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logbook Update 9

Update 9 - Cappadocia, central Turkey.

20th October 2001.

Cappadocia is simply one of the most amazing places in the world. Unique scenery that is totally different to anything else We've experienced. We've all seen many beautiful places over the years, but here is a region with a beautiful strangeness about it. If you knew nothing about this region before you arrived here you would stare in amazement and ask the most basic questions: What are they? How are they formed? How can this be natural? And you would not be able to dream of the answers...

All around Cappadocia are 'chimneys' - tall stacks of rock that seem to stand by themselves in the middle of an open space. These natural rock formations of soft volcanic stone began to be formed 30 million years ago with the eruption of three major volcanos in this region. A thick layer of ash was deposited. Over the years this soft tufa stone has been eroded away by the rain and wind. But the volcanoes also threw out boulders of hard rock. These hard boulders have protected the soft stone underneath and the 'chimneys' are simply where the rain has not been able to erode a thin stack of rock away. This is why each 'chimney' has a separate boulder on top of it, even now. Whole communities over thousands of years have cut into the soft stone and made homes and places of worship.

And there's so much more. Around 40 underground cities have been discovered in this area. These were dug by local people, starting possibly 4000 years ago. In times of peace the people lived above ground, but when invaders threatened they would retreat and hide underground for months on end. Some of the cities are 10 levels deep and go 70m underground. A labyrinth of tunnels and rooms awaits and we have spent many hours crawling through tiny spaces to explore more. Not for the claustrophobic - see photo. Also watch matt getting dusty in cavematt.asf, and Blair Witch style cave1.asf videos!

We've had a great few days here. Most of the time we have been whizzing around on scooters (see video clip scooter.asf), meeting other cycle tourers and just sitting absorbing the surroundings. This is a hard place to leave. Combine the surrealness, the history and the mystery and you really have something to write home about. It's even worth a Charityride update all to itself.