It all started innocently just like all my travels. A confusing path via public transit and misdirection by locals to our hotel, the unrelenting exhaustion from travel, and disappointing tourist food with an incredible view. All part of the game in travel.
Yet in a few days, the city, as the media claims, was engulfed in chaos. Protests. Police brutality. Danger lurking in every corner.
This is not to say that the issues that the Turks are fighting in Istanbul are not substantial. In fact, they are. Growing up in the states, I take for granted the separation of church and state, the freedom of press, the lack of legacy, and a slow bureaucracy that aims to protect.
Yet, as I woke up every morning in Istanbul to the rising heat and calls to prayer from nearby mosques, I am struck by how idyllic Istanbul really is. Staying in Sultanahmet meant that we were surrounded by tourists and tourist services nearly 100% of the time. Mainland Chinese and Korean swarmed through the streets with a leader and a red flag swinging in the front. We were always mistaken for them with smiling “Ni haos” and “Sayorana”.