Saturday, July 2, 2011

30th June& 1st July, Konja and Goreme, Turkey

 Had quite a long drive to Konja, but as ever through exciting roads that tend to be in plains and surrounded by amazing mountains.

Stopped for a sort of lunch break at a lovely town called Egridir, which was by a lake of that name.

The only reason why I stopped at Konja, was because it was six inches away from Pamakkule on my map, 6 inches being about a days travel on the map I have. There was not much in the guide book other than it being a transport hub. In fact it is a main city in the carpet manufacturing industry.
Not having a hotel booked, I headed for the centre and asked Garmin for hotels and there were a few just nearby. I have a budget of about 30-40 Turkish Lira, which is about £11-15. I am not too fussy and as long as it looks clean,  I don't fanny about comparing for one night's stay. Otel Cinar  was on the corner and they had a lovely vivid pink single room, with a pink bed down. Perhaps they offer that room to all single chaps?
When I parked Batty in the adjacent carpark there was another bike, albeit with a cover on, but it was clearly an overlander's bike. The 4 or 5 local guys hanging around the attendant's kiosk came over, drawn by Batty's somewhat unique good looks no doubt, one of them spoke quite good English and when they hear it is diesel the questions started streaming; How fast? How far? Where are you from? How much? Etc. it goes in differing orders and all at once.  They told me that the other bike was  English too.
I came back downstairs after washing 8 hours worth of dust off, to try and find a local supper. Bending down next to Batty was John, as it turned out, taking down this website address from the stickers on the panniers. He and Jane were on the final leg of a RTW  trip, that started in the States. Over  supper and coffee the next morning, I enjoyed their very good company. They imparted so much valuable info, beit how to drive in India, where to stay in Nepal, what to look out for in Cambodia, get a bike cover for India, as well as many lovely stories of their year long travels.
They had met so many other overland bikers on the trip and so much info is willingly handed around like a giant 'pass the parcel' party. I am looking forward to more of these meetings as I go.

Off I went from this enjoyable meeting to the much vaunted Cappidosia (Land of the beautiful horse in Persian, and they are), 5 hours east.
This is a place resulting from a volcanic bang millennia ago, and in amongst the high rolling hills/mountains are some weird natural phenomena that man has put to use over the years. I was heading for Goreme, which is the main central town. As you head down the hill one sees what looks like blobs from a culinary creation, but these are big enough to have houses in them, which they do.

Staying in the comfortable Anatolya Cave Pension and will stay for 3 nights.

Airplanes beginning to use veg oil

Jane Burston sent me a link to a BBC article the other day about KLM starting to use veg oil in their planes, and now I see Thomson are doing the same in the Telegraph

Once the production issues are sorted out, and the consumption has no impact on food needs, this could be an important step towards mass transportation with low carbon emission.

Batty takes to the air...better get quick....

Thursday, June 30, 2011

28/29th Pamukkale & Heirapolis

Breakfasted on a delicious mountain of assorted pastries, filo based and filled with feta, mince and spinage, grt start to any day and too much for even my appetite.
Motored through large plains, surrounded by high hill ranges  It is harvest time and the fields are very busy with combines, tractors and balers. Takes me back to muscle building and pocket money earning days of haymaking on Dartmoor in my teens. They are still making bales that one can lift rather than the huge round ones that seem to have taken over in the UK, by and large. The top heavy, massively overloaded trailers are reminiscent too, although the flaggen of local cider being swigged by the guys on the top of the trailer is a missing ingredient. Perhaps they had some local apricot liquor to lighten the bales?
Arrived in Pamukkala after lunch and was pointed to a low key but delightful guesthouse, Allgau Hotel. Took the afternoon off and enjoyed the pool and sun lounger. I am still looking far too English skinned and if nothing else this trip should give me a chance to get some vitamin D into the pores.
Dined there very deliciously and met a lovely Australian couple, Daniel and Jessica. They were spending a couple of weeks in Turkey before going to Spain for 5 weeks language learning. They have introduced me to a hostel website along the same lines that Paddy had, which will be a great help.
We use to represent a great artist called Zafar Baran, who was from Turkey and I vividly remember him telling me about a place where mineral waters spring and there are incredible marble white pools that cascade down the hill side. He also said that there was 1% more oxygen in the air than normal. Well I think I am there. The best way I can describe this extraordinary natural spectacle, is to imagine being the size of an ant and being in one of those large opened up quartz. This quartz would would happen to have a stream running through it with dozens of infinity pools interconnecting. It is a huge area over several hundred acres and so white, one could be at a ski resort.


I had a hour long dip in the mineral pools at the top in amongst the submerged colonnades and ruins of the old Roman Baths. Perfect bath temperature water that never got cool (my bath pet frustration). 

Then up the hill a bit to the Roman theater ruins which are not really that ruined, and what with the restoration taking place it takes very little to imagine how it was 2000+ years ago.

This was a large and much visited place throughout history for it's climate and restorative waters.

I have loved if here and finished the visit with a fine  dinner with Daniel and Jessica at the hotel. They are very well traveled  and talked a lot about South America as well as South East Asia, which has whetted the appetite all the more. They have just got married and combine their medical careers with travel and his art.
Ironically both their fathers left Australia as young men and found their respective wives in Germany and Brazil before bringing them back to Perth, as opposed to Daniel and Jessica who were brought up 2 streets apart.
Daniel and Jessica (L & R) with our charming hosts

27th Bandirma, Turkey

Stayed in a very comfortable hotel called Eken in Bandirma, a quite modern town that has a ferry to Istanbul, and has quite a lot of through traffic to and from mainland Turkey. I was there as I needed a new back tyre and had seen various recommendations for Bora Eris's establishment on Horizons Unlimited. We had been in contact and he was able to find the right tyre. I was surprised that the size was not very common in these parts, so it was a bit of a struggle. The old tyre had done a bit under 6000 miles, so it was a bit of a disappointment, thinking I would get to India on the set I had. In retrospect, I should have upgraded when commissioning Batty. Bora was most helpful and arranged for the tyre to be fitted and his colleague set about cleaning Batty, without any prompting and did a great job. I had said I wanted to clean her up a bit, for no other reason than to monitor a seeming oil leak from the rocker box cover. The nuts were a bit loose, and I hoped that was all it was, and it was.  It was a great and enjoyable service.
Left at about lunchtime to make for Pamukkale further south.

I knew something was amiss with the centre stand on the bike for sometime, as it had stopped supporting the bike and was dropping down. I got fed up with it and took it off, a very oily roadside job and having had pretty clean hands for a number of days, I was back to blackened finger nails. Alas Swarfega and nail brushes are not easily found items here.
I have noticed a brilliant concept in Shanghai, as well as in Cambodia, of this simple count down of seconds on the traffic light before they change, and I noticed it here as well. Such a simple way, of keeping everyone calm, and then getting everyone prepared to move off etc. It is such a benefit to drivers, I wish they would start introducing it it back in the UK. 
Staying in a lesser establishment in Akhisar, although perfectly functional and clean-ish, it is tired to say the least, but it is half the price of last nights at £10, and fine for my light needs. It is very central and have felt very close to the gentle hustle and bustle of the place. Trying to explain the need for a nailbrush to shop keepers has been an amusing challenge and impossible so far.