There’s a mother carrying her daughter on her lap next to you. “Atatur! Atatur! ATATUR!” The girl chants furiously.
Her mother corrects her with a sharp: “AtaTURK!”
Outside your window, the source of this spontaneous worship is revealed: there’s a statue of the heavy-browed national treasure right next to the bus- and he’s looking right at you.
About the same time, you smell a bad smell and shoot accusatory glances at the people around you. You set your suspicions on the little girl next to you. Her mother returns your look and the child follows her mother’s line of vision and looks at you too.
“Lana,” your friend asks from the row of seats behind you. “Do you still have your egg?”
Ataturk’s glare lingers on you disapprovingly as you retrieve it from your pocket. The structural integrity of the shell and inner membrane have both been breached and you can’t decide what to do with it. It either has to be eaten or thrown away, and neither option is particularly viable when you’re squashed in the window seat of a packed bus.
So you put it back into your pocket and ignore the problem.
The rest of the journey deteriorated from there, and what should have been a four hour journey (Fethiye to Denizli) ended up taking nine. Notable events included almost getting kicked off the over-booked bus, and switching from a coach to a taxi at the side of a highway in the middle of the night.
The next morning you smuggle another boiled egg out of the breakfast room in your skirt pocket (lesson firmly not-learned) and set off for the travertines. You carry your shoes in a plastic bag and walk along the deposits to the top of the hill. The experience is weirdly pleasant; the texture of the limestone is something like coral, and the thermal waters that flow over your feet wash away the white silt that gets forced up between your toes.
It starts raining as you walk around the ancient site of Hierapolis, and your lack of umbrella quickly becomes an issue. Within minutes your clothes are soaked and your red leather shoes are reduced to soggy bits of liquorice. Your friend has also gone missing and you don’t have any way of re-establishing contact with her.
About twenty minutes after the start of the downpour you begin exhibiting the symptoms of mild hypothermia, so you eat the egg that you have had in your pocket all this time and spend the remainder of your time there sheltering in the entrance to the thermal swimming baths and admiring the fibreglass cockerel in the courtyard.
Vivid and descriptive writing. Gotta love those long bus rides in foreign countries! Wondering how that egg tasted though!
Imagine eating the flesh of someone who has just drowned in a very cold sea. Add a fart to the equation and you have my egg. 4/10 would only recommend if very hungry.
I am well acquainted with long-distance coach travel in Turkey. Most of the time it’s very good, but occasionally it’s not. The habit they had of dropping you off on the periphery of settlements and towns was one example. I had to catch a taxi between distant bus terminus in Diyabakur in the one instance which cost me as much as the fare between Diyabakur and Sanliurfa, my destination. The taxi driver also took a shortcut through a Kurdish neighbourhood which one of the residents did not seem to appreciate.
If I ever went back to Turkey, the east and south would definitely be on my ‘to do’ list. The country is so big, it’s impossible to see it all in one trip.
I did like the buses in Turkey. Tea and biscuits thirty minutes into the journey? I felt terribly spoiled.
The bus ride in itself is an adventure! But the photos are beautiful! Especially the limestone formations. Amazingly white!
That’s quite true, and really I do enjoy bus travel.
Night buses on the other hand.. ooh my.
Twenty years ago we were drenched by a downpour and took shelter in the thermal pools. Warm and slightly bubbly we drifted around until comfortably recovered. A great spot to avoid getting wet 🙂 Back then it was also very cheap to take a swim there. The hotel in town was also a bargain- $4.50 per double including a swimming pool that was being filled over a few days. Love Turkey. Regards Peet
I’ve always wanted to visit Pamukkale! Can/did you bathe in the waters?
I didn’t bathe in the water, but there was a large swimming pool full of thermal water and it was very popular. There were changing rooms/showers and lockers and also a cafe.
There was also a big sort of ditch and fairly deep pools along the main walkway which people could bathe in at no extra cost. It was quite cold when I visited, but the water was quite comfortably warm!
Aw, what a shame. Next time I guess 🙂 Thanks for that detailed reply!
those photos are incredible – love your writing too, I can jujst imagine the feel of the limestone under my feet 🙂
My feet felt quite soft afterwards. The abrasive surface of the limestone and the white clay combined were a bit like a spa foot treatment.
Haha! This is excellent. Can I suggest that maaaaaaybe a better snack to steal from a breakfast room would be a piece of toast or some fruit? Don’t get me wrong I love my eggs… Ps eggs aside, thank you for inspiring the adventurer in me – your photos are gorgeous and you write in a way that makes me long for rain and thermal pools 🙂