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Ken Grubb

More Incirlik Alley Photos (It's a Ghost Town These Days!)

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While I was staying in Adana, I went to Incirlik Alley, which is just outside Incirlik Air Base. It's normally a very busy place, with local Turks selling anything that can be sold to military personnel. It also has a lot of bars, discos, and restaurants. The Alley currency is the US Dollar (Turkish Lira is also accepted, of course). It its heyday, the shops, bars, and restaurants were open until 2:00 AM, and were sometimes quite crowded. Unfortunately because of the recent threat condition, Incirlik has been in lock-down for about a year and a half now, so the local merchants' customers have completely disappeared.

I wanted to see what the Alley was like these days. Practically everything is closed. Most of the old places were there, like Incirlik Coin, Copper Ali's, Smiley's Disco, Falcon Bar, Moonlight and Royal Restaurants, Great Wall Chinese Restaurant, and Woody Woodpecker Furniture. All closed with their interiors collecting dust.

Here are some photos I took of The Alley as it is today.


The Entrance.


Pop's Leather and Abe's Carpets.


I remember Blue Angel Bar, Paris Leather World has appeared since I was there.


Spent a lot of time at Cheers myself.


Everybody who has ever been to Incirlik knows Copper Ali's!


Deja Vu Bar, which appeared a few years after I left Incirlik back in 2006 or so.


Deja Vu. I could swear I have seen this before.


Falcon Bar. One of my other hangouts. They had fantastic chicken wings.


The Chinese restaurant, Great Wall, had a chef from China. The food was excellent. I heard they relocated to Adana. I couldn't find it, my friend said he thought it had closed. If you're in Adana and see it's still open, go there for the best Chinese food around.


The Huğlu Shotgun Shop. Military people would often buy fine Turkish shotguns, often engraved with their names on them. The shop also has a partner in Texas which has a federal firearms license, so they can mail the shotgun to them, and have them forward it to the customer. A great shop with a great reputation.

And they're still open. And serving tea. :)

If you're interested in buying a shotgun in Turkey, here is their contact info:

Çukurova Av ve Spor LTD. ŞTI
Yeni Mahalle Atatürk Caddesi No: 39/A

Tel: +90 322 346 7182
Web: www.curkurovaav.com.tr

Here are some shots (no pun intended) of the interior.




Not much going on at Incirlik.



Now there's a supermarket there for those living in the apartments in the village.


Great Wall Chinese Restaurant.


All the military guys used to get their unit "challenge coins" made here. They also make fantastic plaques and shadow boxes for retiring military personnel. I am sure they still do that, it's just their walk-in business that has suffered. The door was still open and there was somebody there.


I ate many a meal at the Moonlight Restaurant. They were popular for hail and farewell lunches.


Rooster! Rooster's patch shop is still open, and Rooster's still there. He remembered me as soon as I walked in. The Turks have an incredible ability to remember someone they've met before, it's uncanny.


Rooster's patch shop interior. He can make any kind of patch imaginable.


The Royal Restaurant was also a great place to eat.


If you needed any kind of furniture made, Woody Woodpecker could do it. You could just show them a page from a catalogue and they could reproduce it at a much lower price. Because of the relatively high weight allowance US military personnel had, they would often have furniture made at Woody Woodpecker and then ship it back to the states when they left.


And for carpets? Go to Yellow Star. Well, not now of course.

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It's sad to see a place, once thriving, now empty. The poor business people, how do they survive?


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They generally just go where the money is, like any good entrepreneur would. On 1 May 2003, the day of the invasion of Iraq, the mission supporting the no-fly zones in North and South Iraq (Southern Watch and Provide Comfort, collectively called "Operation Southern Comfort" [after the whiskey of the same name!]) suddenly ended. Thousands of NATO troops, who were living in a tent city on Incirlik got on planes and left. Overnight. There was no longer any reason to continue the no-fly zones. 

So business in the alley also died then. Many of the merchants in the alley just cut deals with the organization which runs the base exchange (BX), pulled up stakes, and moved to Iraq. In Iraq they opened basically the same shops, but this time, actually on the NATO bases! And a lot of the Turkish workers in the alley shops also went to Iraq for the same work.

At Incirlik, I think all of the alley merchants know that this can happen at any time, so they're prepared for it. At any time the threat can suddenly increase, or some other incident can happen which causes the commander to put the place in lock-down and make the alley off-limits.

And while the shops are closed down, they still own them, even today, waiting for the boom times to come again. They will.

It actually has nothing to do with tourism. Nobody would ever go on holiday to Incirlik. There are no hotels there. There were some travel agencies, but they basically just dealt with NATO troops who wanted to get away for a while, and some car rental places. It really is feast or famine. During good times with a low threat level, the merchants in the alley make a fortune!

I even ran a bar there once, called Sky Bar. I didn't make a fortune, though. Too much competition! :)

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