Day 1 & 2: Istanbul, Turkey 2014

On 6th Sep, arrived Hilton Hotel at 11.46pm… I was highly impressed by the grand interior & elegance… wished Bret was with me. Its my first time to check-in hotel alone. My room mate joined me in the room at 1am. Knocked out and I woke up at 7am for breakfast.

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Had a day tour with my colleagues. We were visiting Blue Mosque… so we had to wear a shawl over our head.

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The kindest couple I ever knew… Sean & Connie. We took some photos while queuing for the prehistoric museum.

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Inside the mosque, we had were bare-footed admiring the architecture & paintings on the wall. Just how did the artists at that time create such exquisite paintings on the walls and ceilings. The mosque was crowded with tourists.

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And outside of the mosque..

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Spotted a fountain at the park.. photo time.

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There were push carts selling turkish food. Also, older children and young men were seen on the streets selling yoyos, shawls and street food to tourists.

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Then we entered a palace.. Before we enter the palace, I saw a young street vendor confronted by security guards. His loots were confiscated on the spot. According to our tour guide, the street vendors were not supposed to disturb the tourists. Somehow, I hope they would return the loots to the young lad.

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Topkapi Palace Museum was built in 1616. It was the primary residence of the ottoman sultans. At its peak, there were more 4000 people living in the palace. Today it is a museum and contains important holy relics of muslim.

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After a guided tour, we were given free time. Together with Sean & Connie, we rest at a cafe for watermelon.

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Finally it was time for lunch. My company booked a few restaurants for the thousand of us.

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We were not really used to turkish cusine.

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The appetisers were left untouched. But we did enjoy the other dishes.. Calamari with Yogurt.

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Scrimps with tomatoes…

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Chicken for our main course..

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There were locals in traditional costumes serving turkish delights. Turkey is a beautiful country, so are the people.

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And have you tried buying turkish ice cream?

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After lunch, we visited Hagia Sophia… a church which was converted into a mosque and now, a museum. The 4th largest church in the world..

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Last venue for the tour, Spice Market. Outside the crowded market, we saw little children without shoes walking around. They were refugees from Syria whose belongings had been destroyed and fled to Turkey. According to our guide, the local government does not know what to do with them as they had no passport. My heart felt pain to see the little children and women without home. It was an emotional moment of reflection. I prayed to God for peace and happiness to the world.

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We did not explore spice market entirely. According to my colleague, if you find turkish delight too sweet, you may opt for honey. Back to the hotel, it was time to get ready for a dinner treat by boss. The dinner venue includes folk dance & belly dance performance.

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Around 11pm.. it was time to retreat to our hotel for rest.

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