Sunday, 22 July 2012

day 5: uninvited breakfast guests and getting stark naked in cappadocia

after a nearly 10 hours overnight bus ride, we finally arrived in the lil town of goreme in cappadocia at about 8.30am. that's 1.5 hour later than what was written in our itinerary! but wait, there wasn't anyone to meet us at the town square where the express bus let us off!

looking like a lost puppy and didn't know where to go nor what to do!

luckily there is a tourist information booth there and we got the nice man behind the desk to help us. i showed him our itinerary and told him that we were booked at peri cave hotel & pension. he placed a call to the hotel and told them about their 2 stranded guests. and within 10 minutes, a car from the hotel came to pick us up. then it took us a total of 3 minutes to get to the hotel! lol... if we'd known the way, we could've walked there!

when we got to the hotel, more confusion ensued. they couldn't find our booking! again, i showed my itinerary and told them the name of our tour agency. they said they will check and of course they have room to accommodate us, but in the meantime, would we like to have some breakfast? after the long and tiring bus ride, of course we tucked in! 

outdoor breakfast in the nice and crisp weather.

we were very excited that we would be staying in a CAVE!

while we were eating, the hotel people came over to tell us that there's been a mistake. we were actually booked for another hotel and the driver is already here to pick us up! what the...?!? we complaint that he should've met us at the square, then this stupid mistake would not have happened! anyway, we said thank you to the nice ladies in the kitchen of peri cave hotel... you know, for the free breakfast. i hope they charge it back to the other hotel! or to the tour agent! hehe...

another 3 minutes car ride bought us to sarihan cave hotel & pension. luckily it's also a cave hotel.

the space in the cave were hand carved out, so it wasn't a natural cave. that explained the shape of the room, electricity and all the modern fixtures. 

they even carved out a space for the tv! 

a spacious and modern bathroom...

we were just settling down and getting ready for a nice warm shower when the front desk people called up to say that our tour van is waiting at the front for our 9.30am tour! what the...?!? we've not taken a shower since the morning of the previous day (the cold outdoor shower without shower gel in pamukkale does not count!). that's like 24 hours without showering! we were really looking forward to this freshening and cleansing up, and they tell us we've no time?!?

we told them we're not ready, but as there were other people in the tour, the driver said he'll go pick up the rest of the people from the other hotels around the area and be back to get us... IN 10 MINUTES! heck, i'd need more than 10 minutes for me alone! we just had time to brush our teeth, splash water on our faces and change our clothes! damn, damn, damn!

first stop was the monks valley, or pasabag. the whole of cappadocia is known form these rock formations. those rock caps are known as fairy chimneys.

inside one of the caves, said to be the living quarters of a monk named simon who came to live a hermit's life a long time ago.

turkish ice-cream!

view from the van... woolly sheep! i nearly broke out into the baa-baa black sheep song, but thought better of it :P

next we went to the devrent valley, or imagination valley, where the rock have weird formations... do you see a turkey there? a camel?

next, a visit to the pottery shop in avanos (another town in cappadocia), the centre for terra cotta work since 3000 bc. 

first, there's a demonstration of how potteries were made the traditional way. in the olden days, a man can only win over his bride if he shows that he has the ability to make pottery. this is to prove to the girl's parents that he has the means to make a living and can provide for his bride and family.

next, they asked for a volunteer from our group, which gave some very hilarious result! someone from our group commented that now we know who's responsible for all those phallic formations in the area! LOL...

we were served tea and coffee in these cute and unique cups. took some will power on my side not to slip this into my bag! :P

next, we were shown how the wares were hand-painted and coloured in the typical turkish design. this particular shop has their own "family design", which is passed down through the generations (it's the 6th generation now) and is said to be quite famous throughout turkey.

 then we were brought down to the shop part, where all their wares were displayed. it's underground and quite cold down there!

this is how the wine jars are held. for bigger ones, you slip your whole arm in and support it with your sholders.

didn't buy anything, coz they were freaking expensive and it's not like we'll be able to tell the difference between "unique family design" and "mass-produced-made-for-tourist" wares. so we waited till we got back to istanbul and bought cheaper ones from the roadside stalls :D

see what greeted us outside the restaurant at lunch time? our guide joked: "you know there are some restaurants where you get to choose your fish from the aquarium? now here, you get to choose your own mutton. take your pick!" lol...

as starter, we had tandoori soup with bread. quite nice, but some ang-mohs in our group didn't like it. 

our main dish: chicken cooked in claypot. the top was covered with some pastry stuff on top, like shepherd's pie, but the chicken was cooked in spices.

oh, see what the non-english speaking driver gave me? *blush* hahaha... lovely lilly and i was sitting up front with the driver, coz the van was kinda full and there's no point for the guide to take up 2 seats in front when he only need one seat behind.

after lunch, we were brought to yet another carpet store... 

by day 5, we were getting a tad tired of carpets... even though they were "flying carpets" :P

after sitting through the carpet talk and smiling politely while sipping yet another cup of apple tea, we were brought to the goreme open air museum, where these caves served as religious buildings in the middle ages (goreme was an important centre of christianity at that time).

pigeon houses on the rock formation created by people in the olden days, where the dropping were used as fertilizers.

 with a bunch of school kids on an excursion here. they were all very eager to introduce themselves to me, probably cherishing the opportunity to practice their english! 

we were getting quite tired by now, so we didn't go into each and every hole in the rock, but just hung around outside while those still with stamina did their exploring. i was expecting to get really cranky from not getting to shower, but surprisingly i was ok. must be due to the cool weather, that i didn't feel so sticky and uncomfortable even after walking around so much!

our final sightseeing for the day was to this hill that overlooks the uchisar castle.

poor camel!

back at our cave hotel. this is on the 2nd floor terrace, one floor below us.

the other cave hotels around the area... some parts are added on, obviously.

since it was still early, we decided to explore the town of goreme a bit, which is just a 5 minutes walk from our hotel. i recalled our tour van passing by a hamam (turkish bath) place earlier, so we went out in search of it. seeing that we've not showered for more than 36 hours by then, a turkish bath sounded like an exquisite idea!

lotsa stray dogs here, but it's good to see that they've all been tagged, meaning they've been neutered. that is so much more humane then just shooting them down or rounding them up to the pound. so impressed with their efforts!

after some walking around getting our bearings of the place, we finally found the place. the basic hamam bath is 60 turkish lira (≈ RM103), so that's what we took. i tried to charm the proprietor to give us a discount, but it didn't work. need to work on that department more! hehe... but he did throw in a disposable g-string bikini for us, which he claimed to charge other people an extra 10 turkish lira.

after paying at the counter, we were shown downstairs to the ladies' floor, where we were given a locker each to put our stuff. after donning our disposable bikini, we wrapped ourselves in the towels provided and went out to see one of the hamam ladies, who applied a seaweed facial mask on our faces and lead us into the sauna. as this is our first time, we didn't know what to expect. and the non-english speaking service staff were of no help. so after sitting in the sauna for a while, we were at a lost. do we go through the other door to the next stage? do we continue to sit and wait for someone to come get us? so i went out again to ask the staff, not that they would understand what we were saying and vice versa. but while we were trying to make sense of what the staff was saying to us, we heard a bell went *ding*. ahhh... so that's what we were supposed to be waiting for!

so the staff pointed us to another door, which was a shower room. again, with no instruction. we went in, saw the shower cubicles and a flight of steps leading up to a small indoor pool. since this seemed like the "next stage", we assumed that we were to go have a dip in the pool. so we went into the shower cubicle to wash off the mask on our faces and went into the pool. that was when we saw the sign with images that showed we're not supposed to be wearing anything in the pool, not even our bikinis! opps...

we quickly got out, and went through another door, where there's a big slab of marble platform thing in the middle of a big room, something like this:

pic copied without permission from here.

there were naked girls lying around on each edge of the marble slab, each being scrubbed by a service staff in black 2 piece swim suits, while more naked girls were sitting around at the side where the marble water basins are, waiting their turn. some were stark naked, while some (the shy ones like us, even though we were in our disposable bikinis) were wrapped up in towels. it was quite awkward for us, trying to avert our eyes away from all those nakedness, but didn't know where to look as there were naked women in every direction!

when it was our turn, we were scrubbed long and hard with some special cloth. the service staff doing this part of the job were all quite big sized, so there were really some pressure going. i joked with lovely lilly that they looked like amazon women (from our crash-course in roman mythology at ephesus just recently)! soon, we can see little rolls of grey grime and dirt on the marble around us. i felt so light after that! imagine carrying all those dead stuff on our skin the whole time! yucks!

after being scrubbed nearly raw, we were washed and sent back to the shower room with the pool. NOW only we're supposed to go dip in the pool... totally naked! so we decided to forgo this part (the getting naked part), and just showered and went to dry ourselves and change in the locker room. we were feeling so squeaky clean that we were quite reluctant to put on our dirty clothes again, but there's no other option around it. 

upon stepping out of the hamam house, it started to rain. so we quickly found a restaurant to go into for our dinner. dinner was pizza and from the menu, it looked like it was on some baguette. so we ordered one pizza each. imagine our horror when we saw that the pizzas were quite big! we could've shared one, especially since both of us ordered the same kind of pizza! =_='''

in the end, we packed half of each of our pizzas to go, and on the walk back to our hotel, there was this dog who kept following behind me. no prize for guessing who ate the remainder of the pizza slices.

view around our hotel at night...


Biow said...

their hospitality are quite good, yea? the first hotel even offered you both b'fast? mana will happen over here?

you make me want to try a hamam bath too..

stargal said...

yeah, they're all very friendly. tourism is their 2nd biggest industry...

yes, u must try hamam! an eye opening experience :)