Hi guys, apparently I have some time this evening. So let's continue with the story. In the last post, I told you that we were leaving for Izmir the next day. Why Izmir? I'm not really sure myself how I came out with that decision. I normally book day tours from viator.com when I am in my holiday and I would choose a city in which there are day trips going from those cities. For some reason, I chose Izmir. I think because I saw there's a trip going to Hierapolis and Pamukkale and the picture looks nice. So in Izmir, I decided to take 2 day trips, one to Hierapolis and Pamukkale and the other to Ephesus.
Now to go to Izmir, there are several ways. I chose to take planes. This time I chose a budget airline provided by Pegasus Airline. There's also another budget airline that fly direct from Kayseri to Izmir but they do not fly everyday and it so happened on the day that I wanted to leave, they weren't flying :( So Pegasus, it was. Budget airline is not the cheapest mode of transportation available. I'm sure there are buses. Like the Japanese, I think they left for Istanbul the same evening we did the green tour by using an overnight bus. I'm just not that hardcore. I guess I'm a spoilt brat. My flight wasn't a direct one. In fact it's rather hard to find a direct flight from Kayseri to Izmir with a nice timing. I just didn't want to arrive in Izmir too late, like in the evening for example. So my flight was first to Istanbul's Sabiha airport, which is the airport in the Asian side of Istanbul and then it went to Izmir. It was a long journey. That day was mostly spent being on the road from Göreme to Kayseri and then airborne. On the drive to Kayseri, I remember thinking that I'll miss Cappadocia, that there was a lot of wide open space, and I was thinking about my life a lot, what I should do with my life, if I could continue living the life I have now. Let's just say there were a lot of life changing decision appearing in my head and it's telling me that I should and could do it. We'll see, you'll never know. So anyway, arrived in the airport. Waited for the plane and got into the plane. I have to comment and show you this very cute safety video that Pegasus have. It's very cute. I really watched the whole thing the 3 times I was in their plane.Unfortunately this one doesn't have an english subtitle. I found the english version but that wasn't what I watched and anyway the girl in the Turkish version is so much cuter :) As I was looking for the video, I realized they're not the only airline who are using kids in the video. I think it's a good idea that airlines are making their safety video cuter or funnier, at least it really made us watch it.
When we arrived in Sabiha airport, I have to admit that it felt like going back to civilization. As much as I love Cappadocia but I realized that a small town lifestyle did kinda make me feel rather disoriented or confused about what to do with time if we're actually living there. Yes, the place is not like totally remote. There's wireless internet in my hotel as I am sure in other hotels too but I remember asking dumb questions to my hotel guy like, is there a cinema? Is there McDonalds? What do people do here for fun? Do they hang out? Yes, there is a cinema and McDonalds, it's around 15 minutes drive to a slightly bigger town. I'm not counting on the existence of Starbucks. Why this topic came out was because I saw an advertisement on tv about Burger King promoting its kids meal with toys. I remember telling YeeMaggio, how sad for the kids here that they saw that ad, but they cannot get it because there's no Burger King here. I guess because of that, suddenly I got reminded of the things that a city has which are missing there. So arriving in Sabiha, with its concrete and steel structure and one of the first thing that we saw was Arby's, and then going to the toilet which was like similar to the ones you can find in the city (motion sensor tap and soap dispenser), it's like realizing what we had kinda forgotten and realizing this is what we knew and what was familiar for us and it's really that true sentiment of going from a village to a city. I realized how at the core, I am just a city person. As I said, I love Cappadocia. I guess, I just didn't realize how I really love the familiarity of a city, no matter if those familiarity makes cities so general and less unique than a place like Cappadocia :P I have to be true, no? As dumb and arrogant those sentiments are, those were really what I felt :P We had lunch at Arby's (I broke the not eating junk food and only eating local in this trip twice) and waited again for our next flight. It was quite some time that I had time to write in my journal. Interesting thing happened. As we were queueing to board, a young boy (maybe 10 to 12 years old) suddenly came nearer to me and said something to me, but it was in Turkish which of course I didn't understand. I just said, I didn't understand. He still looked at me, like he was hopeful that we'll be able to speak. Then an older man in front of me talked to him, in what I assume that he's asking the boy if he learnt English in school, which the boy said yes, so the man was encouraging him to talk to me in English. This conversation happened in Turkish, so I could be so wrong in guessing it. Anyways, the boy then just looked at me, still with a hopeful look. In the end perhaps he got embarrassed that he went back to his mom. I totally regret not asking anyone what just happened, what the boy wanted. It's just I think noone around me could speak english well, including the older man. So I don't know, this will remain a mystery :(
Arrived in Izmir and darn, there's a hole in my luggage :( It didn't survive. I had to get a new one. First thing first, driving to our hotel. Managed to find the person who picked us up. The city reminded me on some parts of Jakarta, if Jakarta can be clean. I realize that my point of reference are always things in Indonesia. Then we saw the hills filled with houses or appartment buildings and that's so not like Jakarta :P There's this huge head sculpture of who I think is Kemal Ataturk in one of the hill (think Mount Rushmore). It was pretty cool. I don't know if I want my big head on a hill or a mountain but I cannot deny the coolness. Got to our hotel, which is pretty good, big bathroom which I think might be just slightly smaller than my bedroom now. It's your standard hotel which again gave us mix feeling. It lacks the family feel of mama Imran but it's also something which was familiar. The hotel staff was nice, one of them helped us the next day in figuring out how to use the TV. They made it so complicated that as he was explaining it to us, another guest was asking him to teach him as well :P So anyway, we settled our things and YeeMaggio was gung ho about getting me a new luggage. Now, Izmir is the 3rd most populous city in Turkey and our hotel is surrounded by buildings but there is no mall nearby! Seriously, we walked and walked but no luck. There were areas where there's one shop after another but we just found it weird that there's no mall. Being that it was Sunday (it was easter sunday actually), some of the shops were actually closed. Seriously, living in Asia with malls which open everyday of the year, the concept of closing a shop on Sundays is hard to digest for me. I remembered being shocked when I experienced it last year in Barcelona. I guess it's an Asian thing. I once read this American wrote that malls in Asia are like malls on steroid, they're super big and always buzzing, which is true true true. I guess that's what we need if we're living in a city?
So anyway, walked around trying to find a shop which we could be comfortable about going in and in the end we settled with this shop because there's a boy there helping his dad. The boy is 15 and he's chubby :D So I guess, we just felt at ease with a kid there. I admire him for helping his dad. He should be able to speak a little english but maybe he's shy. He showed me price using a calculator. When I called him, boy boy, his father got a giggle and he laughed when I told the boy, your eyes are so beautiful :D They were indeed. It was this light brown, maybe it's hazel? I wonder if he'll remember that day forever, the day a strange lady told him his eyes were beautiful. Maybe he's forgotten it by dinner. Anyway thinking of the boy, I got reminded of Max who's just 1 year older and how different they are. This chubby boy was still shorter than me. He's helping his dad on a Sunday and he seemed like a decent nice boy and it made me feel like Max is this empty brainless immature shell. I mean we both are already agreeing that he's narcissistic. He loves that word now. Since the day I taught him the word, he's been using it especially when I comment that he takes a real long time getting ready and has to look at the mirror countless times before going out. Anyway, when we were buying water at a 711 kinda store, we also saw 2 boys working there. I wonder if it's a Sunday thing, do all the kids like to go out to work on Sunday for extra money? They're very young. I guess perhaps it's better than playing computer games or watching tv.
Nothing much else to say about that day. It was good to be getting a new luggage. It was bigger than my original one, so that made packing for the rest of my trip was rather nice :P I was feeling rather sickly actually, maybe because of the travelling around, we actually ate at the hotel that day. The next day was the day we went to Hierapolis and Pamukkale and the day I met the dreadful guide *sigh* For the trip to Hierapolis and Pamukkale, there were only us and a girl from England, Sima. She was travelling alone (girls are braver!). Then we had a driver and the guide. I seriously do not like the guide. Maybe he's not a bad guide. I actually read good reviews about him. However I am totally not comfortable being with him. He smokes and he likes to stand near you when he speaks. One time he was hovering around me while smoking. The more I tried to move away, the more he tried to stand nearer. Damn it! I regret to admitting I'm not a muslim. If I had told him I was a muslim, perhaps I could have gotten him to keep a distance. The only good side is that there's Sima too there. It was her third trip with him and I don't know how she could make it the last 2 days. Perhaps it's a cultural thing, this guy just made an Indonesian and a Singaporean girl felt totally uncomfortable :( That plus the long drive to Hierapolis (around 3 hours) made me dread the trip a lot and it made me miss Cappadocia :(
The long drive showed a scene totally different than that in Cappadocia. The drive actually reminded me of the drive from Jakarta to Puncak and also from Barcelona to Montserrat. While it's brown in Cappadocia, it was totally green here with green mountains. It really showed the different climates in the regions and how their springs really start at different times. Crops were growing strong here. Many orange trees with many oranges on them. While there's no life yet showing in the vineyards of Cappadocia, the grape vines in the vineyards in this region were already reaching 0.5 to 1 meter. I was thinking how perhaps those wines would be the first to be produced and drunk in the country and the one from Cappadocia would come later. It feels fun to be associating the different produce from different regions with different periods of the year. Poppies were blooming too. I love them! Somehow I had a feeling that their colors were more bloody red than the ones in Italy for example. After the very long drive, we arrived at this tiny lake or big pond in which we can see the white Pamukkale. I thought that place was beautiful and a nice relaxing existence. There were cute ducks, the water was green, and the white mountain or hill felt awesome. We stayed there for awhile. Look at this bench, isn't it nice to be sitting there for some time and just breathe.
Notice also the gray clouds forming. I attribute it to the dreadful guide who's just bringing us bad luck :( Let me just add some other complains about him and then I'll shut up. He said he's in jail now because he's now married, and it's only been 6 months. Then the next day, we also got him again as a guide (my please please PLEASE God didn't work this time) and it's even more dreadful because there were only the 2 of us and this guy was complaining that Sima complained about him about something in the feedback form. Now, seriously, it's never a good thing to be complaining or bitching about another client in front of your clients, no matter what business you do. Idiot! So basically he sucks, if not for Pamukkale, my trip there would just be the suckiest day I've ever experienced in a holiday, topping the part when I missed a train in France.
Hierapolis and Pamukkale are actually located in the same area. I think you just need to use 1 ticket to enter it. Oh yeah, one more thing. He kept the entrance tickets. Okay, I may not be like my cousin who does nice scrap books but I do like to keep all these tickets. He's just so uncomfortable to be around with that I refrained from asking any questions and initiating any interaction. Moving on, Hierapolis is an ancient Roman city, so there are many ruins and the area was very big. The hills were green and pretty with many yellow flowers. As we walked throughout the area, I heard some Indonesians speaking and it made me smile. Being that it's a city, there are things like the theatre which we only saw from afar. I think it's because my stupid guide was too lazy to walk the distance there, promising us that the one in Ephesus is nicer, aarrghh! So we saw ruins, didn't recall his historical lessons. I remember he said that Fiat is sponsoring the archeological work there.
Saw the Cleopatra bath which is basically this pool area which the people have made into a rather modern version with cafe all around. There were people swimming there. The water is supposedly good for your health and it came from a hot spring it seemed. Then we went to see the ancient burial site with all the sarcophagus which are all out in the open now because of earthquakes. We took some sort of a truck there because he said it's better that way because it's a long walk and we had to pay for it. Alright, I think that was a good choice which he had to repeat countless times (shut up!!!) but I think we still should have walked to the theatre :( Then he left us alone in Pamukkale *yay!*. Pamukkale means cotton castle and it's totally amazing. I've never seen anything like it before. The only way I can kinda describe it is using Indonesian reference. You know how you often see pictures of paddy field in Bali, like they are in terraces in a hill. Now imagine less terraces, not many layers, maybe 3 to 4 layers down. Substitute the greeneries with white limestones and substitute that area where the paddy grows as pond of water or in this case, they are called travertines.
You can walk in the travertines or if you want you can take a dip in it. The water was not so hot nor was it cold. You have to take off your shoes, why obviously actually, since it's water afterall and it was so much fun. My spirit was lifted walking on those travertines. Be careful though because it is slippery and they are rocks afterall and if you fall, I think you'll die rolling down the hill. It's white wall all around and the water is blue and I cannot stop saying it's fun. It's FUN FUN FUN!!! Unfortunately in the middle of it, it started drizzling. It didn't let up, so I surrendered and started walking back. Upon reaching back though, it stopped and the sky was rather bright again, and since we still had time, I went back again and I just felt so happy and thought thank God, this dreadful trip is worth it, thank you! It's awesome. It's still unfortunate I couldn't go all the way to the end but still being there in such a unique place and having so much fun was amazing. It's seriously one of the most amazing things I've seen and been. I love it a lot :) For more pictures of Hierapolis and the wonderfully amazing Pamukkale, you can go here.
After that it was lunch, then to a lame Burberry factory outlet shop. Suffice to say we were not amused and then it was the long drive home. I was just glad to be separated from the dreadful guide but I knew that the next day I'd see him again. I could only pray that there would be other people for the trip. I think because we were tired and it was quite late, we decided to have dinner at the restaurant behind (or is it in front of) our hotel. I think Izmir has great seafood produce since it's by the sea. Why I chose to write this uneventful dinner in which I ate a pretty big seabass (which was good because I think it's fresh) is because as we were sitting in the restaurant, I realized we're surrounded by men. Seriously, there were only us 2 girls in the restaurant with all men. I believe in our entire block there, the number of female were perhaps only 10 while the rest were all guys. It's so noticeable that you couldn't help notice it. It's rather intimidating actually. I don't know what they're thinking seeing these 2 girls. Noone stared at us actually. Everybody were doing their things, eating with their friends, but as I said, it was rather intimidating. I was thinking, if girls don't really go out? They just stay at home or after work they quickly go home? It's nice that our hotel was just 1 m away because I think I would have been pretty scared if I had to walk a distance with only guys all around. Again, I do have to emphasize that it was actually not dangerous or anything. Noone stared or maybe they did and we just didn't check if they did. It really seemed that everyone was genuinely minding their business and everyone seemed really nice. The restaurant gave us free apple tea, perhaps they realized we were looking rather cold. Also when we left, one of the man, who was perhaps one of the owner, smiled and nodded at me. So that was nice. So aside from the self-imaginary intimidating situation, there's perhaps nothing intimidating about the situation at all. It was just odd for me because as I said it just became so noticeable that you wondered about it more and more. Okay, I guess I'm done with this blog post. It's been pretty long also. Next one will be about the trip to Ephesus with the dreadful guide again, aarrrghhh!!! He made me not want to stay in Izmir anymore :(