Malaysian family visits Turkey during military unrest

  • Global
  • Friday, 10 Jul 2020

The writer (second from left) with his parents and their humorous pilot (left) after a delightful hot-air balloon ride in Cappadocia. — Photos: JONATHAN LEE

When my family and I visited Turkey in November 2016, it was right off the heels of a failed military coup. Due to the unrest, airfares were really low and we found several popular spots to be devoid of tourists, allowing for plenty of exploration and photo opportunities.

We began our trip in Istanbul, otherwise known as the Pearl of the Bosphorus. Located in the European continent, Istanbul is a picturesque town that sits on the coast of the Straits of Bosphorus.

There, we visited two iconic locations – Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

Stepping into Hagia Sophia, I was mesmerised by the grandeur of this architectural wonder. Its expansive dome and beautifully marbled floor were spectacular. I was blown away by the mosaic patterns in the Blue Mosque, and could only fathom the years required to create such intricate designs.

After spending a day in Istanbul, we made our way to the Asian region of Turkey which is filled with historical sites. Among our stops were the ruins of Troy. This ancient kingdom is rumoured to be the birthplace of the Trojan horse.

   Hagia Sophia is a Unesco World Heritage site and is listed as among the seven wonders of the medieval world. Hagia Sophia is a Unesco World Heritage site and is listed as among the seven wonders of the medieval world.

We also visited Pergamon, which was only accessible by cable car as it was located on top of a hill. Amid the Greek ruins, we were offered a sweeping view of the valley below.

Another notable stop was Ephesus. From comical looking toilets, a sprawling market complex to an amphitheatre that could rival modern-day stadiums, there were surprises to be found at every corner.

Apart from ancient monuments, Turkey also delighted us with beautiful sceneries. One such example is Pamukkale, a sight that is reminiscent of a frozen waterfall with shallow, terraced pools. A result of earthquakes and calcium carbonate in the hot springs, Pamukkale at sunset, was fairytale-like.

Cappadocia also captivated us. With its fairy-chimneys, unique rock formations and tundra-like landscape, the semi-dry region presented yet another amazing realm. We woke up early in the morning for a hot air balloon ride. The soft folds of the terrain that unveiled itself under the golden rays of the rising sun was simply remarkable.

Our journey was made even more enjoyable by our humorous pilot, who seemed to be a little bit of a daredevil.

We spent our last two days in Turkey back in Istanbul. There, we visited the Grand Bazaar which is home to a maze of shops, took a relaxing cruise on the Bosphorus and visited Basilica Cistern, of which the latter is an eccentric tourist spot.

The Basilica Cistern, an ancient aqueduct, is home to many curiosities. These include a bust of Medusa’s head and a pillar aptly named “Weeping Column” that is moist all-year-round.

Turkish cuisine deserves a mention too. Chai, a delightfully sweet local tea, is offered when guests arrive, so we naturally had many cups of it throughout our trip. The local kebab is served with tender and well-seasoned meat, making it a delicious treat.

Turkey remains as one of the most impressionable countries I’ve visited as every corner of it is teeming with history, beauty and culture.

The views expressed are the reader’s own.

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