Although I had enough time there, I decided to move on to Cappadocia located in central Turkey, as written in the previous entry that I felt enough in the Middle East. The backpacker couple Shin and Tomoko came with me as well. In those days, I began to realise the Japanese saying "Dumplings rather than blossoms", which means the person who prefers something to eat rather than those to see, definitely applies to me and in terms of foods among Japanese people Turkey is regarded as one of the top three delicious countries as well as France and China. I don't know why these three were chosen but certainly it would be better than the other Middle East countries which I was bit tired of.
Aleppo, the Second Biggest City in Syria
As Syria borders on Turkey, there are plenty of bus lines between these countries. However since there was no direct connection from Hama, we had to move to Aleppo, the second biggest city in Syria, at once. Although Aleppo is quite popular among travellers for its world heritage registered souk and castle, being preoccupied with the thought of Cappadocia we just stayed there one night for transit. Incidentally, there was one surprising point there. Aleppo has quite a few number of liquor stores. Although we had to bother a lot of passersby in order to find the liquor stores in Damascus and Hama, we could just see a lot of them on the street. Besides, the local people seemed using them too. I presume we were just entering the circle of influence of the Western culture.
According to the bus company at Aleppo, the only bus going to Antakya, which is the border town of Turkey, leaves at 5:00 every morning. On the next morning 4:30, we went to the bus station rubbing the sleep from our eyes. Though a heavy rain stroked us and the baggage inspection somehow took so long, the border crossing was as easy as usual. Having a Japanese nationality, we got the stamp to enter Turkey without visa. O.K. I entered Turkey which was the 13th country of the whole trip.
At the Antakya Station
After a couple of hours on the bus, we arrived at the Antakya station from which we had to find the connection route to Gyoreme at the central Cappadocia. No sooner had we stepped out from the bus than many local guys try to sell us the ticket to the next destination. The annoying hassles again. Though the people in Syria and Lebanon were quite shy - they wouldn't approach us unless we made eye contact intentionally - people here were quite aggressive. The building in front of us was too magnificent to make us realise it was the very bus terminal we should've enter and being weary and sleepy from the early departure, we just followed one guy who offered the bus to Gyoreme.
"No problem" was his favourite phrase. Whenever he answered our question, he added "No problem". "We wanna go to Gyoreme" "No problem, use this bus", "How much?" "No problem, XX lira(a rip off price, of course)", "Too expensive! Our guide book says XX lira" "No problem, it's OK.", "We don't have the Turkish lira yet." "I can take you to the money exchange. You can put your luggage on the bus." Like these, his attitude was quite dubious. Nevertheless, we anyway embarked on the bus as the price became appropriate and we had confirmed the bus was going to Gyoreme.
Is This the End?
The long distance buses in Turkey are famous for their high quality service. Usually, they have a dedicated cabin attendant and started with a wet towel, some snacks and amenities are served during the trip. What's more the reclining seats were large enough to get relaxed during 10 hours of travel. When I was looking at the scenery through the window with a little snooze, I realised the bus had stopped at the big terminal named Kayseri. And the cabin attendant told us that the bus would terminate here. What? We were on the bus going to Gyoreme, weren't we? We showed the ticket to her and she said it was written "To Kayseri" in Turkish language. Oh no, the guy tricked us! The memory of the guy saying "no problem" made our bloods\ boil. Even though we explained our situation to the people of the bus company, they didn't really understand us well due to their poor English. According to them, we could go to Gyoreme with a few dollar extra. Perhaps we could have accepted the deal as we really wanted to let our hair down at the accommodation.
"We paid for the bus to Gyoreme! You should bring us there! It's very unfair!!" Yelling at the staff of the bus company was a Taiwanese girl who was using the same bus as us. Since it was better to let the strong one negotiate, we, three Japanese and one Thai girl, were just watching how things went. As the driver and cabin attendant couldn't handle her, they brought us to their ticket counter and she kept howling. Even though the bus company offered a discount price, she didn't have the faintest idea of paying any more cents. After some 15 minutes, thanks to her amazing negotiation skill, the bus company yielded the free bus tickets to Gyoreme for all of us.
Strictly speaking, the people in Kayseri were not at fault. The culprit was the guy who sold the ticket. Thinking like this, we Japanese are prone to obey the absurdity while the Taiwanese girl fought against being mistreated. Probably, we should learn from her strong ego. Besides, it was the bus company's fault that they just let the irresponsible guys deal with their customers. I hope they make some improvements at the Antakya station due to the number of claims like ours.
Chewing some gum given to me by a vulgar looking guy (he was actually a nice friendly guy!) sitting next to me, my eyes had caught some strange shaped stones through the window. Finally, we arrived at Gyoreme the centre of Cappadocia.