Friday, April 26, 2013

Turkey: Hitch hiking on tractors and BMWs

We arrived around midnight in Anatalya, and although we had heard great things about this beach side city, we wanted to head to a more secluded beach for some relaxation time. We stayed at the bus station for a short amount of time, then walked out to the main highway and competed with the locals who were lined up waiting for a lift to get one to the main turn off point to Oludeniz. Destination: Kabak Beach, a little beach tucked away in a bay, reachable by trekking. 

After waiting a little more than 20 minutes we were picked up by a nice Turkish man who was driving to work and wanted to practise a little bit of English. We quickly jumped in the car and tried to ignore the scowls of the locals who had been waiting for a ride to work a little longer than we had. Oops.

After getting to the turn off after about 30 minutes drive we thanked him and sent him beaming at the new koala dangling from his rear view mirror. At the turn of we then waited about 10 minutes before our next lift- the best ride I have ever had in my life.

Picture this; two grubby backpackers who hadn’t showered or slept in a couple of days miserably using every ounce of energy they had to simply hold out their thumbs, standing by the side of the road waiting for next generous driver with a terrible sense of smell.
A BMW slows down, behind the tinted windows a pair of eyes judge the situation, Darcy and I let out a pathetic friendly grin, the car slows more as the passengers deliberate if they are feeling generous or not, we cross our fingers hoping that for once on our travels we will have the luxury of travelling in a BMW! The car speeds up and drives on. No such luck. And then as if there was a sudden change of heart, the car stops, reverses and the driver steps out- “come on in!”

Not only did we manage to get a ride in a BMW with its soft leather seats and new car smell but we had managed to secure a ride with a lovely Swiss couple and their driver, who was giving them a guided tour around the south of Turkey. Free ride and tour. As was decided in the beginning we bought them lunch as payment for picking us up, although they would not let us buy them anything but fried snacks and tea, which was less than $2AUD for everything. 

After parting ways and thanking the lovely couple and their guide we set out to reach Kabak Beach. We caught a little local minivan to the top of a cliff near where Kabak Beach was. The drive was gorgeous, carving round the edge of the cliff onlooking the Mediterranean Ocean. After getting dropped of it was then an hours walk down the steep hill towards the beach below. This area of Turkey is amazing and was such a contrast to Oludeniz, the neighbouring town we had just come from. Oludeniz was heavily touristed with disco clubs, massive hotels, and souvenier stores. When you cross to the bay next door in Kabak Beach it looks almost uninhabited. Nestled in between the old trees and native vegetation are little huts that look almost like tree houses set up for little guest houses, little bars or restaurants. There is little or no electricity on the island and a terrible road in which a old beaten up 4x4 can take you back up the hill for a little fee instead of trekking back up with your backpack.

Whilst walking down Darcy and I spotted a nice guest house with a perfect place to pitch my tent, and for rather cheap as well. It had an amazing view of the beach below from a tree house type cottage where we spent many nights relaxing with the locals, with whom we became very close with before leaving.

My tent and our accommodation whilst in Kabak
There’s nothing better than waking up early in the morning, going down for an early morning swim and then trekking up the hill back to a tree house where the is a light breakfast waiting for you as you stare out at the sun as it finishes rising.

Even though we stayed there almost a week, I could have happily stayed there forever. Once you get into the relaxed swing and pace of the locals it makes it rather hard to leave this little slice of paradise. Although it wont be too hard to return, especially as I have been offered a job at the guest house we were staying at.

Time to say goodbye to the beach and the last little bit of sun we would see for quite some time and we piled in the back of the 4x4 and back to Oludeniz where we caught the bus to Denizli, to see the Calcium steps in Pamukkale.

It was almost as if we had arrived in Antarctica, or some winter wonderland. The calcium covered steps in Pammukale look so out of place compared to the rugged, brown, dusty, surrounding terrain. The calcium was so clean and white you felt you would certainly dirty it just from looking at it, let alone touching it!

It was scorching hot and we had sweat dripping down our faces so it was nice to take off our trekking boots and to feel the little grooves of the calcium under our feet.
We stayed in that little guest house run by a sweet little lady who had a lovely breakfast waiting for us the next morning. We tried hitch hiking out of town, but were told the wrong directions from some guys on the street so after a bit of walking out of town, flagging down cars who all told us apologetically (well mimed to us) that we were on the wrong road and no one passing this way was heading to Ephesus.

Feeling rather defeated and silently cursing the locals who gave us the wrong directions we turned around to walk the road back into town. Seeing a tractor in the distance travelling barely as fast as we were walking with a huge load of pomegranates, as a joke I stuck out my thumb. Looking entertained and grateful that we were a distraction to his seemingly boring day the farmer picked us up, and whilst squashing the pomegranates on the back trailer we secured a lift into town.

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