Pamukkale and the Calcium Travetines

Trip Start Apr 12, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Saturday, June 3, 2006

In just two nights in Turkey, i felt like i'd become a family member at the ANZ, that i had a wealth of new mates, people to call on and share time with should i ever return to Selcuk, with the exception of perhaps Mustafa, who kinda freaked me out a little. The Turks are an unbelievable welcoming bunch, especially to Australians, as i suspect the events of Gallipoli and WWI stimulated a great deal of mutual respect between the two nations that forged this amicable clenched-fist rapport. As well as this, Turkey just seems to seep this fantastic, rich cultural vibe that instantly made me regret that i'd allocated only two weeks to the whole Turkey expedition. It felt so right to be here, and already i wanted more of it. Selcuk was tops, but there was certainly a whole lot more to see of Turkey, so without further delay I jumped on an early bus this morning and travelled three hours east to the town of Pamukkale.

Pamukkale has copped its fair share of tourism in its time, with its unmissable series of white calcium travertine pools, a naturally occuring white mountain ridge of hot spring water floating in hardened calcium baths. I forget the scientific explanation for why this phenomenon occurs, but back in the 70's and 80's the travertines endured an absolute walloping from irresponsible tourism, damaged forever by the poor placement of hotels and a brutal influx of swimming tourists. Though the inclining, white ridge looked impressively like a magical 'North Pole' plum in the middle of dusty, barren Turkish land, the once crystal white, sparkling blue calcium travertines looked majoritavely dried up and desperate, with the exception of a few man made pools to keep the attraction going. Overall it was still worth the trip out there, defnitely something to say that you've seen. Souvenir stalls still grip strongly to Pamukkale's glorious past with postcards of remarkably blue waters in white pools, and circa 1982 tourists with Warrick Capper shorts and molester moustaches, slowly eroding its natural, fragile magnificence.

Pamukkale still relies on the tourism of its calcium attraction, though it really is just a one horse town otherwise. I booked a room in a decent hostel nearby and would shack up there for a night, the Pamukkale experience quite a departure from the more bustling Selcuk vibe, as children played on bikes in the dirt streets, men parked their tractors in small roadside field blocks, and i walked along wondering where the hell i'd arrived, suddenly immersed far deeper in the traditional, non-commercial, rural face of Western Turkey. Yet, despite the enormous difference and occasional self conscious pangs of 'I really must stick out like dogs balls here', i still felt very safe and very comfy here as a solo tourist.

As the bold outline of an orange middle eastern sun emblazoned a dusty, hazy sky, a call to prayer bellowed out from the bullhorn of a nearby mosque. I strolled though little Pamukkale scenarios, through the dusty town streets, the a green park area at the foot of the white travertine mountain. I sat with a chunky stubby of 'Efes' pilsener, listened to a solo male voice echo Islamic verse thoughout town in the distance, and watched families walk up to the lake, as the hazy sun did its best to define itself through the haze. I followed the sounds of the male voice, and further down the road I came across a fully fledged, decked out Turkish wedding, and peered in like a lone spectator from the fence for a little while. Enjoyed traditional Turkish at a local restaurant, a few more Efes and a glass of red, before i succumbed to the urge to nod off, back to the hotel and into a thick regime of zzz's.
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