Filling up with cheaper diesel smuggled over the border from Iran a mile or two down the road. Dogubayazit is a border town so smuggling is big business.
Most of the day was spent travelling. We had quite a long, hot drive to Agri Airport before the two-hour flight to Istanbul.
Another plush, comfortable, Istanbul hotel. We sat on the roof which sported a swimming pool and impressive views over the city.
As darkness began to descend we managed to get in touch with the assistant of an individual I wanted to speak to. A certain 'parasute'. This man is the main Dogubayazit representative for an organisation called N.A.M.I. NAMI stands for Noah's Ark Ministries International. He is the man with the large mustache in the attached video clip. NAMI are based in Hong Kong.
The name sounds innocent enough, but I have received detailed description on-camera that these people have spent large amounts of money constructing a false ark in an ice cave high on Ararat. I've been told that 'everyone' in the area knows about it. That the wood was trucked from an old sailing ship at the Black Sea to Ararat and locals were paid to transport it up the mountain to an ice cave where the hoax was constructed. The man whom they employed to show them likely caves on the mountain told me this and even said he believes he knows the very cave which they used.
Here are a couple of reports about it:
Initially, Parasute said that he couldn't come as he was busy and sent his assistant instead, so I interviewed the assistant. He had nothing of any interest to say. I had the feeling that the assistant was only there checking us out for his boss.
Later, we received a message from Parasute that he was coming after all. When he turned up, he flatly refused to be filmed and kept the back of his head resolutely turned in the direction of the camera (which wasn't rolling).
I asked him what he knew about NAMI and also about the allegations that he knowingly built a false ark in the mountain. He told me that 'He is NAMI' and that the allegations are just lies. He maintained that he really has found the real ark, that it will be world famous and they would build a visitor centre and so on.
I don't believe a word he said.
I remember being given a description of Parasute's character early on and the word from the description which stays in my memory is 'crook'. To me, hearing him described as a 'scientist' is quite amusing.
There was a real publicity drive surrounding this 'ark find' early on but ever since it was exposed as a hoax on American TV etc. everything has gone quiet. It appears they have dropped it like a hot brick. I would question why Parasute who made his living as a mountain guide in Dogubayazit and Ararat now lives in Istanbul.
None of this information was known when Donald went to Turkey for the last time. All he or I knew about it then was the video on YouTube which it appears was taken down by NAMI themselves, but of course, is still available from others after being copied.
When Donald left for Ararat the last time, his words to me were: 'I've got to find out if this Chinese find is genuine or not.'