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

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Well lookie here ...

Some recent searches that found my site:
  • Roxfam
  • Decortica (Antz should be happy)
  • The cosy restaurant Fethiye
  • Hallucinogenic honey from Istanbul

Almost makes me want to look it up myself!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Just believe me, I'm Asian

We are trialling some Asian food for the menu here.  It's a pretty big deal in Turkey to have something that's not Turkish. 
Luckily or unluckily, the boys have had Chinese and Thai made for them before.  This means that they will eat it without question and like it, but it also means that my methods are questioned and if things aren't done exactly the same way as the previous cook, I get trouble.  Regardless of my "Well that's how they serve it in Thailand!"
Thankfully they eat it anyway. 
So Chinese stir fry noodles yesterday and beef green curry today.  What shall it be tomorrow?  Probably something along the same lines.  I only have limited ingredients and vegetables at hand.  But hooray for rice vermicelli!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sleeping in the restaurant again ...

Last night was so cold that most of the crops froze in the surrounding area. 
It's totally out of the ordinary, and more's the pity means that a lot of people aren't going to have a very good season.
For me it meant that it was so cold in my room that I couldn't sleep.  The air hurt my throat and is probably the main reason I haven't fully recovered from my random sickness yet.
And it means tonight I am sleeping on the cushions next to the fire.  No complaints.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

From the uttermost ends of the earth ...

It is Anzac Day today.  The day Australians and New Zealanders commemorate the disastrous Gallipoli campaigns of World War I, as well as remembering our veterans from every war. 
I am glad to be in Turkey.  I am glad to feel the welcome that the Turkish people extend to all foreigners, but especially Aussies and Kiwis.  I am glad to be able to remember Çannakale in private, hundreds of kilometres away from the crowd of tens of thousands at North Beach. 
For all the pointless carnage that the Gallipoli campaigns wrought, I am grateful that they produced the only battleground in which both sides come together to remember their losses, and the losses suffered by the other side.  Where soldiers respected each other as people, not just as enemies.
Of course this is much better expressed by a hero:
"Those heroes that shed their blood
and lost their lives ...
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
here in this country of ours ...
You, the mothers,
who sent their sons from far away countries
wipe away your tears;
your sons are now lying in our bosom
and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land they have
become our sons as well."

Selling out to the man ...

You may or may not have noticed I now have Google Ads on my site.


So I decided to cave and see whether AdSense does anything for me.

So I feel that as a sort-of-employed, barely paid traveller, I think this is my right.

So I hope too many people aren't too peeved / disappointed / inconvenienced by this bold new move of mine.

Besides, if it generates no cash, it's only doing slightly worse than any of my other forms of income. And I can just take it away later.

Monday, April 24, 2006

There is no busy work here

Forget trying to look like you're worth employing by polishing cutlery, folding napkins or cleaning glasses.
If you're not immediately busy, you're standing around smoking, drinking (tea or otherwise) or playing on your mobile phone.  It doesn't seem to cross anyone's mind to do anything now so it doesn't have to be done later.
In my case, if I'm not busy I'm reading, playing on the internet or polishing cutlery, folding napkins or cleaning glasses.  Maybe that's why nobody else ever does it.  Or maybe it's because they used to be the bartender's jobs, before I happened to trigger some kind of mental collapse and he never came back to work.  But of course, that is another story.

Author's Note:

As tends to happen when I am stationary for any length of time, you may have noticed that these latest posts have been more anecdotal or observational than traditional travel stories (I did this and then we went there and did that etc). 
I actually find this more rewarding and entertaining, and I hope readers do too.  It sometimes provides a better reflection on the true culture and nature of the place, and my experience here.  Everything else you can find out from the regional guide book of your choice (I choose not to endorse or insult any particular brand at this point).

But I don't speak that language either ...

Just a weird thing I noticed: 
When I don't know how to say something in Turkish, I have this strange inclination to say it in Cantonese.  
It's very odd. 

Some gum?

One of the boys offered me some "gum" today. 
I stupidly took him up on the offer.
It was white and hard-looking when I unwrapped it, and had some kind of a fortune on it.
As I attempted to chew, he explained that the wrapper said something about me looking at a boy or something (his English, whilst still way better than my Turkish, is pretty awful).  Hmm, how prophetic.
I have a tendency to steer away from gum because for some reason I am a habitual overchewer.  I chew until it gets to that awful, flavourless, concrete stage.  Maybe I am too lazy to throw it away.  But that texture is what puts me off gum.
Meanwhile, this fortune gum is my worst nightmare.  From the first bite it is a hundred times worse than that 10c pink tattoo gum we used to get as kids.  I persevere for a few mastications, mostly not to seem rude, but partially to try and work out what that awful flavour is. 
As soon as the gum profferer is out of sight, it pays a hasty visit to the bin. 
Mostly from the aftertaste I think I know what the flavour was - forest floor, with everything included.  Yuck.

I've noticed a lot of hippies in town, is there a commune nearby?

Ah, it's funny you should ask that, straight-laced-looking-tourist.

There are a lot of hippies in town, but they are the tail end of the post-SoulClipse crowd.

Of the Antipodeans around, there are either the hippies (who are also Japanese and Israeli), or the living-in-London-pre-ANZAC-service crowd.

The difference between them is that the latter are likely to be dressed in sensible backpacker attire, and hardly to be seen with dreadlocks, ponchos or leg warmers.

There is somewhat of a base level of hippies here anyway, it's that sort of place. Something about lay lines or other matters I know little of. There is also an abundance of 40-something white women here "finding themselves". Their poor, abandoned children.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

For a good cause

For all the brave women who have been afflicted with breast cancer, the people whose lives it has affected and those who support the worthy cause of cancer research.
My friends Cheryl and Kathleen are doing fundraising walks for breast cancer research in the Lake District (UK) and Boston (Massachusetts, USA) respectively.  I know they would appreciate any and all support for their efforts, so please visit their fundraising sites and give what you can!

The poor sound system at SoulClipse

I didn't have my camera at the time, but here is a picture of the main stage, minutes after the storm.

Photo kindly provided by the lovely Purple.

A time-waster or a real insight?

Well I've been a little sickly the last few days, so I haven't had the energy to do much, let alone get up in time for work and play on the internet like usual.  I have a few posts which I have outlines for, but in the meantime, here's a funny link that Cheryl sent to me.  My results are below.  Note that whilst I can believe the first two sections, I have yet to learn the "lesson" that this life is supposed to teach me (children, what?!).
My past life diagnosis:

I don't know how you feel about it, but you were male in your last earthly incarnation.
You were born somewhere in the territory of modern Alaska around the year 575 .
Your profession was that of a librarian, priest or keeper of tribal relics.
Your brief psychological profile in your past life:
Seeker of truth and wisdom. You could have seen your future lives. Others perceived you as an idealist illuminating path to future.
The lesson that your last past life brought to your present incarnation:
You fulfill your lesson by helping old folks and children. You came to this life to learn to care about the weak and the helpless .

Monday, April 17, 2006

Wendy also recommends ...

More things I think should be even more popular than they are ...
The Elbow Room - My all-time favourite place to have breakfast (or brunch or lunch).  I recommend it to everyone who goes anywhere near Vancouver in Canada.  The most fabulous food (predominantly breakfasts, which is also my favourite meal to have out), great location and a good dose of abuse with your meal.  Who can complain when your dish comes with a side of wisecrack?  Also, what can be wrong in the world when your meal sounds like this: " Two poached eggs, sauteed spinach, bacon, avocado and blue cheese on a sour dough muffin. Topped with hollandaise sauce."?  That's the Brett Cullen, my usual.  Sublime.  AND you can get it with hash browns!
Göreme Restaurant - The coziest place to eat great food and listen to live music in Cappadocia.  Low tables with comfy cushions, a stove to keep you warm during the cold nights, good advice about the area and impressive eats (including the famous "Desti (Testi) Kebap" - cooked in clay pot that they break at your table to serve).  The website is currently under construction but hopefully this will change soon.
Crocs - My absolute best investment in the last few months.  These shoes are made of some spectacular slip-resistant, ultra-light, non-marrking, anti-bacterial, orthotic, shape-moulding, amazingly comfortable material.  And they look funky and come in some fabulously stylish colours.  They have been perfect for waiting tables, bush walking, river fording, travelling, showering and every general use you can think of.  I recommend them to anyone for anything, but they would be perfect for use in kitchens, restaurants, hospitals and boats.  Who knew a boat shoe could actually be cool?  I am going to get some black Aspens as soon as I can for restaurant use.  At the moment I have the bright orange Beach model.  I love them.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter minus all the trimmings (except the chocolate)

Celebrating Easter is a little difficult in a Muslim country.
I had a theology student ask the other night whether any of the cave churches around were doing an Easter service, but had to tell him no.  Although I think for private reflection, any of the abandoned churches would be lovely to spend Easter Sunday in.
It is just another day here, a sunny Sunday where all the Turkish families load up their cars with picnic supplies and head for the nearest open space (of which there are many around here!). 
I keep forgetting about Easter altogether, there are no days off for me, and almost every non-Turk here is on holiday anyway.  However I did make the effort and go out and buy chocolate (in non-egg form) for everyone today.  That's usually the only way I celebrate anyway.
I hope all you partakers of westernised Christianity based statutory holidays are enjoying them!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What's the big deal anyway?

Location: Göreme
I had a group of kiwis in the other night, which was nice as they seemed quite cool people (it's also nice to hear a full on New Zild accent every now and again).
I mentioned the eclipse at one point during our chat, and one of the girls asked me what the big deal was.
"Is it really so amazing?"
Of course it is!

Billiards and taboos

Location: Göreme, Turkey
I was asked to go to a pool/billiard hall yesterday by the 17-year-old brother of the restaurant manager.  If you don't know already, I have a special place in my heart for the game of pool.  I love playing, even though I can be described at best as "good, for a girl".  So of course I said yes. 
Çarli (pronounced Charlie) asked if I could play 3 Ball.  I said no.  He asked about 4 Ball.  I said no.  15 Ball?  Yes, yes I can play that!  Yay.
The pool hall was up some stairs in an unsigned hallway.  The room itself was pretty standard, a bar area sectioned off from the tables by wooden trellis.  The place seemed to only be patronised by teenage boys, but perhaps this changes at different times of the day. 
I have never played 3 Ball (or billiards, apparently) before, and don't even remember seeing the tables without any pockets.  Çarli explained how to play, but I misunderstood him, so for the first half of the game I was trying to do something that was entirely not the aim of the game.  I got it in the end though, and I think with a bit of practice and help I might be able to do it well one day.  It is an entirely different skill from playing regular pool.
We had two games of regular pool after a couple of ten-year-olds vacated a table.  I am happy to say I won both games!  I was a little worried that Çarli's proficiency at 3 Ball was going to transfer to pool and I was going to get annihilated.  The other boys in the room applauded me, which was reassuring in a weird way.
After we got back to the restaurant, Diane asked me what the news was.  I told her about the afternoon, and she was surprised that I had been to what she described as a sort of gentlemen's club.  Apparently women never go in there, and I was none the wiser.  Of course, I didn't really expect to see any headscarf-wearing Muslim women there, but I didn't think it'd be so unheard of.
No wonder the boys were watching me play so intently!

Monday, April 10, 2006

They love me, they really love me!

Now that I've finally updated things somewhat, I have taken a moment to check out who's been coming to see my site.  This interests me for a lot of different reasons.  It's nice to know I have a regular readership (mostly friends and family), but it's also interesting to see who visits me from where, and for what reason.
Of course there are the random search strings that I sometimes mention, and there always seem to be a good chunk of people that just click on "Next Blog", or whatever that button is, and stay for less than 5 seconds.
Today though is the first day when I have had everyone stay for over 30 seconds.  Hooray! 
You may (or may not) have noticed the little world map at the bottom of the right hand column.  It is a cool little monitor that keeps track of the locations of visitors to my site.  If you click on it (or here), you can see a magnified version of the world with little red dots on it.  Mostly the readership had been in NZ, the UK, Australia and North America (mostly the states but I'm sure one of the dots is Toronto).  Today I've noticed some in Alaska, India, Scandinavia, South America and Asia.  Hooray!  Of course, I'm fairly sure all the Turkey ones are me.  Nothing like biased data!
So to summarise - I notice when you visit.  And in an appreciative sort of a way, not a stalking one.  So Çok teşekkür, many thanks!

Episode 20: In which she finishes the series

Location: Göreme
Date: 08/04/2006
I have finished with my little anecdotes for now!  I thought that notification of my photos online would be a good way to end this little series.  I haven't done them all, this connection is too slow, but here are quite a few of the best!
For İstanbul, Gallipoli, Ephesus, Ölüdenız, Butterfly Valley, Kayaköy and Olympos -
I have seen a couple of slightly hilarious things around town today, so I'm sure there will be more to come! 

Episode 19: In which my direction changes

Location: Göreme
Date: 04/04/2006

I was walking down the main street of Göreme, looking for a nice place to have a table-for-one dinner. I just happened to run into some people that I'd met on the bus from Fethiye (we had hung out with them in Olympos and again at SoulClipse). They were going to meet some friends, who I had also met in Çannakale and naturally I decided to join them.

What followed was a lovely dinner in a cosy restaurant with great company. [I will post photos at some point, but basically the restaurant has an outside covered table area, tables and chairs inside the doors, and then on a raised platform, nine low, round, flat tables with huge comfy cushions to sit on (or sleep on, as my case has been).] After goodbyes to people leaving that night and the next morning, I went to a local bar with Hannah, a kiwi girl, and Diane, a lovely lady who sort of (not for legal reasons) works at the restaurant. I ended up having a hugely in-depth conversation with Diane, and later on Hasan the restaurant manager joined us. He offered me a job in exchange for a place to sleep, food, and the possibilty of a little money.

In truth, I had to think about it a lot. I was really looking forward to going back to the UK and had planned a lot of things to do and people to visit on my return. In the end, I decided I'd regret it more to miss such an opportunity to do something a little different. Also, it worked out a lot cheaper this way! Hopefully I will break even on the flight that I had to forfeit, but if not, I've already had a great time ...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Episode 18: In which I go to church

Location: Göreme Open Air Museum
Date: 04/04/2006
I decided to go to the Open Air Museum, even though I tend not to believe the Lonely Planet anymore.  It was entirely worth it, as I find myself fascinated with ancient religious frescoes (maybe I should have done Classical Studies at school after all).  It is full of churches, monasteries, refectories and store rooms dug into the rock and cliffsides.
I won't list all of the churches there, but my favourites were the Elmalı Kilise (Apple Church) and the Karanlık Kilıse (Dark Church), even though I had to pay extra to see the latter.  The vibrancy of the centuries old paintings and the intricate cave structures were stunning.  Even the more basic iconoclastic rock painting was beautiful.  It's a pity the museum looks a bit like a zoo with its paved walkways and stairways, but a UNESCO world heritage site needs to accommodate a lot of visitors at a time.  I'm glad I was there in off season, since the only source of light in most of the churches was through the small doorways, easily blocked by tourists standing in them.  It was also good for photos, since I could use all available light (no flashes allowed of course).
After the museum, I took a wander to find El Nazar Kilise, the Evil Eye Church, built right into a fairy chimney.  It was closed, but Mustafa the guard was just leaving.  He reopened it for me and charged me the entrance fee.  It wasn't as impressive as some of the others, but he pointed out all the features to me.  He also invited me back the next day to see the Saclı Kilise (Hidden Church) and have lunch with him.
I got him to point me in the direction of Love Valley, which I visited briefly to gaze upon the spectacularly phallic rock formations.  Has to be done, right?

Episode 17: In which I am clean

Location: Göreme
Date: 03/04/2006
I said goodbye to Mazz at the bus station and trudged somewhat wearily back to the pension.  When I got into the room, which they had kindly let me keep for 15YTL a night, I was finally able to enjoy a proper shower.
It had been an incredibly unreasonable amount of days since my last one (9 to be exact), but I had luckily been sustained by short swims in the freezing river at SoulClipse.  Lack of time and/or hot water had prevented me from having one before that night.
I decided against accepting an offer to drink at the bar, and showered and did laundry instead.  Surprising how good simple things like hot water can be!

Episode 16: In which we meet the locals

Location: Goreme and surrounds
Date: 03/04/2006
Mazz and I spent a great afternoon wandering around in Swords Valley, which was recommended to us by a local carpet seller.  We were relaxed after breakfast and massages from Habib, and had a good clamber around the rock formations.
We decided to head up to the Open Air Museum to check out the prices (10YTL), and when we were passing the carpark security booth, a man jumped out at us.
"THESE ARE FOR YOU!" he yelled, scaring the living crap out of us.
He had two bouquets of daisies strapped together with sellotape, which he handed to us.  We thanked him and walked on in a state of mild shock.
After that we seemed to meet every local vendor we passed, and had some interesting talks.  I still have to go back and visit a couple of them, but there's plenty of time for that now!

Episode 15: In which I'm woken up early

Location: Göreme
Date: 03/04/2006
The girls we had had dinner with the night before had to wake up at 5am to see if the weather was good enough to go for a balloon ride through the valleys.  This is supposed to be one of the most phenomenal things you can do, and is penciled in on my to do list.
However, we were not due to balloon, and I was cosy in the first bed I'd slept in in a week.  Mazz woke early and the next thing I knew, she was waking me to see the balloons take off.
I stumbled out of bed and threw on some warm clothes before heading to the roof terrace.  The balloons were indeed beautiful, and it's a pity the weather wasn't a little clearer. 
We watched until the sun was almost through the clouds, and then headed back to bed ...

Episode 14: In which we see the sights and eat far too much

Location: Göreme and surrounds
Date: 02/04/2006
After breakfast and checking in to our room (we decided on the twin with ensuite since we hadn't showered in a while), we managed to arrange and get on a tour of the area that morning.
The tour guides, driver and fellow tourists were all fun people, so despite the rain and generally miserable weather, we had a great time.  The spectacular sights helped as well, of course.
We saw the 80m deep underground city at Derinkuyu (amazing structures, cramped tunnels, great ventilation, puts Edinburgh to shame!) and walked part of the Ihlara Valley to our lunch destination of Belisirma.  There we had a four course lunch before moving on to see the Selime Katedrali (Selime Cathedral) built into the rock faces and fairy chimneys.  Some of the girls (and boys) succumbed to the delights of the Onyx/Turquoise workshop we were shown around (reminded me all too much of the factories in China), and then there was time to take photos from the top of Pigeon Valley.  At Paşabaği we saw some amazing fairy chimneys, including the famous three-headed ones.  The pottery demonstration at Avanos was our last stop before arriving back at Göreme.  All in all it was a great tour, I had a lot of fun clambering around in tunnels and caves.  Ordinarily I probably wouldn't have done a tour but we covered a lot of ground and Mazz only had one night in town.
After the tour we went straight to find a restaurant (well, via a little shopping) with a couple of Australian girls from the tour.  We ended up at a lovely restaurant called The Orient, where we had a four course set menu for only 12.50YTL.  This turned out to be six courses (extra garlic bread and salsa to start, and a fruit plate after our desserts), so along with the two bottles of lovely local wine, we were well full ...

Episode 13: In which we get a free "pick-up" and some "valuable" advice

Location: Göreme
Date: 02/04/2006
The longest, most uncomfortable, sleepless night bus I can remember led us to the cheerless town of Nevşehir in Cappadocia.  I looked out at the rain and wondered why I'd bothered journeying so far out of my way.  A few kilometres later we turned into Pigeon Valley and I got my first look at Göreme and the phenomenal surrounding landscape.  That glimpse was enough to justify anything!
We arrived at the accommodation office at the bus station.  It is very organised and the man in the office will call any pension (guesthouse) and arrange a pick up or further instructions.  We decided on the Paradise Cave Pension (on recommendation from friends), and organised our free pick-up (after a small misunderstanding).
Whilst waiting, we started chatting to a Canadian woman in her 50's (I am guessing), who was travelling with her husband.  I told her that she was getting a free shuttle to the Shoestring Pension, and she was quite forceful in her "Well I'm glad it's free!".  When I offered the rain and the distance as good reasons for a free shuttle, she said that no, she was just sick of being charged three times more than everyone else because she was old.
She realised we were a little confused, and elaborated.  Apparently most people think that they are rich old (white) Americans, and try and scam them for as much money as possible.  She sounded so bitter that she seemed not to be enjoying her two years of travel at all.  Mazz and I were a little taken aback and decided not to talk too much to her anymore.
When the Shoestring shuttle arrived, we let her know it was there.  She arranged her luggage and came back to us, not with a farewell as expected, but with this adamant gem of wisdom:
"Don't ever travel when you're old!"
I'll travel when I want to, thanks all the same.  Besides, hopefully I'll never be mistaken for a rich old white American ...
A little later, our pick-up arrived - in the form of a skinny Turkish man called Habib hurrying through the drizzle.  Strangely enough, he didn't carry Mazz back like she asked.  Thankfully it wasn't a long way for us to haul all our things ...

Episode 12: In which I review SoulClipse

Location: SoulClipse
Date: 26/03-01/04/2006

Disclaimer: This isn't as thorough a review as I would like to provide, but bullet points help with time constraints and readability.

In general I had a great time at SoulClipse, but this has to be due to the following:
  • the fabulous, interesting, tolerant, organised and fun group of people I was with (and also those I met along the way)
  • loads of sunshine to offset the storms
  • the eclipse itself
  • my lack of knowledge of the trance genre, which meant I was never disappointed by scheduling, cancelling etc
  • my strangely increased tolerance for camping
I have a lot of gripes about the way that things were organised, communicated and implemented by the organisers, but there were also some disappointing behaviours from fellow festie-goers. The main ones are as follows:
  • not providing any notice that daylight savings was to start the day most people would depart for/arrive at the site
  • ticket exchange booth:
    • having the ticket/wristband exchange ridiculously far away from the site and not telling people they can still drive on after (i.e. we lost our driver and van)
    • not having signs up early in the morning so people drove right past and had to go all the way back
    • having a very unorganised shuttle system to the site from there
  • actual site:
    • most of the camping areas within flood plains of an obviously swollen river
    • main stage collapse (see Episode 5)
    • lack of communication with regards to scheduling of acts etc
    • marketplace prices extortionate (also found out that food vendors were banned from offering tea and coffee, a large part of Turkish culture)
    • toilets badly planned and revolting
      • supposedly composting toilets just large (too shallow) pits with 6 plywood squat cubicles hovering on two-by-fours (built by volunteers!)
      • above toilets flooded during heavy rain
      • western toilets available, for a ridiculous 1 YTL each time
    • drinking water ran out
    • supposed recycling stations were not labelled correctly
  • further issues, moral and otherwise:
    • free eclipse glasses not handed out until the morning of the event, meaning many people had already paid for those for sale on site
    • information booth didn't have much information, and shuttle buses were expensive
    • volunteers treated badly, left unfed, badly organised - many quit which left less people to do things like clean up rubbish
    • festival purported to be environmentally focused, yet most vendors provided plastic or polystyrene containers
    • groundrules not enforced until too late (see below)
  • problems with the punters (especially considering how hippified most of them looked):
    • rubbish everywhere, from the first day onwards, even thrown into the toilet pits
    • fires lit in national park grounds, even though forbidden (I admit partial fault, but we were only told off on the 5th day)
    • scant clothing and public nudity, despite local custom for people to cover up
    • as an alternative to the disgusting squat toilets, people turned the hillside forest into one huge latrine - learn how to go in the wild people: dig a hole and/or take your toilet paper with you!
Even considering all of this though, I have to say the people made it worthwhile. I won't necessarily attend the Indigo Kids' next endeavour, but at least the only way they can go is upwards and forwards ...

Episode 11: In which a rucksack becomes false

Location: Antalya Internation Airport Terminal One
Date: 01/04/2006
We made it to Antalya Airport after a little confusion about whether or not they would take us to the bus station as well (which they did). 
The first stop was International Terminal One.  A few of the crusty hippies got off, and the bus was started again.  As we were pulling away from the kerb, the guy behind me (possibly Dutch?) started yelling at the driver to stop the bus.
"Someone has a false rucksack!"
The bus stopped, possibly just because a random tourist was yelling (the driver spoke very little English).  The guy jumped off the bus and ran to the doors where the three hippies were about to put their bags through security. 
The guy ran over to the doors and returned a minute later with the "false rucksack".  He explained that it was just taken from him, and the thief had no response to "That's my backpack!".  He didn't even pretend it was a mistake (which it couldn't have been since there were all manner of things tied to the pack). 
Because he had to get straight back on the bus, there was no time to sort anything out with the police or security.  He was just lucky he spotted his belongings in time.
The moral of the story - always keep an eye on your luggage!

Episode 10: In which we are made fools of

Location: SoulClipse
Date: 01/04/2006
Mazz and I had packed our bags, dropped our tent and said our goodbyes.  We marched across the field towards the bus waiting to take us back to Antalya.  We were stopped by a Japanese couple and a Turkish guy who asked us whether we wanted to take a taxi.  We said no, we had bus tickets already.  They asked us about the bus and it turned out they weren't leaving until the next day anyway.  So we told them what we knew and they thanked us. 
The guy asked us whether we had enjoyed the festival (which we had).  We asked him whether he had had a good time or not.  He replied "No, I did not enjoy."  A little lost for words, we must have gaped at him a little. 
"Ha, April Fool!" was his reply to our stares.
Snap, Japanese guy!  I didn't have the heart to tell him about the post-noon rule.  I appreciated his joke too much!

Episode 9: In which I miss the L

Location: SoulClipse
Date: 30-31/03/2006
Since discovering the lowercase L phenomena, I have definitely been keeping my eyes peeled.  I was a bit excited to find a perfect example whilst having lunch in the marketplace.  A 10 gallon drum used for recycling purposes was painted with a perfectly clear "PlASTIC".  Unfortunately I didn't have my camera on me, and when I came back armed with it the next day, it had been replaced with a correct "PLASTIC" bin.  I was gutted at the festival's sudden surge of efficiency.
Maybe I am staying in Turkey to find that elusive L somewhere else ...

Episode 8: In which we protect our retinas and blow our minds

Location: SoulClipse
Date: 29/03/2006
The day of the eclipse dawned clear and bright.  A number of the keen ones went to a yoga session, but I somehow missed that for sleep instead.
We all managed to be together for the actual event, in the sunshine dancing away near the Liquid Stage (the new main stage).  I have to say that the group of people we had camping with us were all fantastic, and we got along really well, especially for mostly having met each other that week.  We ate vine leaves, spun our poi, drank our drinks and basked in the sun and the energy from everyone around us.
The eclipse was indescribable.  The music was shut off (intentionally this time) beforehand and to see everyone around looking through the eclipse glasses was a sight.  The moon covered the sun, the sky grew darker, the air turned cold and before we knew it it was dusk.  The "diamond ring" few seconds before totality were spectacular.  Suddenly we could take the glasses off and stared at the sun in amazement.  We had formed an energy circle with our feet touching and there were hugs, kisses, laughter, screams, silence and tears. 
A long two minutes later, the moon continued her trek past the sun.  Dawn arrived, and moments later we were in full sunshine again.  People were speechless, and then the music commenced.  Dancing and merriment ensued ...

Episode 7: In which I want to play with fire, and then meet the burnt Hungarian

Location: SoulClipse
Date: 27-31/03/2006
I will try not to rave on and on about fire performances and the like, but I did see some pretty interesting shows over the festival.  This served not only as entertainment, but to inspire me and remind me of what I can already do and what I want to do in the future.  It's easy to get stagnant when you're not around other twirlers.
I saw staff twirling on stilts, triple and quadruple staff, double staff and poi at the same time and some beautiful duet performances.  There were a lot of tricks I'd never seen before, and some very stylish spinners who were hard not to watch (not to mention one Aussie guy who was stunning before he started his amazing double staff).
Mazz and I met a few of the market vendors and had good chats with them about poi, fire and juggling.  Particularly memorable was Gora the Hungarian, who had some ingenious rubber ball poi handles (which I want), and some spectacular burns on his right arm.  If he's still keen on fire, I have no reason not to be!

Episode 6: In which we learn about soaking pasta

Location: SoulClipse
Date: 27/03/2006
Our first attempt at cooking in the campsite was probably about a 5 on the scale of success.  It was edible though, which is something. 
Someone (who shall remain nameless) suggested we soak the pasta to save fuel while cooking.  Fair enough concept I guess.  It's a pity that pasta actually requires heating and cooking though, as otherwise it tends to revert to its earlier dough form.  Mmm, chewy.
So I discovered that pasta (or Turkish pasta at least), turns white, soft and gooey when soaked.  When heated, it turns slushy and changes colour to that of the more familiar cooked pasta.  It sort of ends up more like polenta, as there is no hope of draining it.
Perhaps someone wants to repeat the experiment (possibly with less than two whole packets of pasta) and let me know how it goes?

Episode 5: In which Mother Nature takes her revenge

Location: SoulClipse
Date: 27/03/2006
The grand opening was scheduled for 5pm on the main stage.  We went back to our tent around 4.45 to get some warmer clothes and just as we were about to leave, the rain started. 
Big, fat rain. 
Then thunder, lightning, wind. 
And hail. 
The storm got closer and Erin and I gave up on any hope of leaving the tent.  We commisserated with biscuits and huddled on my sleeping mat.  We decided that nobody else would be at the main opening either, and as it turned out, every spare bit of shelter was crowded with people and they were using inflatable rafts to negotiate the flooded "streets" of the market place (the sheds of the sheep farm we took over for the week). 
Eventually the storm abated, and, encouraged by some water seepage into the tent, we ventured out to sit under the tarp outside (rain always sounds worse from inside than it is).  We heard through the grapevine that the main stage had collapsed under the stress of the storm.  Not believing the news, we took a wander to have a gander.  True enough, the main dancefloor (or field) was completely flooded, and the stage lay in ruin.  They had, without any foresight (or engineering consultation), built the stage with a flat roof, and the pressure of the water had compressed it, twisting the struts and turning the stage totally in on itself.  When we arrived, speaker stacks rested in the huge mud puddles and people stood around taking photos for insurance purposes.
I was talking to an ex-volunteer (who quit due to mistreatment by the organisers), and she suggested that if you try to make money from nature, she will strike back ... I tend to agree with her!

Episode 4: In which I see the very person who led me here

Location: SoulClipse
Date: 26/03/2006
Our stomachs led us to the market place before we could be bothered unpacking our bedding.  We quickly discovered that most of the food was extremely overpriced (the word extortionate was thrown around a few times) but settled on a wrap of some sort for the bargain price of 5 YTL (my current daily wage).  On the corner though I noticed a couple of female silhouettes which looked familiar, and lo and behold it was Jasmin and Kim!  Now for those who haven't read/paid attention to my hithers and thithers, Jasmin was the one who told me about SoulClipse in the first place.  She came to me by "coincidence" at a time when I really needed a direction.  It was a very happy reunion!
Unfortunately I only ran into them one more time, and after that they disappeared like the mist.  It was very weird, but I hope to see them again soon ...

Episode 3: In which we try and create an HQ in the rain

Location: SoulClipse
Date: 26/03/2006
By the time we had gotten to the ticket booth, unloaded the van, lost our driver, gotten our wristbands, waited for a bus, miraculously got all 12 of us on the same one, and arrived at the festival site, it was late afternoon.  The clouds had come in and we dumped our huge pile of belongings and sent some scouts out to find the perfect campsite.  Through a couple of misunderstandings and quick decisions, we had literally split into two camps.  I ended up dragging things to one camp, helping set up some tents to keep the bags dry, and waiting in the deepening twilight for people to come to a decision about our camp location.  As I didn't have a tent (I was hoping we'd find Mazz), I didn't really have a say in the matter. 
Most of us ended up choosing a hillside instead of a nice spot in the middle of the flood plains, and I had to do a couple of slightly scary treks through the dark, rain and mud, loaded up with pack, food and a lot of water.  Somehow Keith managed to carry his 40kg pack and another 20kg of water ... I was more than a little concered about his health! 
Mazz found us, luckily, and had to move the tent over.  We finally had a place to stay, and I am so, so grateful she brought the big tent!  We were on a slope as it was, so it was nice to at least have room to curl up next to my sprawling pile of stuff.
The two who remained in the flood plains joined us the next day, so we were one big happy family again!

Episode 2: In which we fill a minibus like the proverbial socks

Location: Antalya
Date: 26/03/2006
A couple of our newly-formed group of nine were organised enough to arrange a minibus to take us directly to the festival.  This meant we got to bypass the experience of clambering for a bus from Antalya airport. 
We also managed to fill the extra seats (and make some extra money) by picking up two Brits and an Aussie in the centre of town (we had met them earlier and Erin let out a helpful "They need a lift!") .  We used part of the extra money to buy a massive woven reed mat from some roadside vendors to use as the centre of our campsite. 
With the mat, the driver, 12 passengers and more luggage, food and water than I thought possible, the bus was pretty well crammed (full as a fat girl's socks, as Marianne likes to say).
What ever happened to the rest of the money though?  Keith?

Episode 1: In which time itself plots against us

Location: Olympos
Date: 26/03/2006
We woke up early on the day of our departure from Olympos and the treehouses (i.e. cubby houses on stilts).  We sat for a while and wondered why breakfast was late (it was promised at 7.00 for those leaving at 8am).  Michelle went to make some enquiries, and not only was there no 8am shuttle bus like we were told, it was also nearly 9am - daylight savings had started overnight and none of us was any the wiser. 
Why was this the first we'd heard of it?
Luckily after much faffing, one of the guys working at the treehouses called a friend with a minivan and he carted us up the road.  We even made it just in time for our rendezvous in Antalya ...

Friday, April 07, 2006

The first in a potential series of short anecdotes and updates

I was going to attempt to put in a few little tidbits from the last week or so of my time in Turkey. Unfortunately this first day of "work" has somewhat tired me out.

There were virtually no customers during the day so I served the one table of Japanese and spent the rest of the time learning what words mean what foods and drinks in Turkish. It felt a lot like studying, but I now know how to count to 100 and say useful things like sour cherry juice and eggplant. That was meant to be sarcastic but they are actually useful when attempting to communicate with customers and other staff in a Turkish restaurant.

I was lucky enough for Michelle to have read my change of plans email and she sauntered into the restaurant an hour or so before her bus to İstanbul. It was lovely to see her and Jez before they took off, and it was a good excuse to get out of the restaurant and go for a walk.

The evening was steady and a few guys I'd met round town and at the festival came in. The last table didn't leave until nearly 1am after playing some cards and smoking a nargileh (hookah pipe). This has ramifications when they were sitting exactly where I'm sleeping!

Because of an incident with a couple of Australians taking a key with them to Olympos, the room I am supposed to be sharing upstairs is locked until the key returns. Therefore I am sleeping next to the stove in the restaurant with the resident musician and the head cook/waiter. The cushions are huge and comfy though and it is warm, so I have had worse deals. I think the most difficult part is that the bathroom seems to have been made for hobbits. I can only just stand up in it and can't when I have my hair in a ponytail ... oh well ...

I made a grand total of 5 YTL (new Turkish Lira) for my efforts today. This is actually really good since I wasn't expecting anything. Of course 5 YTL is the same as 6.12 NZD, 5.14 AUD, 2.14 GBP and only 6 times what I make in interest in a day. By the way, when did the New Zealand dollar suddenly drop against everything?! I feel like I'm taking crazy pills here!

BUT, if I get the same 5 Lira again tomorrow, I can buy myself a poncho cause it's so damn cold here at night!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Another Patented Wong Abrupt Change of Plans

In another flash turn of events, I have managed to acquire myself a new abode for the next few weeks at least ...
I had an amazing time at the festival, survived 6 nights of camping in trance music on a slope in hail, flood and sunshine, met up with Jasmine and friends from New Zealand, met a whole bunch of new fantastic friends, and best of all got to experience the true phenomenon of a total solar eclipse.
I now find myself in Göreme, Cappadocia, central Anatolia (Asian part of Turkey).  This area has some of the most breathtaking landscape and topography that I have ever seen.  After three nights here I have acquired some new friends, a local bar and a fabulous restaurant which I will be partially sort of working at in exchange for room and board.  I wasn't planning on doing any work in the UK this month anyway, so this is a much cheaper option than there!  It came up as part of a chance meeting , and I don't believe in coincidences anymore ...
I am really looking forward to just chilling out here, doing a lot of walking, eating a lot of food and trying to avoid the imminent hordes of post-eclipse and pre-ANZAC tourists!  Oh, and trying to find myself an actual paying job for May onwards ... if anyone knows anyone who wants to give me a lot of money, let me know!
I have so many stories and so many photos, but hopefully I will have time to upload everything soon ...