Thursday, December 20, 2007

Turkey (Pamukale)

On day 4, we headed very early in the morning to a unique geographical feature in Turkey, the Pamukale, or 'Cotton-Castle' in Turk.

As we approach the site , we could see a long white cliff face along the mountain. At first we thought it was snow but the tour guide said it was not. It was actually white travertine terraces.

Pamukale is one of the most extraordinary natural wonders in in the world! I did Physical Geography in uni and so geomorphological activities excites me. Somehow, the natural volcanic spring underneath produced water so rich in calcite that as the hot water evaporated, it deposits calcium carbonate, which is white, onto the slopes. What I do noy understand is why it created large bath tub shapes, as if purposelly asking for us to take a deep within these very comfortably warm waters.

The government of Turkey no longer allows anybody to do that now and we have cops or gendarme that patrols the slopes. This is of course understood as Pamukale has been designated as one of the World's Heritage Site by UNESCO. A heritage site confered this title is considered by the international community to be extremely valuable and must be preserved for future generations of humanity.

This is only the third World Heritage Site I've been to, with the first site being the ancient ruins of Ayuthya in Thailand and the second just a few days ago in Ephesus.
We are allowed to get into the pools without shoes and that we did of course. At first, the water that touched my feet was so cold, that it almost instantaneously gave me a bad cramp! But as I walk nearer where the warmer water pools were, it became better.

Historians have discovered that many people during ancient time actually came here from all over the known world, including Roman Kings and other VIPs, to soak in these pools as they believe that the water as healing properties. This, I assumed, contributed to the economy of Hierapolis, which I will talk about in a later blog entry.

This healing property might not be just superstitious. I do not think the warm water from the springs (about 35 degrees celcius) is responsible for the reported positive effects on rheumatism, hyper-tension and any other form of diseases. Scientists has confirmed that there is some radio active gasses that escapes from the volcanic activity below. Or it could just simply be psychological. It is becuase of these healing properties that these pools have even been called as 'Sacred Pools' by the ancients.

My kids of course enjoyed themselves and so did their parents!

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