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Cold Turkey

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View Egypt, Jordan, Syria & Turkey 2007-08 on shinenyc's travel map.

If being stranded by a deserted highway intersection at midnight in 0 degree or pulled off the hillside by someone demanded a wet kiss after a short tour did not dempen your impression in a country (where you don't speak a single word) in the first 24 hours, it will definitely make you redefine how rough your tolerance level can go when backpacking alone as a single woman.

After boarding a 5am bus from Aleppo, Syria and waiting for 5 hours to board another bus from Antanlya, Turkey to Keryseri, I was told to get on another bus supposedly going to Goreme, a town in Cappadocia area written on the ticket. That was around 11pm. I dozed off on this bus after a while and all of a sudden, the bus attendant woke me up and told me to get off the bus because this is my stop, I looked outside the window only to realize this is a highway intersection. I used my broken turkish to ask for my hotel ('otel' in turkish) and he pointed at a direction. I was deserted on the highway in a nearby town called Neveshir at midnight half awake on my first night in a country not knowing a word of the language.

I picked up my backpack and walked toward the direction where the bus attendent pointed at but there is nothing but a residential area. My brain was blank for a moment trying to stay calm and formulate a safe plan for the rest of the night. Trying to walk on a slippery icy surface carrying 30lb of lugguage on your shoulder is difficult enough, let alone you are completely lost in a foreign country. Most houses have turned off their light already at this time, I sat on an intersection with my guide book trying to phone a hostel in Goreme (where I thought I was) and hope that they will come pick me up. The call did not go through.

When an old Mercede drove pass, I had no choice but hope for the best. I waved at it and fortunately, it backed up and a woman face emerged from the open window. Since I had no idea of what she was trying to say, I pointed at the map in my guidebook. When she realized that I did not understand, she talked to her husband who was driving, turned back to me and said 'otel', then put her hands on her cheek to signal 'sleep', and told me what I thought to be 'tomorrow' 'Goreme'. At this point, the rear window lowered and a boy signaled me to get inside the car so they can take me to a nearby hotel. I was speechless. The next morning, I took a taxi to Goreme, 20 minute away.

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After checking into a hotel with my own cave room in Goreme, I went to explore the Open Air Museum. This historic area was inhabited by hedites many centuries ago who built many churches inside stone caves. Many paintings are still clearly visible nowaday. After the museum, I walked alone in a nearby area with many caves in beautiful eroded rock formation. While I was having a private moment inside a small cave, a middle-aged man, the guide, appeared outside. He introduced himself and volunteered to show me around. Although I had second thought, I went along thinking what would happen in an open area, right? Not exactly.

After showing me many more hidden churches and houses in this area for the next hour speaking turkish to me the whole time, I thanked him and started to walk away. He grasped my arm at this point and tried to pull me away and point at a cave, then signaled that I should give him a kiss. I tried to pull my body away but his hold was strong. When he showed me his wedding ring and then his tongue, 'running' is the only thought in my mind. I managed to pull myself away from his arm, and run I did. He gave up after my rude gesture. Should have never taken up his guiding service in the first place, right? Sometimes, to assume that any friendly person is out to take advantage of you when travelling seems a bit prejudice especially after the exceptional hospitality that I had received from the last 2 months. It must be a preview of the complexed world I had to go back to. A bit of adjustment in human nature will be necessary.

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Posted by shinenyc 10:21 Archived in Turkey Tagged backpacking

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