Riding with Borat / by Jane Hosking

Arriving in Turkey and an unexpected taxi ride.

It was with a lot of fear that I left Germany and boarded my flight to Istanbul. This was the real beginning of my extended world adventure. I was stepping out into the unknown and felt anxious not knowing what lay ahead. I had planned to meet my friend Emma at a hostel in Sultanahmet. I’d looked up the details online and felt confident enough as it didn’t seem far from the airport.

On arrival I quickly purchased a local sim card before venturing outside to get a taxi. The next driver in line greeted me with an over enthusiastic smile. He had a striking resemblance to the character Borat: tall and lanky, a long thin face with big features, dark hair, a large moustache, and he wore big reflecting aviator sunglasses.

As we began the drive he started practising his English with me, grinning broadly and speaking loudly—just like Borat. After the basic pleasantries of asking where I was from it turned out the rest of his English knowledge consisted only of swearwords. “F*%K!” he said repeatedly. “F*%K ME!” He seemed very happy with himself. It wasn’t entirely clear if he knew exactly what he was saying. But from his cheeky expression, it seemed he had at least some idea.

After driving for 15 minutes or so I realised that we were no longer in a built up city area but seemed to be heading out into the countryside. As Borat drove on I started to become very worried. “What the hell was happening and why were we no longer in the city?” I thought. I knew I couldn’t ask him because he wouldn’t understand. So I started imagining ways I could escape. If he slowed down could I jump out of the car?

As my palms started to sweat I suddenly had a thought to check our location on Google Maps. My phone sim card had taken a while to become active but had just kicked in. As I loaded the map, I saw that we were very far from the hostel and were—as I had thought—driving out into the countryside. But just before I was completely overwhelmed with terror, I looked closely at the map and realised that there were in fact two airports in Istanbul and I had flown into a different one from what I thought (thanks to my eagerness to get the cheapest ticket possible!).

What a stupid mistake to make. Borat was not driving me to a secluded location where I would never be heard from again. He was driving out and around Istanbul from the Asia side to the Europe side in an attempt to avoid the traffic. I was suddenly both relieved and annoyed at the same time. This taxi ride was going to be expensive! At least I had Borat to entertain me for the rest of the drive and I was soon at the hostel meeting with Emma to begin our adventure in Turkey.