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logbook Update 8

Update 8 - From Selçuk, Aegean coast to Göreme (Cappadocia), central Turkey.

20th October 2001.

We arrived in Selçuk on the Aegean coast of Turkey. Matt had the cold from hell and the intense daytime heat and hills were beginning to take their toll after over 2 weeks of doing no serious exercise in Istanbul. It was time for a rest!

Near to Selçuk is the mighty Ephesus - a big preserved pre and post Roman city. Very touristy, but inspiring. The main 25,000 seat Great Theatre is the highlight - see photo. The rest of our time was spent wandering around and resting up and, of course, eating everything within sight. We even managed (finally) to do some bike maintenance.

But before long, the time had come... It was time to leave Selçuk and start cycling again. Before us lay a 870km stretch to the touristic village of Göreme in Cappadocia. This leg took us eight days, including a rest day in the conservative town of Konya.
Loads has gone on, but the main thing is that it has got COLD. Since Selçuk we have been climbing hills (what fun!) and the temperature has plummeted. Our toasty warm sleeping bags have really proved their worth and the thermal underwear has been unpacked for the first time.

Also, as always, we have all learnt more about the local way of life as we meet more Turks. Firstly, they all love rubbish tv soaps. Get to any petrol station, roadside cafe or shop and all the staff are glued to some badly acted 2nd rate version of Eldorado. Also, drinking tea is more than a pastime, it is a full-time profession. Foreigners here call it 'Turkish Tea Poisoning'. It is considered rude to refuse a cup of Turkish tea and we must be getting through at least 5 cups a day each.

Our route took us to Pamukkale - a nice big lump of calcium deposit in the middle of nowhere - see photo. That same day we were cycling on a minor road and were suddenly being chased by a 30m high tornado. At first we started to laugh.... there's a tornado heading towards us - how ridiculous! And then we realised.... there's a tornado heading towards us - how dangerous. It was time to move... quickly. It came within 10m of us! I still have visions of us being sucked up into the air, spinning round and round...How surreal.

That night we rough camped at a petrol station and found out that we had accidentally thrown out the pasta that we were going to cook. But some local villagers came to the rescue and gave us more bread, potatoes and apples than we could ever eat. They were so friendly and willing to help us. They all smiled, shook our hands and laughed. We almost unworthy because as 'rich' westerners, we had nothing to offer in return.

We pushed on to Konya throughout a beautiful day of cycling. It was hilly and hot, but there was such a mix of beautiful scenery. We found ourselves going through valleys, lunar type terrain and mountainous ranges. The view of Konya from the nearby peak was inspiring.

Konya is regarded as the most conservative and religious area of Turkey. It was time to cover up and put some long trousers on, but Konya was a great place to spend a rest day. Young people and a lively and friendly atmosphere made this town unforgettable.

One night Matt had the midnight munchies and went in search of a kebab shop. The cook, owner and kitchen staff were so pleased to see him that they gave him free food, took a group photo and chatted (using International Sign Language) into the night. Experiences like these are truly priceless. From Konya it was only two cycling days to the touristic village of Göreme in the beautiful region of Cappadocia. More about Cappadocia in the next update. What an amazing place!

The Turkish people have continued to be as friendly and hospitable as always. Petrol station owners come and sit with us and give us tea (more tea!), school children go crazy and wave and shout greetings to us and line up to give us high-5s as we go by. But my favourite greeting has been by a slow train as it rolled past us a few days ago. The driver kept honking a very loud horn and the passengers were waving at us.

All seems to be going well. But, we do have a major logistical problem. It seems that it is impossible to buy any more Calippo lollies from now on. We're gutted!

Total distance to Göreme: 5125km. Click here to see the Progress Chart.