Friday, 19 November 2010

~Su~ Life~ Su~

I normally never liked drinking water. Many of my relatives from my father's side don't like drinking water either and they suffer from kidney problems. After I got pregnant, I started drinking water more and more.. And there came a moment of realisation that water is LIFE! My baby needs water to exist so I drink lots of water.

In Geography lessons, teachers told us that 2/3 of the world consists of water. In Biology lessons, teachers told us that 2/3 of our bodies are made up of water. So, I thought that would be a great topic for a travel blog :) Wherever you travel, water is one of the most crucial needs. In some countries you can just turn the tap on and drink water from the tap. In some countries, tap water is even not good for brushing your teeth :(

Among all countries I have been to, Sweden has the best drinkable tap water. You just turn the tap on and you have water as if from the source of a spring. It's refreshing and nice. The least drinkable (!) tap water I had was in Brussels. The quality of the water is so horrible that in supermarkets / cornershops they sell water syrups. What's water syrup? It's basically concentrated aroma and sugar that you add into your water glass so that you don't hate the water you're drinking from the tap. While I lived in Brussels, I had two bottles of water syrup: strawberry and mint. I couldn't drink either of them and when my husband tried to finish them (in order not to waste them) he commented: “I always wanted to try drinking mouth wash. If I feel like drinking mouth wash, I drink my water with the mint syrup. If I want to drink my water with coughing syrup sensation, I try the strawberry syrup” :) Well, I tried Brussels tap water for a week and after I kept on having diarreahea for a week, I started buying bottled water from Delhaize supermarkets.

In Turkey, noone drinks water from taps (at least in the western part of Turkey). It's mainly because the pipes in Turkey are old and not clean. But Turks have a good system for bottled water. When I used to live in the UK, we had to go to supermarkets and carry bottles of water from the supermarkets but in Turkey there’re lots of bottled water companies almost in every corner. You just call them, or if it’s very nearby you go to the shop and order your water. In 5 minutes or so, a guy brings 20 litres of water to your door for only 1 or 2 quid. It’s also environmentally friendly because you don’t waste water bottles, each time the water guy comes, he takes the previous one back and sends it to the factory to be cleaned and filled again with water. I guess this is partially environmentally friendly. Many people drink tap water in the UK, but if you ask me, it tastes horrible and it makes me really sick :(

Water and hair: The best water for washing my hair was in the UK. It was miraculous! My hair always had a great volume and it didn’t get fuzzy. But my experience in Turkey and South Korea was horrible. In Korea (well at least in Seoul), as far as I know, they just recycle water. So the water you use was possibly used by someone else before you. And the urban myth for this is Korean water increases the amount of hair you have!!! Particularly in Istanbul the water quality is very poor. Possibly water quality is better in Anatolia compared to Istanbul. Well, I have no idea about what they add into the water of a city of 16 million people.

Another thing about water is rain!!! I don’t know if it is another urban myth or not but what I heard was you should avoid rain touching skin/ face in Korea and England. The wind coming from China to Korea and the wind coming from France to England carry industrial particles that can be harmful for people who are exposed to the rain water...

In New Zealand, they use rain water as their drinking water (except in cities). Everyone has a water tank and they compile water in it throughout the year. My husband told me when he was a kid, he had to go to dentist to have fluoride treatment because they didn’t have any fluoride in the water that they used daily. Well, who would guess that there is an advantage of using city water!

Extra useless information: In Korean, every week day is attributed to an element. So the word for Wednesday is Su-yoil which mean water day. Interestingly, the word "su" (water) comes from Chinese and in Turkish su means water as well. I guess this word shows it well that in modern Turkish we still use the words that Turks brought with them from the Central Asia more than a thousand years ago.

Sunday, 31 January 2010


I love cafe culture. I love small un-franchised cafes. I love personal relations in cafes: with the waiter/waitress, with the cashier, with the owner, with the friend that I go to the cafe with. I love meeting at a cafe. One of the best things with Istanbul is, along with so many other things, when you don’t know what to do, you just go to Istiklal Caddesi, look around, feel your instincts, go to a cul de sac, find an apartment block on that cul de sac, go to the 5th floor of that apartment block and discover two cafes facing Bosphorus with its glorious view with lovely proper Turkish tea. There are as many cafes in Istanbul as there are sea seagulls in Bosphorus and discovering cafes is an addiction that you’ll enjoy more and more everyday.. and you collect memories as you discover each cafe: one with the moment that you broke up with your boyfriend, one in which you listened to your friend’s news (she got engaged with a man she knows only for a short time), one in which you studied for your final exams in your 3rd year at the university, one in which you had deep philosophical conversations, one in which you played the guitar and everyone sang together, one in which you learned how to play backgammon...
I love cafes... I love cosiness, the comfort that you feel at cafes...
Well, finding cafes in the UK is as hard as seeing seagulls in Birmingham city centre. If there are any, they are franchised: the same decor, the same taste. Nothing is exciting to discover. I went to Northfield in Birmingham today. There was a cafe, but actually it was more of a diner than a cafe. I really liked the atmosphere there. There was a sign on the wall:

I ordered a baguette with a can of fizzy drink+crisps for only £1.99 and then maybe waited for 5 minutes waiting for the food. Then, the lady served the baguette with a large plate of chips and then we said we didn’t order any chips, she said it took such a long time for her to serve the food that she wanted to compensate for it. And then brought another can of fizzy drink again saying it took a long time for her to serve. Moreover? The baguette had more tuna than any baguette that I’ve ever seen. Customers seemed to be locals and friendly... It’s such a nice feeling to find nice places to eat... The Clock Cafe (yes it has many big clocks in it) is 1 minute to the Northfield Pool and Fitness Centre. By the way, gym and pool centres in Birmingham are free to all who are residents in Birmingham until 2011 (I guess).