This morning I was out and about, and found myself racing back to life in the touristic obsessed destination of Altinkum and normality. English breakfasts and football shirts suddenly seemed like a welcome sight.
Normally, I am a fan of getting off the beaten track and seeing traditional Turkish life so you may be asking the reason for my doom and gloom. The answer is my trip to a village called Akkoy. This is a small village situated between Soke and Didim on the Aegean Coast.
On many occasions, I passed through but never took the opportunity to stop and explore. I had the perfect excuse this morning when two of my friends decided they wanted a glimpse of Turkish village life so after breakfast, we jumped in the car and set off.
A short thirty minutes later, we pulled up in the village of Akkoy. What was the first sight we saw? You may be thinking of traditional Turkish shops and houses. You may be thinking of old village men on their way to the Turkish tea house. Neither of these. The first sight I saw, was beach tourist towels!
Unbelievable! Beach tourists towels with B10, spider man and The Simpsons were adorning the walls of shops along with inflatable swimming toys. Now my geography may be wrong here, but Akkoy is not near the sea and nor is there loads of tourists running through it, desperately seeking out B10 beach towels.
A walk round the rest of the village revealed abandoned houses, empty shops and people that seemed to have no life. One thing I admire about Turkey, is the ease of making friends. It is easy to stop and chat to a complete stranger because Turkish people are so friendly.
However you could quite easily assume this village to be of the living dead. There was no character and no life. I did wonder to myself, if the lack of friendlessness was because they did not want strange foreigners tramping through their village however this does not explain the rows of tourist beach towels and inflatable swimming toys.
One thing was easy to notice and that was the lack of young people in the village, who all leave to go and earn money in the holiday resorts. From the looks of it they do not return! I fear of what Akkoy will look like in twenty years time and it made me wonder if the same situation is facing small villages all over Turkey. As big cities are built and tourist destinations spring up, is the past going to be well and truly buried?
One place I did admire in Akkoy was the Café Olive gallery which displays paintings from a Turkish artist. Erken the owner speaks very good English, if you are ever in that area and want to drop in.
Turkish Village Life : The Future
I think, if the village of Akkoy does not want tourism, it is doomed because youngsters are leaving in their droves. It seems some of the village people do think tourism is the answer but are going completely the wrong way about it.
It is a traditional Turkish village so emphasis that life. Fill the shops with home made honey, wine and olive oil. Promote restaurants with locals chefs cooking excellent Turkish foods. Rent out bicycles for tourists to visit the surrounding areas of Miletos and Priene. Turn empty houses into museums. Anything has got to be better than Simpsons beach towels and inflatable swimming toys! We can get all that back in Altinkum.