Day 10 September 9, 2010
Table of content for Eastern Turkey Turkey tour
Thursday Dogubeyazit Van
Submitted by Doris
September 9, 2010 Thursday End of Breaking Fast, Ramadan Holiday @ Sim Er Hotel
We are in the farthest eastern corner of Turkey about 25 km from Iran border. We gathered for a sunrise Mt. Ararat photo shoot at 5 am. Then we had breakfast on the terrace later at 7 am. On the bus at 8 am we celebrated the 1st of the 3 day holiday with presents from Meli of festive chocolate candies. Genghis and Meli wore their festive attire for the auspicious occasion. We arrived at a village to see their new town center with the local muhtar. He was elegantly dressed in his best suit and gave us a tour of the new community center. We discussed the local community’s needs in family planning, education, health care and his role in the neighborhood. He was gracious and patient with our questions and interest in his responsibilities.
The local children greeted us with welcoming cheers in celebrating the end of religious fasting. We heard greeting of Iyi Bayramlar (Happy Holiday) and a few candies were shared by a couple of gentile generous little ones. The girls were dressed in their finest and we were honored to be invited to the Muhtar’s home for tea and homemade baklava. His home was impressively immaculate and quite sizeable with wood beams and wood floors. There were two mini-vans parked outside for his transportation services from the village to Iran. We got to meet his family along with his precious children (ages 12 to 2 yrs) and several of the cousin’s family. Genuine generosity, caring and warmth radiated throughout as his wife and children charmed us to the core; with their openness and creative artistic handiworks.
A little distance down the road we found the Noah Ark museum. The site was pleasantly shady with a gentle breeze as Meli guided us toward the mountain side which marked the large stones of the ark. In the museum there were several articles, since 1985 identifying the possible evidence of the location of “Noah’s Ark”.
Next we stopped at the sizeable meteor crater at the edge of Eastern Turkey, less than half a km from the Iran border. The Turkish military patrol was watching all of us closely as we took photos from the van and around the crater. We waved at the watch tower armed guard and got a return wave. As we drove away, we saw two of the young armed guards run toward the van and we stopped the bus to chat with them.
There was suspicion and curiosity as we saw Meli talk to the young men and discussed her recent photos. It was adventure at the border control. They left with a gentle wave and a smile at our tourist enthusiasm.
As we drove away from the border, there were endless cargo trucks waiting patiently to get into Iran. They had been waiting for several days and some men were playing backgammon in the shade of their trucks. Lunch back at the hotel included delectable salad, bulgar, beans w/ meat and perfectly elegant firida sultac (rice pudding) or watermelon (karpuz).
After lunch, we drove up to the Ishak Pasa Sarayi Palace. The melding of Byzantine, Ottoman, Georgian, Persian, Armenian and even Marco Polo (Baroque) influences were curiously contemplated. Several geometric designs and floral patterns were seen throughout. The new renovations were also interesting and possibly controversial. The dining room, kitchen with adjacent Turkish baths and snow pools were impressive. The multiple architectural styles were the father and son’s personal tastes from their own travels.
The “tree of life” motifs at the entrances were unique in addition to the decorative ”light of enlightenment” patterns surrounding several candle mounts. The octagonal tomb had additional “tree of life” design interpretations. A few lion figures at the courtyard entrance interlaced the cultural and religious factors.
A notable view was seen from the Palace toilet. The hole was several feet long and could accommodate the most sizeable deposits. ;-] It was a popular photo shoot of majestic throne.
On the way to Van, our bathroom stop @ Muradiye Waterfalls had a mesmerizing glorious wide 20 foot drop to the river as we crossed a bouncy vibrant wooden suspension bridge. Genghis; our dedicated and patient driver washed off the dirt and dust from our long travels across the rocky terrain of eastern Turkey as we had a cool sour cherry drink at the local Muradiye shop.As we drove adjacent to Lake Van, the scenery and air were invigorating. We stopped at a large supermarket (Migros) on our way to the Merit Hotel on the outskirts of Van for snacks and bottled water supplies. Dinner at the hotel was buffet and we were glad to be settled for the next two nights for laundry and journaling.
Click here for Day 11 Table of content for Eastern Turkey Turkey tour Journal