Thursday 2 September 2010

Fair! ...Enough!

Every year, Izmir hosts the oldest tradeshow in Turkey. Known simply as Izmir International Fair, its venue is the Kulturpark in the heart of the city. Running for a week from morning until way passed midnight, it swarms with locals as well as out of towners. This year, I decided to head down to see what all the fuss is about.

The first thing you notice is how incredibly busy it is. This is obviously a massive event in the Izmir calendar and people from all walks of life turn out to pay their 2TL to be a part of it.

The exhibitors range from TV channels to car manufacturers to olive oil wholesalers. Dolly birds trip around showing off mopeds to young couples, while slick businessmen eat waffles and ponder audio visual equipment.

After a walk through the trade section, we made a dash for the 'World Food' area. At first glance, it appeared a misnomer as the food stalls were divided into the famous cities of Turkey. There was food from Mersin, Gaziantep and even Aydin. I thought the world was bigger than this.

On closer inspection, however, I found Romanian, Bulgarian, Mexican, Italian and Chinese stands. Tucking into my Chinese noodles and fajitas, I started to get into the swing of the blaring music while food sellers danced waving paper napkins. 

After a few stuffed mussels, my friends convinced me to make the next stop the amusement park.

As a child I would visit Hampton Court fair with my friends every Bank Holiday. But, being a complete coward, I would always be the one holding the coats for my friends as they crammed themselves into gypsy-powered waltzers.

It wasn't until a 4-day motivational seminar that I had enough fire in my belly to try a rollercoaster for the first time. I headed to Euro Disney with some friends and boarded the scariest ride on offer. Despite screaming like a resident of Brokeback Mountain, this then paved the way for me to climb Kilimanjaro and, ultimately, sky-diving over Las Vegas. Nothing, however, had prepared me for the Izmir funfair.

This was where the action really was. I stood in awe as I watched scarved families barge their way through the crowds to fulfil the death wishes of their offspring. The greased pikeys who'd been lapdancing foreign pensioners in the tourist towns only days before were finally letting off steam on some of the most horrifying rides I'd ever laid my eyes on.

A friend pointed out a truth I'd been unable to admit to myself. "When you look at those responsible for your safety and the way the machinery rattles and rocks, the excitement is a very real sense that you may be propelled, waltzer and all, into a pomegranate tree."

Before long I was strapped into a ride and back to my camp YeeHawwing. Not satisfied, we got in line for the Magic Carpet ride. I watched the controller with a psychotic intensity as he pressed one button then the next, stopping only to take puffs on his cigarette.

We boarded and pulled the metal bar down over our laps. Soon we were off, swinging back and then forth. As my 95 kilo frame was ridiculed by the immense contraption as it jarred us higher and higher. A glance to my friends confirmed that we were all now in a state of silent terror. Gone were the smiles and the woops. We were now all clinging on for dear life and waiting for the ride to end.

Desperately trying to find something to anchor my obese frame, I lodged my shins under a metal bar. Though excruciatingly painful, it did offer a vague hint of security. The bruising on my lower extremities, however, is still a reminder of just how scared and desperate I was.

With all the poise and grace of four Parkinson's victims, we slowly trembled over to the Big Wheel to round off our evening with spectacular views over Turkey's 3rd largest city.

Yes, that's right. Forget the chocolate cigarettes of Hampton Court, this is Hoop-la for real packs of Marlboro Reds. I love Turkish funfairs.

Clever dick!

I think I'll try and get down there again before it ends for another year.

Izmir International Fair ...recommended!


J Bowlby said...

Brilliant stuff, Billy. --Joseph

Anonymous said...

The gypsy powered waltzers are still going strong at Hampton Court Fair if you fancy giving them a go with your new found motivation - AL