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My Silk Road The Piglet stumbles across the continent

69 - Cappadocia... usual usual

TURKEY | Tuesday, 4 December 2012 | Views [362]

Turkey - Cappadocia - shadow of our hot air balloon

Turkey - Cappadocia - shadow of our hot air balloon

Yes, of course, Cappadocia has an amazing and unusual landscape.  It's like a strange fairyland full of dwellings for dwarves and trolls.  Volcanic activity thousands of years ago have resulted in giant hills that resemble enormous mushrooms or alternatively witches' hats or giants in wizard's gowns. BUT - I have a but.

But it's all too simple and visual, and ultimately (for me) uninspiring.  The experience does not challenge the mind or soul in any way unlike the journey in the past 12 weeks.  This is not to say that Cappadocia has no history - it was first inhabited by Romans and then became a refuge for Christians.  Many of the strange hills in Cappadocia were first used as hidden cave churches for early Christians and then inhabited by regular villagers until earthquakes and disintegrating rocks in the 1950s forced them to move into modern houses.   Some of the cave churches contain interesting frescoes depicting Jesus and other New Testament themes - the paintings can perhaps be said to be unsophisticated when compared to the Buddhist cave paintings in China in the Mogao caves but technique is not the point here, and some of the Christian paintings have been restored quite sensitively to show their original vibrant colours and they seem to reflect more strongly the zeal of the early Christians than do the Buddhist cave paintings in China.   Perhaps the threat of persecution results in more honest paintings. 

Other than the early Christian churches, seeing the rest of Cappadocia seems to be one big well-trodden circuit:  a walk along the valleys to view the unusual landscape at "ground level", a hot air balloon ride at sunrise to view the landscape at sky level, photo stops at various designated "panoramic" viewpoints to see especially unusual rock formations.  Even in late November, traditionally the low season, tour buses trail one another and each group of tourists wait patiently for the prior group to leave at every site.  The scene of dozens (more than that - I counted over 20) of hot air balloons of various sizes floating above the pointy peaks against the pink and orange morning sky is spectacular, but it's "the expected thing to do" (or 指定动作 as we say in Hong Kong).  On more than one occasion, I felt as if I was in a theme park ticking off a list of must-do rides.

I don't regret visiting but I would say that although Cappadocia may look like a fairyland, there is nothing fairytale-like about it.  There is little magic and little surprise.




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