Thursday, August 8, 2013

"Touristy" isn't always a bad thing

With the end of Ramazan approaching, the Global Scholars packed up and headed to Izmir/Ephesus for the holiday.  Along the way there, we made a pit stop to the ancient ruins of Hierapolis to take in the sights, take a dip in the calcium-fortified pools, and otherwise explore the destination popular with locals and foreigners alike.  

After an informative tour on the part of our guide, giving us a glimpse into the greatness of what Hierapolis once was, we all spilt up to undertake our own adventures. Many headed for a dip in the water or to relax in the café, but 5 others and myself decided spontaneously to go paragliding. After our tour guide placed a few calls, an adventure guide quickly pulled up, ready to take us on our journey. As we barreled up the mountain in a creaky van, we nervously giggled to one another, and our paraguides eagerly asked us, “ready to fly?!”
Everyone geared up for their chance to glide, donning knee pads, helmets, and jumpsuits. One by one I watched my friends take to the skies, gliding over the Pamukkine and the ruins. Since there were only 5 guides, I was left behind, waiting until my friends had completed their flight. While I waited, I ended up striking conversation with the owner of the paragliding company, who not only owned a paragliding business, but was a rafting and hiking guide, geologist, and self-proclaimed “accommodation expert.” He was also fluent in English, Japanese, and Turkish and spent his days guiding tourists on various nature adventures.

Through this interaction, and the touristy nature of Hierapolis itself, the globalization that Turkey is experiencing was particularly evident. The paragliding owner went out of his way to learn two languages that were not his mother tongue in order to capitalize on the droves of tourists that come to Hierapolis and the surrounding area. Also the pools, cafes, and gift shops added to the historical city exemplify how the local Turks cater to foreigners in order to garner a profit. While all these add-ons provided conveniences for myself and other tourists, it did take away from the integrity of the ancient sights. However in the end, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Hierapolis, even with the touristy nature of it all. If such businesses weren’t added to the area, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to paraglide after all.

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