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20 Lessons in 20 Days

Istanbul, Turkey


I've been on the road now for twenty days, and it has been the most educational experience of my life. For other travellers and for those thinking of doing something like this in the future, I thought I would compile the 20 most important things I've learnt so far:

1 - Nothing is free.
2 - Beware the Serbian gypsy woman who tries to give you her child. Best case scenario: you get mugged. Worst case scenario: you become an unwilling adoptive parent.
3 - Time is relative. In Eastern Europe 10 hours is a short journey. In Asia, 20 hours is a short journey.
4 - Never wear white to an underground gothic rave.
5 - Don't accept 'there are no tickets left' at face value. Be prepared to smile innocently, then to beg, then to bribe.
6 - Drink the local homemade drinks with caution.
7 - Don't wear shorts in a Muslim country unless you like being stared at.
8 - Talk to the locals, forgive bad English and don't patronise them by trying to speak their language (except in Western Europe, where the opposite is true).
9 - Sleep is your currency.
10 - Eat and drink water whenever you get the opportunity because the next one might not be for 24 hours.
11 - 'Pie' does not mean the same thing in the Balkans as it does in the UK.
12 - Everywhere there is someone trying to rip you off. If someone asks for money, make sure you know why you're giving it to them.
13 - This is the important one: if you are ever unsure about anything, ask someone.
14 - If someone spits on you, swears at you, or is generally unpleasant, it's probably nothing personal.
15 - In some countries there is no pedestrian right of way, and unlike London, they won't stop if you walk out into the middle of the road.
16 - Make sure you always know the name of the place you are staying; otherwise you might never find it again.\
17 - Carry some USD/GBP/Euros at all times, as these can be used anywhere.
18 - Get lost once or twice for the hell of it.
19 - Enlightenment and self discovery will find you in the strangest of places.
20 - There are good people everywhere who will do everything in their power to help you; without these you would be truly lost.

permalink written by  BenWH on April 18, 2009 from Istanbul, Turkey
from the travel blog: Gap Year Odyssey
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