This Elderly Muslim Traveler Became Famous After A Viral Facebook Campaign Took Off

Ask any traveler what they treasure most during their travels; it is pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words. During my own travels, my phone went bonkers and I lost half of my travel pictures, I was absolutely devastated. Luckily for us millennials, we know our way around the Cloud, which can backup all our photos. But imagine how a 60 year old, who is unfamiliar about the current technology, felt when she lost her one and only source of graphic memory that is worth 10 years of travel!

A sprained ankle

Ayse Kurucu, known as Ayse Teyze (Aunt Ayse) in Turkey, was hitchhiking with a couple that was driving up to Bosphorus heading to Georgia. Ayse was going to catch her tour bus when she entered Tulin and Emre Oztemel’s car. Not long after dropping Ayse at her stop, Emre found a camera in their car that belonged to her. What they found out in her camera was truly extraordinary and what this couple did next was really courteous.

Though she didn’t look the part to be a solo traveler, Ayse’s camera revealed that she had been to 25 countries, including some of the world’s most famous landmarks. Ayse’s first country that she traveled to was in the African continent: Egypt! Other countries include, France, India, Italy, the UAE and many more. On an adventurous note, Ayse has been to Tibet, Nepal, and Thailand.

The social network campaign begins

Realizing that this possession must mean (literally) the world to Ayse, the couple uploaded her photos on Facebook. Hoping that someone out there would recognize her, Tulin and Emre’s facebook campaign went viral only after 15 hours. In a world where fake news is passed off as real news all too often, of course there were some netizens who accused Tulin and Emre’s campaign of being fake, claiming that their intention is only to gain popularity, but Tulin has a wicked rebuttal ready. She states in Hurriyet Daily News“People have already lost their good intentions. Everything became a series of lies. Why do people think an old woman traveling the world is strange? Why do you think this is fake? Can a middle-aged woman who is a housewife not love traveling?”

The “Teyze Araniyor” or “Wanted: The Aunt” Facebook campaign took 5 months before the camera made its way back to its owner. Tulin and Emre recorded their journey from Istanbul to Izmir and paid a visit to Ayse’s home.

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You gave the world to me

Upon receiving her treasure, Ayse couldn’t be happier as she mentioned that she won’t have the privilege to travel to those countries again. Certainly a camera isn’t as costly but the real gem lies upon the content of the camera, Ayse added in the video recorded by the couple.  

Reading all those positive comments on Tulin and Emre Facebook campaign, a commenter had even requested that Ayse visit Rio Carnaval in Brazil on behalf of him. Praises and admiration for Ayse swamped the Facebook campaign of the couple.

Ayse explains that she got a taste of freedom after divorcing her husband and that motivated her to go out and travel the world. The mother of three describes her life now as an empress that reigns her kingdom well, happily and freely.

Newfound Fame

The virality of the couple’s social media campaign has landed Ayse plenty of interviews on national television. Already a buzz that caught the media’s attention, Ayse had several TV channels offering her a spot in commercials and small TV roles. In fact, as we speak, Ayse has already shot her own TV commercial.

Ayse will not stop at 25 countries. Her bucket list includes Japan, China and Spain. She hopes to be visiting the countries in the coming spring.

Regardless of age,  it is never too late to start planning your travels. Go out of your comfort zone and experience the world through a traveler’s perspective. It is when you travel that you will have a broader and more open mind. Perhaps when one travels, one can become more compassionate and more understanding of others. As Ibnu Battuta once said, “Traveling, it leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller.”

So tell me, what are you waiting for? What is in your bucket list? Where are you going next? The world is waiting for you.