Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The Dolmuş

A dolmuş is a privately owned vehicle, with seating capacity of 14 which runs to and from towns and outlying villages.

Dolmuş means "stuffed" or "full" as they often don't run to fixed schedules, but when they are full. Mainly because the fare's very cheap, and the owner/driver isn't likely to earn very much with one or two passengers.

And boy do they fill them to capacity! They will stop anywhere on route if you flag them down. Even when full, they always manage to squeeze in another passenger. The traffic police have been known to stop the driver if he is overloaded with passengers, which means that those standing have to get off..regardless of where they are. It's not unusual for the dolmuş driver, on seeing a traffic police car ahead, to shout for those passengers standing to get down. They immediately respond by ducking down until the police car is out of sight.

There's a lot of shuffling about and swapping of seats on the dolmuş because even in the 21st century, it's still frowned upon for a man to sit next to a woman, so when a new passenger gets on, people move about to accommodate them. And chivalry is not dead here...a man or child will always stand to allow a woman or elderly passenger to have a seat.

Paying your fare is a little precarious. You tap the shoulder of the person in front of you..hand them your money and it's then passed forward to the driver. If you need change, it's then passed back to you via the same route. All this happens while the driver is driving. You can imagine the potential for accidents.

A dolmuş driver is a rare breed. He is a patient man and very accommodating. He is happy to stop for a passenger who spots a family member en route, so that the passenger can have a quick chat with the relative, or hand over a gift of some kind, before continuing on his journey (this happened while I was on the way to Milas yesterday...he even waited for the elderly relative to cross back over the busy road before setting off again).

He'll gladly stop for you to pop into a shop for bread or cigarettes, and if someone en route from town to village wants to send something to a relative, he'll obligingly act as delivery man.

It's not unusual for him to make a diversion off his main route, to drop a child at home or at school, to prevent an elderly passenger from having to walk too far. And he really gets to know his regulars very quickly. After my first trip on the local dolmuş, he knew exactly where to drop me off from then on without my having to tell him.

He will allow people to board the bus with almost anything. On market days it's impossible to get into a seat without first climbing across bags of shopping, sacks of potatoes, and anything else that you happen to have bought in town. When I lived in Gumusluk a man once boarded with an entire bathroom suite...toilet, washbasin and shower base...and no-one batted an eyelid.

I've made many new friends on a dolmuş. Only last week when I arrived back in the village from Milas, two Turkish ladies got off the bus at the same place as me. Their houses were on the way up the hill to my house. Instead of the usual 10 minutes it takes me to get to the top of the hill, I arrived home 2 hours later, having been invited in to one house to catch my breath, and drink water, then to the the home of the other lady to drink Turkish coffee whilst we got to know each other.

Mr Ayak hates the dolmuş...he thinks they are overcrowded and smelly...which of course they are especially in the height of summer.

Me? I love them!


  1. They are a wonderful invention, wish we had them here.

    I dreaded taking the dolmus to selcuk as they really would stuff them. I have a touch of claustrophobia and the thought of being trapped inside one if something happened terrifies me.

    The drivers seem to take pride in their dolmus´ - many of them will personalize them with knick knacks.

    How nice for you to find some new friends Ayak.

  2. Ah yes the knick knacks..lovely aren't they..not to mention frilly curtains and fitted carpets in some of them.

    I have no choice about making friends here ...the village women are absolutely's impossible to refuse an invitation to have tea with them. I don't even get to go to the weekly market on my own..someone will call out for me and we gather others along the way.

    I use the word "market" loosely in this case...two veg stalls, a dried goods stall, a cheese van and a household goods stall...and that's it! Not quite on the same level as Selcuk market I'm afraid....but incredibly cheap!

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  4. Oh yes! Curtains, fitted carpets and lace work ha ha you name it. Often time they will have pictures of themselves and family members.
    In Kusadasi some of the dolmus´ are mini discotheque´s with florescent lighting and b/w checkered linoleum flooring. Very fancy.

    OOoh I love love the Cheese van´s Ayak! They sell delicious cheeses that you are allowed to sample.

    Have you considered selling your cakes at the market? Perhaps you could test it out on the the village women. Could be an earner especially if you get some deal on the dried fruits in return.

    Despite the noise issue with the domestic farm animals and a demented donkey it seems quite wonderful there. And the people there have really taken a liking to you which is so important.

    When Billy is over you can really show him off - I bet they´ll be pinching at his little cheeks for days on end.

  5. I really appreciated the dolmus the times we were in Turkey as tourists. A cheap and easy way to move about, and the drivers so kind and helpful to foreigners. The interior decor was quite something, too.

  6. The Dolmus sounds like an adventure Ayak, if I ever get to Turkey I will make sure to try one

  7. It's an experience you won't forget Jazzy xx

  8. Thanks for sharing Dolmus from here. I only knew Blue Mosque :)

  9. Hi The Ninja Boy and welcome to my blog.

    Did you visit the Blue Mosque in Istanbul? Or did you read about it?

    Although I've lived in Turkey for 11 years, I haven't yet been to the Blue Mosque. It's on my list of places to visit here...and it's a long list!

  10. What fun!
    Thanks for dropping by my blog, very nice to meet you!

  11. Welcome Calico Kate...very pleased to meet you too!

  12. I couldn't help smiling the whole time I read this post! :)

  13. It actually made me smile again Carolyn!

    Thanks for the link from your post xx

  14. Carolyn sent me over--hilarious post! Reminded me of the bus I took down the mtn into town when visiting Puerto Vallarta... I sat up front--no passing the fare over shoulders for me~

    And I thought dolmas must mean something else. At a Lebanese restaurant I used to frequent, one of the menu items was "grape leaves & dolmas"... not minibuses! :D

  15. Hi LTM and welcome to my blog. Well not surprisingly the word is derived from dolma..meaning stuffed...normally used for stuffed vine leaves and other vegetables. And people literally do get stuffed into the dolmuş. In this village they only run into the next town every hour, so the driver doesn't like to leave anyone behind. They mostly seat 14 people but I have counted as many as 30 passengers on occasions!


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