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Brad’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 17 May 2005

Location: Bodrum, Turkey

MapOnce again there has been lots happening, so this entry is another long one!

Ephesus was really incredible. A lot of the buildings there are incredibly well preserved considering their age, particulaly the library and Grand Theatre. Although there were hoards of bus tours going through the site, for once it didn't detract from the whole experience, it actually made it easy to imagine what the city must have like in it's heyday, with bustling main streets and markets. The most amazing thing however, was accoustics in the Grand Theatre. I was sitting right up the back, yet I could hear every word the tour guide on the stage was saying. The stone seems to soak any unnessasry reverb and create a really crisp, clear sound, as would be required for communicating to the 25,000 people it seats.

The crazy greek lady (Oya) that I mentioned in my last post has actually turned out to be really cool! Every night for the three nights I stayed in Selcuk the guests were all given a free glass of wine and go upstairs to the terrace to watch the sunset. Then everyone goes downstairs for a delicious, though expensive meal. When Oya found out that I was only going to have one dinner there out of the three nights because I couldn't afford it, she just offered me them for nothing! And then gave me free breakfasts and lunches as well! I think she was pretty poor herself, so she sympathised with my apparant poverty and didn't tell the hostel owner. Quite the nice little bonus!

After checking out an ancient mosque in Selcuk and the tomb of St Paul(!), next stop was Pamukkale, home of the famous white travertines and another ruined Roman city. The travertines were pretty cool, everyone who I had talked to said they were no good, so they certainly exceeded my expectations. The travertines are really unusual, they were formed because a stream above them runs underground through calcium deposits, and then dumps the calcuim upon its return to the surface. Over thousands of years this has created a huge white hill with beautiful cave-like formations on it. Unfortunatly tourism has wrecked most of the formations, so people are no longer allowed on the formations. After wandering around the ruins for an hour (another spectactular theatre and church - I think I'm staring to get a little bit ruins ruined) I went for a dip in the hot springs at the top of the travertines. It was quite a thrill to be swimming among fallen the fallen roman pillars!

The following day, however, unexpectatly turned out to be the best day since I arrived. It was my plan to go and see Aphrodisias, the last really spectaular ruins on this leg of the trip. As it turned out, I couldn't make it due to transport difficulties, so I ended up going to see Kaklik Cave, a sort of mini Pamukkale. I'd just gotten of the bus to walk the four kilometres to the cave when I was grabbed by some a friendly Turk and pulled over to a tent where lots of people were eating. Next thing I know, I'm sitting down with a delicious meal placed in front of me! Apparantly the village has these get togethers twice a week and thought nothing of inviting a total stranger to join them.

At the dinner I met a great guy, Dahout, who said he'd take me to see the caves. We hitched a ride down there on this huge mining truck! After talking a bit he told me that the village was having a wedding tomorrow and that if I wanted, I could stay at his place and go to the wedding tomorrow! SSSWWWEEEEETTT!! We went back to his place (a really old falling to bits house), met his family and hung out for a bit. After a while he said he and his brother had some work to do, so I went with them to the family field where they had to 'cut some grass' - with a sythe! Pretty soon I was on my knees, cutting grass like a Turkish peasant! We all went back to his place, got changed, and then headed out to the groom's place where the whole village was having a huge party. There was live music and much dancing, as well as some interesting ceremonies where the bride was blindfolded with a red cloth, had a cake with candles waved around her, then ended up with the cloth on her hand and the cake disapearing. I didn't understand a lot of it but it was so incredible interesting to see.

The next day half the village got on several buses and drove three hours to the brides village to go and pick her up. Again, the day was filled with wonderful ceremonies. Upon getting off the bus, everyone followed this totem pole things, singing and dancing their way to the brides house. We were all given lunch, there was more music and dancing, then the bride said goodbye to her family and village and jumped on the bus with her dowry chest for the three hour ride back to Kaklik. Once we got back it was pretty much all over, the bride and groom went back to the groom's house and everyone dispersed. I too said goodbye to Dahout and his family who had fed me several wonderful meals and had me as a guest at their house for two days. I've been so incredible lucky to be a part of such an authentic folk occaisian, I've been able to have a peek at Turkish village life as it has probably been for centuries, and have been treated with such kindness and hospitality. I have no doubt this is one of the most special things I will do on my trip.

I''m writing this from Bodrum, a pretty awful place where everyone speaks english and multitudes of tourists arrive from cruise ships every day. As soon as I finish this I'm off to the the Museam of Underwater Archeology then straight to Fethie where I'm going on a four day cruise to Olympos!