Sunday, May 8, 2016

Picnic at Orman Park

March 5, 2016

After much travel in February, we decided to stay in Antalya the first weekend of March. We had a picnic with our Pakistani friends on Saturday, March 5th at a nearby park called Orman Park.

Walking along a highway to Orman Park.
Getting to Orman Park was quite an adventure, however. Alex and I were traveling with Qasid Bhai from Meltem. We took a bus which we thought would drop us off at the entrance of Orman Park. It did drop us off at an entrance, but this entrance was under construction and therefore the lower end of the park was not in use. We walked along the fenced area hoping to find a way in, but based on the number of bulldozers I saw, I knew this couldn’t be where the others were. After asking the village locals, we went back to the bus stop. At this point, Qasid Bhai offered us two options: to walk straight up the road or wait for a second bus. It was scorching hot and we didn’t think the walk would take that long, so we set afoot to find the real Orman Park.

The road was a highway, twisting and turning up an incline. We regretted our decision once we had walked about 10 minutes away from the bus stop. Adnan Bhai people (his wife Madiha Bhabi and our friend Suhaib Bhai) had already reached the park and were waiting for us. We told them our situation and Suhaib Bhai reassured us that it was only 15 minutes away. He lied, he didn’t know how far away from the park we were. At one point, a nice Turkish woman stopped her clunky, red car to offer us a ride. However, as soon as we got in it, her engine stopped working. This was both funny and awful—our bad luck got passed onto her. We got out of the car to give the car a push but to no avail. Finally, we thanked her for her kind gesture and started walking again. After about another 10 minutes, we saw her pass by us, but this time, she didn’t stop to help us. I guess she learned her lesson, but in our defense, it wasn't our fault.

I moaned and groaned as we continued walking uphill. Every now and then I would wave at a passing bus or car, hoping a nice person would let us hitchhike with them. This was out of pure fun but I held a breath of hope nonetheless. At about the half-way mark, we stumbled upon the statue of Mr. Atatürk. It was Mount Rushmore-style; his huge face was carved out of stone. We took some photos, rested a bit, and then continued our trek. After another 15 minutes of walking alongside the busy highway, we saw Adnan Bhai standing with his car near the right entrance of Orman Park. We finally made it!
We apologized to everyone, and helped carried the food supplies to a picnic area. We found two tables next to each other, and decided to settle there. We used one table for prep work, and the other was set for lunch. I helped Madiha Bhabi make Pakistani parathas (flat blood fried in oil) over a gas stove, and she later fried chapli chicken kebabs (flat kebabs), the dough of which she had prepared at home. Adnan Bhai made fresh Pakistani chai, and once the table was set, we all gathered around to eat a delicious meal.
After a filling meal, we played badminton and ludu, took photos overseeing all of Antalya, and walked around the park to enjoy the fresh air. It was a lovely picnic day and spent with great people. I am so grateful for low-key weekends like these.

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