|Selcuk - summer camp - Nick writing
We arrived in Selcuk on a mini-bus from Pamukkale, and were dropped off at the side of the rode about 3 km outside of town in the early, darkening and colden-ing (?) evening. The hotel we were staying at was recommended to us by the boat captain Matt, as a fun place to stay in Selcuk. Unfortunately for us, it appears that we were about 3 weeks late for the party. The place was set up great, with cabins and rooms set around a central courtyard and a neat pool. It really wasn't Attila's Backpackers fault that the temperature dipped to 2°C, and that no one was there, and that they were 3km outside of town. We ate a frozen dinner (with me just eating rice), and ran to our cabin room at 8:30, to wrap up in blankets and play cards.
We also didn't know about the entertainment provided at Attila's, in the form of no sound-proofing between rooms. At about 11:00, the three loud Australians (who were the only other people at the place, which could normally hold about 100 or so) returned to their room right next door, and chatted loudly for an hour. Neither of us said anything, partly because we were so cold, partly because it was rather humourous how bad the sound proofing was (we could hear the quietest comment), and partly to eavesdrop on their inane conversations. The best was when we heard their opinion of Canadians - something along the lines of us being so bland and boring because we read up on things before we got to them. She, the Australian stated, would rather "just look at things and take pictures, without knowing anything about them. I can read about them when I get home."
Bravo. I guess the first question that jumps into my over-planning Canadian brain is: how do you know what to take pictures of if you haven't read a thing, and don't know any of the history or significance of the things around you? I guess one could consider it a fairly zen approach to tourism - I'll just wander around without knowledge and hope I run into things that are neat.
We met up with our friends from Calgary in Ephesus the next morning, and wished with all our little over-thinking Canadian hearts that we had stayed at their hostel downtown, which was warm, had other people at it, and had internet that worked. I guess we didn't overplan that one. The saddest moment of our day was late that night when we had to say goodbye, and take a taxi back up to the end-of-season summer camp and freeze for another night, using the outdoor toilet and shower.
Ephesus was great, but we may have been getting a bit jaded by ruins at this point, or we may have just been itching to have childish fun with our friends Melissa and Erica, because we spent most of the time laughing and pointing at other tourists. And there were thousands of other tourists, as Ephesus was one of the top ancient cities in the world. But we kept laughing - the best comment we heard was from an American woman who was asking her husband to take a picture of her. "I want a picture without anyone else in it, honey," as literally thousands of people swarmed around her down the main ancient thoroughfare of Ephesus. Other hightlights were:
- the house signposted with "formerly thought of as a brothel, now know as a private residence". I'm sure that was a fantastically entertaining doctoral thesis that changed the academic tide of opinion on that, but whz let us know? Am I better off for knowing what kind of building it wasn't?
- the terraced houses. A side trip that was 10Lira, and worth every Lira. It got us away from the crowds, and we saw some fabulous restored Roman mansions.
- the ancient roman toilets.
- the genuine fake watches sign.
Other snippets from Selcuk
There were metal exercise machines bolted to the ground along the main rode from Ephesus to the town, basically out in the country, waiting patiently for someone to come along and use the 2-person ski contraption, or the swing-side-to-side machine. A great idea for community fitness, except that a few of the machines looked like they could kill you if used incorrectly, and then you would be stuck out in the middle of the country, bleeding to death under a leg raise machine.
Kyla and our friend Melissa shopped at exactly the same stores preparing for their trips, and at one point were dressed identically and were almost interchangeable in our little group. I say "almost" because I'm sure without that qualifier I would get into a lot of trouble.
That evening we taught Melissa and Erica Okey, the fun turkish tile game that's sweeping the nation. We played for hours, and drank numerous 3 Lira beers, and watched Kyla win the first four games. If they hadn't started winning a few later, I'm sure Erica and Melissa would have started to think something was up, especially when we started putting up 50 Lira per game.
We left Selcuk for Izmir, and went down to the bus station to pick up tickets. Kyla wanted to pick up some baclava for our next hosts (while I just wanted to needlessly worry about being late), so she popped into a small store. She was helped by a kindly old one-toothed man, who then wanted to discuss life with her. I wandered over, full of unnecessary frettings about the bus leaving, and he then asked me how many wives I had. One, I replied, Kyla was my only wife. That's not right, he exclaimed in broken english. He had three wives. If Kyla passed away, he said, I would be without a wife. If one of his wives passed away, though, "Pfffft - two more wives!" It has a certain logic to it, I guess.
Have we mentioned buying a bus ticket in Turkey? Another 5 minute adventure for sure. It is useful to note that the Turkish bus system is second to none. There are so many companies that the market is very competitive and it is the consumer who wins in terms of service, price and frequency of trips.
Well it basically goes like this... a day or 2 before heading off to our next destination we feel the need to look into schedules, prices, bus companies etc. I know - you can take the cubicle away from the public servant for a year but you cannot take away the need to plan and be efficient!
So we stroll on over to the local bus station. The minute we are within ear-shot (make that Turkish tout ear-shot which is a similiar to say, Canadian Mom calling you in for dinner when you were a kid playing with your friends outside, ear-shot) the mob begins to ascend on you. I think most bus companies send in a rep, perhaps some have even 2 reps as there is quite a lot of chaos. Names of cities and towns are shouted out, you are sometimes even asked where you might be going. As you walk the crowd that surrounds you keeps up with you. Think bees buzzing around your head even if you try to outsmart them by moving away.
I have always tried to look superconfident, like I know what I am doing. I keep talking to Nick but really just throw out random words and hope that none of the touts have a great enough command of the English language to know that I am just speaking gibberish in an attempt to look like I know what I am doing. For the most part we are able to sort through the yelling and find our way to the bus company that is actually travelling to the place we next want to visit. But I will tell you this - the touts in Selcuk were SO good. One of them was yelling out Istanbul in such a way, making it sound so desirable, that at one moment I nearly hopped on a bus and took the 8 hour trip without Nick. Seriously it sounded that good. Did I mention that we were wanting to head to Izmir and that I did not even have a backpack strapped on? Oh and as for finding out information on what bus companies go where and when, the best approach is to know which bus company is certainly not going. They will let you in on the real deal - whereas other companies will claim that they are the only ones going.