Thursday, April 30, 2009

Desert Sunset as Promised!

Just Different!

A Pinoy in the Turban-ned world

Nots and Wico brought me to the Dubai desert, already 20 min to Oman. It is my first desert, with very fine orange-red sand. I really am fascinated by the patterns, different kinds!

Start of our roller coaster ride patterns, patterns and patterns

And after sunset everybody went to the camps, "there are more than 20 camps", said our Pinoy driver. Dinner in the camp is included in the package price, as well as the traditional Arab night show, belly-dancing.

Basins of food, but i can't eat ruminants! Carpets on desert sand! What a sight!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lycia and environs

Myra (now Demre), an old city of Lycia is around 300km from Antalya. It is reached via a circuitous coastal road passing by Mt Olympos, with citrus plantations and big greenhouses for vegetables. Myra being one of the major cities then, started on 5th century BC.Under Roman rule Myra prospered and expanded. St Paul stopped there taking ship for Rome in 60AD. Under Byzantines, it is an important administration and religious center. St Nicholas was Bishop of Myra in 4th Century and performed many miracles there, eventually martyrd there too. Now it is always a place for pilgrimage and a place of interest for Christians.

Disasters plagued Myra in 7th century AD with Arab raids, flooding and earthquake. Remaining was the largest theater with 29 rows of seats and 10,000 spectators. The necropolis built on the rocky hillside near the theater is also left preserved. The Lycians believed that a winged serpent get the soul of the departed, so they put the tombs in elevated high grounds for the serpent to easily get near. The old village is already 6m below the present ground level. Another prominent remains is the Church of St Nicholas or Santa Claus, now standing 7m below ground level. Our tourist guide said that it is the Coca Cola Co. of Scandinavia who popularized the advertisement of St Nicholas as Santa Claus, which proliferated to the present day.

The present village of Demre is sleepy in winter but becomes alive again in spring when tourists begin to appear, the sea being only 5km away.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Real Snowdrops

The Snowdrop Festival

  was really lucky as the invitation for the Snowdrops Festival was only announced in the session i was in that time on Thursday pm. It turned out that Dr Mustafa was the guest speaker in the affair. Ibradi place is more than 1,600m ASL, inside the Taurus mountain at the foot of the snowcapped mountain seen at the hotel. The road was literally build in the rocks. These rocks are already the exposed parent materials, because it is already an ancient country that erosion already took most of the topsoil, extremely difficult and looks very unwelcoming to living things. The vegetation is mostly of bonsai-like trees and those that gets bigger might be extremely old.

The program was held in open hot-noon sun, just below the snowcaps. It was really hot that i covered my head with jacket, although i was the only one doing that. The Turkish people liked the sun and the kids had their cheeks already flaming red. It was amazing that water flows freely from springs coming from the rock crevices. Presence of little amount of soil allows them to plant some crops especially vegetables.

Snowdrops signal the start of spring, and they come in many colors.

Rocks with little soils optimized for crops
Old ladies making wrapper and Borekler (pastry)
Yogurt making inside goatskin.... and cooking wrapper for Borekler

The Borekler and food for lunch (beans, rice with sheep meat, bread, soup, dessert

Antalya Sunrise

While still on the plane I wondered why the horizon at dawn had separated distinctly, the packed white clouds against the very blue sky. Even without sleep on the plane and their 5hr delay, I started taking photographs than eat or sleep. I did not let a personal thing hinder any opportunity, even the hunger due to personal aversion to ruminants!

Mediteranean sunrise mesmerized me, together with sunsets, but without tripod the latter is not very promising. Sunrise has halos with them, and felt so near! I don't know the physics and chemistry of the horizon, i only know they are very beautiful.

Some Immediate Impressions of Antalya

My oral paper presentation at the International Postharvest Symposium is just my passport for Turkey. At last my dissertation found some use also, in tangible terms. It is held every four years and the last time i attended it was in Hawaii, many years past, but i did not present a paper then. This time the choice is Antalya, which proved good because it is one of the most tourist recommended areas due to the beautiful beaches and rich ancient sites. Turkey is a dream country for me, not Iraq nor Iran i wonder, when they all share being ancient.

Just seeing the Mediteranean See felt great already. It is locally termed Ak-deniz, meaning smooth sea, a term which seem very correct as we did not see any wave nor turbulence or whatever unusual to disrupt its smoothness, as far as your eyes can see. My hotel, Antalya Hotel, is a bit old, built on the cliff, but it has a distinctive beautiful stairway down to the Mediteranean. At the other side of the sea is the Taurus mountain range with its snowcaps very visible at our end. April is the 2nd month of Spring so the flowers and trees are starting to bloom. And...i just stood in awe with everything around.

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