Hitching in Southeastern Anatolia is easiest in whole Turkey, thanks to the legendary hospitality of local people. Most of the time you’ll be picked up when heading towards the exit of the town, even if you’re not actually thumbing. At other times, most likely the first driver passing by will offer a ride. During the rides, you’ll usually be offered cold water, cigarettes, juice, or even whole meals!
Though almost everyone can speak (at least broken) Turkish in the region, the mother tongue of most locals is Kurdish language east of Euphrates River (Fırat), so speaking a few words of Kurdish would be a nice gesture.
- Roj bash (j like in French) = Good morning
- Shaev bash = Good night
- Spas = Thanks
- Gelek spas = Thanks a lot
- Aa = Yes
- Na = No
However, never ever test your Kurdish skills on Turkish officials and (especially) Turkish military persons, as speaking Kurdish to them can be seen as you’re supporting Kurdish independence—one of the biggest sins in their eyes!
Despite what non-local Turks will tell you, travelling (and hitchhiking, for that matter) is pretty much safe in this region, on the major roads at the very least. According to the locals, avoiding hitching at night is enough for personal safety. You may run into a few military checkpoints, though all you need to do is showing your passport (therefore keep it handy during rides, not buried deep in your backpack). Keeping a short list of cities on your itinerary in mind may save both your and your driver’s time in case of further questioning at checkpoints.
Drivers in this region seem to drive somewhat recklessly, even more so than the drivers in the rest of the country, and even on narrow roads full of potholes. Either get used to it, or close your eyes. Don’t worry, they drive like this all the time.
All locals tend to emphasize that campers should not stray too far from houses when camping, no matter how “wild at heart” they are. Go ask localfolk to see if you can pitch your tent in their garden, or go ask the teacher, maybe you can sleep in the schoolyard, but don’t go wild camping in the forest or on the hilltops. This is true until PKK conflict in the rural parts of the region comes to a conclusion.
Another thing that requires attention while camping in the region is scorpions (during summers only). Shake and check your shoes each time before wearing them. Always keep the zip of your tent and backpack locked, and pitch your tent in the wettest (look for green grasses) and the least stony place you can find. Riverbanks seem OK.