Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Calcium, Doctor Fish, and Hierapolis

Ancient ruins at Pamukkale

Since arriving in Turkey 2 ½ weeks ago, my view of Turkey has been limited to the busy, hustle-and-bustle metropolis life of Istanbul. Today, my view has been expanded as the global scholars have departed Istanbul for an overnight getaway to the province of Izmir.
We began our day before the sun rose at 4:30 am.  Despite some hiccups, we all managed to make our 6:45 flight time from Ataturk to Izmir safely.  Once we touched down in Izmir, we were quickly ushered into a coach bus for a three-hour ride to our next destination: Pamukkale Hierapolis.
As we rode along the southwestern region of Turkey, the landscape was breathtakingly beautiful. Mountains and fields lined the roads around us on either side, and I was finally feeling that Mediterranean vibe and weather typically associated with Turkey. 
Our tour guide enlightened us on the basic history and demographics of modern-day Turkey as we rode.  One thing she pointed out that was very eye-opening is the unequal distribution of wealth and opportunity throughout Turkey.  She told us that the Eastern half of Turkey suffered from mostly infertile land making unemployment very high in this area.  Those who are able will often leave these regions in the hopes they will have better job-opportunity in cities like Istanbul.  This information coincides with Turkey’s status as a “developing” nation more so than what I’ve seen of Istanbul thus far.
Calcified pools in Pamukkale
When we finally arrived at the ancient city of Pamukkale Hierapolis, we were greeted with a white mountain covered with mineral deposits.  Our tour guide led us through the ancient city before allowing us to explore the city on our own for a couple hours. Members of the group took advantage of the opportunity to hike the mountain in search of an old monastery; some considered getting the Doctor Fish massages, while others decided to have the experience of hang-gliding over the mountains.  I decided to visit the calcified pools on the mountain – a decision I do not regret.  On top of the mountain, visitors take their shoes off and are then allowed to explore the pools at their leisure.  The built up calcium deposits make magnificent walls on the mountain, with the water trickling down into the pools. The water was cool and refreshing as we wade in knee deep. 

After being allowed to explore on our own, we met back up at the bus for a three-hour ride to where we’d be spending the night – Kusadasi, a city near Ephesus.  Our hotel had a waterfront view of the Aegean Sea which some of us took immediate advantage of.  Watching the sun set while wading in the temperate water was the perfect way to end this busy day. Seeing Turkey outside of Istanbul has broaden all of our perspectives of Turkey and has better equipped us to understand what development means in relation to Turkey.  
Hotel view of sunset over the Aegean Sea in Kusadasi

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