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Published: September 8th 2008
view from the modern bridge
Sometimes it's better not to have a plan when you're travelling. That way you don't get stuck somewhere that you don't want to (except for a bus station) and you can make little detours to find a gem of a place as Hasankeyf
turned out to be! After talking to the Kurdish guy in Diyarbakir he convinced us that it was a must see place so off we went.
Driving to Hasankeyf took us through dry arid land that wasn't overly scenic so I wasn't convinced that this place was going to be particularly beautiful given the rest of the landscape I've seen so far has been. Once we arrived though we were captivated by the gorgeous village situated on the Tigris River. The massive pylons which are the remains of the old bridge reminded me of the 12 apostles! The weather was doing weird things and it was extremely hazy, making it difficult to see further than about 50m which added to the enigmatic feel of the place.
Carved into the rock cliffs are caves that are no longer inhabited. Instead they have been set up as antique shops that cater for tourists which is a
bit of a shame - I was hoping that I'd be able to see one's life inside a cave...
Walking through the village was like walking through numerous different worlds merged into one. We meandered through the village to the banks of the river where we saw a sheep herder next to a little pond where ducks were swimming. But once we turned our heads we could see a modern bridge which has replaced the original one. Then looking above we could see ruins of a castle towering over the river where a row of restaurants have been built that literally have tables in the water. There were hawkers trying to convince us how good their fish was and if only they had satay I would have felt like İ was at Newton Circus in Singapore! And I probably would have tried all of them to overcome my major withdrawals of Asian food. We settled for the one cave restaurant and were served whole grilled fish that was surprisingly delicious. After dinner we got another invitation to drink çay with some locals who were hanging out and we happily accepted as they were all jovial characters and we ended
up having a great laugh with them.
Unfortunately Hasenkeyf is not going to be here for long which is why I'm really glad I got to see it. Despite its beauty, the town is going to disappear beneath the waters of a dam that is being built which is part of a massive multi-million dollar project. The project has been designed to introduce sustainable development in order to improve living standards and raise income levels but in doing that the project will be displacing up to 37 villages, Hasankeyf being one of them. Go figure...The Mayor of the town has tried to rally against the project with help however from what I've been told they are not having any success. Talking to some of the people in the village I gauged that they have accepted their fate and many of the people have already started moving away from the region that will be affected.
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