2017 West Asia
Expedition to West Asia
West Asia is a large and diverse region, that’s why I get to know its new part every time I travel. Western Asia, also referred in the Eurocentric way as the “Middle East”, is a region of constant wars and conflicts. Fuel to the fire is mainly added by America and Israel, although Muslims themselves also don’t like each other and they fight for influence in the region. My plan in 2017 was to get to know the eastern Turkey, also described as the Turkish Kurdistan, and then I travelled around the Kurdish part of Iraq, informally known as the Iraqi Kurdistan. In 2017 I was mostly interested in Kurdish people, and that’s why I went to Iraq for a referendum on the independence of the Iraqi Kurdistan.
The West Asia travel plan for 2017
Last time I travelled to Western Asia in 2015 and earlier in 2013. The region has a lot to offer and even though we like to think of all Muslim countries that they are “the same”, I discover something new every time. From my extensive travel experience I learned that each country in the same region is different and each one of them deserves to be explored because each of them has different history and differences in people’s mentality. For example Lebanon was different than Jordan and Israel and Palestine sentenced to be neighbours and living together like two brothers named Kain and Abel, also gave me unique memories. This year will be different. I am going to travel to Turkey and Iraq, but really I am interested only in Kurdish people, who are separated from each other with many borders.
Someone might ask me why I travel to such unstable and risky countries and I would answer with a question: why do people climb mountain peaks? Because they are there and because it is an educational challenge that builds one’s character and life experience that only a few can achieve. Besides, a traveller must refuse the propaganda of fear that governments feed us with for their own benefit. A traveller is to discover and make his own opinions about distant countries and nations. This year, first I will go to Greece and then I will explore a country that does not even exist. I intend to travel around Kurdistan, in the parts of Turkey and Iraq.
For the second time I started my trip around Western Asia from Greece. I like to go there for a few days before the challenges I face in the Muslim countries. This time I spent in Greece almost 2 weeks and I took my travel companion who went with me to Tibet and our child. For the first 3 days we were in Athens. We of course saw the Acropolis and its very interesting museum. We saw the ancient amphitheater and the theater of the god of wine Dionysus, the Olympic stadium, the ancient Agora with its blacksmith god temple Hephaestus, and turtles that lived there. Apart from that whilst in Athens we went to affordable and decent restaurants for family meals and to souvenir shops. In Athens I enjoyed the public squares with fountains which gave relief in the hot climate and I like the central park with turtles and waterfalls. Athens makes a really a nice break from living in London or Warsaw.
I also want to point out the t-shirt stores which have a lot of interesting designs, including those with the brave Spartans. By the way, I talked to Greeks that we would need Spartans in Europe today who would defend Europe against the African and Muslim invasion. Athens has already seen the results of the black invasion and sick liberalism but in my opinion it is still better than in Western Europe. Athens is the last European capital without a mosque but how long will it be that way, I don’t know? In the streets I saw a bit of poverty, people sleeping rough but in England there are a lot of them too and they are always English.
The Greek islands is a different and a beautiful travel chapter of that beautiful country. We sailed across the Cyclades to the islands of Paros and Naxos. I could talk about it for a long time but in a nutshell the beaches beautifully presented themselves against the warm sea and the weather was very pleasant. On the Greek islands I also like the attachment to the tradition. I like the fact that the houses there are all built in the same style and that they are mostly painted white with blue doors and windows, that is in the colours of the Greek flag. The same case is with small churches in the islands, many of which are painted in the same way. For those who have more money to spend there are more attractions while for those who have less they can always shop in the supermarkets and explore beautiful beaches on foot with their own umbrella. I also recommend the grilled squid filled with seasonal vegetables, which can be eaten in any seaside restaurant.
I would like my readers to go to Greece and enjoy that beautiful country because Greece has everything that tourists need on a summer vacation. I have noticed that the only people who don’t like Greece are some Greeks because they’ve had enough of their country’s economic problems; and Turkey also doesn’t like Greece for political reasons. Poles and English love Greece, although English people don’t always behave well. I believe that in Greece it is necessary to spend a few days in Athens and then choose a couple of islands. It is also necessary to go to a church because the church calms down, it builds a soul and allows for a closer contact with the Greek tradition.
(In 2016 I went to Bulgaria, which I also recommend for its natural and cultural beauty, and which is cheaper than Greece. There is also a beautiful warm sea, good food and impressive, historic churches.)
Turkey is yet another Muslim country of vast Asia which is a very interesting tourist destination and which I do recommend. Before I start writing about my adventures in that interesting country I would like to point out that it is very important to remember that although 3% of Turkey’s territory (west of the Bosphorus) is in Europe, the people and the culture of Turkey have nothing to do with the European culture but with the Asian. I’m talking about the ethnicity, religion, culture of making carpets, lanterns once popular in the Sultan’s palace, production of Arabian sweets and even the way of drinking tea. Turkey is a beautiful and a valuable tourist destination which personally made me very happy and to which I would gladly return. This time however, although I spent 3 interesting days in Istanbul (the former Constantinople), I was going to travel not around the Turkish Turkey but in the land of the Kurds in the south-east of the country.
(By the way, one of the Britain’s many traitors David Cameron said that he “wanted to pave the way from Ankara to Brussels,” and I say that I would gladly pave the way for him too but to a psychiatric hospital.)
After about two weeks in Greece I flew to Istanbul. I lived in a cheap hostel but that was not important. I was in the center of the city and it was very close to all the tourist attractions. Among many things I saw the huge mosque of Sultan Ahmet (blue mosque) which I have to admit was very impressive because of its form, paintings inside and the amount of work put into that religious object, which became the symbol of Turkey. On the other side of the square where there was a lawn, fountains, armoured vehicles and armed police, stood the former church Hagia Sophia which the Muslim Turks stole from the Christians, then converted to a mosque and today it is a museum. In my opinion, although Hagia Sophia is an interesting and bulky object, today it has also become a vulgar attempt of Islamisation of Christianity.
I also liked the Great Bazaar and this place is recommended primarily to those travelers who want to get to know the culture of Turkey. That’s how it is in Muslim countries that the heart and mind and the political centre is always a bazaar. This is the case in Iran and the same thing in Turkey. At the bazaar one can spend all day looking not only at the interesting goods such as decorated plates, carpets or lanterns but can also spend time talking to people, eating kebabs and drinking Turkish coffee and tea. I bought almost original perfumes for an incredibly low price, which in countries such as Turkey or Jordan is a tradition. I also liked Topkapi Palace where today there is a museum and from where there are nice views of the Bosphorus and Istanbul. However, the cruise on the Bosphorus was even better as I saw many other objects such as the Rumeli Castle and the Dolmabahce Palace. The Bosphorus is often overlooked by rushing travellers but I warmly recommend it.
During 3 days I saw a lot more than I’m describing now but during my travels not only the sights are important but also contact with people. It was a good experience in Istanbul to have a conversation with Islamic tea sellers and with Syrian confectioners about war and about Assad. When I was in Istanbul a few years ago it was still a Turkish city but today it is an Arab city because especially in the centre it looked as if there were more Arabs than Turks. I talked about it with Turks and they said that they felt really tired of it because they were not Arabs. Even Syrian immigrants said that immigration from Syria was crazy because there were about 3 million of them already. The people in Istanbul are very interested where the white tourist comes from and for me they are an unexpected source of information and feelings. One Turk was crying to me that Rohingya Muslims are killed in Burma while the other one said that Europe had such enormous immigration from Muslim countries that they might have to close the Vatican soon. Yes, people are always the most interesting.
After Istanbul I started my real expedition because I flew to Van, by the lake of the same name. Van is a Kurdish city with good hotels and restaurant facilities and for some time also my base because I organized a few trips from Van. In Van itself the best place is the Van castle built on the mountain between the 7th and 9th centuries by the Armenian kingdom of Uratu and a few objects around, such as for example the 16th century Husrev Pasha mosque. To me Van was primarily a base where I often came back and rested after the hardships of traveling.
A trip from Van which I recommend to all travelers is the Church of Sts. Cross on the island of Akdamar on Lake Van. The church dates back to the 10th century and has many interesting bas-reliefs and frescoes and it was once an important centre of the Armenian culture. Today, the Akdamar church is one of the favorite places for Kurdish and Turkish tourists and in addition to sacred art and the opportunity to take beautiful pictures there is also tea at the bossom of the nature and swimming in lake Van. From the island I returned by boat and then after dinner made of fish I spent the night in a tent on the beach. The island is located about 60km from Van and it is really worthwhile because the church and the island itself are worth the effort.
Very interesting was also the Hosap castle built by the Ottomans in 1645, although getting there by hitchhiking was also very interesting. I was driving an old truck at 40km / h. Hosap Castle is an impressive fortress built on a hill which is located about 65km from the town of Van. Most of the preserved castle elements date back from 1645 which were built by the Ottoman governor Sarı Süleyman Bey. I also liked the Kurdish village at the bottom of the castle, rock formations and contact with local people. The road to the castle led through the desert and through the mountains and the whole area is very picturesque and introduces travellers into a beautiful and interesting medieval atmosphere. I don’t know about my readers but I love old castles. The only things that were missing in Hosap where a bad dragon and a virgin locked in the tower.
I also went to Tatvan where I could relax in a nice hotel after the hardships of my trip across the Nemrut valley. Nemrut Valley is a beautiful geopark in south-eastern Turkey, rich in beautiful flora and fauna. Personally I have seen many turtles and beautiful birds although the biggest asset is the second largest crater lake in the world. In one place there was warm water while the other lake was cold but so clean that I was able to rocks 20 meters under water. The lake is at 2247 above the sea level but I also watched the whole panorama of the park from 3050 metres. There are also wolves and bears, though I had great pleasure spending my time with local sheep shepherds and with their dogs and donkeys. I slept in a Kurdish village where I quickly became famous because they see white people see very rarely. The majority of people living there are goat and sheep shepherds, although they would also like to engage in ecotourism. The Kurds living there told me that Turkey wants to destroy them also by spreading the fear propaganda by telling people that they are terrorists. For that reason, tourists from Europe don’t go there anymore and the Kurds were surprised that I was not afraid to come.
Tatvan, the same as Van, I recommend for taking a rest after expeditions. There are nice places there with kebabs, tea shops and a shooting range by the lake. It is worth mentioning that before I went to Tatvan I also went to Ahlat by lake Van to see Seljuk tombs. Those tombs come from the 6th and the 7th centuries and have many interesting bas-reliefs and are built in a specific way. There are also small caves and a clean river. The tombs are spread on a large area, they are quite impressive and local people are very curious of a stranger.
Then I headed to Iraq but I had other places to see on the way. I was going to the city of Batman but I was arrested by the police armed with machine guns, who took off the road. The Turkish police are paranoid about the PKK agents and they carried out thorough research on me because they got a tip that I could have something to do with them. First they took me to the hospital to see if I had Kurdish army tattoos and then they seated me in a “cozy” room at a police station and we started talking. They didn’t believe me in a single word and they provoked me to break me down but they had no other choice but to let me go after a few hours, because they didn’t have any evidence against me. However, afterwards it turned out that they sent a tail behind me which behaved very unnaturally. One man that I had never seen lost control and asked me: “Hey Martin, how do you like my country?” I replied that it would be better without him.
Next I went to Hasankeyf to see its ancient city built 12,000 years ago and which is located in the land of the Kurds under the “care” of Turkey. The time spent there was very valuable in terms of people and I learned a few interesting things from some very suspicious people. Unfortunately Hasankeyf may soon be under water because of a dam built on the river. In Hasankeyf there are caves and beautiful nature but for the time being the dirty business and Erdogan’s political blackmail against the Kurds win with history and nature. In my opinion, the dam in Hasankeyf is the death sentence for the entire region and its people.
“Hey, if you came here you have to work in some very important office but tell your superiors that this is Kurdish land.”
– The comment that somebody shouted in my face is in my opinion a good evidence of the political situation in the region.
After Hasankeyf I was on my way to Iraq but I had another tail sent by the Turks who asked many questions in a “friendly way”. In a country where no one speaks English, I again bumped onto someone who spoke English. After crossing the ongoing military bases where I had to prove that I was only a tourist we reached a mysterious hole called Midyat where I said to myself: “Oh, we got to Midyat.” Immediately my tail asked: “How do you know” smiling in a vicious way, for which I replied: “I read it on the bank”. I told him to take pictures of me in front of the landscapes and I made him to buy me a few drinks because if I really had to have a tail he had to serve me in some way.
After another talk with the police at the military base similar to the one from “Terminator Salvation” I came to a stinking hole called Silopi, which is located only 15km from Habur, where is a border with Iraq. I had a nice hotel there, hot water in the shower and 24 hour electricity, of course kebabs and a lot of eyes constantly looking at me. They watched me like a television. The beginning however was very strange because when I entered a hotel to ask for a room, even before I managed to ask for the price, as from nowhere came a young Turkish man speaking English who said that that hotel was full and that he wanted to take me another one. He could also be sent by the Turkish intelligence because in Silopi only he spoke English and the hotel to which I went first was full of Kurds. Obviously the Turkish police did not want a tourist from Poland, who was hiding a British passport at the bottom of his backpack to talk to the Kurds.
In the morning I got the Iraqi Dinars and without looking back I left Silopi. On my way I passed a military training ground with tanks and cannons that could shoot down the moon, though the border crossing went quite smoothly. This time a new adventure awaited for me …… in Iraq.
On my return from Iraq I went to Diyarbakir, which is advertised in the Turkish media as the “city on the line of fire” between the Turks and the Kurds. Every time they show Diyarbakir on television they always talk about riots, about victims and political problems. However, instead of a brutal revolution I saw the fortified walls of Diyarbakir with interesting bas-reliefs that were built by the Romans in the 3rd century. I also went to see the Great Mosque with its impressive courtyard, which was completed in the 11th century. A good experience was also the bridge built on the Tigris river built in the 11th century. In addition, I tried good food, including baklava and sweet pomegranates. In Diyarbakir there was a lot to see, including armoured vehicles, machine guns and military police bases. The atmosphere was exceptional.
At the end I would like to say that Turkey is a big country and not everyone has to necessarily follow my footsteps. There is also Cappadocia, Pamukkale and Antalya, and I am fascinated by the great statues of Nemrut Dagi and a mountain trek to the biblical Ararat in search of Noah’s Ark – and those are the areas which I recommend. On the other hand the areas that I choose are areas for lone wolves and not for white families with children. The things that I see during my travels are probably not to be found in travel agencies, they don’t always leave pleasant memories and I don’t feel that I should recommend them, even though they enrich me intellectually. The are many ways of traveling and for example those who like ship modeling would be probably interested in the Turkish navy stationed in the Black Sea. I however was interested in Kurdistan.
Iraq is usually associated only with war, terrorism, chaos and the infamous Islamic State which cuts off heads for “infidelity” to Allah. Not many people know about the”other Iraq” in its northern part, which is controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government. The Kurdish part of Iraq is safe, economics and infrastructure are growing and this is the place where they behead ISIS fighters. On the other hand, as a Polish traveller I was treated well and I saw that the Kurds wanted me to have a good opinion about their country. In Kurdish Iraq I spent 2.5 weeks, I was hitchhiking, I walked during days and nights and I saw a lot of guns but I came back in one piece.
I would also like my readers to understand that even though Kurdistan is safe, weapons at every turn, military controls, roadblocks, concrete bases and ISIS in the neighborhood make it a region of surprises. If a country or a region looks that way, that is always a reason and Kurdish soldiers are very sensitive to Arab trucks which transport fruit and vegetables as they can import explosives. Besides, the Kurds don’t just fight ISIS. They also lead a guerrilla war against Turkey, they have Syria and Iran next door and they are not keen on Arabs.
I crossed the border at Ibrahim Khalil which is the only border crossing available to foreigners. Of course everybody was very surprised to have a tourist in the country because Iraq is not a very popular destination. From there I hitchiked to the town of Zakho what took about half an hour. From the hotel I had a view of the main square with fountains where patriotic concerts took place after dark. I was at the bazaar, I drank tea with Kurds on the street but spent most of the time near the historic Delal bridge. Unfortunately it was so hot that I took off my clothes and swam in the river. I could not stand the heat anymore. Of course people were very interested in me because the tourists in Iraq simply do not exist.
Because of the independence referendum drivers made noise on the roads, children wore “free Kurdistan” t-shirts and the entire city and also the whole of Iraqi Kurdistan was decorated with flags and advertisements promoting the “yes” vote in the referendum on Kurdistan independence which was held on the 25/09/2017. People were very exited because even on the vegetable market they posed to photos with Kurdish flags and photos of their leader. The most respected and loved man by the nation is Barzani who in my opinion is not just a leader anymore but the icon of Kurdistan. The Kurds have benefited greatly from the American invasion of Iraq and that’s why in the case of independent Kurdistan it could be a pro-American country in the heart of Arab soil. However, Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria are certainly against free Kurdistan and I suspect that not a single country would recognize Kurdistan, apart from one Israel to further divide the Muslims.
My next destination was Dohuk which became my base for a few days. Dohuk is a city in the north of Iraqi Kurdistan and it was where I saw how Kurds live in a larger city. I drank tea on the street with the Kurds what allowed me for better observation of the society and I started to get to know the atmosphere of Kurdistan. Dohuk has a beautiful Catholic church and a small but very pleasant zoo. There is a mosque in the centre, bazaar around it and crowds of men drinking tea. It was also nice to spend time by the dam where I was swimming and then under artificial waterfall in the mountains.
From Dohuk I went to see the temple of Yazidis in Lalish, to see the way they live. Lalish is a small settlement in the mountains which is worth the trip but I have to admit that I had mixed feelings. The Yazidis were friendly, they gave me tea, they wanted to talk as much as their English allowed but I saw religious fanaticism there because the temple was only in one small place but everyone had to walk barefoot in the whole village because they said that “the whole settlement was a temple.” I advise to take flip-flops and wear them to not to hurt your feet. Besides, young men over there told me that the head of the community they called “Father”. I certainly am not a specialist on their “religion” but given my first impressions all these things look like a sect to me. Whether it is harmful or not I am unable to say but I suspect that they are good people on the wrong path. The temples themselves were pleasant to the eye but they didn’t my capture my soul. I also had an interesting conversation with someone who introduced himself as sheikh Khalifa and who was sorry that Saddam Hussein was removed.
To Ammadiya I went mainly to see the ancient Badinan gate but a few kilometers down there is also a very interesting resort called Sulav where I rested by the mountain stream and where I had room in the cave with a stream passing through it. Then I moved down and took pictures of the landscapes and to Dohuk I went back with a few cars that I stopped on the road.
Of the many places that I visited in Iraq I liked the old town of Akre. There is no tourist base over there and there is no hotel but watching people and the way they live gave me a good insight into what Kurdistan is. My base was a mountain with a ruin of a fortress and where I slept in a cave. It was one of the better adventures of my life because I slept in a dark cave on a naked stone and it was so hot that I took my clothes off. Sometimes I like to get out of a clean, organized world and live like a white animal in a cave or in a jungle. Climbing in the sun was hard but for a strong man this is not a big challenge. People were good, hospitable and above all very curious. It was obvious that tourist don’t go to Akre at all because people are simply afraid and that’s why the locals watched me like a television. One man who spoke English told me after a few glasses of whiskey that when they catch the ISIS fighters they cut off their hands and their feet to break their fighting spirit. I spent a really nice time with those people but there was also a very interesting transport hole at the crossroads about 10km from the city. It had great impact on imagination because it looked like a landscape after war.
Erbil is the capital of Kurdistan and a shopping and a cultural centre. From the point of tourism the most interesting place is the Citadel built at the top of the plateau which dominates the city. There is also a well stocked bazaar and a couple of nice parks. I also recommend the very interesting Kurdistan Textile Museum, parks, the cable car running above the city and shopping. Women would find blue coloured lapis necklaces which are popular Afghan stones. Of course there were also Arabian sweets and fresh juices. The atmosphere in Erbil was great.
From Erbil I also went to the mountains, to Rawanduz, with its impressive cable cars and the Hamilton Road with many bridges. The whole area was beautiful because it was a canyon crossed with a river. On the way back I stopped by the Ali Berg Waterfall, which is the pride of the whole of Iraq when it comes to the natural beauty and the gorgeous canyon leading to it gives opportunity to organize beautiful trips and take beautiful photos. The waterfall offers not only peace and quiet. One can spent time on a pontoon in the company of ducks and enjoy the cool breeze flowing from the dropping water. I thought I would stay there for an hour and I would go back to Erbil but I ended up staying a whole day and I even stayed overnight in the canyon where I slept on a wooden platform with Peshmarga soldiers. The Ali Berg waterfall is very popular with tourists such as for example Arabs who live in the ISIS controlled areas and go there to take some rest from the war. I, by an accident, spent time with PKK and Peshmarga soldiers, who were so nice to me that they served me tea and scrambled eggs. Whilst traveling in Iraq I saw many weapons and sometimes when I was hitchhiking I was given a lift by people who were carrying machine guns. Either way, the waterfall and the canyon were beautiful.
It was not the first time by the way. In Israel they carry guns even to synagogues, in Lebanon Hezbollah made me a cup of tea and served me pizza and in Sri Lanka during the civil war against the Tamil Tigers I was given a lift by a military bus carrying machine guns, hand grenades and anti-tank grenade launchers. I think I’m going to call it “the adventure traveller’s risk”, though on the other hand I do not want my readers to be excessively melodramatic at the sight of an arsenal. They simply carry an arsenal and they are so nice that they give me a lift to the beach or to the waterfall. Thank you very much. To them it is normal but to travellers in the beginning it may be a shock, but then people get used to it. If I was worried that they have guns in far away countries I would never go for a holiday.
On my way back to Erbil I also stopped at Khanzad Castle, also called Banman, which is a small 16th century fortress built on a mountain. The castle has 4 towers and it is visible from the road. It is located 22km from Erbil on the way to the town of Shaqlawa and in my opinion it is a very interesting sight, especially because I love old castles. Not far from there I saw grazing sheep and I went to stroke them to once again experience the rural life of Iraq.
My last expedition in Iraq was a trip to the southern city of Sulaymaniya. I was driving through Kirkuk which was sad and deserted, even though just before the city stood a large monument of a soldier holding a huge flag of Kurdistan. There was something weird about Kirkuk because even the driver was afraid and rushed to get out of there as soon as possible. For that reason I don’t have any photos of Kirkuk even though really I wanted to. In Sulaymaniya I was as usual the only European and some people were suspicious but others were sincerely glad that someone finally visited them. I lived in the centre, near a great mosque and a bazaar, near the Zamwa gallery where every evening local vendors sold delicious food. There were various types of kebabs but also soups, snacks, ajran and fresh juices. The place that will remain forever in my mind is of Saddam Hussein’s former detention centre called Amna Suraka. There were still bullet holes in the walls, Saddam’s old tanks standing outside and indoors there were expositions and pictures of the history of the Kurdish genocide and the newer ones, about fighting ISIS. Some photos were tragic and unpleasant, the same as the documentary produced by the BBC.
On the way back to Erbil I stayed for 2 days on lake Dokan where I was swimming and walking in the mountains. I also ate good fish from the lake and spent the night in a hut in the desert by the lake. To Erbil I went back by hitchhiking and after a day of sociallizing with the Kurds I went to Turkey the next day. The Iraqi side did not give me any trouble but the Turks were very suspicious and stopped me for an hour at the border to carry out checks. The British also gave me a special welcome after returning to England but I don’t want to continue this topic. Do I really look like someone who shouldn’t be trusted?
I consider my trip around the Kurdish Iraq to be very successful, although it is not an easy destination and it’s an adventure with a thrill. The places which I visited was one part of my trip while hitchhiking was a completely different chapter. When I was traveling there it was very safe but I advise to check the safety regularly. I mean that I don’t want anyone to go to Iraq and be harmed because “Martin Malik advised him so.” I don’t advise to go to Iraq. I just tell my story. On the other hand however, I want those travellers who decide to travel to the Iraqi Kurdistan to take their decision with responsibility. A true traveller is not the one who landed in Erbil, saw the Citadel and quickly flew out of Erbil. Whoever decides to take that trip must leave his safety zone … or not to go at all.
My trip was successful even though I had a few problems. I saw delicate regions which make people suspicious but most importantly I came back. It is certainly not an expedition for people with weak nerves and for those who live with propaganda of fear. I have been in places like Peshawar in Pakistan with the outlawed Pashtun controlled land and many times I fought sandstorms and loneliness in very isolated areas, that’s why what is an adventure to me to others could be to much to take. However, when I go back to my memories I find the 2017 expedition to be a very special adventure.
- blue mosque in Istanbul
- citadel in Erbil
- Delal Bridge in Zakho
- Diyarbakir Kurdish City
- eastern Turkey
- Erbil Kurdistan capital
- expedition to Kurdistan
- Expedition to West Asia
- Hasankeyf dam
- Iraqi Kurdistan
- Istanbul shopping city
- Kurdistan independence referendum
- Kurdistan trip
- Kurds fight ISIS
- lake in Nemrut Valley
- Saddam Hussein's prison Amna Suraka in Sulaymaniya
- Turkish Kurdistan
- Turkish-Kurdish conflict.
- Van castle in Turkey
- Van Lake
- Yazidis Lalish Temple