Hierapolis of Phrygia (Part 1)

Turkey > Hierapolis

February 2013

A good night’s rest and we are soon whizzing in a car with driver Muhammet and guide Mehmet (both names are actually Turkish versions of ‘Muhammad’, the prophet’s name), heading for the renowned Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis of Phrygia. From Izmir, it’s fast dual carriageways all the way, including this humongous tunnel. By the way, my first name is ‘Muhammad’. 😀

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We are going to Denizli, 240km southeasterly from Izmir, …

… and we are due for a rest stop soon.

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Rest stops in Turkey are always at petrol stations, and this one is in the town of Atca. I take time to gawk at the fuel prices — diesel at 4.22 Turkish liras, petrol RON95 at 4.87 liras. Now that’s about RM7.30 and RM8.50 per litre, respectively … wow!

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And yes, like any good stop, there’s a prayer room too, or surau as we call it in Malaysia, except that in Turkey it’s called ‘mescid’, pronounced ‘mesjid’. While ‘mesjid’ is a mosque in Malaysia, in Turkey a mosque is called ‘camii’, pronounced ‘jamii’. Yes ‘c’ in Turkish sounds like ‘j’ in English. Hope not too confusing.

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We arrive in Denizli, a largish town, and while the missus is browsing inside the warm fabric shop, I scan the horizon and spot something white in the bitterly cold weather.

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Quickly changing to my z00m lens, the white patch turns out to be Pamukkale or the ‘Cotton Castle’. Above the Cotton Castle, on the slopes of the hills, lie the ruins of the holy Greco-Roman city — Hierapolis of Phrygia — built in the 2nd century BC. We are heading that way soon after this.

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Next to me, a sort of makeshift cafe, with Korean script. Must be a popular spot for Koreans, but not on a cold winter day like today’s. I am soon to find out the whole place is swarming with Asians (mainly Chinese, Koreans and Japanese … and the odd Malaysians).

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But before heading for Hierapolis, we need to fuel ourselves up.

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We are slightly early, as the chef is still laying out the buffet spread of local foods.

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Pumpkins? Nice big pumpkins?

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Even bigger and better-looking pumpkins at this corner. This area is famous for its premium pumpkins, if I can say it.

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I glance out the window, and wahey, ‘Hotel Dolphin Yunus’! I soon learn ‘yunus’ is Turkish for ‘dolphin’, and ‘Naim Yunus’ is a very legit Turkish name. Will they give me an IC for that? :)

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My starter is a plateful of bean-y stuff. Quite okay, but I would not want to eat this everyday.

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Main course comprises chicken, rice and some veggies … not too bad.

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But this one takes the cake — concentrated fresh pomegranate juice. Fabulous and I feel re-energised!

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We soon make our way up the mountain, and the car leaves us at the entrance to the complex. The weather looks foreboding, but we are hoping for the best. Bitterly cold as the wind blows, but we are warm.

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I look to my right and I’ve seen this before — relics of a huge wall that has crumbled. I wonder what on the other side is.

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More wall remnants, and what looks like an ancient guard house. This is getting interesting.

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TO BE CONTINUED …

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