Ancient Ephesus and more old stuff

Trip Start Apr 12, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Friday, June 2, 2006

Turey, Turkey, Turkey. What a bloody sensational place. Seriously, it's great, And i dont care what Ruddock, or Downer, or Vanstone and her DFAT reckon about the place, take it from me, this is a genuinely awesome spot. I've seen but a speck of this entire country, but already the vibe of the place, the immense friendliness and attitude of the people here, it's just such a welcoming, peaceful country, and i feel sorry for anyone who bypasses this land due to a misguided perception that it might be too dangerous for them. After a great house special breakfast at the ANZ terrace, i headed down to the carpet shop and scored a lift with Ali Baba to the main tourist spot in town, the ancient ruins of the once glorious Roman city of Ephesus. Ephesus seemed like a pretty happening spot in its day, with a well-in-tact 24,000 capacity theatre arena, a long trail of veritable stone ruins, and an ornate, engraved library facade, parked a little too conveniently next to the Ephesus brothel. The story goes that horny old Romans used to tell their wives that they'd be popping in to the library for a quick read, where a hidden back tunnel connected them directly to the adjacent whorehouse, and shifty husbands would no doubt find themselves popping into something else altogether.

The walk though the 2,000 year old city was another awesome experience, sweating from the heat and inhaling the scent of dusty, centuries-old cooked stone. I spent a good couple of hours at Ephesus, and on my way out was offered a special deal on some one of a kind 'ancient coins', ranging from the Byzantine era to latter day Roman times. Suspecting that the coins were bogus, despite their seemingly legitimate appearance, 'Lonely Planet' later informed me that some genius once discovered just how authentic modern coins could look once they were passed through the digestive tract of a sheep. I walked abck along the road to Selcuk, past grapevines and the distant, rustic mountainscape, and was once again offered a chance to purchase some unsanitarily aged coins, and once more declined.

Keen to get right out of my sweat-soaked jeans, i ploughed up the cobbled lanes to ANZ, met another 2 aussie chicks Jess and Helen, and Chelsea the Canadian, before hitting the town for another round of Kebaps with my Aussie mate Amanda. Checked out the Ephesus museum on the way back and took in the variety of ancient artefacts, tombs and statues, including a brutal display on the life and times of the bloodthirsty gladiator.

Resumed a position of laziness back up at the hostel for a couple of hours, then headed out again via the carpet shop, stopping by for a quick chat with Ali Baba's mate, Mahmoud, a lovely bloke with an unfortunate resemblance to 'Slough' from the 'The Goonies'. Its a struggle to get anywhere through the streets of Selcuk without being greeted and duely immersed in a conversation with a local. On my way to a sandwhich stand, i entered a good 45 minute chat with a friendly bloke named Ennis, a carpet salesman who was less interested in closing a sale than sharing a quality connection with a random foreigner. We talked about Turkey, about his enormous family back east, his desire to get to Australia one day, and about the place his Kurdish people in Turkish and middle Eastern society, and the shape of the world. It was a deeply satisfying and intriguing exchange.

Eventually, i hunted down a brilliant sandwhich stand, then moseyed on back past the carpet shop where Ali, Mahmoud, Ali's son Ned and Amanda were drinking teas, water pipe firmly in position at the centre of the table. We joked, shared stories, compared cultural difference and similarities, and learned things about each other and had a great time in the process. A whole lot more valuable than parking your offline brain in fromt of a TV screen all night. As night got late, i walked back through Turkish lanes where old women in headscarves sat on steps and spoke softly amongst themselves, and an ominous and very apt crescent moon lingered in the starry sky above. Just as in Morocco, my presence in a Muslim nation had once again yielded a very fitting, and very timely Islamic crescent. I sat up until the wee hours watching 'Dazed and Confused' with Amanda, in the cooling breeze of the ANZ terrace, and went to bed aroud two.
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