Mayan Prophecy Countdown
After 3 days in Istanbul I managed to complete a few things, including the purchase of Lithium Ion batteries for the SPOT, although I am working on a solution to this, I am planning to power it via the bike, with rechargeable batteries inside and a quick disconnect plug for when I crash and burn :) Also a new camera battery, a double cig lighter and USB charger for the bike and some other bits and bobs. Sunday was spent riding around the city, two up on a scooter with Adil driving, me on the back, no ATGATT, just normal clothes and a peaked cap, not so bad really although there were some moments, I had a skilled driver :) We were chasing the the start and finish of the Tour de Turkey, which is a treddly bike race and we managed to do so :)
Adil has been involved in these races for 20 years and drove one of the camera bikes quite often and did scoring and reffing, he is an international ref, plus won many trophies.
Next day I set out for the south east of Turkey near the Syrian and Iraq border, my destination was SanliUrfa a town where nearby some very ancient ruins have been discovered. Thanks very much to Mehmet(right) and Adil(left) for hosting me for my stay here in Istanbul, I enjoyed my time here very much :)
Rather than cross the Bosporus Bridge first thing Monday with all the traffic heading to Ankara, I waited until around 1130 and took a ferry across the straits instead, I had already crossed twice anyway once by foot and once by scooter. I was a bit concerned with the bike maybe falling over, so used some available rope to lash it down :)
The ride was a ride, I had a fair way to go over 1500km but of course only half a day today, plus a few things to see on the way. I saw a lot of rest stops, most of them had water and a lot had small temples where those traveling Muslims could do what they had to do.
Around 730 that evening I found by hook or by crook a place mentioned by Mehmet. I had been trying to navigate a certain way, learning the GPS and the map and the way signage was portrayed, I am not sure how I did but I did find the salt lake and the free camping as mentioned :) I set up and found all my gear intact after not seeing it for over a year, then cooked some noodles in the billy by the
The next morning I headed off, glad to be gone. Across the road was an all night cafe, with an audio tape of advertising(come in and buy whatever in Turkish) plus wailing type of music, this was boosted through loud speakers and even though I had ear plugs, when the wind changed, it got through. By the by, it was an OK camp and a bit up the road I was glad to find a bakery where I bought a hot loaf and some tee( I spelt it that way on purpose, to differentiate between tea with milk and Turkish tee, without)
That was brekky and very welcome it was too, it had been an early start, just the way I like them :) Lots of small towns to get through, some very touristy, some just a town, lots of diesel and dust(good name for an albumn).
Eventually I managed to find a small road that led through a valley in Cappadocia, this region is famous for its strange rock formations with people living in them. I seemed to have missed out here, but it was very windy and I did not see any balloons, never mind, what I saw was cool and reminds me of the Pinnacles in Western Australia and Goblin valley in I think Utah, or Colorado, near there anyway ;)
After an hour or so here, it was back on the road and this time I had a destination in mind, I wanted to go camp up in a park on a mountain where there are some stone heads, called Nemrut. I eventually found the turnoff late afternoon, with enough time I thought to get there. Hmm, once I found the turn off it was only 84km, but crikey it was fun, then scary. The road wound up and up and up, above the snow line and these hairpin bends were terrifying, especially with all the loose gravel laid over the melting snow!!!!
If you want to see what it is really like, I have video footage, but the files are so big, I need to edit them and that takes more time, But I am planning on a day off soon, so if I can find a nice place to stay, cheap with wifi, I will do one and upload it. Lets just say, I survived to turn around at the last 1 km, because the road was narrow, steep and wet with hair pin turns, so me and my bike chickened out, plenty if touring to do without dying in the first week! In the photo above, the track winds all the way to the tip of that mountain, Anyway, I ended up staying at the hotel at the top, all up, hot shower, dinner and brekky for $30, not bad at all. I planned on watching the sun come up and it is an hours walk from here to the summit, so up at 4am next morning before sparrow fart(no sparrows up here though!) and headed off with a Chinese couple and Japanese lady, but I left them behind. I don’t mind saying, I had a sleepless night, all I could think about was that crap road and I had to ride down the friggin thing now, with loose gravel on all the corners. Anyway, after a hike I managed to be there for sunrise, did I mention it was a tad cool up here at 2000m!!! These stone heads and platforms were supposedly brought here then erected on site, but they have nearly faded away now, and that pyramid of stones, surely something is under that? Maybe a tomb?
Then it was a walk back down for breakfast and you can see the state of the track, plus the depth of snow!
What I planned to do was to leave just prior to the tour bus( a small 10 seater) then if I come a cropper, there would be three chaps on board to pick me up(or whats left).
The waterfall is at the end of the 10km loose gravel section and the beginning of the pavement. I was very pleased to have managed without crashing, although I was tired from the effort, another very good video of the event, I will edit some together with the ascent later, you will have to wait :). From now on it was all downhill so to speak and about 400km to Sanli Urfa. Still some great twisties though and a fun ride, made up for my nerves earlier :)
Just for the record and to change the subject( I told you I had been nervous), here is a standard dunny, very hard to get used to, and don’t even think about it with knee high riding boots, nuff said!!!
I had some great riding after this, some good views, some rain, some nice roads and some bad, eventually I arrived in Sanli Urfa around 3pm and contacted a friend of the Istanbul Bikers Club called Nekhar and he led me to a place to stay with a chap called Hasan, who is a bike nut :) Then it was off to see the goal number two of the visit to this country. As you may know, goal number one was Anzac day at Gallipoli, which I missed but shall return! This place is a small group of mounds and a hill called Gobekli Tepe(or pot belly hill) and these stone monuments were being used around 12,000 years ago, over twice the age of the pyramids of Egypt. They then decide they were no longer needed and they buried them, totally covered them up and they were only found recently. There is no guides, there is no tourist areas, it is a working dig and it is all fenced off, with viewing platforms, and security cameras. But, while there I managed to meet the German professor who discovered the area, Dr Klaus Schmidt and although it is not a tourist exhibit, it was great to finally see it in real life :)
Then it was back to spend the evening with my hosts, who spoke a little English, I spoke no Turk, but my mum will be amused, myself and Hasan managed to talk quite well together in German, both of us not so good, but it was common and we managed OK I was amazed at what came out of my memory, but there was a lot of reverting to Spanish as well, weird that! I was taken on a small tour by scooter(once again in shorts and thongs this time in the rain on slippery cobblestones!!!) we went to see the birth place of Abraham, a religious dude and some fish that are kept in the city, but no catching nor eating. It was a late night as another freind turned up and so I showed them some pics and vids from home.
OK, good night all, another maybe tomorrow, but I am heading along the coast west towards Gallipoli, I hope to be there in two days, then into Greece. Just a note here, I have not been able to get internet all that well, but my SPOT works very well and if I do get online, it is on my phone for a quick check in via facebook, so sign up now if you haven’t already