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Published: February 7th 2009
Crypts With a View
What a lovely place to be buried. I had been looking up to these tombs all day and it was worth the trek to get to them.
Slowly the bus rattled its way to the north. The rough dirt road from Fethiye, on the Mediterranean coast, penetrated the rugged countryside of Turkey’s ‘Inner Aegean’ region. The ribbon-like road hung precariously on the edge of sparsely forested mountainsides, which afforded sweeping views of the surrounding terrain. From time to time we descended into lush, green valleys where we found tiny hamlets, seemingly forgotten in the sands of time. We stopped in one of those tiny towns and took a long break in the shade beneath an ancient tree at the makeshift otogar. I sat and ate a snack that I had purchased from one of the street vendors as I watched the day to day life of rural Turkey unfold before my eyes. With the exception of the old bus I had arrived on and some hastily installed power lines connecting the ancient buildings together in a potentially lethal web, it was not difficult to imagine that the view from the bench I was sitting on would have been exactly the same several hundred years before. I longed to slow my travels down and stay for a while, but, when the driver signaled to me that it was time
These are the famous terraces from all of the brochures but they are now devoid of water and closed to swimming.
to go, I reluctantly took one last look around and boarded the bus - I never even knew the name of the town!
Eventually we came down out of the mountains and rejoined Turkey’s well maintained highway system. The smooth surface of the paved road rolled beneath us almost unnoticed. After a while the beautiful countryside gave way to the urban sprawl of modern Turkey. A short time later we arrived at the huge otogar for the town of Denizli. Denizli was the end of the line for the bus that I was on. I had purchased a ticket all the way to Pamukkale, so the driver told me to wait a moment and he walked off into the crowd. A few minutes later he returned, followed by a young man, and told me in unintelligible (to me) Turkish and hand signals to follow him to my new bus. I grabbed my bag and set off into the crowd close on the heels of the young man. I was led across the otogar to a small, unlabeled dolmush. There the young man handed me a business card for a pension that his family ran in Pamukkale and told me
The Domitian Arch
The three arches and the two round towers at the end of the colonnaded street. On the other side of the gate is the necropolis.
in broken English that it was a very nice place. He then said a few words to the driver who smiled and welcomed me aboard. As I took my seat, I couldn’t help but marvel at how seamless the exchange had been considering that I had no bus ticket and everything was done on the honor system - I suppose a man’s word is still accepted as truth in Turkey.
Within the hour the bus driver dropped me off on the side of the road in a small town and pointed down a little side street and said, “Pension”, and then drove away. I took a moment to orient the little map I had of the town and then I set off to find a home for the night. The first place I stopped was very nice, clearly having been renovated out of the ‘budget pension’ category in recent years. An older European couple was sitting on a nice, shady patio along the street sipping tea. They seemed terror stricken when I inquired about a room with the owner - Apparently my dusty, road worn clothes and the backpack on my back didn’t fit in with the desired ambiance
Among the Fallen Columns
One of the fancy hotels built their modern pool on top of the ancient one. Now the hotel is gone, but the pool is still there and open to paying customers.
of the place, so I was not surprised when the owner told me that the pension was ‘full.’ After a short walk down the road, I turned the corner and found another pension. The patio, while slightly less decorative, was filled with backpackers. The friendly owner quickly came out and welcomed me to their home with a cup of tea and a handshake. A few minutes later I deposited my bags in my own palatial room - The dorm was full, so they gave me a private room for the price of the dorm with the understanding that if another person showed up we would share. I talked with the owner for a bit regarding the things to do in the town and they were very helpful - I was amazed by the contrast between the two pensions, but I was happy that I landed where I did. I took a quick walk around the quaint little town and then I headed back to the hostel for dinner and a leisurely evening.
The following morning started early with a quick, but delicious breakfast at the hostel. I gathered my things together and I set off through town on foot.
The Cotton Castle
The cool water running over the mineral formations was soothing on my poor feet.
I walked down the main street, passing the big tourist hotels and restaurants, the small bus station and a few shops. I stopped and asked one man where the ruins were located and he directed me to the steep hills just outside of town. When I reached the intersection of the main street and a larger road on the edge of town I found what I was looking for on the steep hill on the other side of the road. I turned onto a long ramp that had been carved out of the hillside, stopped at a ticket booth and then started walking up through the spectacular hot springs that the town was named after towards the ruins on the top of the hill. As I walked I thought about what I had read about Pamukkale the previous evening…
The name Pamukkale means ‘Cotton Castle’ in Turkish. The name refers to the gleaming white, travertine pools and terraces of the mineral rich hot springs that dominate the hillside at the edge of town. The hot springs have been popular since ancient times due to the medicinal properties of the water. In the second century BC the Greeks built the
The whole hillside was blanketed in the lovely, white formations.
city of Hierapolis on top of the springs to serve as a wellness resort of sorts. The city quickly grew in popularity under the rulers of Pergamum and eventually became part of the Roman Empire. In its golden age Hierapolis had a population of more than one hundred thousand people. As a result the city was very wealthy, which manifested itself in grand construction projects. There were many temples, including the famous Temple of Apollo and the mysterious, carbon dioxide filled Plutonium, roman baths, sprawling monumental roads and gateways and colonnades that stretched in every direction. There were also several theaters and a massive necropolis filled with grand mausoleums and sarcophaguses. Over time the Hellenistic and Roman gods gave way to Christianity and the city continued to thrive for a time before it was taken over by the Ottomans and eventually destroyed by earthquakes and abandoned. The ruins and the hot springs became a popular spa resort in modern times and luxurious hotels were carved out of the springs and ruins. By the time the twin sites of Pamukkale and Hierapolis received recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site years of trampling and mismanagement had taken their toll and the
Patterns in the Travertine
A close up view of the surface of the travertine formations.
springs were in bad shape. Now an ambitious management program has begun to restore the travertine pools to their former glory.
I continued following the gravelly ramp up towards the gleaming white springs, stopping at a sign that informed me in both Turkish and English that I had to remove my shoes before I continued climbing. I looked down at the pebble-strewn path I was following and grimaced at the thought of walking on it barefooted, but I knew it was to protect the unique mineral deposits I was about to cross. With my shoes in hand I stepped forward onto the lovely white, washboard-like surface of the travertine. Cool water was running down the ramp from the springs above collecting in several manmade pools along the way - The pools were part of the new management and restoration program that the Turkish government has instated at the site in an effort to correct the past wrongs that have so badly scarred the springs. Despite the soothing nature of the cool water I cringed with every step. The pain in my feet made my thoughts drift back nearly thirty years to my grandfather’s lakeside home in Tennessee and the
A Sea of Terraces
Looking across the terraces from the green thumb.
tiny, razor-sharp shards of granite that blanketed his long driveway. It always seemed like I was barefoot on his driveway and I have many agonizing memories of walking from the car to the house. Back then I had no problem doing the walk because his house was one of my favorite places in the world… My thoughts were jarred back to the present when I stomped down on a particularly painful rock, which prompted me to hop up and down in protest, which, of course, made it hurt even more. I took a long look up the ramp, which must have been at least one hundred times the length of my grandfather’s old driveway, and I remember wondering if the walk would actually be worth it. Excluding the mysterious, but badly ruined site of Olympos, I had not seen a classical ruin yet and Hierapolis was said to be one of the finest in Turkey, so I ignored the pain and continued on. I stopped at each of the manmade pools to rest my poor, weakling feet, so the going was a bit slow, but I eventually made it to the top of the springs and slipped my sandals back
These were the pools on the hidden side of the springs.
onto my feet.
To my right the sprawling ruins of Hierapolis filled the flat plain that separated the sloping white terraces of Pamukkale from the rolling golden hills on the other side. It was a beautiful sight. Before I headed into the main part of the ruins I decided to explore a large, green park-like area that jutted out into the white terraces like a thumb. I walked up to an ancient stone wall made up of huge, brown rectangular blocks - The blocks looked like they had been fitted together without the use of mortar, which made me think that the massive, ruined building had once been part of the original Hellenistic baths. I followed a path that led along the edge of the little thumb of green grass I was on. On the other side of the walkway the white travertine terraces of the springs continued. All of the sadness I had felt regarding the poor state of the springs along the access ramp I had climbed quickly disappeared. The travertine pools that spread out before me were in excellent condition, most still filled with the chalky, aquamarine water that had once made the site so picturesque.
Travertine Pools (2)
I was happy I found this section of terraces, because the ones on the other side had lost their charm.
I found a nice place overlooking some of the loveliest of the terraces and I took a seat and admired their beauty amid the sweeping backdrop of rural Turkey that stretched into the distance far below. The gleaming white of the travertine and the murky beauty of the pastel blue water formed irregular patterns on the landscape. Each terrace was separated from the one above by steps of varying height, ranging from less than a foot to several feet. The whole scene reminded me of the type of formations I would expect to find in a cave, yet the bright sun on the gleaming white surface made it a difficult thought to form. I marveled at how few people had actually found the pristine portion of the springs that I was sitting among - I would not have left with a very good impression of Pamukkale had I not stumbled upon them.
I continued my circuit around the green thumb eventually passing an overlook that took in the magnificent, but dry, terraces that were just below the ramp I had climbed to the ruins. I was enjoying the springs, but I was excited to start exploring the main part
My first view of the ruins.
of the ruins. I took one last look around and then I followed a straight path past the ruined buildings of the ancient baths to where I could see a huge group of standing columns. I was completely blown away by what I found amongst the columns. Everywhere I looked I found huge blocks of intricately carved stone, some laying in jumbled masses where they had fallen and others organized in uniform rows, undoubtedly laid out as part of an archaeologist’s inventory of the site. To make the site more aesthetically pleasing to the masses of tourists who ultimately pay for the excavations of the site, every column that could be re-erected was standing on its ancient base and many of the more important structures had been restored as completely as the knowledge would allow. The partial restoration of the site, in addition to making it more appealing to the tourists, makes the site far more understandable, even for the archaeologists. I have met several archaeologists who are completely against restoring ancient sites. I can see their point in the cases where there is not sufficient knowledge to build a true representation, as was the case with the grand pyramid
Jumbled Blocks of Stone
Much of the site of Hierapolis looked like this. The columns had been re-erected when possible.
of the sun at Teotihuacán in Mexico and several other sites around the world. However there is something to be said about the benefits of tourism and the money that comes along with it. If some of the archaeologists I have talked with had their way then every ancient site would more closely resemble the barren rubble fields of Harran, completely devoid of tourists (and dollars), instead of the grand, partially reconstructed sites that draw tourists the world over. I personally like a good mixture of both. I love to sit and stare in awe at the timeless grandeur of a partially restored temple or colonnade, but I also enjoy the mysterious thoughts of lost cities that fill my mind when I come across an intricately carved stone or column sticking up out of undisturbed earth, overgrown with brush. I was happy, because Hierapolis had plenty of both just waiting to be explored.
I made my way past all of the jumbled blocks of ancient masonry and emerged onto a long road paved with a warped sea of giant stone slabs. I was on the Colonnaded Street, which was the main thoroughfare through Hierapolis. Ruined colonnades rose up on
Along the Colonnaded Road
The colonnaded road was at its loveliest just outside of the city gates.
either side of the ancient paving stones. To the north of where I was standing was the Domitian Arch, a gateway of three arched passages and two circular towers that roughly separated the sprawling necropolis from the main part of the town. A sea of ancient stone surrounded me. The paving stones beneath my feet had been warped by more than a thousand years of foot traffic. I looked through the Domitian Arch towards the deserted necropolis and then I looked in the other direction towards the crowded ruins of the city itself. I decided to use the cool morning to explore the necropolis in peace, hoping that the huge crowds in the city would disperse as the day got hotter. I turned and walked beneath the lovely arches and headed into the ‘city of the dead’.
Off to my left, towards the terraced slopes of the springs, I spotted a large mausoleum, or crypt, that was roughly adjacent to the archway. There was a group of people digging in the dirt at its base and a few more watching and inspecting artifacts as they were found - I had found an archaeological dig. I excitedly walked around a
An Archaeological Dig
It was interesting to watch their excavation methods - I guess that so much is known about the site that you don't have to be as careful while digging.
large barricaded area to a spot on the road that overlooked the dig. I was standing about six feet above the bottom surface of the excavation. The crypt was about fifteen feet away and the men were digging directly below me. There were four or five burly Turkish men with picks and shovels digging around a buried sarcophagus and another old man removing wheel barrels full of dirt and debris. There were a few younger people, college students perhaps, that were taking notes regarding where each of the artifacts was found. I stood and watched for what must have been an hour. I couldn’t help but be shocked by the methods of excavation they were using. In my youth I was a member of the Greater Atlanta Archaeological Society and I spent several of my weekends excavating sites around the Atlanta area. We generally used small trowels and hand shovels to move material out of the pits, switching to small brushes when we found something large. An older lady walked onto the dig site and started directing the men regarding where to dig. She inspected several of the artifacts that had been found that morning, mostly fragments of large clay
The Northern Baths
This beautiful structure was roped off because of the danger of collapse. Note the warning sign.
vessels, and then stood aside and watched. One of the men brought his pick down onto the lid of the sarcophagus with a reverberating ‘clank’. The lady and I grimaced in unison as the man raised the pick for another swing revealing an unsightly white dimple in the surface of the rock. The man saw the damage and smiled while he shrugged his shoulders. The old lady, who was clearly in charge of the excavation, spoke some instructions to the diggers and then disappeared. I turned and continued down the road deeper into the necropolis.
I paused for a moment to take in the odd sight of a sarcophagus that was partially submerged in the travertine at the edge of the springs - It had clearly been built before the white terraces had been formed in the area. I next stopped at a massive building on the right of the road. The map I had with me said it was the northern baths. The building itself was in bad shape. Gaping fissures had opened up between many of the mortar-less joints in the two massive stone arches that served as the entryway. A sign posted next to the chain
Through the Arch
The interior of the Northern Baths.
barriers that blocked access to the building said in four languages that there was a danger of collapse and to keep out. I didn’t need the sign to know that I didn’t want to be standing beneath the arch for very long - Some of the stones seemed to be seconds away from falling into a heap of broken rubble, though they had probably looked that way for hundreds of years. I spent the next hour or so exploring the sprawling necropolis. There were half buried mausoleums and intricately carved sarcophagi everywhere. There didn’t seem to be any order to the chaos. In places the sarcophagi were stacked on top of one another and the crypts were facing in all different directions, almost like a giant bulldozer had pushed them all into a pile. The ornate decorations and the sheer quantity of tombs spoke of the importance and wealth of Hierapolis. Most of the crypts laid open to the world, all signs of the burials that they once contained gone. Some of the tombs were in a poor state, clearly showing the signs of active grave robbers in the past, but some were also in beautiful condition with detailed and
In the Necropolis
The necropolis was massive, but seemingly disorganized.
very readable descriptions of the people buried there, or warnings to those who came after - One comical warning I found roughly read in the owner’s words, “May God quickly smote anybody who uses this crypt without permission and swiftly destroy all who help him (or her) do so.” On my way out of the necropolis, I stopped and took a look at the dig site again. Just after I arrived one of the workers found a small glass artifact at the base of the sarcophagus they were excavating. The head archaeologist was clearly excited by the find and she had the man look in the area for the rest of it. Even with a smaller tool the man broke another portion of the glass artifact, which made the woman frown noticeably. A truck pulled up to where I was standing and the man unloaded a large jackhammer and an air compressor. I couldn’t bear to watch, so I quickly headed off to explore. The rapid sputter of the laboring hammer and the soft drone of the air compressor slowly waned as I walked away towards the central section of the ruined city.
Over the next few hours I
The City of the Dead
Another view of the necropolis.
strolled slowly down the ancient streets of Hierapolis. The lovely morning was progressing into a very pleasant day. The sky was blue, broken here and there by a puffy cloud or two, and it was comfortably warm. I spent most of my time as far away from the main tourist thoroughfares as I could get. I explored an area that was said to be one of the grandest agoras, or meeting/market areas, in Asia Minor, but other than a few scattered ruins and carved blocks the area was devoid of any distinguishing features. Most of the structures I explored were completely overgrown in the tall, golden grass that blanketed the site. Many of them were linked together with a network of lightly trodden paths. From time to time I came across an interesting inscription or a masterpiece of carved stone - Laying flat against a low wall, almost hidden by the tufts of grass, I found a broken column that was carved with lovely spiraled flutes. Eventually I joined a major tourist path and followed the masses up the hill past the important, but fairly unspectacular, Nymphaeum, Temple of Apollo and the Plutonium to the well restored theater.
Columns and Cypresses
The lovely cypress trees were all over the site.
was surrounded by a mass of swimsuit-clad tourists, which I found a bit odd until I remembered the hot springs on the site. I walked through an opening in a wall and entered the theater at its top row. Much of the exterior of the theater was still in ruin, so I was surprised when I looked down across countless rows of stone seating to a well preserved stage - I have seen modern venues that were in much worse condition. I walked down to a walkway that divided the seats into an upper and lower section. There I found a wooden rail that kept the masses out of the lower section. My initial displeasure over the barrier quickly disappeared when I discovered that, due to the barrier, I was able to take relatively tourist-free pictures of the structure. I took a seat on one of the upper seats and I took in the scene. I stared out across the ruins and beyond to the hazy mountains that rose up on the far side of the massive valley that the town of Pamukkale was in. As I sat there, I couldn’t help but laugh at the absurd scene created by
Off the Beaten Track
I spent a good amount of time exploring the ruins away from the main tourist thoroughfares and I was constantly rewarded.
the bikini-clad Europeans posing for their pictures, seemingly unaware of the scornful looks from their modest Turkish hosts. A large group of people, led by an English-speaking guide, flowed through the upper doorways and took a seat near me. The guide started into his normal demonstration of the acoustics of the place, prompting his students to be interactive. The peaceful silence was suddenly shattered by a cacophony of clapping and ‘hellos’ and ‘pops’ - It doesn’t matter where in the world you go, it seems like the tour of an ancient site always has the same acoustical display; I wonder if the people who originally built the places realized that one of their biggest legacies was going to be the acoustics of there designs? The noise prompted me to continue my exploration of the site. I took one last look around and then I passed back through the wall at the top of the theater.
My crude map of Hierapolis showed a long stone wall that encircled the ancient city and, up on a distant hill, an interesting ruin called the Martyrium of Saint Philip. I followed another goat-path to the wall and I then I passed through an
In the Sacred Area
Most of the important ruins of the sacred area were off limits behind big fences.
opening. I was outside of Hierapolis’s walls, but there was still a lot to see. I walked along a well-maintained road that skirted the ruined wall. Off to my right I saw a jumble of blocks and a rectangular looking ruin, which roughly corresponded to a little note on my map that read ‘Roman Cistern’. I heard a faint, “Hey mister!” on the wind. I turned in the direction the sound had come from and saw a man on the road well behind me. He was waving at me as he ran, as if there was some emergency he needed help with. I decided to see what he wanted so I paused and let him catch up to me. It was quickly clear that the man only knew a few words in English, so I attempted to find out what was wrong, but my poor Turkish was not up to the task. The man smiled while he caught his breath and then he touched my arm with a ‘hey, look at this’ kind of gesture and then he pulled a white linen cloth out of his pocket. The man looked around in every direction. When he was certain that there
The theater at Hierapolis was massive and in excellent condition. There were two other theaters on site, but they were so badly ruined that they were difficult to see.
were no authorities around he turned his attention back to me, and with another smile, unfolded the cloth. He pushed a handful of ‘ancient’ coins towards my face. He spit out a few descriptive words like, “very old”, or, “very valuable”, and then he attempted to sell the ‘antiquities’ to me - His starting price was more than $1000. I smiled, because the coins were about the size of an old US silver dollar, considerably larger than any ancient coin I had ever seen, and they were in perfect form and condition, excepting the fresh clumps of dirt stuck in the tiny crevices of the design. It was obvious that they were not even a little ancient. I put on as serious of a face as I could muster and then I looked the man in the eyes and told him that I was an archaeologist and that I happened to be an expert on ancient coins - If he was going to pretend to be selling antiquities then I saw no problem in pretending I was someone I was not. The vacant look on the man’s face reminded me that he had no idea what I had said, which
At the Martyrium
This building was erected in the 5th century on the spot where St. Philip was crucified. It is said that his burial is located beneath the center of the structure.
ruined my game. I then said no thank you in Turkish and started to walk away. He persisted in his sales tactics, so I was a bit more forceful with my ‘NO’ and then I quickly walked away leaving the poor man alone on the dusty road.
The road I was following joined up with the main tourist thoroughfare, but I was farther out than most people ventured, so I was completely alone. I followed the stone-paved road in the direction of the Martyrium. I could see a well restored staircase leading to the top of a hill where there were some jumbled ruins, the only problem was that the road I had been following had ended with a sheer drop off at the edge of a big gully and the stairs were on the other side. A sign informed me that the ancient bridge was being restored, but the work was clearly not finished, being that there was no bridge in sight. I followed another small goat path next to the abutment that led down into the gulley and then I weaved my way around some construction equipment and climbed up the other side to where the stairs
At the Martyrium
The small crosses were carved into the keystones in each of the arches.
began at a similar sheer abutment. I climbed up the lovely staircase to a landing that had the remnants of an ancient fountain and then I climbed up another wide set of stairs to the Martyrium. The ruins only loosely resembled the grand octagonal building that had been erected and destroyed in the fifth century AD. The Martyrium was built on the place where Saint Philip, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, was crucified and, though the burial has not been found, the building was said to contain St. Philip’s tomb. In it’s heyday the building had a large wooden dome surrounded by a huge marble arcade. Situated high on a hill above the city, the Martyrium must have been a grand sight to the arriving pilgrims. I walked through each of the chambers and I stood in the center of the space that was once beneath the dome - It was a fairly powerful place.
My stomach reminded me that I had missed lunch by several hours. It was always my intention to grab something to eat at the hot-springs pool, but I had not yet made it there. I decided to say farewell to the Martyrium and I
The Tomb of St. Philip
The Martyrium was constructed over the tomb of St. Philip. Its grand Wooden Dome burned less than 100 years after it was erected.
started walking down the hill, pausing at a picturesque row of half buried crypts on the hillside. I followed an overgrown alley that was paved in large stone slabs. Beneath the slabs was a large, stone trench that must have served as a sewer or a fresh water supply for the city. After another half hour or so of exploring I found myself at the modern entrance for the hot springs. The pool, which had been modernized as part of a luxury hotel that is thankfully gone now, was originally a sacred pool surrounded by a colonnade and filled with the healing waters of the spring. Despite the concrete and the tourists the pool was really a special place. I paid a disproportionately large fee and then I headed inside. I changed into my swimsuit and then I rented a locker for all of my belongings. I grabbed a terrible piece of pizza (there was no Turkish food available) from a food stand and then I slowly walked to the pool. There was a man standing at the steps that led down into the pool. He smiled as I approached and put his hand out - He was the ticket
The Bridge is Out!
The lovely paved way ended abruptly and the stairs started up on the other side of the chasm. The bridge is being restored.
collector. I was forced to make a quick trip back to the locker for the ticket - Apparently just being inside was not enough proof that you had paid the entrance fee. I returned to the pool, handed the man my ticket and then I eased myself down into the lukewarm, sulfur water. The soothing water was a welcome delight after my day’s explorations. I spent the next half hour swimming amongst partially submerged fluted columns, column bases and huge blocks of ancient masonry, all laying where they had fallen in the earthquakes and completely covered in slimy algae. I found a deep section of the pool, which must have been the actual spring. There the water was crystal clear with a bluish tint and deep enough to swim freely without basing into the ruins. Once I was sufficiently waterlogged and completely relaxed I climbed up out of the pool and headed back to my locker. I purchased an ice cream cone from a vendor near the lockers and then I headed back out to explore the last place of interest at Hierapolis - The Museum.
The museum was housed inside a restored and modernized section of the ancient
The Sacred Spring
The crystal clear water of the hots springs were lovely to see, but even better to swim in.
baths. The huge vaulted ceiling with its well-fitted stones hung precariously above the ancient treasures that had been found at the site. There were several lovely statues and many more impressive architectural features, such as intricately carved column capitols, but the stars of the show were the lovely sarcophagi that had sweeping scenes from mythology or from the owner’s life carved in marble on their sides and lids. The exhibit was small, but considering the fact that the building itself was part of the exhibit, it was definitely worth the time to see it. I left the museum and headed back towards the Pamukkale terraces. There I removed my shoes and started the long walk down the ramp to town. I was prepared for another agonizing walk, but my feet felt little pain - Perhaps the healing waters of the spring had strengthened my feet (or maybe I just toughened up during the day!) I paused a few times on the way down the hill to wade in the manmade terraces and then I was back in town.
When I got back to the hostel the owner ran up to me and apologetically informed me that I had a
In the Museum
The sculptures and artifacts in the museum were in superb condition.
new roommate, a friendly Japanese man. He then politely chastised me for having taken the key to the room with me on my day’s explorations - I wasn’t told to leave it so I didn’t see the problem, but apparently they only had the one key and they were not able to let the poor man in until I got back. I spent the rest of the evening at the hostel talking to the other travelers and getting caught up with my writing. Despite my aversion to tours, I signed up for a tour to another ruin that was a long way away for the following day, but I will save that story for another time…
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