Eleven Thousand Years in the Making

Posted: Sep 5, 2003 2:58:13 PM

Yesterday I had my first attack of homesickness, and although it wasn't a major one I was worried that it was triggered primarily by a (relatively minor) setback on the road to Catal Hoyuk. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

About a week ago I set out on the Fez Bus, which is a hop-on hop-off network that takes people around western Turkey. It is populated primarily by Australians and New Zealanders, which is a relief in some ways, as it's always nice to be able to just casually converse with someone from time to time. I have met several people that I would now consider friends (so hopefully they'll post something here to let me know they're still alive!).

I'll be meeting up with two of these friends again in Istanbul: Melinda, a lawyer from Christchurch on a huge nine month tour of the more dangerous parts of the world (ask her about South American roads); and Mahmut, our offsider (on-bus travel co-ordinator), a great guy that we managed to talk into going paragliding with us before he scarpered off for a wedding in eastern Turkey.

So with these and other friends in tow I've been to the following:
The ruins of Pergamum
The ruins of Ephesus
Saklikent Gorge

That last was very interesting - not only did we get to see the eternal flames of Chimaera (gas pockets in the mountain ensure a perpetual supply of natural gas to fuel these campfire-sized blazes coming straight out of the rock near your feet) but I also stayed in a proper treehouse that is rather famous on the backpacker circuit.

Yesterday I hopped off the Fez bus to do some independent exploration in Konya. Konya is not famous on the backpacker circuit; in fact, I was the first person to jump off the Fez bus in Konya this year. This city (the fifth largest in Turkey) is the religious capital of Turkey, home to the Whirling Dervishes and their inspiration, the poet Mevlana (who is buried in the centre of town). It is one of the more conservative places in Turkey, and the lack of bars and watering holes appears to have kept most of the backpackers away.


I came to Konya to find a way to Catal Hoyuk, one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. The oldest parts of it are a whopping 11,000 years old, making it the first city, well, ever. It is about 60km out of town, so I was planning to find a bus to nearby Cumra and take a taxi the rest of the way. Dropped into the Tourist Information office, asked where to find a bus to Cumra. Nope, doesn't exist. It was about this point that the homesickness kicked in: there were very few English-speaking people around, and the one that did speak English was blatantly contradicting my best research. It is something quite unpleasant to feel such isolation, and having enjoyed the conversation on the Fez network so much I had forgotten how bad the lack could get.

I took an early night and resolved to try again in the morning, although at that point I just felt like hiding in the hotel all day, and not even the dubbed Popeye cartoons could cheer me up. Let me just say that where yesterday was awful today was awesome: not only have I been to Catal Hoyuk, but I have had engaging conversations with a carpet salesman (having visited a carpet-making place I caught him in one or two rather blatant lies regarding the quality of his carpets and so decided not to get one) and an English-language student (he had only been learning for seven months, but was very well spoken regardless). That's the main problem with people greeting you on the street: half are extremely friendly students of English looking for some practise, and the other half are trying to sell you something.

Regardless, I am now back in a top mood, and tomorrow I'll be going to the Mevlana Museum and then back on a bus to Goreme in Cappadocia. The next report will probably come some time after I get back to Istanbul, and I should have lots more to say.


Maladroit   Sep 5, 2003 4:17:32 PM

What an awesome thing to visit, the oldest city in the world. Thanks for sharing with us, sounds like you're still having a great time.

Next up, a brief report from someone stuck at home in the states: How to Live Life Vicariously Through Someone Else's Travels - "Waaaaaaaaaaa"

Harvey 2.0   Sep 5, 2003 5:13:14 PM

Just last night I was watching a documentary about the Pergamon Museum here in Berlin and thinking "I wonder if Damon will be going to Pergamon while in Turkey". I guess, the museum is also on your itinerary for Berlin, in addition to the cinemas. :)

Charlotte   Sep 5, 2003 5:45:13 PM

*wails* I'm so jealous! I fell in love with Catal Hoyek when I took Anth at Uni! Yesterday I visited one of the three most beautiful spots in Japan, Miyajima Island, which I figured would be very difficult to top. Of course you had to go and visit Catal Hoyek on the same day!!!! That so exceeds my trip to Miyajima in coolness!

*resigned* Ah well, at least you probably weren't entertained by the local wildlife trying to eat your map and your icecream and the gift wrapper on your souvenir box of sweets and your ice cream napkin and the contents of your handbag and the shoelaces of some unsuspecting tourist. *grin*

Bosco   Sep 5, 2003 11:59:06 PM

Aw, I'm sorry you had such a lonesome day, although it sounds like you came out alright.

You're remembering to take tons and tons of pictures, arent you?

Michael   Sep 6, 2003 3:28:45 AM

Good to see that you are haveing a good time damon :)

And also that at least part of you is missing good old New Zealand. Every thing is going along pretty normaly over here other than MP's driving tractors and cows all over parliament. Today Chris is up in Auckland, my boss is holidaying in Australia and Jon from work will be lying on a beach in Bali. So i'm IT for phone support this weekend. Only had 2 easy calls this morning so lets hope nothing big happens *toes crossed* (its harder to answer cell phones with crossed fingers)

Morgan   Sep 6, 2003 9:08:10 AM

Heya Damon!

Great to get be fed more news. I've just realised that you ask to be kept up to date with news at home but its pretty quiet.

Mums gone to Auckland for the weekend with a few car loads of gangsters (I just realised how curious that sounds if you haven't heard of the gang show :)) so shes not here. Siska's off with Tim and her friends and doing her own thing. Gareths been busy doing a little relief duty managing but (don't know if anyone told you) he got an A- in his first assignment! Frazer is obviously still in the States but he's sounding more and more homesick each time he phones.

So, its just Dad and I. It was nice though as because it was only us two he took me out to dinner. Nanna's fine. As for me, I'm looking forward to the last two months on my degree.

Really glad to hear you're making the most of your travels and I hope you see everything you meant to see (even if you have trouble getting there)

Love Morgan

Harlequina   Sep 7, 2003 1:57:46 AM

Sorry to hear about the setback, but glad you're otherwise having fun.

We'll be away on holiday from Sept. 18th-30th, but we will be home all October. Look forward to seeing you then. :)

Damon   Sep 7, 2003 9:39:37 AM

So many people to reply to, so litle time to do so...

Mal, Catal Hoyuk was fantastic - I didn't give it the full description in my report because I have to save some stories for when I get back - but just being (and walking over) a place that has seen human habitation for so long was a really incredible feeling.

Harv, yes, one of the common strains throughout Perg and Ephesus was "the original is now in the Pergamum museum in Berlin", so if I'm not ruined (hah) for antiquities by then I'll definitely want to have a look. And if you come too, I'm sure I can be of at least passing informativeness.

Charlotte, if I had any maps I'm sure that they would have been eaten by now. As it stands, I got lost for several hours in Konya after posting that report, but that's one of the primary reasons to go anywhere - to get lost without a map. Why was Miyajima so beautiful?

B, yep, I am, although I hope the film doesn't melt given that 40 degree celsius days seem to be the norm rather than the exception (although it actually rained in Konya).

Mike, um, tractors and cows all over parliament? Is this about the fart tax? Sucks that you have to be at work, but I guess if there's not too many problems you can just play games all weekend instead *grin*

Morgan: awesome! Tell Gareth congratulations (I don't imagine he'll mind you posting it on a public forum, but still) from me, and try to get him to pop online at some point to say howdy. And Frazer will soon be back home, so he'll be right I guess.

Ian, have a great holiday (I know I am so far) and I will let you know as soon as I know when I'll be dropping by to chill. It's still looking at being around the second week of October, and I'm looking forward to it.

Anyway, I'm renting a scooter and checking out some of the sites of Goreme (in Cappadocia) today, so I'll catch you all later.


Charlotte   Sep 7, 2003 2:34:50 PM

Be careful! Tourists and scooters are often a bad mix - used to get heaps of medical claims for scooter accidents.

Binky   Sep 7, 2003 11:01:03 PM

Had a "wish I had travel insurance" moment last week - returning from skiing in Queenstown, the windscreen on the rental car was broken by a passing cement truck, and came well below the excess on our insurance. That and the speeding ticket.

Charlotte's wildlife story reminded me of something else - on the skifield, I saw a kea pick up someone's glove on one side of the learner slopes, fly off, and drop it well over the other side. Mischievous buggers.

Charlotte   Sep 8, 2003 3:27:11 AM

Keas are cool.

Oh, and yeah, you asked me a question Damon. Miyajima was beautiful because it seems so much more unspoiled than other parts of Japan. Not so much concrete and advertising. Lots of natural vegetation. Beautifully preserved shrines. And of course the deer, which eat any rubbish that happens to fall!

*grin* I never get lost and I still manage to see heaps of cool things and have a good time. For me getting lost would be something I wouldn't enjoy and wastes time that I could be spending seeing something I really wanted to see.

Bosco   Sep 8, 2003 9:40:47 AM

Ha! My phone finally got a chance to leap into the fray, and converted C to F for me. Mwahaha. Also, 76 days til I leave for Italy, oot oot oot!

Damon   Sep 9, 2003 9:38:37 AM

Scooter-riding was fun and easy, but I have since come down with a nasty case of food poisoning, meaning that I don't get to see as much of the underground cities as I wanted. Oh well.

And keas are indeed cool. When they're not terrorizing you.

Peter   Sep 9, 2003 2:52:35 PM

Ouch, pitty that :(

Hope you get well soon. Looking forward to your next report :)

Charlotte   Sep 9, 2003 3:37:47 PM

It's not a proper OE unless you get food poisoning somewhere along they way. In fact I reckon it's almost mandatory. I mean, think of the fun stories you can tell now about how sick you were and how gross it was! Everybody loves a gross OE food poisoning story *grin*

Oh and yeah, I hope you feel better soon!

Bosco   Sep 9, 2003 6:04:50 PM

Huh, so my comment about explosive vomiting turned out to be prophetic after all.

Bosco   Sep 10, 2003 12:31:12 AM

Upon further relection, I have wasted a perfect opportunity to make an underground cities + explosive vomiting + worshipping the porcelin god + sewage pipes which run underground = god, that's terrible! pun of terribleness. I have squandered it I say.

lian   Sep 10, 2003 7:40:46 PM

Food poisoning? What did you eat, this Turkish national dish made of innards? Anyway, you hadn't had an instance of, umm,'culture shock' before your rather dreary day? (I still remember the shock I got when the friendly Danish pastry vendor asked me what pastry I wanted. In Danish. Oh the horror ^_^...ok so it was my first time abroad, then.)

But there really *are* backpacking, native English speaking people everywhere,aren't there? So culture shock and home sickness might not kick in as early. Just recently I couldn't help but partly overhear two backpackers' conversation on a train ride. Funny,I thought that it could as well have been you, except that I know your itinerary too well. Didn't harass them, though, the 'English student wanting to practise' must be a bit trying sometimes, hemmm?

Tamsyn   Sep 11, 2003 12:02:31 AM

Just looked up your website for the first time, and I see I've already missed most of the fun (sheepish grin)... Oh well, better late than never...

Good to hear you're still alive. And flourishing.

Question: given that all of Britain, Europe and now Asia Minor seem to be full of back-packing New Zealanders, how is NZ not EMPTY? I mean, there's a Kiwi behind every bar in London (and under most of them too, but never mind...) Is the population really 20 million, with only 3.7 at home at any given time?

Rimmers   Sep 11, 2003 11:02:52 AM

great report, Paragon. how many NZlanders are wandering around in Turkey, anyway?

it could be likely merely a water poisoning than a food poisoning... NEVER drink any other water than from originally closed bottles there, but you may have found out by yourself ;)

Aan`allein   Sep 11, 2003 12:55:37 PM

Tamsyn: I expect New Zealand is full with backpacking Europeans. :) (At least judging by the various backpacker sites here in the Netherlands...)

marvin   Sep 11, 2003 5:26:08 PM

paragliding?!?!? how cool!

happy hunting!

Siska   Sep 11, 2003 9:43:25 PM

*waves hi*

ah HA!

I made a comment!

na, umm, that all sounds cool Day-man, are you collecting many antiquties (I SO can not have spellt that right)?

what do you think the food poisening WAS anyway?

Mum & Morgan have just run off wellington way to accost Fazer!

oh and the reason that wasn't my job this time... the car, I bought off Garry for the price of a singular golf club, had a funky gear box (well now its a very inept & futile gear box) so I am traped again with no car.

yea, but thats my only news.

Love ya miss ya

don't eat no more of the pink bugs

Bosco   Sep 12, 2003 2:01:31 AM

*wrinkles nose* 6 days and no report? Better be a really spiffy one soon, or I shall sulk, and pooch my lower lip out like so: ~ . *mopes* 75 days now.

Damon   Sep 12, 2003 8:19:21 AM

Oo, new visitors, neat! I haven't posted a report because my stomach bug is lingering ... and lingering ...

But I'm done with Ankara and am now back in Istanbul, so hopefully I'll be able to write something soon.

Quick question: everyone else I recognise, but who the heck is Marvin?

Charlotte   Sep 12, 2003 9:01:46 AM

Nice to see you're still alive!

Marvin? *breaks out into song* Well, I heard it through the grapevine....

FraZ   Sep 12, 2003 10:00:10 AM

i am ..... Alive. i didnt go & go Para-gliding.... because That is jsut about the coolest thing i have heard. i mena Dang you are kicking arse over there. i got back today ... arHHHh. long flight . dumb movies. nz is cold & i miss dR pepper. & im kidna bumbed because i didnt spend much money at all. Liek ive got a few thousand left... hmmm its cool ok . Talk to you in a while. keep the FaiTh

Bosco   Sep 13, 2003 12:15:24 AM

Marvin the Martian?

Bosco   Sep 13, 2003 5:04:15 AM

Also I have news. Okay dumb irrelevant news, but if you, Aragorn son of Arathorn, find yourself with a minute to spare, then drop me an email. If not I'll just tell you when I see you, if I remember.

SecretSquirrel   Sep 13, 2003 5:50:17 PM

So sorry to hear about the gi distress; hope you're past it soon! If not, some food remedies to try -- if you can find ingredients: ginger (tea or fresh), blueberries, yogurt (but be careful of source!), turmeric spice (1 teaspoon in warm water), or vinegar (1 tablespoon every hour). Good luck!

I've been lurking a bit and enjoying (and envying!) your reports and all the commentary. It really sounds like you're having exciting (and well-rounded) adventures. I think Maladroit has expressed my own feelings very well. ;)

Smarch Smooches! ;)

and Cheers!


Damon   Sep 13, 2003 5:56:46 PM

Oh, poor Frazer, he has too much money! Woe, woe! *adds further sarcasm using a large trowel* but I know what you mean; you're not sure when travelling if you're spending too much or too little, and if you end up spending too little you kick yourself for each thing that you talked yourself out of because it was too expensive.

The stomach bug is going down a bit now (but thanks for the potential remedies, SS!), so I shall endeavour to post a new report in just a mo.

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