Pamukkale, the Cotton Castle

A Youth Backpacker in Europe

Part III Chapter III

Pamukkale, the Cotton Castle

Garçon in the bus. Well, he's not the handsome one I mentioned in this post In the morning of my third day in Turkey, I finally boarded on my pilot road journey with the renowned Turkish bus system. To what many people find themselves being sceptical about, it was a downright routine practice in the Turkish bus system – complimentary drink and food service on board. And if you are lucky, you will find a handsome looking and well dressed young man to be your garçon of the day.

Prior to my journey, Fiona told me about this complimentary service thingy which I seriously took into account during the planning phase of my trip. Not that bus fare in Turkey was ridiculously valued until requiring you to dig deep for reasons prior to subscription, but to receive service which one would normally only receive 38,000 feet above ground right on the ground, that surely was an irresistible perk worth considering.

Gleams from water tables during sunset However, food served was not the award winning excessively decorated flight meal but just some packet fruit cake from ordinary market. Well, you pay for what you get. But it was confusing enough for first-timer, for example the Indian woman in the same bus with me to mistaken it as the similar cunning ploy of budget airlines to plough extra revenue.

It was a three-hour journey wheeling on the meandering ‘highway’ of Turkey towards the east. Everything was perfect – the mesmerising scenery and the equally eye candy garçon, the talkative next and front seats neighbours which occasionally gave me the much desired peace of mind, and the enjoyable ‘ psychologically free’ fruit cake and juices – until the visit of the unsolicited torrential downpour.

Cascade Structure of Pamukkale To be fair, it wasn’t all that sunny at all since the morning in the first place. Checking out the gloomy weather through the cleaning-desperate bus window was not even the last activity I intended to perform during the journey. But when the rain finally came, I found myself in a cleft stick, indecisive on whether to settle with a rainwater-cleaned window that allows clearer penetration of scenery or a sunny weather through the stained window.

Three hours of neither bumpy nor comfortable bus ride later, the following structure imposed itself into the curtains of my eyes – a humongous natural white blanketed hill slope echoed by the rhythm of drastic flowing streams. It is what they call the ‘Cotton Castle’ – Pamukkale.








Trench dug to divert flow Another UNESCO World Heritage, but this naturally formed ‘shimmering’ white cascade, sculptured by limestone-laden hot springs that have over the course created unique shapes of stalactites, potholes and magical fairy tables, was one of its kind. The sheer scale of this captivated formation alone was sufficient to make every visitor gasps. But it was the privilege to walk bare foot on the ‘hard cotton’ ground that left an unforgettable memory.

Worry about slippery surface? Nah, the spring water was deliberately diverted via the multiple The bluish water tablespurposely dug trenches. Not considering it as a strategic move, I would rather choose to risk myself falling off this approximately 20 floors high structure by paddling exhilarating through the reputed beneficial water while gazing at the ancient fragments of the columns below the surface, than to trek safely on the dry wrinkled stone while coercing myself into believing what now seemed like a carelessly worn potholes as the once glamorous ‘castle’ made of cotton.

What considered as lucky was when it approached sunset, there was a glimpse of sunshine materialising The Ancient City of Hierapolis on top of Pamukkale golden gleams from some scarce amount of water tables to quench the thirst for a long waited impressive facet of Pamukkale of which I considered as the consolation prize of my only day in Pamukkale, before drizzles of spring showers made their presence.

Disappointed by the weather which certainly had brought back the winter chill, I found myself enjoyed a hot-pan grilled fish in a relaxed warm old-fashioned heated lounge of my hostel at night, recharging myself with a good night sleep before the pilgrimage to the most religious city of Turkey – Konya the next day.

P.S.: Thank you Erkan from Turkey for his wonderful recommendation to visit Pamukkale.

Selçuk-Efes, the Modern Ancient Jewel

A Backpacker in Europe

Part III Chapter II

Selçuk-Efes, the Modern Ancient Jewel


On the way to Ephesus Turkey is a country of skewed population. More than 60% of the population of Turkey is under 25 years old. And visited Turkey during its general election period (unplanned), the fresh ideas or idealism from modern Turkey could be heard everywhere.

Contrary to its very broad young generation base, Turkey is also one of the countries around the world that dominates in the realm of archaeology. One of the most appealing and unmatched archaeological sites in term of sheer magnitude is Efes, or more internationally renowned as Ephesus.

The Temple of Artemis

Ephesus is located at the west of Turkey and is within the proximity to the Aegean Sea. However, the  closeness of the city to the sea didn’t help in guaranteeing a warm weather during my visit. Although I was lucky enough to get blanketed by sunshine in intervals, travelling to Turkey in April remains an unwise proposition. But if you believe the friendliness of Turks is sufficient to melt the April snow, welcome to Turkey.

Staying within the ancient city of Ephesus was impossible. Instead, like many others, I stayed at Selçuk, a nearby city half an hour walking from Ephesus. Though surging above the international tourism arena mainly due to its proximity to Ephesus, Selçuk was actually a very little adorable small city by itself. Not to mention also is the Ephesus Museum in Selçuk that offers some exceptional collections of the ancient world.

The Arch of Hadrian Owes to its importance for the insanely famous Ephesus, Selçuk was filled with decent restaurants and affordable accommodation that suit the budget of different travellers. However, from my observation the living standard of the natives didn’t seem to benefit much from the handsome revenue generated through the tourism industry.

It was hard to not realise the establishments of the many carpet and souvenir shops in Selçuk. But what surprised me was some ‘money’ conversation I had with local children during my unexpected and unplanned encounter to the slum of Selçuk, which ironically separated itself from the ‘posh’ Selçuk only by a strip of road. However, it wasn’t nasty at all meeting the children. But surely, it had projected a struggling image of Turkey to me, which I still find it very hard to justify after my trip.

Library of Celsius Unfortunately also it wasn’t the season for camel fighting during my visit. Otherwise my stay in the Selçuk definitely would have been much more interesting.

Back to Ephesus, one of the most sought after tourist hotspot was the Temple of Artemis. Crowned as one of the ancient seven wonders of the world, the Temple of Artemis had however lost all its ancient glory. The whole site resembled a deserted area left with a pile of scattering stones and a lonely column erected from a stack of random pieces of small round stones.

Although there was still some hawkers persuading tourists for business, the Temple of Artemis had clearly been marginalised from the Ephesus main site, as could be easily noticed from the crude stone mark placed at the most unnoticeable side of the road.

The Theatre Ephesus main site was however a completely different story. It was magnificent and breathtaking, especially when I was standing at the Theatre looking towards the ancient harbour site. The impression of ancient architectural achievement could not be felt any deeper at the other place.

Besides the Theatre, the grandeur of Library of Celsius was also a favourite. But don’t expect anything else beyond the glamorous entrance of the library. There was also a House of Virgin Mary where everyone was trying to reach. But having been inundated by a swathe collection of stones, I found myself to be archaeological intolerant after a couple of hours.

Slum of Selçuk Not considering myself a huge fan of archaeology, and by not subscribing to the day long personal guide offered by the individuals waited at the entrance of the site saved me from hours and hours of archaeology lecture, I headed back to Selçuk and waited patiently for the arrival of the coming day when I could immerse in the wonder of nature at Pamukkale.

Turkey, Introduction

A Youth Backpacker in Europe

Part III Chapter I
Turkey, Introduction

IMG_8025 My attempt to draft the very first paragraph of my recent trip to Turkey had resulted in the emergence of unsolicited panoply of ideas rivalling keenly through the introduction entrance. The inundation of ideas had triggered my indecisiveness and troubled my search for the perfect opening to this unforgettable voyage.

Why a task which should be an airy dance of fingers on the keyboards turned unfortunately into an endeavour to finalise the most representative theme about TurkeIMG_8055y? I delved into the cause of the unexpected hardship, performed a thorough diagnosis by browsing through my photos galore and I delightfully discovered the explanation.

Turkey is a vast area country and possesses a potpourri of cultures that renders a single introduction impossible or inappropriate. In order to convey the many unique impressions about Turkey, I decided to challenge myself to deliver them via multiple short paragraphs.

“If Mecca is the IMG_8209ultimate destination of Muslims, I consider Turkey to be the place of pilgrimage in my very own world. I am neither a religious person nor a Muslim. However, a secret bonding has formed between Turkey and I since the first time I saw a documentary about the Islamic country of Turkey on TV. A two-week visit to Turkey had not transformed me religiously, but it had inspired me more than any of the visits I had in the past.”

“Majority of the people limit their knowledge and constrain their destination selection to the magical metropolis of Istanbul and the breezily warm Antalya  at the Mediterranean coast when it comes to visiting Turkey. However, I quIMG_9071enched my thirst for nature by travelling to Central Anatolia where I had literally got my breath taken away by the charm and impressiveness of the land of beautiful horses.”

“The wealth of history from Roman to Ottoman Empire and the abundance selection of healthy Mediterranean cuisines are undoubtedly attractive facets of Turkey. However, it was the eerie and extremely superb hospitality that impressed me deeply into my core. I must apologise for my selfish cynicism, but I did initiIMG_8743ally perceive Turkish people to be nothing but a bunch of  (pleasant) hospitable extremists.”

“I was warned to prepare sunscreen prior to my Turkey trip but I ignored the sincere advice deliberately. I regretted during my trip, only for a minimum period of time. Travelling from west to central Turkey between March and April gave me the opportunity to experience four seasons in two weeks. Other than needed to shield myself under the blistering hot sun in Istanbul, I found it extremely necessary to moisturise in the bitterly cold Cappadocia.”

“By no mean I aIMG_8295m going to imply Turkish people are racists. But surprisingly,  for the very first time, I found my Asian origin gave me a favourable advantage during my two-week trip to Turkey. It indeed was bizarre. Who would have thought Asians are better received than Europeans when the country had repetitively applied to become a member of EU? Not to be mistaken, no one is discriminated but Asians are just simply more welcomed in Turkey.”

“No one faces the hardship to fall in love with Turkey. It could be the enticing IMG_8059food or the mesmerising nature. But my special fondness to Turkey had been the constant shower of the seni seviyorum (I love you) expression by my hosts. Forget about language barrier because the will of Turkish people to connect with you could  never be deterred by the trouble to adopt online translation service.”

“My visit to Turkey had not only expanded my body size, but also my mind. Everything tends to be simple and direct in this energetic country, be it a memorable birthday celebration or an unique opportunity to teach English in university. Immerse IMG_8305yourself fully in the food, the nature and the undecorated straight-forwardness of the people and I am sure you will end up in a similar situation like me, wishing your trip to Turkey will never come to an end.”