Friday, 18 July 2008

Pilgrimage from Arapli to Yahyali 11/07/08

I have seen signs for a tourist attraction down the road, which a truck driver informed me last night is 7-8kms away and has a hotel...sounds like a wonderful place for breakfast :)

Setting off in great spirits my energy levels are good and my stomach has recovered from whatever little beasties were causing it problems. The turnoff to Sultan Sazligi soon appears and after asking a passerby I find out it's only five hundred meters off the main road. Imagining some old ruins, a castle or something along those lines it wouldn't normally interest me but if they have a hotel it must be pretty impressive.

Finding a shop I stop for a quick drink then ask if I can leave my bag while I run down the road...

Looking confused "How long will you be?"

Shrugging " Thirty minutes"

Still looking confused "OK..."

Feeling extremely light without my backpack I race down the road soon to discover why the guy at the shop looked confused, the place is a bird Sanctuary! I think most tourists must come for a day or two...

Only one of the pansiyons is open and everyone is extremely happy to see me. I get the distinct impression business is a bit slow... :)

"Come, come...welcome"

The owner rushes out and greets me with a big smile.

"Here, sit down...would you like some tea?"

"Yeah sure, thanks"

After getting through the pleasantries I find out the lake use to be right here, but over the last 8 years has retreated and is now 25kms away!!! They are pretty keen for me to do a tour, but bird watching isn't really my thing. If they wanted me to stay out there any longer than 10 minutes I think they would need to pay me... ;)

"Do you do breakfast?"

"Of course"

"How much?"


It's very easy to bargain when you don't really care if you get the goods or not. I know I have bread, cheese and tomato in my bag so it doesn't really bother me if I eat his bread and cheese or my own. Maybe if I was sitting here watching the flamingoes play I would pay 10YTL...

"Can you do it for 5YTL?"

"Impossible...You see here, all the businesses have gone bankrupt because they sell things too cheap. 10YTL"

I am pretty sure the reason the other businesses went bankrupt is their ideal lake front property where customers could sit and eat breakfast watching the flamingoes play is now 25kms from the waters edge in a sheep paddock, but either way I'm not really bothered...

"If you can do it for 5YTL I will stay and eat, otherwise I'm fine"

"OK, 5YTL...but how much will you give me for the tea?"

Shit!!! Business must really be bad!

Laughing "OK, 6YTL with tea" :)

He barks an order at one of his staff and breakfast soon appears. Seating myself, the owner comes and seats himself across from me, then proceeds to help himself to my watermelon :)

If business is really that bad that he can't justify eating unless a customer comes and buys breakfast then I am happy to help out. Moving my plate into the middle I indicate that he can help himself...

"No, no...thank you. I just ate" He says while taking another slice of watermelon :)

Breakfast is good but the whole time the owner is trying to convince me to stay. Gushing with pleasantries and enthusiastically listing the highlights of the area he is extremely disappointed when I go to leave. Actually, so disappointed that he doesn't even want to shake my hand and pretends I don't exist when I say "goodbye" :)

Collecting my bag I head off towards Yahyali. Passing another Gypsie camp I get waved in for tea, but this time there are heaps of guys around and they are not so keen to marry me off, instead they all want me to take them back to Australia!

It's a fun rest and I leave in good spirits, Gypsies have a great sense of humor...

I walk hard and make the 32kms to Yahyali by 5pm. Stopping at a service station on the edge of town I can't believe my welcome...

"Hi, are you? Come in, come in. Make yourself at home, here have a seat. If you want tea it is free we will bring you tea. Here we have the toilets and here we have the shower. Do you want a shower? Sit sit! Make yourself at home..."

Wow!!! The Turks are extremely generous and hospitable but this guy definitely takes the cake. Taking a seat I find out the reason...

"Yes yes, I use to be a carpet seller in Istanbul..."

I suppose old habits die hard ;) But none the less, I have to thank him for the best welcome on the pilgrimage so far...

Hitting the middle of town I go in search of a hotel. A couple of young guys decide to act as my guides and lead me to the only pansiyon in town...

"Sorry, we are full"

No way!!! My dreams of a shower and a relaxing day writing blogs are quickly disappearing. And to top it off big dark storm clouds are brewing on the mountain next to us!!!

"But you can try the teachers dormitories down the road..."

The guys are generous enough to show me the way but I'm not so impressed when after walking 1km back down the road I came in, the office is closed!

The guys shrug "Sorry, no hotel..."


The wind is blowing a gale and a slight rain has started to fall...I really don't feel like camping! :( Finding an internet I play around for an hour and luckily by the time I've finished the storm has past.

Yahyali has a great feel and super friendly people, I was really looking forward to staying the night. But this is all part of the pilgrimage, sometimes I can get what you want, sometimes I can't...

Now there's nothing left to do other than walk...

Grabbing some supplies on the way out of town I um and are about stopping for dinner. Passing the first restaurant I make the decision I will stop at the next one...

Always a bad idea! Maybe one day I will learn...

Of course the next restaurant doesn't exist so an extremely hungry, tired and miserably pilgrim makes his way into the mountains. A barbed wire fence sits between me and the paddock, spotting some steps crossing it I can't resist. Let's call it a night.

The paddock is full of rocks and has no flat ground anywhere. Reaching the end I have no choice but to jump the fence and continue on. With no steps I have to throw my bag over, the sleeve of my Gortex jacket gets caught, rips, and the whole process makes a hell of racket.

The lights on the balcony of a farmhouse down the road come on and I can hear some angry yelling being hurled in my direction...

Better go and explain myself...

Walking up the driveway two young guys come out to meet me to ensure I'm not a danger...

"What are you doing?"

"Looking for a camping spot"

I can see some flat ground next to their house "Do you mind if I camp here?"

"How many are you?"

"Just me"

The guy smiles and grabs my arm "Come come..."

He takes me up on to the balcony and indicates I can sleep there. Champion!!!

But of course, first comes dinner and tea :) The family joins me and we have a great chat. Wonderful people...

As I lie on the balcony ready for seep I can't help thinking how lucky I am that things always work out. It's one of the reasons I know I will finish this journey, whenever I start to feel miserable, lonely or things start going wrong something always appears to cheer me up...

Life is wonderful... :)

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