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Published: November 4th 2011
Today was a extremely long ride from Anatolya to Izmir, from Mediterranean to Aegean sea.
To break the trip we stopped in Pamukkale. Although there are ruins here from the ancient city of Hieropolis, the main draw for tourists is the terraces of calcium carbonate from the hot springs. This place was a destination for people seeking healing waters, a health resort. I walked down to stick my feet in the water. The rocky surface was painful and the water was just lukewarm but the terraces do look pretty cool.
I've been trying to eat new local dishes. Today I finally got a chance to try the Turkish pancake, called Gozleme, which is a light crepe filled with cheese. And we are still seeing lots of cats wherever we go.
Our guide spent a good bit of time talking about the current politics of Turkey, going back to the late 1990's to bring sense to what's going on. His main emphasis was on the background for the issues today with the Kurds. It helped me understand the situation much better.
He also told us he was Hillary Clinton's tour guide a couple of times and how he
felt like a VIP when traveling with her and getting use of her stylist.
He discussed the education system. In Turkey, pre-school or kindergarten is not required. However, primary and secondary school is mandatory. The government pays for everything but they check the rolls to make sure every child is registered and if they find one not registered, the parents are fined heavily. Also, home schooling is forbidden.
After these 8 years, students have the option to not continue school, about 7% do this. The majority continue on to high school. Some can go to a sort of votech school.
They must take an exam to go to university and only take courses related to their future career.
All doctors must serve the government for 3 years in exchange for free school. They are assigned somewhere by lottery. After this they go to a specialization school and then have to serve another 2 years wherever the government sends them. So every village gets a doctor and a midwife.
All foreign students must pay double of what Turkish students would pay for a private school.
Tomorrow we travel to Ephesus.
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