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Published: June 14th 2010
I think I spent more money crossing the Syrian border than I did the entire time I was in Syria. I wandered into the duty free out of curiosity and was shocked to see they sold iPods and accepted MasterCard. So basically I'll be eating rice and drinking tap water for the foreseeable future, but I won't have to listen to anymore God damn Arabic music on buses.
Pretty long journey to Kahta and the border crossing was ridiculously slow. Everyone (our car included) was trying to smuggle in cheap Syrian cigarettes so the Turkish customs officers searched literally every car. Then after a few bus changes made it to Kahta, the main base for visiting Mount Nemrut. It's immediately obviously Turkey is a more developed country than Syria. With that comes much higher prices! The other major difference is no one speaks English. I've been getting some serious use out of my Middle East phrase book! There are parts of eastern Turkey where members of the Armenian and Syriac communities don't even speak Turkish let alone English.
I was pretty wrecked by the time I arrived in town and went to go looking for the cheap hotel recommended
by lonely planet. There was a guy with a minivan waiting at the bus stop, he came up to me straight away and told me he owned a ran a cheap hotel and would give me a lift straight there. I basically told him to fuck off... then read the back of the van and it was the name of the hotel I was looking for him. Slightly embarrassed I went back to the van. I just told him my English wasn't very good and that I didn't understand him. No one here knows where Ireland is, let alone what language we speak. May as well make the most of it.
Private transport is the only option for getting to Mount Nemrut, tours usually arrive for sunrise or sunset and include a variety of other attractions in the area. While I was on the bus I got chatting to a woman who'd lived in Syria for a few years. She said the Syrian government had decided she was a spy so wouldn't let her back in the country! She also told me about several people she knew who simply "went missing". I'm might have to put my plans of
moving to Damascus on hold...
The scenery is the mountains is fantastic and justifies a trip in its own right. The main attraction is the monuments at the top of the 2000m mountain. The summit was created by a megalomaniac King who ordered the creation of several colossal statues of himself and the Gods. Earthquakes caused the heads to falls from the statues. There are plans to restore them but they're pretty amazing as is.
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