this is the one you must visit!)
  • Heybeliada (Saddlebag Island)
  • Burgazada (Fortress Island)
  • Kınalıada(Henna Island)

The Smaller Islands:

  • Sedef Adası (Mother of Pearl Island)
  • Yassıada (Flat Island)
  • Sivriada (Sharp Island)
  • Kaşık Adası (Spoon Island; LOL!)
  • Tavşan Adası (Rabbit Island)

The best season to visit Büyükada is during April – August. Of course in spring, Büyükada is a home to many colorful flowers which can be found at many classic, Victorian wooden houses on the island.However if you wish to enjoy autumn view in Büyükada, you can also visit the island during August – November.

How to get to Büyükada? There is only one way, which is by boat (well unless you own a private helicopter or you wish to swim all over!) But the easiest and most common way is to catch the boat at the Kabataş pier. From there, depart for Büyükada and you will enjoy a cruise for about 1 hour 30 minutes or even 2 hours to the island (those with mild sea sick, beware, bring a vomit bag or something, just in case!)

Me personally are in a love hate relationship with Büyükada. I love going there, but I hate the fact that I have to wake up really early for it. Because in order to be there at the best time, we will have to catch an early boat to the island. Now, when I say early, the boat will leave as early as 08:40am in the morning. And in order to catch that boat, I have to leave from my home as early as 07:20am in the morning!

And another downside of it, the boat trip to the island are not as frequent as few minutes apart, they are within around 1hour++ interval between each departures. So, if you missed the trip, you will need to wait for quite a while before you can get on the next one.

Timetable for Kabatas – Kadikoy – Adalar Titanic Ship

There are few piers that you can go for to catch the boat to the island. However, the most common one will be from Kabataş pier. And there are few companies that offer a trip to the island, but of course the cheapest one will be the big yellow and white Titanic look alike ship. Please do not buy the jeton (token), they cost 5.50TL which is about 1.83$ USD. Instead, get a hold of the Istanbul Kart (which you can get easily at newspaper kiosk at many tramvay stop for 6TL = 2$ USD). With Istanbul Kart, you will be able to refill this card and use it repeatedly for not just 1 person but for few persons at the same time! And the charge imposed per person with this card is only 4.40TL = 1.47$ USD. Yep, save that 1TL and buy yourself a simit (sesame bagel) instead. And, you can also use this card with the tramvay, metro, metrobus, otobus & furnicular. For more details about public transportations in Istanbul, please check my previous post.


This is the Titanic ship that I am talking about

So what about other companies? Well, they are charging around 5-6TL per trip, no discount and you can’t use Istanbul Kart, cash only. But the advantage of these boat is their departure time is different compared to the Titanic ship! So for those who missed the trip with the Titanic ship and don’t want to wait, you can always hop on this boat instead and make your way to the island without wasting your precious time.

The boat will make a stop at few other islands before it will make it final stop at the Büyükada. So use this time and have your own photo shoot session in the meantime. And I mean on the boat, do not disembark from the boat at all cost. But please, refrain yourself from losing all control. You see, you still need those memory space for photos once you reach Büyükada later, right?

The bigger question. Why do I have to suffer this 2 hours journey with a cramp on my sweet gluteus maximus on a boat just to get to this island? What is it with this island? Let me tell you something. Büyükada is famous for its lush of nature, antique Victorian like wooden house and fresh air since there is no car allowed on this island (well, except for the manure part). The only car you could find there, either belong to the police, or for small  construction purposes. Do I hear you asking how do people get from one place to another on this island? They use phaeton. A horse carriage just like in Cinderella story, except not as luxury and it’s real! (with smell and all)


Phaeton ride in Büyükada

One thing that I always see at Büyükada, from the happy face of the young children, until the happy face of an old couple… They all tend to wear the same thing. The flowery head wreath. Sold for about 5TL, I must say that get one of these beauties for yourself, wear it on your head proudly and ride on that Phaeton feeling like a princess! (beware of the opportunist, they can try to sell it at more expensive price!)

Ok, so the Phaeton will cost you around 77TL per cart, which can hold up to 4 people. There are 2 common tours that tourist normally take, the long or the short one. 77TL is for the short tour, which will last for around 45 minutes (6-7 km in total). They will take you around the island and give you a small break of 10 minutes halfway during the trip where you can make some shopping have some tea before the journey continues. Honestly, short tour is enough for you, no need to waste your money on the long tour.

Well apart from the phaeton, you can also rent a bike to explore the island on yourself. Or, you could do something more extreme, like what I did with my friend last time, we walked all the way following the phaeton trails until we came back down to the square. Until today if my friend talk to me about taking that walk again, I, without hesitation will give him a backhand as a reminder of the pain he made me went through… LOL


You can also rent a bike and explore the island on your own

One fair warning though, please check on the weather forecast before you plan to go to the island. Büyükada is extremely beautiful during sunny days, so you don’t want to be going there when it is rainy. It just ruins all the mood, trust me.

What else is there? At Büyükada there’s a lot of old Victorian like wooden mansions, beautiful but yet scary especially when you realized that that house had been abandoned for quite some times. There are 2 hills in Büyükada, the famous one nearby the pier is called Isa Tepesi (Jesus Hill) or previously known as Hristos (Greek for Jesus). There was a big wooden orphanage on top of this hill before, but it is no longer there since the building was too old so it remains a history. Among these 2 hills that I mentioned, there is a church and a monastery of Agios Nikolaos and also a former fairground called Luna Park.

Last but not least, there is one place that always caught my eyes. The Büyükada Gözlü Ev or it’s real name, Sabuncakiş Köşkü. The mansion with the ‘Eye’. This mansion was constructed in 1904, with 3 levels and its top level, is the entrance level. I guess with the picture I don’t need to explain more what is it about right? According to the coachman, the house belongs to one of the richest guy in Büyükada, one of the electronic tycoon in Istanbul.

sabuncakis kosku.jpg

Sanbucakiş Köşkü

That’s all you need to know about Büyükada. And if you guys manage to catch the boat at 08:40am, you will reach there at approximately around 10:40am, take the phaeton ride for 45 minutes and you will be done by 11:30am. After that you will have your own free time to take a lot of pictures, or simply sit at one of the waterfront restaurants at the pier before you leave.

Hope you enjoy the post. Sorry for the long post, here’s a potato for you!


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