Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Travelogue to Turkey- Part VII- Hot air balloon, Cappadocia

D6- 26th March, 2015

I woke up early this morning. Prepared myself for Subuh prayer and dressed appropriately with few layers of clothes to cover my skinny body so that it won't get too cold out there. Yup...of course not to forget, pray for my safety. If anything happened, Ida said she booked my jacket... Hahaha...😂. It all came to my mind when I thought about the warning that Ida told me earlier back in Malaysia, where there were 2 people died due to two hot balloon collided here in Cappadocia in December, 2014. Yaa... Quite recent incident right. So I prayed to Allah to make my journey safe and definitely in His hand my soul belong.

I went down to hotel lobby excitedly. Ready for another adventure I was about to experience...once in a life time experience. A lot of people from different nationalities already waited in the lobby. I spotted my group in the middle of the rest. Only 5 of us will go for the hot balloon ride today. We waited for the rest to come down and for Hjh Shalina and Finar to accompany us to the site. By 5 am most of the participants from other countries already moved out, and the hotel lobby became quieter. Outside, it's already bright even may be at that time it's only 5.15 or may be 5.30 am. From our hotel, we were picked up by a hotel van to the hot balloon site. 

In the van we were given some snacks and packed drink.  We were also given a card on the safety guide or precautions that we needed to take during the hot balloon ride. It took us about 15 minutes to reach the site where we're going to board. It was cold ...and one can expect that it might be colder up there. Once we reached there, they're preparing our balloon. Since we were the first group reached to this balloon, it gave us enough opportunity to take some photos in front of the balloon before they inflate it. We were lucky in a way, the weather was good and suitable to fly. I was told that the ride was cancelled yesterday due to bad weather and it was predicted by weather forecast tomorrow would not be a good day as well.  Alhamdulillah and always praise Allah...He's the best planner yup...

Before a safe hot balloon ride, the pilots will check the weather...they won't simply fly if weather's not suitable. The current and forecast weather must have sufficient visibility for the pilot to see to avoid obstruction and sufficient slow winds to allow take off and landing. When we reached there our balloon already lying on the ground connecting to the basket which we were going to board later and it's ready to be inflated. We were lucky as we reached earlier than others and not much crowd at that time, gave us ample time to see the process on how they inflated the balloon and to take some photos in front of the balloon. They used a burner flame aimed into the mouth heating the air inside the balloon to inflate it. At the same time, the other crews hold the ropes and took care of the balloon while it's being inflated. I can't remember how it suddenly fully inflated and the balloon was already upright...ready for us to climb in the basket.

I was the first person climbed up the basket...but because of my small size and was not use to climb, I was stuck to the steps. So somebody had to help me to climb up the basket. Hahaa...luckily, I am a little bit taller than the basket, at least I was able to enjoy the scenery I was about to see. Our basket was a medium size basket that can accommodate about 16-20 passengers at one time. The basket came with 3 sizes...the smallest one accommodate 8-12, the medium size ( the one we took) and the largest basket could accommodate up to 24 people.  There were 4 compartments in the basket, 2 to the right site of the pilot and the other 2 on his left side. All we from Malaysia stood in one compartment. Oh yea...I forgot to introduce who among us were there...En Marzuki and his wife as well as one of his family member ( Sorry...I didn't know the names), Nurul Hidayah and myself. Sorry if I named the wrong person...✌🏼. The other passengers majority from Japan and the other 2 or 4 I can't remember whether from Europe or Central Asia. Before take off, the pilot gave us instructions...to use our belt. There's not much precaution needed when we take off...the most important thing was the instructions during landing, in which we had to face to one side and took certain position (bend forward and hold the upper part of the barrier in front of us). Apart from that...everything leaves it to Allah...😇. The belt was quite loose...so, on and off it slipped down from my waist and on and off I stepped on it. I would say it was a false protection...just to make your heart comfortable that something was holding your body. On and off I had to pull it back to the right position. 

It was quite noisy at first when everybody feeling excited once in the basket...while the tour guides and leaders taking photos and made sure all of us were safe. I didn't realise when we were already up and leave the ground. I stood next to where the pilot stood...and that place was warmer because it closed to the burner. Our pilot introduced himself...But I could not recall his name now. He informed us about how the balloon operated..in which it will moved following the direction of the wind blowing. During the flight, the pilot steered the balloon by increasing and decreasing the altitude of the balloon to find the different wind direction and also could control the movement to right or left. The rest of its movement depending on the wind.

Once up there, we could see a very beautiful and spectacular view of the Goreme National Park. There we can see the Goreme valleys ...Rose and Red Valleys as mentioned by our pilot, canyons and pinnacles. I couldn't describe it in words...because I might do injustice to describe this creation of Allah... What I can say is... Subhanallah and MashaAllah...Praise to the one who created this beautiful world. It was so beautiful especially the landscape viewed from up here. Some areas we still can see the sun rise. Our pilot described briefly on the red and rose valleys and he also mentioned about the rivers that run to these areas...about the red river. 

From every angle we could see other balloons also flying at different altitudes...the panaromic view was spectacular from high above. It was like every ballon was competing each other for the highest point. From down slowly our balloon flew higher and higher. The highest altitude was about 800m from the ground (if I heard correctly what the pilot said). One of the Japanese passengers asked whether we could go higher...but the pilot just ignored I guessed. With the morning breeze and the early morning sunrise made it a memorable journey. On and off I could see the pilot turned on and off the burner...may be it helped to continuously keep the balloon floating or rising. Not quite sure with the physic principles behind it. Don't worry I am not going to search on how it works or write a long story on how hot balloon remain stable on air...😂.

We moved slowly and could see the changes from valleys and canyon to the flat surface ground. There we could see beautiful scenery of different colours of balloons flying slowly at different height. From far we could see houses appeared small down there. It also made me realised...how small we were. From high above we were really nothing, may be just less than a size of a tiny dot. Even with that, human being still arrogant to their creator. Allahuakbar....Allah is great.

Our pilot asked all of us..."How many of you are Muslims?". All 5 of us raised our hands. This was because there will be a celebration after we reached to the ground and will be given a certificate that we had successfully joined the hot air balloon ride...😝.  He started counting and told us there will be champagne celebration, so for Muslim...we will be served with pomegranate juice. Hmmm....I guessed he's Muslim too. Ok...no comment. As I told you a lot of Turkish people drink alcohol anyway. We flew for nearly 1 hour and 10 minutes...extra time according to our pilot. From far, we could see a truck following us using the normal road and supposedly going to wait for our balloon to land. 

Our pilot reminded us again the instructions and the positioning we should take when we were about to land. All of us were prepared and suddenly he told us again to take normal position back since the landing was smooth. Slowly our balloon descended and touched the ground upright. We were in the middle of grassland. We gave a big clap and congratulate our pilot for his excellent landing. We found the pickup truck already waited there to bring back the balloon to its original site. From far we saw some of the vans and other vehicles already reached there to take us back. We saw how the balloon being deflated back and later detached from the basket. I saw the Japanese tour guide just now (before we take off) came running from the far end to join her group. 

We climbed down the basket again with the helped of other crew members. Since it was still early in the morning, the grass and the soil there was a little bit damp. So, it had cause our shoes covered with dirt. We took photos there...an evidence that we had successfully landed and experienced the hot air balloon. As mentioned earlier, they prepared a table with the glasses, wines and pomegranate bottle. The pilot poured the pomegranate juice first to all the glasses and then took 5 glasses away and gave to 5 of us Malaysian Muslim. The rest of the glasses he only poured half and added on wine to make the glass full. I shouldn't be here right when they had their champagne toast...but where else should I be. While drinking my pomegranate juice, the pilot announced the names according to the certificate prepared for us.

After completed this 'ceremony', we were brought by the pickup truck to our van. Luckily, we were among the earliest to jump into the truck...or else we might have to sit at the back...😄. Once reached there, our van already waited for us. We tried to clear the dirt on our shoes, but because it was quite thick we actually had made the van floor dirty...😜. We went back to our hotel, full with memories...An experience that it was quite difficult to explain, unless you experienced it yourself. For me even though the ride had cost me US 200... I think it was worth it. The experience and memories that you could not buy. I will definitely encourage those who come to Turkey to try this.

We reached our hotel and went straight for breakfast and later prepared for the next visit. By 9 am, I was ready for another sight seeing tour around Cappadocia.

Ok...see you next time and I will tell you more about what I did in Cappadocia InsyaAllah...😃

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Suara Rakyat

Bagaimana mahu bersumpah setia
Bila hati sering saja terluka
Bagaimana mahu menyemai rasa cinta
Bila kasih sering di balas tuba
Bagaimana mahu berbudi bahasa
Bila menegur rakyat pula di dera
Bagaimana mahu bersuara membina
Bila bicara di humban ke penjara

Lalu kami harus bagaimana
Berdosa kah bila kami tidak lagi setia
Bila kami tidak lagi percaya
Salah kah bila tiada lagi rasa cinta
Kerana kami sering sahaja terkena
Salah kah bila kami memekalan telinga
Kerana enggan lagi diperdaya
Bukan sengaja membisu tanpa suara
Tapi kami sudah muak dengan sikap bermuka muka

Wahai penguasa
Kami bukan hamba
Jangan fikir  kami mudah diperdaya
Kami bukan buta huruf yang  tidak tahu membaca
Maka sewenang nya engkau berdusta
Menipu dengan dongengan kelas ketiga
Benar kami hanya lah rakyat
Namun kami juga punya pendapat
Tanpa kami engkau tiada tempat
Kami lah yang memberi mu mandat

Kenapa takut dengan kritikan rakyat
Hingga mereka segala macam muslihat 
Kenapa tangan kami mahu diikat 
Mulut kami cuba di sumbat
Tapi kini rakyat celik maklumat
Ingin kami memberi ingat
Pengaruh mu bisa tergugat
Makin dilindung kian jelas terlihat
Bila rakyat bermuafakat 
Bila rakyat sudah meluat
Kamu bisa tersungkur rapat
Kerana suara kami suara rakyat
Suara rakyat suara keramat

Cetusan Rasa Alhambra 
24 April 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Travelogue to Turkey- Part VI-Konya - Mevlana museum and Sultanhani Caravanserai

D5- 25th March 2015

From the Selimiye mosque, we walked in a group to the Mevalana Museum. It was the mausoleum of Jalaluddiin Al-Rumi, a Persian Sufi also known as Mevlana or Maulana in our language or Rumi (another title given to him). It was also the dervish lodge of the Mevlevi order, better known as the whirling dervishes.

As mentioned before, Finar did talk a lot about Mevlana Jalaluddiin Al-Rumi in the bus, before we reached Konya. I took some notes but might missed out a lot. So before went back to Malaysia, I had an opportunity to grab a book on this man in one of the bookstore. It was just about 260 pages, which I'd almost completed reading it. Frankly speaking, I was not fond of this man, but just out of curiosity I read about him to know why a lot of people adored him so much and followed his footsteps.

Who's Jalaluddiin Al-Rumi?
His real name was Muhammad Jalal Al-Din. He was named as Hudawandigar, Mevlana/ Mawlana and A-Rumi. His father named him "Hudawandigar" because of his being an authority in religious and other sciences. As for "Mawlana", it was given to him while he was very young and engaged in teaching. it means "Our Master" or "His Excellency". As for "Rumi" , it was used for his being settled in Anatolia, which was used to be called Diyar-I Rum (The abode of the Greek), and his living much of his life in Konya, a distinguished city of Anatolia. He was born in Balkh City in Khorasan on 30th September, 1207.He belonged to a Nobel family. His father, Baha al -Din Walad was a famous scholar and Sufi mystic (Also called Sultan of Scholars). He followed his father migrated from Balkh before Balkh was destroyed by Mongol and later part settled in Konya. 

Al-Rumi's first teacher non other than his father, who trained him to become mature and an owner of good sense even while he was a child. When his father died, Al-Rumi inherited his position as the islamic teacher (molvi). One of Baha Al-Din students, Sayyed Burhan Al-Din Muhaqqiq Termazi, continued to train Al-Rumi in the Shariah as well as Tariqa, especially that of Rumi's father.  He practised Sufism and later became an Islamic Jurist, issuing fatwas and giving sermons in the mosques of Konya. He was loved very much by his disciples 

It was his meeting with the dervish Shams Al-Tabrizi in November 1244, that completely changed his life. From an accomplished teacher and jurist, Rumi was transformed into an ascetic. These two friends together sank into God's light and divine conversations. But the people could not stand their Mawlana's cutting off his relationship with themselves and started gossiping jealously about Shams. As a result of hostilities, Shams was forced to leave Konya in March 1246 and went to Damascus.

Having lost his true and great friend, Al-Rumi sank into a deep suffering and cut off relations with all his friends, and finally, isolated himself entirely from everyone. Everybody was remorseful for what they had done. Meanwhile, Shams sent a letter to Al-Rumi. upon this letter, Al-Rumi joyfully started again dancing the sema' (whirling dance), writing poems, and complimenting his friends. The people, who were jealous of the , 'repented' and ask Sultan Walad (Al-Rumi's son) to go to Damascus and looked for Shams. Sultan Walad, along with a letter written in verses, went to Damascus and found Sha,s and invited him to Konya once again. Shams considered Al-Rumi's letter and invitation as an order, and returned together with Sultan Walad to Konya in May 1247,

This time everybody was pleased with Shams's arrival in Konya. Feasts were given, sema' sessions were arranged, and the days full of conversation and chat started in his honour. However, these days of love and tranquility did not last long. People started again, grudge and enmity against Shams. Shams suddenly disappeared in the night of 5th December, 1247. Al-Rumi was not told about this incident, however, the news of Shams's disappearance was spread around. The works written after Al-Rumi's death only shed a bit of light upon his mysterious death. 

Upon Shams's death, Al-Rumi recited poems that burned hearts by the grief of that separation. many of these poems written under the title of "Shams" in the Diwan Al Kabir. At that time, in order to find Shams, Al-Rumi went to Damascus, but unable to see him. However, Shams's meaning reflected upon Al-Rumi and made him live in his heart.

Al-Rumi had written 5 major books. 2 of his famous works were the Mathnawi and Diwan al Kabir. The Mathnawi came in 6 volumes of poems regarded by some Sufis as the Persian-language Quran. It was considered by many to be one of the greatest works of mystical poetry. Diwan al Kabir or Diwan al Shams Al Tabrizi, on the other hand named in honour of Rumi to Shams. Al-Rumi was adored by his people due to his personality. He sowed love to people regardless of the religion, being tolerant, humble and generous.

Hahaha...why do you think I wrote so much about this man. As I told you earlier I couldn't understand why he was really taken as a great Mawlana...especially among the Turkish people who considered him as a holy. At first, I thought it might be the followers were so ta'sub with him. He himself might be a real pious man. When I read on the part talking about his tomb, somehow I think there were some issues believing him just like other pious scholars. 

Ok...my issue is when I read the chapter talking about his tomb. 
Mawlana also made a will about the tomb that would be erected over his grave:
"Let our disciples build a high tomb which can be seen from far and wide. If any one sees our tomb for a far distance, and believes and has confidence in our sainthood, God will put him or her among those who receive divine mercy. Especially, if he or her who visits, and prays at our tomb with full of love and sincere faith free of hypocrisy, sincere of metaphor, and true knowledge free of suspicion, God will fulfil his every need and make him attain his wishes. His all religious and worldly wishes will turn out to be true"
I really had a problem with his will...Because in Islam, firstly our beloved Prophet Muhammad s.a.w prohibited us erecting structures over the graves, and some scholar even took it as haram. Secondly, the will encouraged people to pray at his tomb...this is kind of worshipping the death and this's definitely haram, haram and haram. They did exactly the opposite and the people until this day doing this haram act. 

The author continue:
His tomb was built as high in accordance with his will. The tomb, which is also known as the Green Dome was built by the efforts of Sultan Walad and Ala Al-Din Qaysar....
Molla Jami's lyric couplet was written over the door of the tomb:
This post became the Holy Ka'ba for lovers.
He, who came here as immature, became mature.
So, Mawlana's tomb, which was a Ka'ba for lovers, also became a kind of holy place visited by people and a qiblah for the prayers offered by troubled people for seven centuries. 

So, you can understand the extend of love of the Turkish people to him and his influence not only stopped in Turkey but transcends national borders and the ethnic divisions. May be I should just take it...Yes, he was a pious Sunni Sufi...but the people after him added on things on his practice. Anyway, a lot of sects started with the obsession of the followers.

Was it quite a heavy stuff to read...😜. We entered the museum. Finar told us it was a holy place. Formerly it was a mausoleum and there was a small masjid attached to it. When Kamal Atarturk became the first president of Turkey after the fall of Ottoman Empire...he had turned the mausoleum and the dervish lodge into a museum. Ida said...atleast Kamal Atarturk did the right thing for this one...😆.

We entered the building on the left side of the gate first, that's where the mausoleum of Jalaluddiin Al-Rumi was. Before entering this compound, we had to cover our shoes with a plastic cover. I did not recalled that much about the arrangement...but there were some other tombs belonged to Mawlana's families (including his father) and some dervishes as well as high ranking members of Mevlevi order. Under the green cylindrical dome which we saw earlier from the mosque...there was where the Mawlana's tomb located. I did not pay attention that much. But definitely realised a lot of people making doa in front of his tomb. 

Adjoining to the mausoleum was a section where formerly was a small mosque and now used for the exhibition of a collection of old, including Quran and prayer rugs. There was also a box, claimed containing Prophet's beard and a small hole in which people can sniff from it. Ida tried to sniff and told me she didn't smell anything. I overheard somebody said, it smelled very good. Whether it's really had a very good smell or they might had spray the perfume there...Hmmm...wallahu'alam. I didn't know who to believe...may be Ida had a problem with her smelling sensation ..hahaha. 

I might not paid attention that well...but there's also a section there called 'ritual hall' where the dervishes used to perform sema' (whirling dance) 

We went out and entered into another building which used to be a kitchen. It was located on the right side of the mausoleum. The kitchen was also used for educating the dervishes and teaching the sema'. 

Outside in the middle was a courtyard... Where there's supposed to be a fountain. But I just saw a small pond where a lot of coins was thrown inside it. There're always stupid people around this world who went and made a wish and threw coins there. So, if you think you don't  have enough coin to go to toilet, you can always take it from here...😂
On the way out, we could see the dervish lodge located on the left side. We didn't enter this section. 

Once finished, we waited at the meeting point outside the museum and while the rest went for a free toilet break. From there we walked back to our bus. On the way there, we stopped for a while at the souvenir shop. Main items sold here were related to the whirling dervish or mawlana or pictures of evil eyes symbol. From there we continued our journey to Cappdocia.

Before reached our hotel in Cappdocia, we stopped at Sultanhani Caravanserai. Caravanserai literally means 'caravan palace'. This building provided accommodation and other  amenities for the merchants and stabling for their animals. It was situated on Konya-Aksaray highway and Sultanhani Caravanserai was the largest and best caravanserai of the Seljuk. It was built by Alaattin Keykubat I in 1229. It was restored and extended in 1278. After the extension it became the largest Caravanserai in Turkey. 

It was free for the first three days, following that the traders had to pay if continued staying there. During this period, the ill would be treated and animals would be tended. It consisted of two sections, opened and covered. The open courtyard was used in summer and the covered one was used in winter. The courtyard was where the tied the camel at night in the opened area. It was surrounded by bedrooms, kitchens and depots. 

This's considered like the inn during that time... Interesting in a way. I'd seen similar concept but smaller caravanserai last time in Spain. Can't remember which city it was. 

From there we walked to the souvenir shops nearby, before proceeded our journey to Ramada hotel. We were going to stay here for 2 nights. This was the only place we stayed for 2 nights, the rest of the places we just stayed overnight and started journey to the next destination on the next day. 

For those who're going to join the hot balloon ride, we had to wait in the lobby at 5 am in the morning. The rest can take their own sweet time because we're going to start our visit only at 9am. The hotel room was quite comfortable and this was the only hotel I could find an iron and iron board. That also, I only found it after I took nearly 15 minutes to complete ironing my quite thick cloth with the small traveler's iron...😂.

Ok...I had to wake up early tomorrow for hot balloon ride.
See you tomorrow from the balloon...👍😆

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Travelogue to Turkey - Part V- Journey to Konya

It has been sometimes, since I last post my travelogue. It's not that I've stopped writing. I stop temporary because busy with my hospital duty. Then, I start writing back until I nearly complete my part V. But unfortunately something happen, I accidentally deleted the whole thing which I have written including the latest write up as well as some of the notes I've written when listening to explanation by my tour guide in Turkey. Innalillahi wainna ilaihi raji'un. Everything has gone in a split second and I can't retrieve it and there's no back up for my last part. Alhamdulillah...At least the previous part I have entered it in my blog. So here I am again, try to build up my energy and start writing. Basically what I am going to write is just based on my memory and some of the photos I have taken during my journey as well as some input from the wasapp group which I still keep it. So wish me luck this time.
Travelogue to Turkey- Part V

D5- 25th March 2015- Pamukalle--> Konya 

We're going to go through a long journey today. It took us roughly 5 1/2 hours from Pamukalle to Konya, in which we were going to visit Mevlana museum. From there we continued our journey to Cappadocia which took another 3 hours. In view of this, we had to start our journey earlier than usual. If we started late, we'll reach Cappadocia late. 

So this time, the instruction from our tour leader was...breakfast at 6 am, luggage in front of the room at 6.30am and we're leaving at 7am. Estimated time of arrival to Cappadocia roughly around 7pm. It was not that difficult to arrange an early time for us to start our journey. Being with a middle age group participants won't be a problem...most of us already woke up early for Subuh prayer. Everything seemed to be perfect. 

At 6am... It was already bright in Pamukalle. Even though the hotel chef might had served a variety of good food for breakfast according to his standard, I still couldn't acquire the taste. So my routine breakfast would be boiled egg, coco crunch, and some fruits. I took extra apple as a snack to eat in the bus later. I didn't pack any Malaysian food to bring along during this visit. Firstly, because I did a last minute packing and secondly, I heard that there's no problem with food here...Yup...it's true that it's not a problem to get a 'halal food' here, but I forgot about my problems with foreign food. My eyes suddenly filled with joy and happiness when some of us started circulating 'Malaysian food'...including serunding, sambal ikan bilis and even nasi lemak Brahim segera pun ada. Terbuka selera kejap....😋

While eating, I had an opportunity to ask Hjh Shalina regarding plan for hot balloon ride tomorrow and whether it's going to be safe. According to her, so far, with the experience from the previous groups, it was safe and the participants enjoyed it so much and gave a positive feedbacks. Furthermore, the so called pilot won't fly if the weather was not suitable and the ride will be postponed. I was warned by Ida not to join the hot balloon ride because of the incident of there're people died following the hot balloon ride. She knew that I had a tendency to try this...so she warned me even when we were in Malaysia. I, on the other hand thought...why not. No harm trying anyway...if you're going to die, it didn't matter whether on the ground or on air. Anyway...after listened to what Hjh said, I had made up my mind..."Yesss....Cappadocia here I come...😃"

We started sharp at 7 am. Outside temperature ranged about 9-11 degree celcius. It was relatively colder than usual. It was raining on and off along the way to Konya. As a routine activity, brother Anas will recite a doa once we start our journey, hopefully the journey will bring barakah from Allah s.w.t and always under His mercy. Our tour leader asked how many of us were interested to join for the hot balloon ride for tomorrow. Finar had to make a reservation on the number of who would like to go. Only 5 of us will go and took the challenge. It was predicted tomorrow would be a good day to fly based in the weather forecast.

Our journey was quite smooth. With the feasibility of on board wifi in this bus (even though on and off it was interrupted), it gave me time to go through emails from hospital and answered some important one. When it came to email regarding GST which is going to be implemented on 1st April...I just tried to put it aside first and didn't want to spoil my holiday mood. At the same time updating my facebook and communicating via wasapp. On and off I tried to pay attention to what Finar said and jotted down some information which I considered could be beneficial later. I had always tried to write when I went for a trip like this. I remembered I did exactly the same during the trip to Morocco- Spain. Some of the notes were still available in this iPad. But it just stayed where it was...hehehee. This time I'll try my best, even though I knew I was not a good writer. Anyway there's always a first time in anything we do and this time I'm willing to the challenge. A friend of mine always encouraged me to write especially when my memory is still fresh. In the bus, I started writing few paragraphs of this travelogue...however found it quite difficult to concentrate writing while travelling.

Worth mentioning here was a boy who had become one of important group member. He's 18 years old, a special kid who joined this trip along with his parents and other relatives. I guessed, he's autistic child. His name's Fawzan. Sometimes he was on his own world, keeping quiet and talked to himself and sitting alone at the back seat of the bus. Sometimes he laughed and appeared cheerful and adorable. His trade mark was 'ada roti canai?. This, he will ask to his parents whenever we stopped for a break. Frankly speaking when I heard he's asking about roti canai...in my heart I was also craving for roti canai. We just laughed at him, because we knew it's hard to get a piece of typical roti canai here. I found Fawzan had no problems with food...saw him enjoyed having coco crunch as his meal and the best part when he didn't want to take anything else, his parents will always had a stock of Maggie cup for him...while we were 'enjoying' our Turkish dish... Hahahaa..Who ever he was...He definitely had made our trip more enjoyable and meaningful with his attitude.

We enjoyed the scenery along the way with the view of mountains with snow capped. There were areas covered with snow even on the ground, but not much, since it was at the end of winter season. We stopped for about 20 minutes halfway to Konya for toilet and coffee break. Hjh Shalina suggested us to try the yogurt here. It seemed this's one of the specialty here. It's a mixed of yogurt, honey and poppy seeds. 

Once we reached there, everybody run toward the 'bayan' and paid 1TL as the entry fees. Understandable enough, being in the bus for hours in a cold weather... Hahaa. Since so many were queued for toilet including visitors from other countries, Ida and I tried the yogurt first. In my mind I was thinking with this small amount of the poppy seeds, will I get high...😉. A little bit about poppy seeds. Other name for it is kaskas. It's widely used elsewhere in their cooking. In Malaysia, at one point there was news claimed by certain groups of people mamak restaurant put poppy seeds in their food, which made people craving for mamak food. Wallahu'alam. With the small amount of it, InsyaAllah it won't cause harm to human. Anyway the taste was ok...but I could only finished less than half of it and passed it to some one else. 

From there we continued our journey to Konya. Along the way, Finar mentioned about the story of Jalalluddin Al-Rumi who was regarded as an influential Sufi and also important person who was claimed as a founder of the brotherhood of the Whirling Dervishes. I will elaborate about Al-Rumi later once I come to the section of visiting his mausoleum which then converted into a museum. If you think Malays involved in a lot of superstitious and khurafat....You will be surprised with the Turkish people...I guessed in some of the areas they're equal if not worse than us. Some of them still inherit it from pagan or Roman's belief. One of their beliefs was about the evil eyes. So they will hang or stuck an evil eye protection symbols at every entrance or in front of their houses. Even in our bus, there's an evil eye protection symbol stuck near the driver seat. Almost all the souvenir shops, you can find wether the fridge magnet or keychain will have the evil eye protection symbol...that's one of the reasons I didn't buy any of these things this time... Hahaa. Wait...Don't get me wrong, as a Muslim, I believe in evil eyes. Remember in surah Yusuf (one of my favourite surah) when Nabi Ya'qub told his eleven sons to enter the city from different gates as a precaution to avoid from jealousy eyes...so evil eyes were real. However, Islam used Al Quran as the way to prevent or protect us against the evil eyes such as reciting ayatul kursi or the 3 'Qul'...We as Muslim asked protection from Allah, not from a sticker or a symbol which has no power at all.

We reached Konya about the lunch time. Finar said, Konya is the fifth city in Turkey (don't ask me what are the other four... I guessed after Istanbul, Ankara & other 2 bigger cities). She also mentioned, this's the most religious city.. Since it's the area where Jallaludin Al-Rumi practised, spread his Sufism and subsequently became a place for the Dervishes. (If you considered it to be really religious...which I have my own argument on believing this). This city also is famous for its university...according to Finar one of the biggest university for medical school in Turkey. It was the capital of Anatolia during the Seljuk empire... You need to have some reading on this if you want to know more. And of course, here we're going to visit Jalaluddiin Al-Rumi mausoleum and museum later.

We stopped for lunch here. I won't touch about the kind of food we had, because it's quite typical and standard. After lunch we took ablution in the restaurant, preparing ourselves for jama' prayer in nearby mosque. The restaurant owner or may be one of his workers was proudly showed to us the photos hang on the wall, the prominent people who came and dined in this restaurant. He even offered to show us the walking path to the mosque. But, being Malaysian, we rather used the service of Mustafa to bring us to the mosque by bus and declined his offer politely...😁. Some of us had a photo session with him in front of the restaurant.

The mosque was situated just next to the mausoleum of Al-Rumi. The bus parked at quite a distance from the mosque, so we had to walk about 5 minutes from the bus to the mosque. It's Selimiye mosque, which was started build in 1558 during Sultan Selim was a prince. It was completed when he became the Sultan. The architecture of the mosque was almost similar to other Ottoman mosque you could see in Istanbul. It had been renovated several times before and during our visit, it's the fourth times of renovation. After finished praying, we waited for the rest at the square located in front of the mosque while seeing the Turkish people. We admired their dress, it looked stylish...suitable for their climate. If we were to use the material and trendy clothing they're using
in Malaysia... we will then be considered as mad...😝. Some old Turkish lady wearing a pants which looked like a skirt or sarong...the kind that popularised by Afdlin Shauki...Hahaa...he might have got the idea from these Turkish makcik. Anyway it looked very comfortable. After everybody had gathered at the meeting point, we walked together to the Mevlana mausoleum/ museum.

I will stop here first...because the part of Mevlana Jallaludin Al-Rumi needed its own chapter to write. I am just afraid, I accidentally delete my work just like before..so I'll write it part by part.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Travelogue to Turkey- Part IV- Pamukalle

24/3/ 2015- Continue 3rd day  

We left Ephasus with memories kept in our photos and continued our journey to Pamukalle.  It took us 3 1/4 hours to reach Pamukalle. We had our lunch and solat Jama' Takdim on the way. From there we dropped by at a Turkish delight shop. It was fascinating... A shop with all kinds of Turkish delight with variety of flavours. Before buying, we had to listen to the information about the varities of Turkish delight they have here. We were impressed when the lady started speaking in Malay. This proved how frequent Malaysian or Indonesian came to visit Turkey...until some of them learned to speak our language for them to make a sale and be able to communicate well with the customer especially from Malaysia. So we too should be proud of our Bahasa Malaysia. We were served with pomegranate tea and at the same time tasted some of the samples of Turkish delight while listening to her explanation. Turkish delight came with different flavours ie: pistachio, hazelnut, almond, sesame, orange and few other flavours. She said.."Beli lima percuma satu"😉. The taste was ok I would say...sweet...but not too sweet. So we bought some before continue our journey.

On the way we saw some stall selling strawberry and other fruits. Mustafa was kind enough to stop at one of the stall after we showed interest to buy strawberry. Bila sampai je kat kedai buah tu semua serbu dekat strawberry. Sampai panic orang yang jual buah tu kena serbu dek orang-orang Malaysia yang teruja tengok fresh strawberry. We can taste it as well and it was so sweet and delicious. It cost 10TL per kg. Ida asked me to buy 1 kg...but after berebut-rebut pilih tu...I just bought about 600g so it cost me about 6 TL. That was enough for us to enjoy eating our strawberry in the bus. 

While we were busy enjoying our strawberry in the bus,we were puzzled why Mustafa pulled over his bus to the side and stopped. We saw that he was discussing something with the police officers and later came back to the bus and opened up the door where we kept all our luggage and took out a carton of mineral water and passed it to the police officer. Rupa nya dia kena saman dek polis sebab berhenti tadi tepi jalan bila kami singgah beli strawberry. Kesian Mustafa kena saman sebab kami. I guessed may be water is considered valuable here in Turkey. 

We stopped for toilet break about halfway to Pamukalle. Most of the time we had to pay when we used public toilet here in Turkey. It cost 1TL per entrance. So being Malaysian, I would suggest if you intend to visit Turkey, please make sure you have enough 1TL coin for every toilet break...hahaa😉. 

We continued about another 1 1/2 hour before we saw from far a white hills. We were so excited, at first we thought it was a hill full of snow. Only then we realised it was only localised to one area. We had seen along the way some areas still had snow on top of the mountain...but this was different. Finar explained to us it was not snow, instead it was a calcium deposited hills and we were on the way going to this area. The route going there was winding...but once the bus went uphill, we can see beautiful scenery along the way to this ancient City of Hierapolis (Cotton Castle).

Ok... Let me introduce you to Pamukalle. Pamukalle means "cotton castle" in Turkish. If I heard correctly ...Pamu means cotton and kalle means castle. The city contained hot springs and travertines, terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water.  Travertines was a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs, especially hot springs. It often had fibrous or concentric appearance and exist in white, tan, cream-coloured and even rusty varieties. It was formed by a process of raid precipitation of calcium carbonate. The Ancient Greece-Roman and Byzantine city of Hierapolis (Holy City) was built on top of the white "castle". Enough for introduction right...so now we were ready to visit this place.

We reached there about 4.30 pm and from the entrance we walked through the previous ancient city. What we saw was only ruined of the old city. Some areas were under reconstruction...so we were not able to explore this area. It was quite a big area. Some areas looked like garden and we enjoyed our evening walk. From far we saw paragliders flying. We walked further up and reached the Pamukalle hot spring. 

It was beautiful...Subhanallah and the Creator must be more beautiful than His creation. A place like you never saw before...really breath taking. Not much water in the pool... Water flowing from the vessels there for people to soak their feet in the hot spring.To enter this area...one should take off one's shoes to avoid contamination and damage to this area. Ida and I decided not to go in...a little bit leceh to take off our shoes and socks. The rest went in and soaked their feet..supposed this hot spring will have medical benefit. I laughed when heard Finar said people came here for various medical reasons including to be cured from Diabetes...can you imagine people still believe in just by soaking their feet they can be cured from ailments without taking care of their diet. 

Ida and I on the other hand continued having our own tour around the area. On and off we heard Malay speaking visitors as well as typical Malaysian or may be Singaporean Chinese speaking visitors... You can detect them by their dialect and the last word 'laa' or 'maa'...😁.

I had seen pictures of this place before and could not understand how can people just wear bikini sitting on the snow...it really looked like snow from far. It was incredible. From uphill, we can see there was a beautiful lake at the foothills. Its water was blue and in the centre we can see a small island. 

We walked following the path of other tourist and then made a turn back to the exit point. Owh ya...another Turkish words we learned here...'giris' - enter and 'cikis'-exit. All of us met at our meeting point at 6.30pm and then going back to the bus.

On the way down, our bus stopped near the lake I had mentioned earlier. However, because it was already late, we decided not to go down and the bus continued its journey to our hotel. We checked in to Richmond Pamukalle hotel about 7pm. After dinner we went up to our room...tomorrow we will have another long journey. 

See again tomorrow 😴