I have split this day in two parts as it’s important that I share my horrifying experience in the Turkish night bus which I took from Trabzon to Kars that night. I had tried buying tickets online from the Igdir Tourizm website before, but it didn’t work well and they only accept credit cards from Visa and Master card. It’s worth pointing out that Metro Bus company has the widest bus network in Turkey and also have special travel card passes where you get discounts, but I didn’t use them anytime in Turkey (mostly because we wanted to try different bus companies, and also often the metro bus timings didn’t match our schedules). In Turkey, intercity travel with buses is the most common and comfortable way of traveling, and trust me, most of the buses are super comfortable and they would stop every 2-3 hours in an eating place with toilets. Highly recommended if you are in Turkey!
However, this post is about my experience in the Igdir Tourizm bus which turned out to be a nightmare. Because the Turkish bus companies don’t accept an Amex credit card, I couldn’t book tickets online. I had to get my bus tickets in the last minute directly fro their Trabzon office.I made a reservation for the night bus (11:30pm) from Trabzon to Kars. I will always advise to book your tickets on long route buses in Turkey atleast 2 days before (this can be done by either walking into their bus offices in the city you are in –mostly all of them have offices in the city center, if not, then go to the “otogar” of the city you are in). I paid 70 TL to go from Trabzon to Kars.
The bus arrived on time in Trabzon otogar stop.It was a very nice and comfortable bus with 2+1 seating arrangement, but sadly I got the last seat (37) in the bus and I was very unhappy about it. I asked the bus conductor/helper if I could move in the front, but they didn’t speak much English and was in general were very hesitant to help move in the front even though there were empty seats. I tried having a conversation with a guy from Azerbaijan and he was the only one in the entire bus who could speak very little English and tried to help me. I asked if he could ask the conductor to give us front seats which he did, but the conductor refused to change our seats saying the bus is full. The first stop of the bus was after couple of hours and the conductor took in more people and offered them front seats instead of us. I was furious, but eventually cooled down and decided to let go and sleep. It was around 3am in the morning and all the fellow passengers were almost sleeping when suddenly I could feel someone touching me in an uncomfortable way and trying to wake me up. It was the conductor guy and he was speaking Kurdish to me which he was well aware of that I wouldn’t understand. His gestures started becoming way too uncomfortable and he started pointing at my fingers and asking if I were married or not. I replied NO and he seemed very happy to about it. I raised my voice in this moment and the conductor left me alone.
Again I was awakened by something and on opening my eyes, I found the same guy just staring at me and giving me weird looks. I was kind of scared by then and by this time, the bus had stopped again for rest. I felt very helpless in this situation as nobody spoke English and I just wanted to reach Kars safely as soon as possible. It was almost sunrise by then (5:30am) and the conductor guy came to me again and started smiling at me in a very weird way and I totally ignored him and started looking out of the bus window. The sky outside was all red with dry mountains and plateaus in the backdrop. By 7:30am in the morning, the bus arrived in the Kars otogar station and I felt so so relived to to leave the bus.
- Buy your long journey (especially night buses) tickets in Turkey atleast 2 days beforehand as they always sell out fast.
- Something that I learned the hard way is once you are in Eastern Turkey, dress in a covered way and always carry a scarf with you.
- Try avoiding the back seats in the long distance buses and it is true that the bus companies will always try to sell you the last two seats in the end, as Turkish people usually never buy those seats.
- They will respect you much more as a woman if you say you are married (even better to wear fake ring as they always check your fingers!! Trust me, I am not kidding).
- I think I grabbed more attention than any other western girl traveler in general as being Indian, I look a bit like them (infact, everyone I met there thought I was either Turkish, Kurdish or Arab).