23 May 2008


Where was I?

Right. Ankara. I ended up lazing around Ankara for half the day following my trip back in time to the Mighty Ancient Hittite Civilization Of Which You Should Have Heard (glad Kajori has, at least). Then I took a bus to Cappadocia, a region of Turkey famed for its fame. Arriving at the town of Goreme at 11:30 pm, I had to bang down the door of a hotel (good grief, I've been reduced to *paying* for accommodation) in order to get a cheap dorm bed. According to Lonely Planet, Goreme is "magical". F*ck you, Lonely Planet. Goreme is yet another international tourist town stuffed with over-priced, identical restaurants, annoying carpet salesmen, and busloads of middle-aged sightseers I want to ethnic-cleanse.

OK, I'm just trying to be funny. It's not all bad. The region is indeed gorgeous, and I guess you should Google Image search "Cappadocia" to see some photos (I even took a few) of the weird limestone/volcanic ash rock formations. These things, in all sorts of smooth, tapering shapes and a variety of stony colors, seem to sprout out of the ground everywhere. There are whole canyons of them, in fact, and some of them are large enough that the Byzantines carved churches into them a thousand years ago which today you can visit by paying too much money for tickets. Lots of buildings around here are carved into rock formations, including my hotel. It reminds me a bit of Coober Pedy, Australia (for the living underground), a bit of Meteora, Greece (for all the Byzantine churches in weird rock formations), and a bit of Petra, Jordan (for the colorful canyons and building facades).

On my first day in Cappadocia, I went up to the Goreme Open Air Museum and paid too much to see a bunch of churches that I ended up deciding I did not care a rat's ass about (that's an American expression that means I could't give a flying f*ck). Outside the museum, though, are squares upon square kilometers (Kajori, is that proper usage?) of wonderful canyons that you can explore for free (or, if you're an idiot, by paying for a guide). They are deserted, spectacular, and change colors as the light changes throughout the day. I had to hurry through the Rose Canyon, though, because I had booked a sunset tour to the Rose Canyon for that afternoon. Because I'm an idiot. You see, I just went wandering and had no idea I was in the Rose Canyon, but the awful truth of what I'd done dawned on me when the tour guide kept walking past rock formations I had fond memories of from only a few hours before. My hotel told me they were too far away to walk to. Whatever. Why do I keep listening to these people? Hmm. I guess I met some cool and interesting people that I wouldn't have otherwise, but, given the choice, I'd rather have my $9.75 back.

Day two involved barely waking up in time despite my alarm not going off at 5:00 am for a hot air balloon trip (my first) above the weird rock formationed canyons. When the light streaming into the room alerted me to my lateness, I jumped out of bed, jabbed my contacts into my eyes, quickly packed, chucked my bag into reception, boarded the minibus to the launch site, and then came right back after high winds cancelled our trip. So I'm trying again tomorrow morning (and thus will be wrapping this screed up soon). Afterward, I bus-bus-bus-bussed (that's four) it over to the Ihlara Valley, which is a valley. Most tourists come to look at the churches, hike a few kilometers, eat some fish, and then take off. I went (with the French woman I met in Ankara who I miraculously bumped into en route to the valley) down into the valley, looked at a few churches in order to confirm my not-giving-a-rat's-assedness, walked to the midpoint, ate some fish ("that's the cheapest restaurant over there," said a Turkish man, pointing for me), and continued walking, sans tourists, through the best part of the valley: a long stretch of greenery surrounded by steep, boulder-strewn inclines, olive trees on either side of the bubbling brook, satyrs lurking among them, no doubt. It was Arcadian! Except in Turkey! So, Turko-Arcadian.

At the end of the valley (which took us about 3-4 hours to hike leisurely, not the 7-8 which the obviously unresearched first-hand Lonely Planet estimates) are a bunch of conical rock formations which appeared in one of the Star Wars movies. This was, naturally, very exciting for me, and I'm going to watch all of them again when I go home, hopefully in front of people, so when the rock formations appear, I can jump up, exultantly, and shout egomaniacally, "I was there!" (on Tatooine?). More churches. Yawn. Then, at the very end of the valley and back on the main road, was another church, but this one was really big, so I was happy to climb to the top. Actually, it was a whole monastery complex, and I wanted to risk my life for a cool photo of myself by mounting one of the more dangerous-looking towers, but decided in the end that preserving the integrity of the monument was more important than a cool photo (and that's my story!).

Since we missed the last bus back to anywhere (at 3:30 pm!), we had to bribe a tour bus driver to take us back. And so he did. Then I practiced Japanese with the hotel workers, made myself peanut butter and rose jelly sandwiches, drank miso soup, took a shower, had my moustache trimmed, and then found an Internet cafe. End.

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