Turkey : Day 2 (Istanbul)

Day 2- 1st April 2016

Istanbul is certainly gorgeous. I dare say nobody would deny that. Napoleon Bonaparte once referred to it. He said: "If the world were a single state Istanbul would be it's capital."

Tired as we were, we did not waste a wink in the flight, only arose when the plane was completely landed at Sabiha. We then boarded a coach to Istanbul city. I reckon the journey was about 1 hour and half and I must say that the views were always of tall buildings, very busy and lively throughout. Well, I was sleeping during the journey but every now and then I opened my eyes, it was that kind of view. How big the is city actually? I do not know. I am not giving the figure here.

We then had to figure our way to Golden Horn Hotel. Trying to look sleek as if we know how and where we were supposed to be just not to be cheated by dodgy people who might do a little service and asking a fortune. Alhamdulillah, everyone that we met actually were sincerely helping us. However, those few bad memories in the past really stuck in head and controlled the thoughts. After a while, we then found the right tram. I have never imagined Istanbul to be very city-like, very busy and big. I have never imagined Bosphorus Strait to be part of the city and giving life to the people and completes the beauty of Istanbul. I was absolutely stunned by it.

After checking in the hotel, we then decided to wander around with the help of a little map from the hotel. We then found ourselves in a park full of tulips, Gulhane Park just next to the Topkapi Palace. Took a few shots of pictures, or should I say a couple of dozens of each of us in there with all the different colours of tulips. 

Gulhane Park was full of blooming tulips of many different colours. Tulips were originally a wild flower growing in the Central Asia and were first cultivated by the Turks as early as 1,000 AD. The flower were introduced in the westen Europe and the Netherlands in the 17th century by Carolus Clusius, a famous biologist from Vienna. Satisfied, we then had to gratify and feed our tummy. Seeing how scrumptious the corns outside, I can’t wait but handed in 3 TL for a corn and was utterly disappointed. It might even be 5TL, I just can’t recall how much the corn was. Found a reasonable restaurant and dined in there. Happy tummy.

The yard of the Blue Mosque was our next shooting site. Lol. There was this one episode where we were taking pictures of each other and tried to have one with all four of us in it. Not having a selfie stick, the next option was a selfie as we were to wary to trust anyone to hold our camera. A man then came, “Let me take a picture of you guys”. “It is alright, we actually love selfies, it is a popular trend now you know”, replied one of us which was then followed by frowns by three others. A selfie then was captured. The same man then showed us the bazaar next to the Blue Mosque and the way into the mosque as Maghrib was approaching. Did Maghrib in Sultan Ahmed Mosque/ Blue Mosque. The interior design is finished with blue tiles, hence the name.

Later at night, we joined all the other LUMSOC buddies and Jejak Uthmaniyah (JU) in a restaurant. Brought a pile of something that looks like sand and fire surrounding it, one would certainly be surprised the first time seeing it. It was actually like a cocoon of salts with chickens in it, just needed to be burnt and cracked open before one could set his teeth on it. Well, yes, I can't remember its name. Sorry.

So, that was how the day went.

Turkey : Day 1 (Pamukkale)

So, with the time and chance that I have got, I am going to share my experiences during my visit in Turkey last spring. I am writing this while waiting for my flight home from Manchester. Let us see how much I could get through. I joined the trip organised by LUMSOC with the collaboration of Jejak Uthmaniyah. It  was definitely a trip that I will treasure for my whole life. I was blessed with the company of beautiful people; SUAM, Aisyah and many others.

One of the things that made me really want to be in this trip was the presence of Ustaz Syaari Abdul Rahman. Not only having always listened to him in Ibrah Segment in Ikim, I have also attended to a winter camp; RISE where he was the speaker and it was absolutely amazing. He has the flair to attract people with his speech and remarkable points.

Day 1
Sal, K Ulfah, K Meni and I arranged an additional trip to Pamukkale prior to LUMSOC’s trip. We were supposed to have Mili and Aliya with us. They were missed.

I honestly have forgotten the details. This is why you should not write after months. Lesson learnt and I am afraid it will be repeated again due to time constraint. So, I shall just please you with the superficial points which might not even be useful to anyone but I am going to do it anyway.

The flight took off from Gatwick to Sabiha Gokcen. Mind you, the time and departure airport were changed at a very last minute moment. If I am not mistaken, only one of us received a message about it just a few days before departure. We totally took it as a spam and did not bother about it. To our surprise, this kind of thing do happens. Alhamdulillah anyway we managed to catch the flight although my coach ticket was burnt.

With the excitement of wanting to see Turkey after hearing so many stories about it, we finally arrived. It felt like home when everything there is halal and we were overjoyed that we actually had a meal in the airport Burger King which had definitely burnt a hole in each of our pocket. Little that we know of at that moment.

The next morning, we then took another flight to Pamukkale. We have been told before not to trust anyone easily in Turkey. We were so wary throughout, well at least I was. What is more that they speak another language which I totally do not have any idea about. We took the minibus from the airport to Denizli- Pamukkale for about 25TL. I reckon it was Al-Bayt or something that sounds almost similar to that. Do not trust me on these details, I am warning you.

As the sun rising in the east, we made our way to Pamukkale. We were dropped at one of the local tour agent. The first thought that quickly crept in was, ‘Oh no. These people are setting up something. They are gonna scrap off all of our money’. Well, apparently that was not a fair thought. We were offered a drop to the hotel, tour around Hierapolis, Pamukkale, including the tickets and a drop to the airport the next morning for 90TL per person.

Can’t believe it is a reality.Strolling about 1.5 metre on top of the holy city,
Amazed by its construction functionality.
Hierapolis is actually just next to the famous thermal pools and lake. So, there we were marveling at the ancient holy city and spoiling our feet in the travertines. It was absolutely stunning. I did not regret the grueling hours and sleep on the couch in the airport for this view and experience. 

The city (Hierapolis) dated back 2500 years ago, around 2nd century BC. It had many major earthquakes and because of these it had to be built for three times .It was then abandoned at the end of 12th century because of the earthquakes.From 1988 the area was protected by UNESCO although excavation has been going on from 1957 till today .Anyone who would like to visit the city in the past had to take a Roman bath regardless of the status. There was also a gymnasium where people sent their kids to do sports activities. However, it fell down in 7th century and we could only see a small part of it now. Later, we climbed up to the theatre. It was used for performances as well as gladiator fights. In the Roman time, people were divided into different classes and treated as such. Rich people would sit in the front of theatre, whereas the slaves would sit at the last steps. The theatre has amazingly nice acoustic system and echoes really well. Behind the big columns, there are changing rooms for actors and players. There were 3 floors, but because of the earthquakes we could only see 1 floor now. One astounding thing about it is that water sports were also done in here. I was told that they would fill the theatre with water, wanted to show to people that they also knew how to swim although the closest seaside is about 3 hours away.

The people practiced paganism. However, In the 1st century,  when Christianity was spreading, war erupted between the pagan and Christian as this new religion affected the people’s economy.
The church in the city on top of the hill became the evidence of the victory of the Christians.

Graveyard was called as necropolis.  As people from other places heard stories about the thermal water and thought it could cure all diseases, many sick and old people came. However, little did they knew that the thermal water could only cure skin diseases.
So many people died as many were poorly and did not mind being buried in this place as they believed that this is a Holy city. When they checked the body in one of the graves, they could see no flesh left, only skeletons remained, so they called that particular design of grave Sarcophagus -flesh eating box. The rich people were buried a little bit higher than others with their jewelries.
Sometimes, curses were written on the jewelries. For example, 'If you take this, you will not be happy', but unfortunately not many people could read at that time, so that did not work. They then put Medusa to scare people. There were also graves which were shared by a whole family. So, although you could only see one grave, but there could be more than one people in there. The royals had a different kinds of graves which are round.

Public Fountain
Ladies went to the public fountain to wash clothes. This is not only a place for cleaning dirty clothes, but also a social place where ladies will meet each other and have some gossip while doing the domestic chores.

We also visited the agora and Cleopatra pool.

Pamukkale means cotton castle and it certainly looks like one. Amazingly, the city has so many thermal pools which contains different minerals in it. Some have iron and looks green and red. Some have predominantly calcium carbonate that gives its white cotton-like or snow-like appearance. This is said to be brought out by the mother earth as a result of repeating earthquakes which still happens about twice a week according to our tour guide. People have been coming here since the ancient time for its health benefits.

The night was spent in the hotel watching Miracle in Cell No 7 while Kak Pah was fighting and struggling doing her assignment. Next day , we headed for Istanbul, the city between two continents.

The travertines


Roman Theatre

Thermal pools which contains irons etc

On our way into the Hierapolis

The name of the restaurant in Hierapolis, where the Cleopatra pool is.