Travelogues: Adventures in Turkey and Egypt

by Jonathan Balagot

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Egypt

In a really hot afternoon, while walking in the banks of the Nile in Aswan, a young man named Ahmed approached me and offered me a felucca ride around the river. A felucca is a traditional wooden sailing boat. Its rig consists of one or two lateen sails. So I did together with a Chillean guy.

When we were passing thru this straight, we decided to jump off the felucca and into the freezing waters of the Nile. Many say it is not clean but we didn't care since the weather was really warm. It was so refreshing. We held the rope as the felucca pulled us through the waters. We then stopped at a Nubian village.

Nubia is a region along the Nile river which seats of one of the earliest civilizations of ancient Africa with a history that can be traced from at least 2500 BC. We found ourselves in an old Nubian's house which looked like an antique shop where the owner had weird and unique items like an elephant's ear that was used as a shield in the olden times.

Swimming in the Nile is one of my memorable experiences in Egypt. Imagine, this is the river where pharaohs bathed. This was the river where Moses floated as a baby. This is the river that turned into blood.

 
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The Greek historian Herodotus wrote that "Egypt was the gift of the Nile". An unending source of sustenance, it provided a crucial role in the development of Egyptian civilizations. Silt deposits from the Nile made the surrounding land fertile because the river overflowed its banks annually. The Ancient Egyptians cultivated and traded wheat, flax, papyrus, and other crops around the Nile. Wheat was a crucial crop in the famine-plagued Middle East. This trading system secured Egypt's diplomatic relationships with other countries and contributed to its economic stability. Far-reaching trade has been carried on along the Nile since ancient times.

This picture shows the city of Aswan- a city south of Egypt.

 
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The Nile is a major north-flowing river in northeastern Africa, and is commonly regarded as the longest river in the world, though some sources cite the Amazon River as the longest. The Nile, which is 6,853 km long, is an "international" river as its drainage basin covers eleven countries, namely, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Republic of the Sudan, and Egypt. In particular, the Nile is the primary water source of Egypt and Sudan.

This picture was taken from a tower in Cairo.

 
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Turkey

Pamukkale is a town in western Turkey known for the mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white travertine terraces on a nearby hillside. Pamukkale's terraces are made of travertine- a sedimentary rock deposited by water from the hot springs.

In this area, there are 17 hot water springs. The water that emerges from the spring is transported to the head of the travertine terraces and deposits calcium carbonate. When the water, supersaturated with calcium carbonate, reaches the surface, carbon dioxide de-gasses from it, and calcium carbonate is deposited. Calcium carbonate is deposited by the water as a soft gel which eventually crystallizes into travertine.

 
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Earlier settlers of Cappadocia lived in cave houses and underground cities. Tunnels connect underground cities and can accommodate thousands of people. Underground city has areas for sleeping, stables for livestock, wells, water tanks, pits for cooking, ventilation shafts, communal rooms, bathrooms, and tombs. More than forty complete underground cities and 200 underground structures have been discovered in Cappadocia.

This picture is an example of an abandoned cave house. There are still many today that are converted to Cave hotels. When you visit Cappadocia, be sure to stay at one of these hotels.

 
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Cappadocia is a popular tourist destination, as it has many areas with unique geological, historic, and cultural features. Aside from that, it has been also known for its Hot Air Balloons in the town of Göreme.

Cappadocia is the number one in the world for hot air ballooning with 450 thousand tourists in the field of hot air ballooning and every day it increases.

Before coming here, I was aware that I can see a lot of hot air balloons but I didn't know when. For two days, I did not see any. On my supposed last day, I met a guy who told me that I can see it during sunrise. So, I decided to stay another day. True enough, I was greeted by more than a hundred balloons gliding across the morning sky.

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