Travelogue to Turkey- Part VIII- Sight seeing in Cappadocia
D6- 26th March, 2015
I rushed to my room after breakfast, took a quick shower and prepared to go down for another tour today. Before 9 a.m, I'd already down in the lobby but found nobody there...So I went outside looking for our bus. Few buses there looked almost similar in colour made me confused which one was my bus. In my mind I was thinking...No...It couldn't be they'd left me alone here. After few rounds looking for our bus...I turned back to hotel lobby and saw the rest were just on the way out. Hehee... I was earlier then them and I saw our bus just arrived at the lobby parking.
There were few interesting places we were going to visit today, namely the underground cities, pottery factory and Gerome open air museum which had old cave churches.
Our first destination was the underground city... We reached there quite early. We had to walk quite a bit from our bus to reach the interest area. On the way, as usual there were professional photographer following and snapped our pictures, hoping that we'll buy the product later once it had completed.
A little bit on this underground city... It's the Kaymakli underground city, an ancient multi-level underground city. Extending to a depth of approximately 60m and large enough to shelter approximately 20000 people together with their livestock and food stores. It's one of the largest excavated underground city in Turkey and is one of several underground complexes found across Cappadocia. It incorporated areas for sleeping, stables for livestock, wells, water tanks, pit for cooking, ventilation shafts, communal rooms and bathrooms.
Caves may have first been built in the soft volcanic rock during the Indo-European era back in 8th-7th centuries B.C. It was later inhabited by Christians, who expanded their underground caverns adding chapels and inscription. The city was used in Byzantine era, for protection from Muslim Arabs during the Arab-Byzantine war. Some artefacts discovered in these underground settlements belong to the Middle Byzantine period, between the 5th and the 10th centuries A.D. These cities continued to be used by the Christian inhabitants as protection from the Mongolian. After the region fall to the Ottoman the cities were used as refuges from Turkish Muslim rulers. Hahhh...All about Christian running away from Muslim.
We entered the first chamber.... Finar explained briefly on the underground city while we're still there. The first chamber was a stable where they tied their horses...some of the areas on the wall, we could see they had made a hook (or more or less like a small hole on the wall) to tie the horses or other livestock. If I was not mistaken, it was part of the strategy to deceive people who enter this area...people who came here, might not realised there're a city underground.
From there we went down through a series of tunnel. Some of us already backed off due to some medical problem and afraid to go further. Some areas, we had to bend down to go through the tunnel. May be due to my size...I found it was not that difficult. But, It would not be a good exercise for those who had knee or spine disease. You might injured your joints and spine. The tunnels here anyway were much bigger than chuchi tunnel in Vietnam. At some points we needed to climb up or down the staircases. In between the tunnel there's flat surfaces or chambers where the previous activities had taken place. These included, cooking area, food storage area, rooms for families and chapels. It had been their culture may be ...even in this underground city, there's also a place for making wine and wine storage.
We went up and down, sometimes climbing stairs and sometimes went through a narrow path. I was among those who walked in front and followed Finar for her explanation. On and off, I could hear people at the back already making noise...'Bila nak habis ni'...Hahaaa. Frankly speaking you need to be fit to enter this underground city. On and off we had to slow down our pace to wait for the rest at the back to catch up with those in front.
Overall, I would say.... I was not that excited that much with this place. Ya...it could be an ancient site and one might be impressed a little bit with their hard working to live in such place. Making tunnel and a strong protection from enemies. But...hmmm...going to Christian site ...a place where they were hiding from Muslim pulak tu...Doesn't impress me that much. At least not a place I was looking forward to see. Some of us felt relieved once we out from this city.
Outside the underground city, some of us continued shopping at nearby shop. Some took photos as usual. I went straight to the bus. Nothing interesting. Outside the bus, a lady sold our photos taken while we were on the way to underground city just now. It was sold as a photo engraved on the plate. It was quite nice as a memory. Frankly speaking, I bought it because I didn't like my photo to be displayed there...hmmm...😏
From there we were brought to Gerome valley and Uchisar Citadel. This was the area I saw from the balloon this morning. It's just this morning I saw the view from the sky. The same thing but from different view.
Gerome is a district of the Nevsehir province in Turkey. After the eruption of Mount Erciyes about 2000 years ago, ash and lava formed soft rocks in Cappadocia region.The softer rock was eroded by wind and water, leaving the hard cap rock on top of pillars, forming the present day 'fairy chimneys'. People of Gerome, realised that these soft rocks could be easily carved out to form houses, churches and monasteries.
Our bus stopped at the roadside. So we went out, took some photos with the beautiful background views of the houses made from the soft rock. From far, it looked like a giant pigeon holes. People still leaving in these houses up to this day and age but may be inside they already decorated to suite the modern design. It reminded me on the stories of Ad and Thamud narrated in the Quran. But, of course these was not huge enough compared to what has being told in those two tribes which Allah had destroyed earlier without a trace. The people whom Allah gave strength and power and carved the mountain to make their house. Allah destroyed them without a trace because of their arrogance.
From here we could see the panoramic view of the city made up of the similar structures. Some remained as multiple pointed rock and some carved into houses and inhabited by human. The view there was spectacular...and the best to described it was just Subhanallah and Mashaallah. Nothing happen in this world without His permission and everything in his world belong to Him alone. This beautiful landscape was one of the signs of His existence and His power. However, people still persist in making mischief in His land and forgot the Creator and submitted to the creation who were powerless.
Before lunch, we went to a pottery and ceramic shop, where we were shown how they made a pottery. If I remembered correctly, Finar did mention the source of clay used in pottery factory here were from the red and white river, which produced red and white clay. Once reached the pottery shop, we were brought to an area where they showed us how they made a pottery. He mentioned about the types of clay used, red and white clay. Red clay used for pottery products for the purpose of decoration where else the White clay products were usable for daily usage. The person in charged jokingly informed us, for a man to get married, he should passed the test to produce a pottery pot with its cover perfectly fixed the mouth of the pot. After the explanation of the types of pottery, we were then brought to the areas of ceramic that considered part of its shop. The product here mostly were a high quality and the price ranged from few hundred to few thousands USD, depending on the piece of products. Some ceramic designed to glitter in the dark and of course this piece of work will be more costly.
At first I didn't think that I would like to buy any of those things...it was supposed to be just 'window shopping' session. However, influenced by Ida who would like to have a piece of souvenir for herself, I took one ....so buying more pieces, at least it was less expensive ...😃. Hahaha...until now it still lying in touch on my table.
After the pottery session, we went for lunch and jama' zohor and asar prayer in 'Dorak' restaurant. Dorak is the name of our local travel agent and seems it had more than just a travel agency.
In the afternoon, our first destination was to 'Open Air Museum'. It was basically a monastic complex composed of monasteries placed side-by-side it's own church. The structure made was similar to the houses we saw earlier in Gerome valley and Uchisar Citadel. The only thing, here were the complex of churches. We walked uphill toward one of the chapels. Nothing much, just another chapel with decorations of Jesus Christ or Virgin Mary painted on the wall. I did not really entered it, just had a peeped from outside. Some of the Christians gave their prayer in this chapel. There were many more churches up hill. Some were very excited to walk further to other churches which situated at a higher level and need some effort to climb up. Our group showed disinterest to this site and made a U turn after the first chapel. After all we wouldn't be rewarded for our extra effort to climb the hill just to see the chapels...😅
I did raised this issue to our tour leader...Knowing me..😉.I asked why we need to take so much time visiting this place. One or two places may be still ok...but too many churches was not something I like to see. It might be be different to the non Muslim group. What I suggested was, why not focused more on Islamic civilisation places which I thought might be more useful for Muslim. The answer given to me was...all the local tour agency will go through the same route and these places were the famous site of tourist attraction. Yaaa... They preferred to cater places for the non Muslim rather than Muslim..😏. That's very typical. My argument was, Turkey had a very important Islamic civilisation ...only if the Muslim agency in Malaysia approached the correct Muslim tour group from Turkey and chose more 'Islamic' site to visit.. That would be interesting... To learn the Islamic history of Turkey first hand ....not to learn the civilisation of Christianity. What a pity...we come all the way to Muslim dominated country...only to learn about paganism and trinity.
From there we went to a carpet factory. We were brought to the site where they showed us the manual way of making a carpet...from weaving the thread to the complete piece of work. It was a meticulous work and only dedicated person would give so much attention to do this. The full process might take at least three months to be completed...of course depending on the size of the carpet. The thread used were wool, cotton and silk.
After went through the process of making a carpet, we were brought to the display room. We were seated around and served with pomegranate drink, while the workers started display one by one of the carpet. All the carpets displayed were beautiful and we were like 'rambang mata'. The texture of the carpet also was very nice. The carpets came with wool, cotton and silk or in combination of these materials. Of course silk carpet would be much more expensive. When I said expensive, it was not just expensive but very very expensive...hahaha. A small 100% silk carpet might cost nearly as much as USD5K...which if we converted to RM...would cost roughly 15-20K. Hmmm...😓. I, on the other hand could not really differentiate the material...but of course the silk carpet looked shinier that the other two. Nobody bought anything here...sooo expensive lor...😂. I was wondering what the owner might be thinking...with all the effort of his workers...none of us bought it.
From the carpet shop, we were brought to jewellery or diamonds shop. Ok, that was enough....I preferred stay in the bus. Knowing that wasn't my type. I thought I could stay on the bus and got connected to wifi while the rest shopped, but somehow Mustafa turned off the wifi. He might not even realised that I was still on the bus. So at the end I just tried to sleep while the rest 'cuci mata' with the glittering of diamonds.
Our last stop for the day would be 'The Derwish Show' a.k.a ' The whirling dance'. The show began at ~ 6.30 pm. So we had quite a lot of time before it started. So we were brought for an evening walk around the town of Cappadocia. The weather was nice that day, so strolling around the park and some of the shop wouldn't be that tiring. But of course in my mind, it would be better at this time to rest in the hotel after quite a pack tour around Cappadocia. Usually with other travel agency which I traveled before, we were given free time at least to rest in the hotel or had our own free and easy program. Earlier I thought since we didn't travel and change hotel today and just had our tour in Cappadocia only, we would have time to go back to hotel earlier. Anyway, may be it's good too....once going back we were already tired and just sleep and made used all our energy and tour during the day time.
Ok I am already tired typing this and will continue with the Derwish show part in my next entry. See you next time.