Pamukkale, meaning "cotton castle" in Turkish, describes the stunning landscape located slightly less than 200km east of Selcuk. Combined with the ruins of the ancient spa city of Hierapolis first established around 200BC, the site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage in 1988.
As usual, I sneaked out the gate of the guest house before sunrise. It was extremely quiet when I walked on the country road around 5:30am. In the air was the delightful smell of horse droppings, and above in the sky, wow, many stars. I recognized the Big Dipper. I don't remember being under a starry night again after camping in the wilderness of Northern Australia almost two years ago.
The village was still sleeping. I passed by a village bakery, which was already lit up. A few young men were kneading a big chunk of dough together to prepare for the day. I bought a left over simit (a delicious circular bread with sesame seeds) as breadkfast.
Soon after I returned to the road, two black dogs, one big and one small, started to follow me. A bit nervous at first, I quickly relaxed to find they were no harm at all. Once in a while they cheerfully got in the front to lead the way. I just followed and relived the mysterious feeling I experienced when I followed two brownish butterflies to a small hidden beach on Lamma Island of Hong Kong years ago. When I reached the foot of the hill and set my feet into the soothing warm hot spring water and began to climb up the white terraces, these dogs were always a few steps ahead of me, never leaving me far behind. They stayed with me for the whole two hours I was there alone for photos, in the way to make me feel as if they were my own and for my protection. How poetic and touching to have such unexpected companion to watch the sunrise together in this most unexpected place!
When the sunlight became intenser, first tour buses arrived to unload day trippers. Time for a small break. As I walked back to the guest house, the village emerged lively again. A middle-aged man, just coming out from his courtyard, saw me and greeeted me in English - "Welcome to my country!" Turkish people are proud people indeed!
(More photos from Pamukkale and Turkey can be found in my album Turkey.)