After spending 4 months in Southeast Asia, Angelo and I decided to head West. Originally we had planned our yearlong trip until Vietnam, after we had only ideas of where we wanted to go. India, China and Russia were on the top of our list, but because their visa applications were quite extensive and our finances are shrinking we decided to cut across and head to Turkey. After 2 flights of a combined total air time of 13 hours, plus a 11 hour layover in Singapore, we were so happy to place our feet on Turkish soil. When we arrived the sun was shining and the yellow taxis were abundant. We took a cab to our rented room in Istanbul and were surprised when the price was not much over what we estimated. As we dragged our baggage over the cobblestone sidewalks, we couldn’t help but notice all the shops selling tea, coffee and sumptuous pastries.
After dropping our luggage off in our room in Beyoglu, a popular tourist district in Istanbul, we headed down Istiklal street to window shop and grab food. After being in Asia for so long we were a bit culture shocked walking around. Istanbul is a beautiful city filled with beautiful buildings and lovely architecture. Although it was hot, it was nice to know that afternoons would not be spent in rain and extreme humidity. All of the food places looked delicious therefore it was difficult to decide where to eat. We decided upon a place where Angelo got a hamburger and I ordered a salad with wheat berries and a light vinaigrette. There were so many shops selling Turkish Delight and Baklava sweets. I ended up trying Turkish Delight, but for me it wasn’t so delightful. I also picked up some baklava, but I wasn’t into the taste of this particular dessert either. I believe that baklava tastes best when it is fresh and not too drenched in syrup.
There are many dance studios in Istanbul, most teaching Latin styles, choreo hip hop and Zumba. I unfortunately couldn’t find any teaching ballet – so it has been awhile since taking class. We also began our hunt for our next interview, so scoping out dance studios sometimes helps if we don’t know anyone in that country. We found a dance studio/cafe called Depo Dans Cafe where I rented space for us for two hours, it cost about $43. I trained my contortion and Angelo danced and stretched. It was nice to be in a space big enough to move freely and have a mirror to correct my form. Most places we stay at are pretty small (which is fine) but sometimes there is not enough room for training every morning, but I’ve learned to be creative in compact spaces. I also looked for a circus school to practice but could not find one, maybe in another country? Angelo and I have been lacking that creative outlet that we are so fortunate to have while living in LA, so we have been trying to be more proactive about finding dance and music that we enjoy.
Istanbul’s metro system is excellent. Although there are a surplus of taxis, they do drive too fast and are costly. The public transportation system is fast and cheap. You can just pay 10 Lira for an Istanbulkart which is a pre paid card that can be used on the subway, bus, funicular, and even the ferry’ s that go from the European side to the Asian side of town. It is actually cheaper to get the metro card as it deducts less than if you use tokens and gives discounts when you transfer. You rarely have to wait for a bus or train to arrive in Istanbul, which is a treat. In Malaysia we would wait 45 minutes sometimes for one train! Probably in all the countries we have been to so far Istanbul and Japan are the best for transportation and Istanbul the most user friendly and cheapest.
Its been over 5 months since we left Los Angeles, and although we don’t want to go home yet we are definitely missing our families, friends and dance community. We reached out to a dancer we stalked online and had 2 dance sessions with her and some of her friends. It’s inspiring to meet others who are from other countries who do the same dance styles as us. We realized that we are very out of shape and need to start going out more and practicing with other house dancers when we can find them. Sometimes we feel like we are in this Angelo and Oni bubble and we get a little sick of being ONLY in each other’s company and get a little bored. So instead of being complacent it is important that we create opportunities for ourselves and be more aggressive about what we want out of this once in a lifetime trip.
So that’s where we are physically and mentally on this world wide tour. After the south of Turkey (we have a a dance competition there this weekend) we are not sure where we are going yet. When we left we were so organized with our next destination, now I can’t tell you where we will be next week. Much of that inspiration that we left the U.S. with seems to be lost. Hopefully some of it will be found as we continue to head West back towards home.