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Published: January 23rd 2010
drinking Čay and waiting for 8:30am
killing time in the kebab restaurant...
We left Göreme on an overnight bus to Malatya. We were told by the ticket salesman who urged us into his office that we would arrive in Malatya between 6:30 and 7:00am. This was perfect because we had emailed the tourist office in Malatya about taking their Mount Nemrut Dagi tour and they said a man named Mr Kemal would be waiting for us in "the tea garden" at 8:30am. We left Göreme on a Nevşehir (company) bus at 8:15pm. We were told that we would have to transfer in Kayseri but assured that it would be a simple transfer. One hour later we landed in Kayseri and that is when we boarded the bus from hell. This, I would say, was the second worst and scariest night on our trip next to our first night in Bucharest, Romania.
I went into the large bus station in Kayseri to find the representative that I was told to find. I must have found him. He was a large man with a large mustache and a large cigar sitting behind a desk talking on about 3 phones at once. I showed him my ticket which all it really had on it was the
man's name we bought the tickets from in Göreme. He started bellowing out another man's name who came running and took my ticket and told me to follow him. Tages and I waited 45 minutes for the Yesil Mus Ovasi (company) bus to pull up. There was a rush of people to the bus and I glanced at our new scribbled tickets which put our new seats one row from the very back of the bus. I felt a little nervous because in our travel guide it recommends sitting in the front of the bus because there is a stigma about women sitting in the back which can translate to "whatever happens, you are asking for it by sitting in the back of the bus."
We boarded the bus and I got out my book to busy myself with. So far on our trip we had just been book swapping our way across Europe and sometimes we found good books and sometimes we found bad books. We read them anyways, at this point I have read about 30 books in total (which was one of my goals for this trip). Luckily, we had just attended an awesome Sister Spit traveling
road show in Vienna, Austria so we bought 2 great books that we really wanted to read. The Creamsickle by Rhiannon Argo and Indestructible by Cristy C Road.
Tages tried to fall asleep and I started reading. And then the harassment started. The back seat in the bus was more of a row vs the 2 seats on each side of the aisle that made up the rest of the bus. It was essentially a row of harassing men. Only one spoke English so the other two men kept asking this third guy to translate to us. They kept asking where we were from, where we were going, if they could read my book, what was I reading, what was it about, and was the person next to me a man or a woman (referring to Tages). They also kept sticking their hands through the middle of our seats and tapping me on the shoulder constantly. At first I politely answered their questions. Then they started snickering and laughing at me. Then they kept asking to read my book. I said no because I was reading it and also who asks a stranger to take their book and read it?
Mr Kemal and us in the tea garden.
Also, I became very nervous because the book I was reading is all about lesbian life in San Francisco. I felt scared because if they realized what I was reading about, it made us targets for gay bashing. They refused to let up about wanting my book and continued to poke me and ask me for it. They got angry because I wouldn't let them have it. Other people on the bus were turning around occasionally but no one helped us. I didn't blame them though because they might have been intimidated by these loud men and they might have been afraid to speak English because two of them were making fun of the third man's English who was translating for them. When they finally asked the third man to ask me if Tages was a man or a woman, I was furious but also scared. I spoke firmly to them and said it was an incredibly inappropriate question, that they knew she was a woman but just wanted to ask rude questions and that I wasn't asking them their genders and to LEAVE ME ALONE for the VERY LAST TIME! They all started roaring with laughter and gearing up
tages's new friend
there are many many stray cats in turkey and this one was super friendly. we loved him and wanted to stash him in our bags and take him home.
to ask me more when Tages awoke from her "pretend sleep", turned around and got right in the worst guys face and started screaming at him to leave us alone. Most of the bus turned around and stared. She said later that this was the point of her yelling, to bring attention to this harassment and to make these guys feel on the spot. Well, it worked. I was also so mad that the only way to make these men stop was to match their aggression with aggression. My calm and peaceful way of asking them to stop was obviously not working. They quieted down and stopped asking us questions. The bus turned their lights off because it was the middle of the night. I still felt scared and knew I couldn't sleep. I turned my headlight on but just kept reading the same line over and over in my book b/c I was so rattled by the whole event. I could hear the guy's breathing very close because he was sticking his face in between the seats to look at us. They had stopped talking to us but were still able to harass us and intimidate us without even
walking around Malatya
talking. I sat most of the night just frozen unable to sleep or read. I also knew we couldn't seek help from the bus drivers because early on in the night one had come back and was laughing with the men.
And that's not all. At about 3am, we were bumping along country roads in the dark and one of the bus drivers came back and asked Tages and I where we were going. We told him Malatya. He did this about three more times and then finally asked the man in the back to translate for him. He got a semi worried look on his face and left for the front of the bus. He came back and said, "This is Malatya, you have to get out here. I was like, "HERE? It's 3am! We are in the middle of nowhere, where is the bus station where we were supposed to be dropped off at 6:30am!" The bus driver said "we already passed it and there is only one other man going to Malatya so there aren't enough people getting off to drive to the bus station." He walked off the bus and pulled our backpacks out from under
the bus and literally dropped them on the side of the road, boarded the bus and it left.
There we were, 3am, crickets chirping, middle of who knows where, nothing open, even the few hotels we saw on the road looked closed. After that horrendous bus ride, to be dropped off in the middle of the night in unfamiliar surroundings, I was about to lose it. I think I was too fear stricken to cry, actually. But....we were totally saved by the younger guy who also got off the bus with us. He saw how lost and shocked we looked and came over and spoke in English to us and asked us where we were going. We told him we thought we would be getting in later but we were supposed to be at the tea garden in Malatya at 8am. He told us to get in a taxi with him and he would take us somewhere. His friend who was a taxi driver just so happened to be waiting for him where the bus dropped us off. At the time, I was so frazzled I didn't realize what a life saver this was. All I could think about was
how much this taxi ride was going to cost and where were we going to go. He kept insisting that we stay in a hotel and that his friend would take us to a hotel. But, we told him we didn't have money for a hotel and just to take us to the tea garden. They drove us to the tea garden which was in "downtown" Malatya, it was totally dark and the gates were closed. They told us it was not safe for us to sit there all night. We said, no it's okay, we will be fine. But they insisted it was not a good idea so they drove us to a nearby 24 hour kebab restaurant and talked with the men working there. I think they explained our situation b/c the next thing we knew the restaurant staff was carrying our bags into the back room. Wow, looking back at this now I don't know what we would have done without the help of these two guys. They wouldn't take any money for the taxi and left. I wish so much that I would have gotten their email addresses because I don't think I thanked them enough.
I was so frazzled and everything was happening so fast. But, I don't know what we would have done if it wasn't for those two guys. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
And the staff at the restaurant were equally amazing. There were about 9 guys working there all night. And they left us completely alone besides coming over and giving us tons of Çay and bread and soup. They even said when they brought us food, "Don't worry, no money, no cost, please eat." I couldn't believe their generosity. Well, actually I could because many people we met in Turkey were incredibly generous. We sat there all night watching Turkish soap operas and drinking Çay and I wrote furiously in my journal. 8am came and we left the restaurant. We asked for the bill and they only charged us for about 2 Çays and maybe a piece of bread. So nice!
We walked with our backpacks to the tea garden, red eyed, no sleep, totally out of it, to meet Mr Kemal. There was another man sitting there that said he was Mr Kemal's friend and that Mr Kemal was waiting for us in another location. Okay....so we walked
there were many working animals and people along the mountain roads
with him to find Mr Kemal sitting in a cramped room with other men drinking Çay. Right away I could tell Mr Kemal was an interesting guy. He asked us if we had ever seen a Turkish man that looked like him. He looked like he was straight out of the 60's with longer hair and bell bottoms on. He wanted us to sit and drink lots of Çay and talk. We did but finally said we needed to get some air and walk around Malatya. We left and I realized that there was something I really loved about Malatya. The busses were orange, we found the best supermarket we had come across in Turkey, the weather was sunny and warm, we weren't harassed on the street probably more than 2 times, their indoor bizarre was cool and I found a pair of amazing 80s earrings and Malatya is famous for their apricots. We went back to the tea garden to gear up to leave for Mt Nemrut Dağı. That's when we met Ruth, an amazing Reiki spiritual healer from South Africa with a great sense of humor and fierce sense of independence. She was one of our mates on
the tour. There was also a German couple and a Turkish judge who had just moved to Malatya. There wasn't really a guide, just a driver. We boarded this little van and took off for Mt Nemrut Dağı. It was a bumpy ride but Tages managed to sleep through most of it. I tried to force myself to stay awake because the scenery was incredible. I had never seen anything like it before. The mountains were desert like and there were people hauling things on horse back up the mountain. There was even a small avalanche that we had to stop the van for.
We arrived at Otel Günes to settle in to our room for an hour before we left for the sunset at Mt Nemrut Dağı. We entered Nemrut Dağı National Park in the van and it was about a 20 minutes ride ascending up a windy mountain road. The mountain is 7,000 feet high. We walked to the summit to see the breathtaking views. At the summit you find 30 foot high statues built by King Antioch in 62 BC. Due to weather conditions and damage the statues have been knocked over and are not as tall
Otel Günes (pronounced goo-nesh)
staying in this brilliant Otel was included in our tour. the otel was seriously the only building for miles, and it was right next to the entrance the nemrut dagi national park.
as they were meant to be b/c now the heads sit without their bodies. The heads are of King Antioch, a lion, an eagle and Zeus, Hercules, Tyche (the goddess of fortune) and Apollo. Apparently the King thought these gods and goddesses were relatives of his so he ordered them to be built on top of this mountain. Seeing these heads up close was amazing. And watching the sunset was also brilliant.
We headed back to the hotel and ate a delicious Turkish dinner together. The cook was even able to whip up something vegetarian, as well. We had a good night's sleep but awoke at 5am to head back to the mountain for sunrise. I would say sunrise was even better than sunset. I think I cried because it was so beautiful. I think Turkey has the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets I have ever seen. I would highly recommend seeing Mt Nemrut Dağı to anyone. It was my favorite thing we did in Turkey. Absolutely amazing!
malatya to adiyaman
adiyaman to kahta
kahta to adiyaman
adiyaman to urfa 8pm
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