In those days I erected my tent on the Arctic Circle line the weather was quite nice (I initially wrote as “the weather was pretty warm”, but then erased. Honestly, the ones who know me would say that I have gone off the rails). As soon as I took off and started to pedal the temperature increased immediately above minus 10 centigrade, it started to snow and fog settled in. The mother nature was waiting for me, “Here we go, you asked for it”. I would leave Finland from the northwest part of the country. I leave this country from remote border gate across a least frequented region where huge green trees reign over.
In Helsinki you will meet a silent and tidy capital, in Turku only the companies and business life, north to Rovaniemi the winter or Santa Claus tourism when coming to Finland (I just mention this in general, the eye catching events are those ones. Of course there are many sightseeing opportunities in these cities, but if you would ask me how Finland was then I wouldn’t even count these three cities). If you definitely want to visit big cities in Finland then I would say go to Oulu, Jyvaskyla. If you would ask me where I have been, I would say that even Finnish people didn’t ever know, see or hear those places I went to. Yet, exactly there I met with the true Finnish people which were very friendly. Their conversations are amusing, they are charitable. A country full of people with high alcohol consume being fond of classical dance and towns of retired people.
I asked to my country men: “Which is the case you get most annoyed of?”
– Abi (elderly brother), Finnish people don’t like to work. We come to this country and work all the day through paying our taxes.
The pizza restaurants in every city and town belong to Turks. I’m really not exaggerating.
-The government hands out those taxes we pay to the unemployed Finnish people. They do not work. They lazy hang around.
This being the case (and yet) let me ask the other party. I stayed for two days in Konevesi town and asked a Finn I met:
– Hey! The foreigners working in your country are complaining about you for not working and receiving a considerable amount of money from your government. What is your opinion about this issue?
– If he doesn’t like it, he can leave our country. What is he doing here? He eats his fill, his children receive free education. Does my country offer him assurance? Yes, it offers. Does it give a job? Yes, it gives. Is he a citizen of this country? No, he is not! He is living in my country on my land. Then, of course he has to look after me. And I work if I want to. If he isn’t satisfied then he could go back to his country and work there!
What can you say to this man, nothing. He is right. By the way, upon my researches I recognized this: If my government would intend to take such high taxes as done in Finland at some sectors, that day the Turks would rebel. I promise that not even police or army would able to hinder the revolt. Furthermore, the Finns indicated that their country’s economy is awful and that the prices are very high (don’t tell me about the prices). Now, we got the answer from a Finn. Then, let me ask again to a countryman of mine. Why weren’t you satisfied from this country? Receiving the same answer, I mentioned the answer of the Finn. “The guy is saying go home if you are not satisfied.” “What would you say about this?”
– Well Gurkan, how could we earn that much money in Turkey? Okay. Our living standards are not so high with the money we earn but when we transfer to Turkey it makes up. (Look at this, the topic changed on the spot, hehehe).
Every Turk working or making business in this region is somehow sending money to his family in Turkey. A good amount of foreign currency is flowing to Turkey for sure. My countrymen who migrated a long time ago to this country own apartments or cottages in their old villages.
From the experiences of my previous Europe visits, my point of view is for the time being this (it may change in future):
Labor force migration and brain drain (unimportant of whether skilled or unskilled) add up to the economy of the country and also provides convenience to the citizens of the receiving country. The ones migrating during 1960-1970s didn’t bring their families along. But, by time the situation had changed. Marriages had occurred. The migrant young population had increased. The data of our ministry for Foreign Affairs gives some figures. But in reality they don’t know how many Turks live in foreign countries since they do not register in our Embassies. Let me think out of the box:
– The population of Turkey is about 80 million (come off 75-76 million, dude. We even don’t know how to keep a record).
– The ones living abroad make up 10 million
– Turkey is the most densely populated country in Europe. If all the Turks living abroad would return to their country at once, what would happen? Guess what? J
– What is the current situation of the migrants of 60s and 70s? They are managing some of the top corporations of the countries they live in. I met many Turkish business men and listened to what they achieved and how they came to this point. Some became a keystone! I wouldn’t believe if I hadn’t seen them for myself.
– As Europe is getting older, Turkey with its every single region is getting younger and developing! You cannot rate 1920s Turkey with the present. There are European countries – with 5, 10 or 15 million population or countries less frequented than that of some of our cities – which you cannot rate the welfare and technological level of a country having 80 million population. Above all, if this country is Turkey you have to think twice. I smoothly speak out this as a person who travelled in many regions of Turkey with bicycle or due to any other occasions. I travelled many villages in almost all regions. There the residents said: “Abi, here are many opportunities. The government makes this and that, offers jobs”. The population of Finland is only as much as that of our capital Ankara but is as big as Turkey. Would it be the same portion of taking benefit for these equal sized countries one with 5 million and the other with 80 million of population? Whom and what are you taking as example with what kind of logic?
– Turkey with its industrialization process starting just after 1986 relying on the huge man power needs to stop the brain drain, to explore the rich underground resources, to develop his technology to process these resources, to meet the energy requirements of heavy industry. If it cannot meet the requirements then it needs to educate scientists and to puzzle over. However, while doing all these, it needs to watch human rights and democracy. Its NGO’s have to protect the environment, nature and the human, it has to build inhabitable environment. (Look at the history and learn how Europe has undergone through this process. How China is keeping its power in Asia. What is the driving force of Japan and South Korea?). The essential point is that we are an impatient nation. J A professor whose class I attended told me after recognizing that I am from Turkey: “Turkey is an unique country and the Turks are unique”. Take it as good or bad, it is up to you!!
As I was pedaling in China, I noticed that basically 5 different languages were spoken in China: Chinese, Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur and Zhuang. There are 56 recognized ethnic groups having languages (collectively known as Zhongyu) which are diverse morphologically and phonetically. Chinese from north won’t understand the ones from south or west and vice versa. Uyghur, Tibetan and Inner Mongolian tackle for their freedom for years. The result? China exists since 5000 years in that geography. This huge empire had undergone his technology revolution lately as we had. China’s manned submersible dived to the deepest point after that of USA. Meanwhile, China launched a manned spacecraft. Also, an aircraft carrier was built recently. What is the population of China? 1.4 billion. There are cities with 50 million inhabitants which took me 3 days to cross. No country was able to take apart China which was wracked by civil wars and massacres and despite worldwide political pressure (throughout its history China was only once ruled by another nation!). I asked a policeman “If someone grasps my bicycle, what happens?” “You don’t even need to lock your bicycle. If we catch the thief we will execute him by shooting” Whoa! They are only able to hold this huge population together by this way, policemen everywhere on the street. Nobody wants me to camp on their land because if something would happen to me he/she would be held responsible. BUT, coming to the folk, I have never seen before such a community adoring its country that much. A Chinese friend of mine said “Gurkan, we do not like the government and may criticize it. Many Empires were established and went down. Many emperors, presidents had come and gone. But one thing lasted ever, (joining his hands) CHINA.” This was the moment I recognized the real power of China which sent shivers down my spine. He continued: “We all work for China and we are the best on the planet Earth”
Taking the ethnic groups living in Turkey into consideration, always such examples are given as: “Look, USA is composed of many states, different languages are spoken in every state of Germany, the north of France is different from the south, etc. You cannot compare the diversity and history of Turkey with any other country! (I hear someone saying “Man, don’t exaggerate”. Shhhhh! You must start with learning your own history and then that of others and travel a lot). Every single person born in Turkey who has been grown up within a regional culture drinking its water, stepping on its soil, breathing its air is hardworking, self determined, brave, intelligent, broadminded and hospitable. This mosaic culture of this superb land will ever last because you have been born in this land. Your mind might be confused, because you might have spent too much time in front of your computer, watched TV and read the newspapers. I mentioned before in one of my articles. Why does this passport cost about 600 TL? What the hell is this fee for traveling aboard?
After returning home I had told to some of my friends: “China is a huge but yet unknown power within its borders. China, after 1923 (^_^), became a closed-off country, a sleeping giant. Not sleeping anymore Gurkan, the giant awakened! Everything is obvious, every produce is made in China, the world is witnessing. Nothing else matters. J If China decides to protrude its border, he will shake the world. By the way, these are my opinions and remarks. Returning from the world tour, I would also say a couple of words about Turkey.
Well, there are many countries to travel to and even more knowledge and experiences to attain.
The places in Finland where I visited, spent some time, ate, camped are given below. The list of the villages where I had some conversation with the local is a little longer, but anyway you can find them on the map.
In this country, starting on February 8th, I pedaled 1422 km. I traveled across the country from south to north and then to the far west, finally departed on February 28th. J During these 20 days 2 spent only two nights in two different cities in hotels, pedaled for 16 days, traveled around and slept in tent. I pedaled 89 km per day on the average on iced and snow covered roads. I gained a total of 6375 m vertical height (this was not a flat country. J… Pedaled on the main roads as well as on side roads. Made analyses comparing to the capital). I broke one rim and due to that had two flat tires. I spent 30 Euro per day. At the time I departed from this country my tachometer was showing 6822 km.
Helsinki, Tervakoski, Laitikala, Sahalahti, Langelmaki, Jamsa, Kultankenka, Makijarventio Murame, Nittyaho, Jyvaskyla, Hirveskyla, Konnevesi, Keitele, Vaaraslahti, Kiuravesi, Pyhtasö,Oulu, Haukipuda, Loue, Rovenievi, Naparin, Mellakoski, Aavasaksa.
The next country Swedennnnn!
To the question mentioned below, 237 people sent answers within the time frame. Unfortunately, the answers were not totally correct. I have sent the correct answer to everyone who sent an e-mail. J
“During my Turkey-Japan tour and up to the point I have reached during this world tour, through how many capitals of former empires have I passed and what are the names of the capitals? (Please give in chronological order). Do not just write how many, mention also their names. All are mentioned in my web site!! I note the IP addresses of ones who search on Google coupling my name with the question. Then check the IP address of the e-mail sent. Even if the answer is correct, he/she won’t receive a bicycle because he/she cheated. You might change your IP address before sending an e-mail to me, but I established this “bicycle event” to support the art of bicycle-life and to make you read. Or else I could spend the money of these 44 bicycles for hotel stays in those cold days!!! Let’s enjoy reading….
I only accept the correct answers given between March 8th 2013 on 23:30 – March 9th 12:30. I don’t consider the answers send after this time line! One person would win Kron Xc250 bicycle. The e-mail address is given on this web site.