We entered Van just after the sun went down, and drove by an armoured car and a couple of TOMA vehicles, sending chills down my spine. TOMAs are the tank-like trucks that terrorised Gezi protesters with chemically treated water last year— and have been involved in nearly every protest since. The Eastern part of Turkey is predominantly Kurdish, as is Van, and I couldn't help but wonder if the ridiculous amount of armoured vehicles that we kept on seeing had anything to do with that. There's a lot that isn't spoken about in Turkey; certain topics that are impossible to get a clear view on, probably due in part to the fact that you can be imprisoned or physically harmed for saying something that someone considers "anti-Turkish."
I realise that I am a foreigner and will always be a foreigner with an outsider's perspective, and I struggle with the idea that I am not able to express myself freely on some issues. There are people I have met who vehemently deny that Kurdish people in Turkey are treated any differently than Turks— and yet, those same people will openly express their distrust of "people from the East."
I am torn over what to say about certain observations I have made over the course of this adventure. I will say that Van felt depressed, and traces of the massive earthquake in 2011 were still evident.
On a far lighter note, Van has some of the most marvellous roundabout sculptures.