We were quite looking forward to our beds after our amazing but quite tiring night adventure and if we weren’t so hungry, we probably would have headed straight to bed without eating anything. Breakfast wasn’t an impressive affair and we half wished we could have ate at one of the many Kurdish cafés we had stopped by during the morning tour.
The plan was to sleep for a bit then take the bus to Adıyaman from where we could then take another bus to Şanlıurfa (or Urfa), which would be our last and final stop for this trip. As much as I wanted to explore more of this side of Turkey, it would have to be for another time. Our driver had an uncle who owned a hotel in Urfa and arranged for us to have an extremely good discount, to which we simply couldn’t say no – because of course it’s completely normal to ask for discounts for someone you’ve only just met.
Suddenly, getting up at 2 am for sunrise on Mt. Nemrut seemed like a very bad idea. As we got ready to go out, we couldn’t help but wonder why we didn’t choose to go see sunset given how much time to spare we had the previous day. Of course, a few hours later, we’d be telling a different story.
Feet firmly on the ground after nearly escaping death – Turkish drivers are probably the most scary drivers I have ever come across – we got on yet another bus which would take us from Adıyaman to Kahta, where our hotel was. We were staying at Komagene Hotel which had tour packages for Mt Nemrut. Tours are not usually our style but we thought that it was quite a good deal we were having and we simply couldn’t figure out how to get to the mountain for sunrise without arranged transport.
Quickly settled into our room which was quite cosy, we still had a lot of time until that 2 am wake up call which would be when we would actually head up to the majestic Mt. Nemrut. So we decided to go down to the lake formed by the Atatürk Dam, found on the Euphrates River, on the border of the Adıyaman and Şanlıurfa provinces. We got a lift from the hotel who usually shuttles guests to the lake (but not from) and in true idiot style, we ended up at the lake, at midday without any water or anything else.
The sheer blueness of the lake was amazing ; I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. It was quite refreshing to dip our toes in our water and just take in the view that was in front of us. I would probably have gone for a swim if I could.
It had already been in a while since we had eaten anything and hunger was starting to set in. Our only option was the restaurant by the lake, probably the only restaurant in the area for miles. As we munched on the food and took in the beautiful scenery, we started thinking about how to get back to the hotel. We weren’t really looking forward to walking back and hitchhiking back would have been an option – if there was anyone around. We ended up getting a ride from the restaurant owner and there we went, on the bendy roads leading to Kahta listening to some Kurdish songs.
Back in Kahta, we still had some of our food supplies (which we had bought from the train ride) so we just got bread to go with them and ice cream just because. With ‘The Proposal’ playing, we finished a whole tub between us two and had one long nap – or at least I did, in preparation for our early morning ‘climb’.
As the view from our window transitioned from a very sandy mountainy landscape to apricot orchards, we knew we were about to reach our destination. Malatya is known as being the capital of apricots, exporting tons of them worldwide. I definitely had an apricot overdose during my brief stay in Malatya, even if, as they said, the harvest hadn’t been quite good that year.
About two months ago, we were sat on a train, embarking onto a new adventure in south east Turkey, and to be honest, that was one of the weirdest train ride I’ve ever had. We thought it would be good to finally check out the old Turkish trains, and it was also much cheaper that taking the bus but longer – yes they really are old. It was still Ramadan at that point so we had stocked up on loads of food to break our fast on the train, and off we were to Malatya, our first stop.
Where has summer gone? August is nearing an end and so are the holidays. I still remember the anticipation of summer and sunshine and Starbucks frappucinos – which I actually haven’t indulged much into. During the time I have been off the radar, I spent an amazing week in East Anatolia which is my most favourite Turkish adventure so far, packed my bags and headed back home to Mauritius for reasons I don’t even want to think about and just flew into Dubai yesterday where I’ll be spending another week simply getting over my holidays. Whilst it was actually good to be back home and catch up with everyone – even landed a job during the short time I was there -, I was more than ready to leave when I did, even if I didn’t manage to do all the things I wanted to. There’ll be a next time for sure. I’ll be having my first trip out in the engulfing emirati heat and I’m not sure I’m quite prepared for it. After the genteel and mild Mauritian climate, I seem to have forgotten what the Middle Eastern sun feels like. Nothing like it to say welcome back, I suppose.
Thanks Chelsea from Adventures of an Expat for nominating me for the Liebster Award! It definitely was fun and a bit brain-wracking as well to do this and I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
Here is the set of rules for your blog post to accept the award:
1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget”.
3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 5 blogs that you feel deserve the award, which have a less than 1000 followers.
6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
7. List these rules in your post. (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)
11 Random Facts about Me:
1. I speak 5 ½ languages.
2. I can sometimes act as an annoying know-it-all. Yup, I’m one of those people. Continue reading →
I’ve just spent the past 9 months living in a yurt, i.e. a Turkish dormitory and I have to say, I didn’t think I would make it. It hasn’t been a horrible experience but it hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns either. I’ve definitely learned a couple of things since I first moved here though.
1. It’s going to suck
…. But then it will suck less and less. I remember my very first day here. I had just spent about 27 hours on the ‘road’ trying to get from Mauritius to Ankara, including at 15 hours at Nairobi Airport sitting in uncomfortable chairs watching chick flicks and reading manga. I was tired and sleep-deprived – the only time I had slept was during my one hour flight from Istanbul to Ankara which was so brief that it hardly counts at all. And seeing where I would be staying the next three years just made want to spend the next 27 hours back on (more than) a plane back home. It’s old and cold – not just in the temperature sense – and it took a while to get used to the communal bathrooms and shared rooms. With the academic year over, my dorms will be closing for summer because of repairs so I’m having to move to a designated one until it opens again (hopefully) in September. It took months to finally get settled in and get a hang around everything, just the thought of leaving now is heart-breaking.
My Turkish Ramadan is unfolding quite nicely even if I did hit rock bottom and lost all hope of survival after spending too much time in the blazing sun the day before. It was apparently the hottest day of the year so far in Ankara, hovering around the 34 degrees – people fasting in hotter and harsher conditions: RESPECT. It definitely made me realise that I need to slow down the tempo a little bit over this month rather than being the busy bee that I usually am. It would seem that the rest of Ankara have received the memo though, putting the whole city under a sleeping spell during daytime hours. The usual buzz of Kızılay, the city centre, has pretty much toned down with even the most popular shops and cafés struggling to find customers. That definitely says something since most Ankaranians can usually be seen sipping çay somewhere if they’re not indulging in their favourite past time – shopping.
Tomorrow marks the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims, the beginning of the annual month-long fasting which I, along with millions of others, will be observing. This year I did consider the fact that I might not be able to do it fully or even at all. I may come from a tropical country but it has a very mild climate and the temperatures we have been experiencing these days are definitely more than I am used to. I cannot spend five minutes without wanting to drink something and this is more or less the biggest challenge I will have to face during this coming month.
I’ve been asked before why anyone would want to starve for a month but Ramadan is much more than ‘starvation’. I’ve never felt more at peace with myself and with everything around me than during this month. It’s not only a physical but also emotional, mental and spiritual ‘training’ that we put ourselves through, which makes it one of my favourite religious ‘events’ and one that I willingly and happily participate in. If some of you are wondering, life goes on as usual except for the fact that we don’t eat or drink during the day, and we might need a power nap at some point.
I have to say Ramadan in Turkey is definitely going to be an experience like no other. For one, for the first time in my life I will not spending the month of Ramadan with my family. Last year, I did spend half of it in the forests of Mauritius (that’s another story!) but the other half as well as weekends were spent with my parents, just like the way we used to do it before I left for London, where I spent it with my aunt and her family.
We all got up together for suhoor (morning meal before sunrise) despite how sleepy most of us were and then later during the day, made preparations for iftaar (the evening meal after sunset). It also makes all of it easier when you have family around to support each other, not that I will be entirely alone here. I have to say, whilst I’m seeing this as yet another challenge I will have to go through – Dad isn’t going to be knocking at my door at 3 am to wake me up – I am not looking forward to spending Eid (Ramadan feast after 30 days of fasting) on my own. It will also be the first time that I will be spending Ramadan in a Muslim country. The anticipation is just so much – just the way a child feels while waiting for Christmas. I am definitely looking forward to the metamorphosis the streets of Ankara will go through during iftaar time. Cheeky me may even go up to Istanbul one day – just to have a look.
I just have to wait and see how this following month will unfold, as good or even better than I expect inşallah. Ramadan Kareem.