Stories, thoughts, observations, rants and dribble. Just another of my attempts to keep the interested people informed ...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Eternal Flame

Just enough time to squeeze in another post before dinner, a pre-party party and tomorrow's bus trip to Antalya and then on to SoulClipse.  I still don't have a tent to sleep in ...
We spent last night here in Olympos, near the slopes where the Chimaera (naturally occurring flames from the earth) resides.  After a fantastic buffet dinner, Erin and I took a shuttle to see the fire at night.  The shuttle was late, the guide a bit mad and the walk up the mountain a little bit strenuous, but it was entirely worth it to see fire spouting from bare rock.  According to the guide books, the mountainside has been leaking since before ancient Greek times - gas that combusts on contact with air.  Apparently nobody knows what the composition of the gas is (which I am skeptical about) and the flames were much bigger a couple of millenia ago (easier to believe, and I can see why the locals thought there were gods involved).  It was impressive to turn the corner and see flames dancing on the hillside, and especially haunting when some fellow sightseers began playing flutes and drums.  I naturally have taken far too many photos, including some cheesy ones and a disturbing one with what appears to be the partial profile of a Beelzebub-alike ... I'll upload them when I can.
Meanwhile, I'm off again, repeat last sentence of my last post ...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Butterfly Valley and Ölüdeniz

Ahh this exercise malarkey ... my arms and legs hurt, but in the good way ...

We arrived at the top of Butterfly Valley, near Faralya, after a 7 hour journey on two coaches and a dolmuş (minibus) which carried us up a precarious cliff road with more hairpin turns than I could count or look over. The people at George House (ignore the prices, they're very old!) are fantastic, and the food is to die for. Dinner was traditional Turkish food with homemade bread, organic vegetables and local honey and yoghurt. Spring water aplenty, endless tea and coffee and a wonderful central stove for those chilly nights.

Michelle wasn't feeling up to it (and she's done it before), but the rest of the team managed to brave the 400m-almost-vertical cliff walk down to the waterfall and beach ın Butterfly Valley itself. The track includes several well-placed ropes to help with the rockfaces, and at quite a few points I wondered how we had gotten down (and then up on the way back). [The guidebooks describe it as dangerous, and possibly life-endangering, but I think this is more as a disclaimer. I know of people who have done it at night, which is obviously going to increase the risk factor exponentially.] The beach was beautiful, and despite the slight chill, I couldn't resist having the quickest of dips in a new sea. The way back up was sweat-pouringly challenging, but I'm proud of myself for managing it (not that I had a choice, I don’t think the boats were running!).

After a bit of mountain goat watching from the top of the cliff (those little guys are amazing), a hot shower, another wonderful dinner and a quick game of He Said, She Said, I helped dissect and translate an article on ethnopsychiatry for the only other guest, a Belgian guy doing his homework on the way to SoulClipse. I forget how nice it is to use my brain every now and again, and especially since it was in an area of my own personal interest. Tom was fascinating in his own right, and to repay me for my assistance, he made me tea and we watched a DVD called Ibogaine - Rite of Passage. Even my vague memory of pharmacology lectures knows I've never heard of this one before - a hallucinogenic drug derived from an African plant root that can reverse addiction after one dose. A well-conceived documentary which I would recommend to anyone who is affected by drug addiction or has an interest in traditional medicine or US drug laws.

Today finds us in Ölüdeniz, another daring dolmuş ride and a few bays west. Ölüdeniz is something of a tourist resort town, but as we were a few weeks before the season started, it was nicely deserted. We walked two hours over a hill (mountain more like) to the town of Kayaköy, home of a 17th and 18th century deserted town. We were accompanied all the way by a couple of dogs who took a liking to us. They seemed to be showing us the way and generally keeping an eye out for us. The "ghost village" is made of about 2000 stone houses which were abandoned when Turkey did a population swap with Greece. The roofs were removed and used for another town, and the houses and churches were never used again. It was eerie but amazing!

I will probably not have internet for the next week and a half or so, so updates will have to wait until well after the eclipse. I'm sure they'll be full of awe...

Welsh L's

I love being a contributor!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Gallipoli and Ephesus ... what can I say?

Now that I've sort of gotten my head around the Turkish keyboard, the people at Jimmy's Artemis Guest House have "considerately" put this one in English mode. I feel sorry for the non-touch typists that pass through here. It also means I can't put the names of the towns in correctly. But I shall persevere.

I left İstanbul after reuniting with Erin and Michelle and also meeting some more festival-goers. Erin and I took an afternoon bus down to Çannakale, near Gallipoli (Gelibolu). The İstanbul bus station is completely insane, a huge ring of independent bus service providers all vying to take your money. In the end we took the next available bus, which led us on a 6 hour journey by land and sea. The luggage boy took something of a shining towards me and if I so chose I could have had a new boyfriend by the end of the bus ride. However cute he was though, he spoke no English and acted like a 4 year old (poking, punching, laughing, showing me words he recognised from my guide book, showing me video clips on his phone). Erin didn't discourage him either. But he got us tea and introduced us to the whole family (dad was a driver, brothers were driver and waiter). It was pretty comedic all round.

When we got to Çannakale, we checked into ANZAC House (not to be confused with the ANZAC Hotel), where the boys were extremely helpful and friendly. We ended up booking a tour of the Gallipoli peninsula for the next morning. There were five Aussies plus we two kiwis on the tour, and our Turkish tour guide was fantastic. He imparted so much knowledge about the campaign, and from both sides. I can't describe what it was like to set foot on the sand and clay that the soldiers were walking, living, fighting and dying on in 1915. The cemeteries are beautiful and the landscape serene, and it was so hard to imagine what it looked like during the war. We visited the major memorials and cemeteries, as well as Anzac Cove and the new dawn service site, which was being set up for the imminent hordes arriving on April 25. We had unknowingly arrived on March 18, celebrated as Victory Day in Turkey, the day that the Turks turned the British armada back from the Dardanelles. There were thousands of Turks in tour buses all over the peninsula. It was nice to see it from that side of things, and I have the utmost respect for Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who led the Turkish soldiers to victory all those years ago. He was a great leader and a phenomenal speechmaker.

We were given some souvenirs that our driver had found during the day (!) - I got some shrapnel that looked surprisingly like a ball bearing, but there were also bullets (one of which was still live!), shell fragments and other parts. That night I watched Gallipoli (starring Mel Gibson and Mark Lee) for the first time. I'm still thinking about it all and can't believe the war rested on such small chances ...

Last night we took another long distance bus and arrived (after the usual mishaps) here in Selçuk. We met up with Michelle and Jez and rode bikes out to see the ruins of Efes (Ephesus). The only time I've ridden a bike since I was 10 was on Prince Edward Island in 2004, so you can imagine that things could have gone better. However, I didn't fall over like the Koh Phanang moped incident, so I can't really complain (except for the vague pain which I don't like to talk about). The ruins were fantastic, so much of the city plan is still visible, and the acoustics in the Great Theatre were amazing. The sun came out as well, which is lovely as it has been freezing here since I arrived! To see the ruin of a once great city was fascinating, to think that so much has changed in the world over the past two millenia ...

Saturday, March 18, 2006

On the road yet again!

Safely in Turkey, on my way to Çannakale, near Gallipoli.  Tryiıng to work out this Turkish keyboard!  Will keep things up to date as much as I can!

Friday, March 17, 2006

St Patrick had to rid Ireland of snakes ...

And I was getting all concerned about direction in my life!
Happy Paddy's Day to everyone!  Drink some of the black stuff, it's good for you!

The first stress of the year

So I’m off again with a head so full of possibilities for the year that I can’t pick one.  Nothing seems to attract me more than any of the other options, so maybe I will actually need to decide based purely on practicality and pragmatism.  Oh, the horror!

I can’t even be excited about Turkey yet because I’m so (relatively) stressed out about what I’m going to do when I get back.  I’m sure it’ll only take me getting on the plane with the guidebook in my hand to get me interested though.

I will keep everyone posted as much as possible, but in the meantime, if anyone wants to suggest a new destination for me, that’d be great.  Anything with flexibility, opportunity to travel, interaction with people, changeability and preferably some kind of monetary return!

Reality TV strikes again

I also managed to become addicted to crap reality TV again in the short time I was in Norfolk.  Oh the joys of Sky television and America’s Next Top Model.  Nothing like watching a passive-aggressive psychotic antagonise a surprisingly feminine bull dyke …

Something else I find interesting as well is how people manage to find my site.  My stats counter tells me sometimes what people search for (and for some reason click on my site on the results page).  The latest two have been “hasselhoff leather jacket flashing lights” and “mulvas name on Seinfeld”.  Who knew I had such broad appeal to randoms looking for TV-related trivia?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I love new toys

This is what's on my desktop at the moment, care of Picasa and Alyson's broadband. Yay. I only wish I had all my photos with me so I could do even more fun stuff ... Maybe people can see their own faces on there ... who knows? Posted by Picasa

Late night ramblings ...

Typically I’m up stupidly late playing on the computer.  Granted, this is the first chance I’ve gotten to really play on my laptop whilst it’s connected to the internet, so therefore there’s much more to do.

Also, I’m leaving for Turkey on Friday morning.  This leaves me a day to sort out what I’m going to leave here at Alyson’s, get a few last minute things for the trip and also work out exactly how I’m going to meet up with friends Turkey-side.  Oh, and I don’t know if anyone’s got tent space for me.  Oops.

Meanwhile, I have been back in the UK for two weeks.  In that time I’ve managed to get to (sort of) the four compass points – Edinburgh, Norwich, Swansea/LLanelli and London.  Here are some photos of castles and the like.  Thanks very much to Teresa, Michelle, Simon, Alyson and any respective families/husbands/flatmates who have looked after me and/or just tolerated my presence in their homes!  It’s been really good to catch up with people, even if it’s via ten-pin bowling in teensy towns in Wales.

I am in the middle of horrible decision-making time as well.  I know a lot of people would give a lot to be in the position that I’m in – deciding where to live in the world and what to do with my money.  But it’s actually a lot harder than it sounds, and there are a lot of things that I need to take into consideration, in terms of places I need to or want to be in, and also the fact that I really need to work sometime soon.  If only I could still work here …

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Roxfam - Decortica, The Glory Sea, Brushwork - 16/03/06

I know it's extremely short notice but I only just heard about this gig. I'm in London at the moment so I can't make the commute, but thought I'd do my bit by spreading the word.

This is a charity gig in support of Oxfam Trailwalker NZ, so if you're in Auckland with nothing to do tomorrow night, get down to the Dog's Bollix on K Road.

I normally wouldn't promote this sort of thing quite so actively, but it's too much of a coincidence that I have friends in both Decortica and The Glory Sea. I wish I was there to go!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Finally photos ...

Again, I'm tired. Even though there is truly not much to do in Norfolk (I went bowling and played pool with Michelle today).

I have managed to upload and label some new photos from Thailand and Cambodia, hooray.

So for Thailand:

and for Cambodia:

My tan is fading fast ...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Safe and Sound

I was actually going to write this last night but was way too tired ...

Just so mum can have peace of mind - I am safe and sound in Norfolk at the moment at my friend Michelle's house.

I caught up with Moose in London, took a bus the next day to Edinburgh, spent a few fantastic nights up there realising how much I still love the place and how many friends are still up there, and then came down to spend some time with Michelle in a place we're desperately trying to find activities to do in. I may well finally learn how to drive a manual car ...

Oh and it took me almost 60 hours to get from Vientiane to London, and about 3 days to get me home to Edinburgh ... tires me out again just thinking about it ...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

36.75 hours on the road ... and counting ...

Free internet is great.  Except that I am too tired to appreciate it.  And that I can't do the important stuff like bank transfers and emailing photos. 
Hong Kong International Airport is strange in the middle of the night.  Hardly anything is open and there are creepily few people around.  I flew in late and checked in a million hours early so I could use the (massive) departure lounge facilities.  The departure lounge is so big though that I can't find the place where you pay to nap/shower.  So I guess I will use the comfy banana chairs and forgo the shower.
I said bye to Angie and Ian yesterday.  I didn't have time to be sad about it but I'm sure gonna miss them.  I had to rush my goodbyes so I could get on the back of a motorbike wearing my daypack while the driver held my 20kg pack between himself and the handlebars.  We negotiated alleyways barely wide enough for our knees to pass through.  Then I had to sit for an hour and a half in a stinking hot minivan in awful Bangkok traffic while the driver examined what looked to be a hand-drawn map.  Not exactly encouraging.  It was 37 degrees C in Bangkok, way way too warm for me.  It sounds strange but I am quite enjoying wearing my hoodie in unseasonably cold Hong Kong (it is 10 degrees here at the moment).  I might even like wearing my gloves again when I get to London this afternoon.
Only 7 more hours until I am allowed to board my plane ...