I met Yusuf outside the hostel around 10am and together we walked through the city to a place where Yusuf bargained a price to catch a minibus to his home, the issue being the fact that I had my loaded bicycle with me. I had tried to convince Yusuf yesterday that he should just tell me his address and I would ride there, but he insisted on meeting me in the city and going home together. We managed to squeeze my stuff into the back of a minibus, which took us on an hour’s ride out of the main city of Van and into the surrounding countryside. Yusuf lives on his own unit in an apartment building that is one of many identical buildings dotted on the hills around Van. The neighbourhoods in the area are fairly bland and repeated. The apartment buildings are exactly the same design and colour (various shades of brown), as are the schools and mosques. The surrounding land is dry, brown and void of trees or shrubs. But still, the place seems beautiful, mostly because it is situated above low-lying Van, and provides a spectacular view over the city and lake. It is nice to be out of the city and seeing the place from a new perspective. I don’t like being stuck in cities too long, better appreciating a more open, natural place from which a city can be visited, rather than the other way around (needing to escape a city into a natural area).

After a couple of hours at home, we caught a bus back into town, with the aim of visiting the post office so I could send a package home. Neither of us thought about the fact that it was Sunday and that the post office would be closed. Nevertheless, we had a fun time in the city hanging out. After walking around and having lunch in Van’s largest mall (why do people always want to show off their shopping centres?), we visited an underground games arcade where we hired a table tennis table for a while. I was worried Yusuf would be much better than me (as he plays it regularly and I haven’t played in years), but I managed to put up a strong fight and win a series of matches 4-1. One guy from a pair playing on another table invited me to a competition, first to 25. He was really good, but somehow I pulled off some incredible flukes and managed to beat him too. From the arcade we travelled to a fruit juice bar where we enjoyed some delicious banana smoothies. After a bit more walking we headed home. I let myself into the apartment while Yusuf visited his sister, who lives in an identical building around the corner. He brought home a chocolate cake that his sister made for me. As we devoured half of it and drank tea, we chatted about various aspects of life.

View from my new home

Accommodation New friend’s house
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 24,662