Thursday 5th June
This is the biggest driving day of the trip. Shaggy’s spiel covers all things economy, tax, schooling, health care etc. Here’s a recap:
- Schooling starts at six years old. Primary school goes for eight years and high school for four. If you don’t enrol your kids you could be looking at a three year jail sentence (!!)
- All education, EVEN UNIVERSITY and special schools, is free, including doing a PHD (this was one of Atatürk’s key initiatives). Text books are provided by the govt
- There are 81 cities in Turkey and at least one public university in each city. 185 public universities all up
- Istanbul University is over 500 years old
- There is currently a public debate underfoot about whether kids should be wearing uniforms (changes within the last year means it is not compulsory) as it least it goes someway to bridging a visible poverty gap
- Kids get free lunch at school
- All kids are now learning English as a second language which is compulsory all the way through school
- The rate of students going to university, including technical universities, is about 45-50%
- All health care is free
- The highest income earners pay 42% in tax
- Key agricultural exports are figs, apricots and hazelnuts
- Unemployment is 9%
Our only real stop along the way is a lunch break at a gorge. We have our lunch literally on the river. There are platforms built on the river that we sit on. I am guilted by my diet over the past few days into ordering a salad. It was a mistake. The Turks aren’t known for their salads. It was literally chopped up tomato, cucumber, pickles and (brown) onion. I threw the onion in the river and tried my best.
Shaggy had warned us that the optional Saklikent gorge walk involved a river crossing right at the start. He neglected to mention that we were actually walking in a river the entire time. I decided to not put my togs. Mistake number two. Regardless it was still really fun and reminded me a lot of the walks my brother and I would do at home as kids.
Our accommodation is the Artemisia Royal Park Club and it’s resort style with a view of the beach. Luisina and I are on ground level, a fence jump away from the pool.
We have dinner at the restaurant then head out to hear some live music. Mediterranean going out time is midnight but we leave at 10pm. We go to a bar called the Car Cemetery, where they have a rock band playing covers that we all know including I Come From a Land Down Under, much to our delight. The also do a birthday shout out to one of the girls in our group which was cool. The drinks are fast flowing, colourful and of varying sizes; we have shots but also share a fishbowl (a huge glass with multiple straws) of something blue and sweet. Not a big night but a really good one.