There are a lot of things to say about Turkish buses.
First, there are a lot of things that I find very cool.
- Smoking is forbidden. Might sound like something normal but not here in Turkey where it might be the only place where smoking is forbidden. Of course, the rule is that it is forbidden for everybody except the driver so it could still be annoying if he did smoke but thankfully, I never got close to one that was smoking in the bus.
- Talking on a cellphone is also forbidden. It is not strictly enforced but this rule allows you to stop loud mouths that think they are alone in the bus. I never witnessed such an occasion but someone told me the story of an obnoxious woman that was yelling on her phone and was immediately shut by the driver.
- Most of the buses don’t have toilets or they have been locked so that nobody can use them. Of course, if you really need to pee then it might be a problem but at least nobody dreads getting seat 28 (just in front of the toilets door) anymore. So being seated in the back of the bus is not such a bad proposition anymore since you only have to endure the other passenger body and feet odor!
- There is always a steward to take care of things. This includes providing you all you can drink cold mineral water, a dose of hand sanitizer from time to time and a drink at least once per trip. They also go around spraying some air-freshener focusing on the back of the bus where bad odors tend to accumulate.
Then there are some annoying but acceptable things.
- Air conditioning sucks at the back of the bus or sometimes does not work at all. Other times, it seems like they turn it on and off making one go from cold to hot to cold to hot..
- Turkey is so large that it always seems like the next place you want to go is a 10+ hour ride from where you are right now. Basically, it takes forever to get anywhere. Also, while the bus usually leaves on time from its first stop, it always gets later and later on the schedule as it gets closer to your destination. Strange paradox, maybe we should call agent Sculley for that one!
- Drivers have the tendency to do stupid stuff like baking up on a highway ramp for more than 500 meters or going through red lights.
But the one thing that is driving me nuts is that whatever your ticket destination reads, the bus will eventually drop you wherever the driver or the steward pleases. It happened to Stewart, Charlie and I when we went from Camakkale to Selcuk and it happened again to me today on my way to Goreme.
Every time I buy a ticket, I specifically ask if I will be dropped at the right destination and I get an affirmative answer. And every time, I get asked to get off the bus at the wrong place. And Every time I get into an argument with the steward who just drops my bag off the baggage compartment and leaves without letting me argue much. Well, it is not like I can argue much with him since I do not speak Turkish and he usually does not understand English. And finally, every time, it requires some extra work to locate another local bus to get to my final destination. I do not mind much this situation when I know about it beforehand. But if I bought a ticket for somewhere, I expect to get dropped where my ticket says and not 20 miles away!
The thing that makes me feel better is that it looks like this happens to the locals as well! I know, saying this is low but you find comfort where you can in these situations ;).