A Collection of Turkish Stories

Hotter Than Rat-Tails and Converse Shoes
After our boat cruise we backtracked to Kas for a few days, curious to see what all the fuss was about. A nice little town on the Mediterranean coast that everyone we talked to has “absolutely loved”. Relatively quiet, beautiful setting, nice enough for the middle class, cheap enough for the backpackers, a good range of restaurants and hotels and lots of adventure sports available for those restless types.

In fact, after much discussion we’ve come to the conclusion that Kas is currently residing at a point in time in the lifecycle of a tourist town that is roughly equivalent to the size of a pinhead, or the interval between meeting a Turkish person and being offered tea. This point is called…”the Climax”.

A few years back people would have started showing up, cautiously feeling her up, then things started moving a little faster, she began to pant, breathlessly building hotels and opening paragliding shops, ooh, big step, change some of the practical old streets into sexy, colourful pedestrian malls, next up a whole row of souvenir shops, I don’t think I can take much more….and that brings us to today. And from today forward we foresee a sudden and unstoppable decline in overall enthusiasm. Within a few months instead of “Kas was awesome” it will be “Yeah, Kas was great, but I have to get up kinda early so I better get going.” By Christmas it’ll be “Sorry, I meant to visit, I just got busy. I’ll make it up to you, I promise.” Next summer, “What about Faralya? I was just doing some hiking, it didn’t mean anything to me.” And finally, in 2010, “I hope we can still be friends, I really do. I feel terrible about everything, just terrible. Here, I’ve written down th address of my hotel in Faralya so if you could just forward my mail there that would be great. You’re the best.” And all of a sudden Kas has become Fethiye.

Kas harbour

Rings: Not Just For Chicks and Mobsters Any More
While in Kas Laynni, Nadine and Lyle chose to commemorate their Turkish vacation with Group Ring Shopping. Everyone know that nothing says “I was there” like a ring of no particular significance. Nadine went with a butterfly motif, Laynni was dazzled by the ring of many colours and Lyle’s, well, “the middle spins, see?” A beautiful marriage of engineering and acceptable male femininity. Apparently solid silver, they were certainly not what you’d call dirt cheap. When I asked Laynni if she bargained at all she replied “No, of course not, it goes by weight.” Fair enough. The ring salesman, or “ringer” as I like to call them, takes the ring, weighs it on his private scale then, without publicizing that number, multiplies it by an arbitrarily chose price, also not shared, eventually coming up with a clearly defined and obviously non-negotiable number. Of course, now that I think about it – didn’t I just explain communism?

Ring buddies

Like Rocks, Only Better
Incredible Cappadocia (Kapadokya) is an otherworldly expanse of strange rock formations, underground cities, hidden valleys and ancient Silk Road caravanserais that covers a vast area in the Central Anatolian region of Turkey. We situated ourselves in Goreme, more or less the epicentre of the region, which is built right in and around some of the most scenic collections of “fairy chimneys” and has dozens of hikeable valleys fanning out in all directions. The sheer volume of things to see is truly awesome, as everywhere you look for miles around there are churches, dwellings, tombs, kitchens and tunnels carved directly out of the rocks, hills and valley walls. One of the most frequented hikes is in the Valley of Love, where hundreds of giant phallic rocks nestle snugly into the long, fertile crevice. Still wonder why this place is so popular?
The Valley of Love (hee hee)
Something Smells Like Dirt…
There are apparently over sixty underground cities in the area, many of which have yet to be fully explored. There is no consensus as to the original builders but the most famous inhabitants were 1st century Christians. Many claim they used the well-hidden caves to escape persecution, while others believe they were simply playing “fort”. Either way, some of them are shockingly extensive, descending as many as eight levels. It is fascinating to see the innovative methods they designed to live in these tiny underground rooms connected by four foot high tunnels. Claustrophobics may as well save their time and money and just lock themselves in the trunk until they pass out or shit themselves. Picture yourself fifty metres below the surface hunched over in a dank, cell-like cave with the only exit a long, steep four foot high by two feet wide rock tunnel, blocked by a bus load of Japanese tourists slowly making their way down. They may have been persecuted but at least they didn’t have to deal with tourists.

Underground city

Getting Dizzy Yet? No? How ‘Bout Now?
The Whirling Dervish performance was amazing to see, especially since I had no particular knowledge of what a dervish actually is beyond using it in a sentence something like “He was everywhere, cleaning the whole place like a Whirling Dervish”. Apparently I had this solemn, intricate religious ceremony confused with a lonely speed freak putting away beer bottles at 5 am. A common misconception, I’m sure. The program even included a warning that said “Dervishes are not to be used for dusting, cleaning floors or creating a breeze on a hot day.” So much for Plan B.

Unfortunately, our little group of four ended up sandwiched between two large tour group. Soon after an ornery German couple behind us finished complaining about their seats the Italian women in front of us began causing a ruckus, apparently attempting to turn off their cell phones for the very first time and learning through trial, error and babbling. All this, of course, set the German women behind us off, giggling and snickering like they were eleven years old getting a look at their first wang. Sigh.

Ihlara Valley

Just Croak If It Starts To Hurt
After Laynni’s parents left for Istanbul to catch their flight home we went to spend a couple days in the lush scenic Ihlara Valley. Beautiful hiking along a quiet little stream set between steep canyon walls dotted with yet more tombs and cave churches. I’m not one hundred percent sure but I’m starting to think it was standard practice for each person to have their own personal church, maybe with a sign on the door saying “St. George’s Church – Keep Out!”, stacks of “Teen Prophet” magazines by the pulpit and walls covered in posters of their favourite apostles, maybe washing in holy water or laid out across the back of a wooden cart.

We stayed the night in the tiny village of Belisirma where we spent several hours hanging out in one of the restaurant lounge areas built right out on the river. The setting was peaceful as I (we) laid back on the cushions digesting our delicious fish (chicken) meal and enjoying a cold Efes (Fanta). Nature cavorted all around us, birds chirping, fish jumping, ducks doing whatever it is they do, and two large green frogs showing their love to the world by very slowly and gently humping off to the side.

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