Cappadocia rocks- a lot!!!

Trip Start Jun 19, 2008
Trip End Sep 04, 2008

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Flag of Turkey  , Cappadocia,
Sunday, August 10, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad!  I love you and I miss you!  Thank you so much for all your financial and emotional support.  Cok tessekur ederim :)

Alright, so to begin our sojourn to the holy land of Kapadokya, Laura, Tania, and I went to Sultanahmet at 7pm last night to catch our "shuttle" to the actual bus station that is an hour away.  The shuttle did not leave until 7:30pm, nor did it get to the bus station on time for our 8:30pm overnight bus.  The clock was ticking past 9pm when the shuttle finally dropped us and 20 other anxious travellers.  Thankfully the bus hadn't left, but it was a tiny bus instead of a nicely airconditioned bus with cushioned seats and on-board bathroom.  That's alright, I thought, I will pop a few Tylenol PM and go to sleep.  We witnessed the bus drivers putting an old man into the storage area under the bus with all the luggages!  They handed him a bottle of water and slammed the door.  He apparently had a leg problem and could not sit in a regular seat.  What is going on?  We were further befuddled when the bus made numerous stops at ghetto gas stations that demanded 1ytl for hole-in-the ground bathroom stalls with no toilet paper.  Then a French guy started arguing with the bus driver about his seat and not being able to sit with his girlfriend.  He wanted an explanation that the Turkish driver obviously could not give.  It was well past 10pm and we could still see the bright lights in the city of Istanbul.

Tylenol PM worked its magic, and I slept until the sunrise.  We stopped at Nevshir, a city that the travel guides and websites warned tourists not to get off.  So I stayed glued to the seat, only to be relieved and really excited to see the crazy rock formations in Goreme!  If creepy is the word of choice in Istanbul, crazy and bootlegged were the theme of our trip in Kapadokya.  At 9:15am, the pension owner picked us up from the main bus station in Goreme... in his car that must have once been white, furnished with furry zebra-print seats.  Then he rushed us to get ready for our tour that started at 9:30am!  We had just enough time to brush our teeth and put on our hiking outfits.  With our bags scattered on the side of the reception room, off we went to the Green Tour.

A 15-person van picked us up from the pension and took us to a bus, the size of the overnight bus, filled with tourists from Spain, France, Turkey, and wherever else.  Our tour guide spoke Turkish and English.  We first went to Pigeon Valley, where we could see the U-something castle, some trees decorated with hundreds of the evil-eye charms and potteries, and merangue-shaped rocks formed from volcanic eruptions and erosions.  Then we went to visit Derinkuyu underground city.  It had 8 floors of cave rooms and mazes.  The tunnels were so tight that most people would probably get claustrophobic.  There was a Korean tour group, and I am sure that I heard the tour guide say that many Europeans could not visit the place because they have fat asses.  Korean people are so PC.  The underground city was so crazy!  I can't believe people just chipped off rocks and built such a place.  I imagined thousands of Gollums (from the Lord of the Rings) jumping around the place, all hunch-backed. 

Then with a total change in scenary, we went to Ihlara Valley, the supposedly Grand Canyon of Turkey.  We hiked 4km through rocks and woods and dirt trails and river.  Beautiful, beautiful scenary, and a lot more picturesque in pictures than the underground city.  We had lunch at a restaurant nearby.  Our table was literally in the water; please see the picture!  Free pedicure!  Except not, because my feet were covered in green algae.  After the long lunch, we were off to Selime Monastery, my favorite place of all.  It is like a rock jungle gym!  This place reminded me of Buu from Dragon Ball Z.  Nobody understood my allusion, but let me try to explain.  This is like being in a different planet.  There are huge, smooth rock formations and these mysterious, crazy people carved rooms and windows into it.  You can jump around, climb, slide, and play around.  It's like the Flintstones, except a huge city of it.  Ahhh, the top of my "the coolest places ever" list is ever changing!

Afterwards, we saw a little onyx demonstration, similar to the arabesque demonstration in Egypt.  Tania and Laura went jewelry shopping while I sat with 3 guys from Spain by the exit door.  They claimed they drank absinthe they brought from Czech Republic and smoked pot with the owner at Red Red Wine.  Sadly they were leaving tonight, so we could not party it up the Spanish way.  At 5:30pm, Laura, Tania, and I were officially done with the Green Tour (such a great deal for the price! All-inclusive!).  The lady led us to our cave room... I have mixed feelings about this place.  It really looks like a cubic cave.  Our beds rested on stone slabs.  The bathroom was at least modern, except there was no shower- just a bucket and a hose.  Well, it's all part of the experience, right?

We ate dinner at some local restaurant that is not really worth mentioning or remembering.  LP that I borrowed from my friend Manny said that Pacha Bar is the place to "get your rocks off", so we checked it out.  The place looked cool, but alas, it was deserted at 10:30pm.  We had the choice of coming back around midnight when the place starts hopping, or checking out another place.  We decided upon the latter since we have to get up at 5am in the morning for the hot air balloon ride.  We went to Red Red Wine House, a dimly-lit and rather romantic place.  The mango nargile we got there was sooo bootlegged!  I had to suck in like it was my last breath on a sinking boat, and I still felt like I was just breathing in air.  And the owner, whom by the way I cannot imagine smoking pot with foreigners, just shooed us away like we were some tourist n00bs who don't know how to smoke nargile.  HELLO, we live next to the largest nargile wonderland in Istanbul! 

Whatever, we came back to our cave shack and passed out.  Walking through the place, we just could not believe that we were here.  This place is seriously unbelievable. 
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