Cappadocia, Ascending to a Quarter Century

A Youth Backpacker in Europe

Part III Chapter V-III

Cappadocia, Ascending for a Quarter Century

My hot air balloon is growing! I imagined it would be a glaring ray of light, so harsh to the eyes and even hurtful for just a sneak peek. I reckoned it was a once in a life time opportunity to indulge sunrise at this altitude without the complication of climbing up a hill early in the morning.

Gazing at a distant view, it wasn’t beaming shine from the rising sun. Snow had really hindered the warmth of sunrise from joyfully blanketing the lunar landscape in the land of beautiful horses and it had magically “shortened” the reach of sunlight. But it was still the same viewing ease, the same smooth sail in a serene and calm dawn.

A field of hot air balloons I hesitated for a period lengthy enough to be deemed endless before I eventually decided to splurge 150Euros on this extravagant trip. It was not because of the availability, it was not because Cappadocia was remarked as one of the most beautiful places for it. It was an ascending celebration of a quarter century that I desired to pamper myself with. It was an indelible hot air balloon trip during my 25 year old birthday.

Turkey had always been the country I longed to visit the most. When the opportunity arrived and coincided with my biggest turning point in life up to date – turning 25 – I visited Turkey for a search of inspiration. And when the hot air balloon reached the altitude where I was literally united with clouds, I looked down at the wonderful nature down the little basket I was in. I told myself: Why do we need to get so high up to really understand that we are actually looking for a firm ground to step on?

Uhh! Hot! Hot! Hot air balloon trip was undoubtedly an expensive purchase. While enjoyed my inclusive light breakfast and waited for the balloon to get filled up with warm air in the vast balloon field, I couldn’t help myself but still drowning in the guilt of luxurious indulgence.

However, the guilty conscience slowly faded away when I saw “my” balloon growing from flat to bulgy and it was absolutely impossible to hide the excitement when I was called to start the journey. What was it like ascending in air with hot air balloon? It was identical to the impression of a mountain hike where you were stunned with breathtaking view prior to your knowledge.

Riding on a hot air balloon during winter was surely very distinctive compared to the same flight in summer. There were patchy snow flakes covering the earth surface instead of the exposure of naked volcanic earth formation. However, if your pilot is experienced, sailing along the narrow valley in between the unique lunar landscape would definitely beat the price tag and supply immense pleasure.

Stunning view of Cappadocia from hot air balloon It was the highlight of my planned Cappadocia trip. But it wasn’t without (unplanned) companies. An eager invitation from my host in Cappadocia had seen me sitting in a lecture in university. And before I knew it, I was holding a marker pen teaching English in front of university students.

It was indeed an absolutely bizarre but enjoyable experience and I wouldn’t believe if anyone has had similar experience as me during their ordinary travels. Well, it wasn’t the type of grand lecture hall that can accommodate 500 students without challenge. Instead, it was a lovely middle age rural Greek style house that was transformed into lecture room. But hey, it was the experience that matters!

In the lecture room Did I also mentioned how my host in Cappadocia brought me to the one and only local Greek pub, requested a change of music to song I like, and held a cute little cake in his hands while walking himself through the throng of dancing fellows and sang birthday song to me?

A hot air balloon gift I bought for myself, an unforgettable birthday celebration from my host, and a surprise experience of becoming half a day university lecturer. What more could I ask for the birthday celebration that marks my presence for a quarter century?


Riding along the valley

Mapping in the snow

Champagne toast after a successful ride from the pilot. See the huge tips box next to the champagne glasses?