TOPICS OF INTERVIEW
The Profile of Prof. Orhan Kural
Orhan Kural had been the head of the Mining Engineering Department for the Istanbul Technical University for almost 9 years. He has lectured on Engineering Ethics, Environment and Society, and Statistics”. He has worked at the technical University for 44 years as a lecturer. The last 9 years he was the head of the department.
The book “COAL” is his most important written work in his primary field. It was prepared over a six-year period with the contributions of 52 authors and 157 scientists from 61 countries. The leaders of 22 countries have also expressed their views in the preface section of the book. The book is still being used as a reference book at mining faculties of universities in 20 different countries.
Currently he has travelled 900,000 kilometers, and currently holds the Turkish record for the most countries visited. He is the 50th most travelled person in the world, according to the Nomadmania website. His aspiration to travel arose in his soul at the age of fourteen, in 1964. He has visited all 193 countries of the United Nations as of August 2018.
Early in 1998, he established “Türkiye Gezginler Kulübü” (Turkish Travelers’ Club) in Istanbul, which is the first travelers club ever in Türkiye. The club now has over 300 members among whom are famous authors, photographers, scientists, artists and various other people linked by a common “love of travel”. This club is one of the most active civil organizations in the world (www.turkiyegezginlerkulubu.com).
He was appointed as Honorary Consul of Benin in Istanbul in 2003 and as Vice Honorary Consul of Vanuatu in İstanbul in 2013.
He has also prepared a Mathematics Book for high school students. He believes knowing math is essential for personal or professional achievement.
He has participated in approximately 500 television programs in Turkey and many other countries that he has visited. There have been many articles written about Orhan Kural, in different newspapers from over 65 countries. Orhan seems to capture the media’s attention in and out of his country.
He directs television programs about protecting the environment and ecology on different channels such as: KMP, Channel 9, Istanbul TV, HBB, Ulusal, E TV, Channel 6, Expochannel, Star TV, Kanaltürk, Bugün, Channel 34, Channel 360, and for last 7 years in Bloomberg. He has also prepared radio programs for 12 years about traveling culture on different frequencies. He is still doing a program about travelling at radio Bloomberg. He has also directed a documentary called “Mining” which was filmed in 17 different mines of Türkiye.
Kural has shared his experiences with his readers writing 17 Travel books released over 18 years, some of which were bestsellers in Türkiye.
He has arranged 55 photos consisting of colour photos taken during his trips in and outside Türkiye. He is doing projects for high school students not to start smoking.
He is also the President of the “Yellow Crescent” and he is partly responsible for anti-smoking laws in Türkiye.
Now, he converted his home into a travel museum, as of December of 2018. Now it is open public. He is also living in the same place in a small room.
Dr. Kural has written hundreds of articles regarding his trips. They have been published in many important magazines and newspapers.
Given his strong belief in a close relationship between tourism and the environment, he has participated in over 5200 conferences and presentations at various places ranging from primary schools, to universities, and police academies. He advocates that the further a country loses its environmental resources, traditions, and biological richness the more it loses its tourism potential. With regard to tourism, he also emphasizes his philosophy that travel enables people to get to know each other, removes prejudices, and cultivates long-term peace.
He was invited by Ministers and Airline Companies of Slovenia, Malta, Saudi Arabia, and Cuba to publicize their countries. Additionally he has been invited by Alitalia to visit two cities ın Italy, by Air Portugal to visit Lisbon in 1999, and by the Sea Song agency to visit the Greek Islands in 2004. As well as also being a guest of Yunus Emre Institutes, he gave conferences in Brussels, Skopje, Prishtine, Bucharest, Tirane, Tehran and Prizren.
Some young people seriously beat him up when he advised them not to use drugs. They were driving a taxi with high speed and littering the back streets of Istanbul.
He still enjoys vintage suits and even his father's old suit.
He believes that a mosquito has the same right to survive as human beings. He does not consume any “insecticide” and as a result, he suffered from malaria, the doctors in Istanbul could not diagnose this sickness because in Turkiye malaria is no longer a threat. He lost 15 kilograms in three days due to malaria.
Additionally, Dr. Orhan Kural is an “animal rights activist”. A director of “dog training centres” attacked him. He is against dog training centers, horse races, Sea World, Circuses with animals show, and zoos because they torture animals. He has been vegetarian for 20 years.
In Istanbul, everyday 3 million pieces of bread are thrown away. On the other hand, each day 24 thousand people lose their lives from hunger or lack of water.
He is against all summer holiday villages where they lay like a crocodile and fill their plates with all kinds of food (“all you can eat”) and waste food.
He also appeared on some films, series, fashion shows, theatre and musicals from time to time.
Orhan is many things and has had many experıences ın his life but it is because of these experıences ıt has grown him into the great man he is today.
His life became a musical in 2019 at BKM.
Over 970 awards have been presented to Prof. Dr. Orhan Kural by different associations, most notably:
The Legion of Honour of Republic of Benin ( June 2014)
The Environment Award presented by Ministry of Environment, Türkiye
The Environment Awards of Press presented by INEPO – Türkiye
·The Environment Award presented by Rectorate of Uludağ University
The Contribution Award presented by World Energy Council
·The Environment Award presented by Rectorate of Işık University,
·The Environment Award presented by Rectorate of Maltepe University
·The Environmet Award presented by INEPO – Türkiye
·The most succesful man of the year of 1998 in the environmental field in Turkiye
·The Environment Award presented by INEPO – Türkiye, 2004
·The Environment Award, UNICEF Help Yourself Award, April 2010
The Best Lecturer of the year 2013 by the Rectorate of Istanbul Technical University.
AT CURRENT, PROF. DR. ORHAN KURAL IS
Lecturer of İstanbul Aydın and İstanbul Esenyurt Universities
The president of Turkish Travellers Clup of Turkiye
Honorary Consul of Republic of Benin
The President of Association of Yellow Crescent
Vice Honorary Consul of Vanuatu
Gezi Kitaplığı ve Gezginler Evi – Gayrettepe Mahallesi, Vefa Bayırı Sokak, Yıldız Sitesi, B Blok No 6, Daire 9 – Beşiktaş/İstanbul
Tel: + 90 212 285 66 88,
Mobile: (90 532 252 30 87) E-mail:
ANSWERS OF SOME QUESTIONS FROM THE PRESS
1)Tell us something about your early years and how your interest in travel developed.
Since my childhood years, I wanted to live the “difference”. There wasn’t any town left in Istanbul that I didn’t visit. In those years, there were 67 provinces in Turkey. (Now there are 81). I only didn’t see Muş, an eastern province. I took on the bus to go to Muş and I arrived there after a 17-hour-long journey. In those years the only transport means was the bus and the means were limited. I never told my mother about this trip. She would be very angry!
Traveling is freedom. Travel is a journey to the unknown. Traveling people can overcome the challenges and open the door to lifelong achievement.
My mother told me that when I was in the primary school (10 years old) and I had told her “I have reached this age but I haven’t seen Europe at all”.
2) You are now 66 years old and have almost completed every country in the world. How did you manage to achieve this? When did you take the decision to visit 'everywhere'?
Since my high school years I wanted to step on every country. In time this has turned into a passion. This even resulted in a competition among the members of Turkey Institution of Travelers. Some of my friends increased the number of countries and tried to reach me. This motivated me even further. I tried to reach every county within a specific schedule by planning everything in advance. I have completed visiting 54 African countries. The biggest issue with African countries was the visa difficulty. Some countries didn’t even have any representatives in Turkey. But I found the solutions one by one without giving up.
3) Which countries have surprised you, negatively or positively, compared to what you expected before?
The country that impressed me most in “a positive” way was undoubtedly the Kingdom of Bhutan. It was as if I had been suddenly beamed up to 100 years ago. First of all, cigarettes, which I hated most, weren’t sold there. Hunters, whom I consider as assassins, were prohibited there. Trees weren’t cut, huge concrete buildings weren’t allowed, professional football that hypnotizes masses wasn’t popular in that country. Instead they were involved in traditional archery, and the number of visitors allowed was not so many in the country. This was because they believed that as the number of tourists would increase, their culture would be corrupted soon. The important thing was the happiness of people.
Actually every country that I visit makes me happy, because happiness lies in details. Even the taste of a sugar, green hairpin of a little girl, a music tune from the street, the corner of a cafe with red table cloths, colorful clothes hung on the street are interesting for me. Because of this I become happy everywhere. But I don’t like summer resorts where half naked people walk around in flip-flops and lie down like lizards around swimming pools. Just like Acapulco in Mexico, Varadero in Cuba, Bodrum in Turkey and Brisbane in Australia.
4) Tell us 1 or 2 travel stories which you will always remember.
Of course I have experienced many interesting things. Even though I had Afghan visa on my passport, the Russian police didn’t let me enter through the border while passing from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan. I tried everything, I gave gifts, I begged, I even showed my books in an appealing manner, but the man didn’t say “yes” no matter what. And I took his photo saying I would take action against him. Then they put me in a cell. I was kept in the dark with water sound around me for 12 hours. They took the film from the camera (in those times there were film rolls). Then they sent me back to Uzbekistan. When I returned to Turkey I found out that the region was under the command of “General Dostum” and thus the visa from Afghanistan wasn’t valid, but they weren’t able to declare it officially.
While going to a typical native village on the Papua Island of Indonesia, we had to pass through on a wood block. I slipped and fell into the water, but actually it was sewage. When I arrived at the village of course I smelled very bad. I took off and throw away my clothes, the peasants washed with water hoses. I went to the bazaar immediately and bought new clothes.
5) How do people in the world react when you tell them you are from Turkey?
I don’t like it when I am asked the question “Where are you from”, I pretend not to hear it. I think this is a kind of discrimination. The important thing is approaching people with favor and respect to traditions. This kind of behavior opens all doors. Other than this, it is not important where you come from.
I have never been treated badly in any country because of being a Turk, except for Iceland. I was sitting at a café with Icelandic young people 20 years ago. I learnt that some pirate ships coming from Algeria during the Ottoman Empire times reached Iceland and killed many people, took girls as hostage and sold them as slaves. Since Algeria was considered as “Turkish” in the Ottoman times, Icelandic people were full of hate towards the Turks.
6) Are there many explorers like yourself in your native country? Why or why not? Are you part of any travel clubs?
I am the founder president of Travelers Club Turkey for 16 years The purpose of founding this union is bringing the travelers together to allow them meet each other and share their experiences. We believe that we are one of the most active unions in its branch. You can find more detailed information about our union at website.
The biggest reason for me to hold on to life is the desire to “be on the road” inside of me.
7) What do your friends and family think of all these travels?
Because of my travels I divorced my wife in 1988. Since I was working at the university, at first my frequent travels drew reaction, but then they got used to this. When I was offered to be head of the department, I told them I would accept this only if they wouldn’t prevent my travels and I have been the Head of Mining Engineering at ITU for 9 years. My group of friends consists of my frequent traveling friends, therefore I have no difficulty with friends. Usually we travel with the members of Travelers Club of Turkey. However I have traveled many times alone.
8) Give us a few gems of your own country that not many foreigners know about.
Here the advantages of couchsurfing emerges. You can’t get to know Istanbul just by coming here with a cruise ship and a rushed sloppy tour. The real interesting aspects of the city are the side streets, away from tourist groups. Talking about Istanbul, eating the traditional “zerde” dessert in Vefa Bozacısı, Zeyrek Kahvehanesi or a typical restaurant in Sütlüce will leave a deeper impression in mind. There are hundreds of mosques, churches, museums, many are similar to each other, and you’re confused. I think that it takes to be inside the social life of a particular country to be a real traveler.
I add the young people, who become my guest via couchsurfing, to my life for a few days. They listen to my conferences at schools, come to the university, attend radio-television programmes, go shopping with me on the side streets, drink real Turkish coffee.
This geography, full of Mardin province, Adıyaman Nemrut Mountain Tanrı Sculptures, Ani Remains in Kars, motorbike tours in Canyons in Erzincan Kemaliye and the tones of green in Artvin Borçka across Turkey should be experienced.
9) Are you active on the internet? Do you have a blog and you use social media? If yes, how do these help your travels?
Of course I use the internet. I have written 17 travel books. I also have a special book telling the secrets of plentiful traveling. (Gezi Rehberi – Travel Guide). I believe that I really provide great service through these books. This is because what a British or French tourist or a Turkish tourist wants to see or enjoy are different. For instead, we arrived at an antique city which was British Guide Book rated by 5 over 5 after a 4-hour-long journey on the desert, but there was nothing interesting. We see this kind of remains all over Turkey, but we don’t really recognize. So instead we could have stayed in Kashgar and join the lives of local people there.
I try to announce my trips to my traveler friends via whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter.
10) What are your travel plans for the rest of this year? Which countries do you still have left to see and what are your longer-term travel plans?
I have up to six travel plans in 2017. Some of these are standard trips with the union members, I will make some of them alone and I will make a few trips with 1-2 friends. These trips will include Tunisia, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, Iran, Lapland, Egypt and Georgia, but the most important among all is obviously the trip to Pasific Islands with 3 friends, a place where I will be the 3 islands where I’ve never been to before. We will hit the road on August 1 and visit Kiribati, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Christmas Islands. I have been to Fiji before. Kiribati gave us a hard time regarding visa. None of these countries have been visited by Turks before. Because of this, I am so excited. After visiting these countries, the number of countries I haven’t visited will be down to five: Tuvalu, North Mariana Islands, Micronesia, Niue and Naura.
11) What are your travel plans for the rest of this year? Which countries do you still have left to see and what are your longer-term travel plans?
An interesting question!
The first one would be John F. Kennedy. I could ask him why he was killed. Or I would want to know if he was murdered because he had thought of shutting down the cigarette plants.
The second one would be Nicola Tesla. I think he is the most remarkable scientist of all times, but he was insulted and misjudged due to his lifestyle.
I would meet the founder of our Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. I admire him, we owe him really so much as the Turkish nation. It would be great to hear his life, the challenges he had to overcome from him.
Finally, I would like to meet Jeanne Moreau, whom I admire watching her movies since my childhood. I used to watch her movies with admiration. She has an attitude and charm of her own.