From West to East

Published: September 1st 2008
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In an instant, we have escaped the throngs of tourists in Cappadocia and headed East in search of the 'real' Turkey. Only a couple hundred of km away you can really feel the difference in terms of the people and the culture. Life is a lot more traditional here than in cities in the West. You see more women in headscarves, and the pace of modern life is far from evident here.

A lot of people talk about how it's dangerous to travel to Eastern Turkey and unsafe particularly for solo women travellers, so this only made me want to explore the region more! haha. In previous years during the Kurdish rebellion I probably would have thought twice, but in recent years all the turmoil has abated and the area has been opened up to foreigners again and even the LP reports that it is safe to travel to the East.

Our first stop in the East was the town of Malatya , famous for their apricots. We had only stopped in Malatya in order to make our way to Nemrut Daği but we were pleased we did as it was a fantastic introduction to this region of the country that is less visited by tourists than the West.

Walking through the bazaar, we stuck out like sore thumbs being the only foreigners in sight, but we were welcomed by locals with smiles and food to go with it! It was unbelievable how friendly all the people were. We sampled everything from figs, to cheese and olives, delicious baklava and of course the apricots! By 11am we had consumed about 1kg each of all of the above and had not paid a cent for anything - nor were we expected to actually purchase any of the fresh produce that they offered us to taste.

The mysterious statues of Nemrut Dağı sit 2150m above sea level in the middle of nowhere - well so it seemed. It was only this century that archaeological work begun to uncover the history of these statues. Apparently a pre-Roman King ordered these mammoth statues of himself and the Gods to be built. Since then the heads have toppled as a result of earthquakes and the heads are positioned on the ground beneath the towering statues.

The normal trip to Nemrut involves driving up the summit in the afternoon to watch the sunset. Then staying overnight near the summit (we stayed in a pension but you can camp there) and then rising to witness the beautiful sunrise the next morning. We weren't overly enthused about waking up at 4.30am given that we had been on an overnight bus the night before, but every sunrise I've seen has been worth getting up for so I thought I could just catch up on sleep later. Luck eluded me again though as the sun happened to hover behind a cloudy haze the next morning!!! As less people decided to get up for sunrise (lucky for them) we had a bit more peace and quiet to explore.

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