Goodness it has been a while since we’ve posted, or at least it feels that way. Days are starting to just blur into “sleep, wake up, drive, sleep” And it’s been ruthlessly hot. Other teams in the Mongol Rally have made it far, some even already reaching Kazakhstan.
After a lovely day spent in Istanbul, we packed up and left again. This time we were bound for Cappadocia. I’ve never heard of this place, but I thought it had a funny name and when we got there I was struck stupid with how unbelievably otherworldly it looks. I’m not sure if I should call them hills or rock formations, but they were huge and apparently people dug into them and created homes.
Cappadocia is also a popular destination for going on hot air balloons, which makes sense, with all the gorgeous views. On our way to Cappadocia, we ran into a convoy and naturally we joined up with them, its just nicer traveling with more people. Upon reaching our destination we decided to follow the advice of the convoy and check out a camping ground that apparently had dual waterslides. Recalling the “camping” grounds we slept in while in Romania (the one with the literal lake of poo) I was a bit skeptical, but we checked it out and sure enough it was legit and only cost us about 5 Euro per person. PER PERSON and it included use of the slides, the pool, the kitchen, amazing showers and toilets (you would think it silly I get excited about a nice toilet but after what I’ve seen, a good clean toilet is a god send), and of course there was wifi. Very slow wifi, but wifi.
We separated from the convoy (and never saw them again) but we found a group from Iceland. After some talking, and a bit of internet surfing, we all headed to bed. Maartje and Scott wanted to get up before dawn to catch the sun peeking over the mountains and see the hot air balloons take off. I still wasn’t feeling well and opted to just sleep in, but when they returned they had gotten some amazing photos that they happily shared.
In the morning another rally team rolled up, this lads were from the UK and drove a car covered in leopard print with a donkey and a toy monkey fastened to the front. Iceland decided to take off to drive some more, and we chose to spend another day there.
So turns out the camping ground is actually a waterpark for the area, and by 11am there were massive groups of people all showing up, waiting anxiously for them to turn the waterslides on. After a bit of swimming the UK lads and two of our group, went into the town to get supplies for dinner and work out a deal for hot air balloon rides. Kristina stayed behind with me as she’s got sun poisoning. Sounds horrible I know, basically she had a bunch of painful itchy bumps all on her arm that if left to their own devices, would turn into blisters and get horrible. So yes, break from the sun for Kris.
By 2pm the waterpark was full of people. Actually, it was full of just men. Only men were in the pool, with only small girls being the only other females in the whole park. It was a bit strange and I couldn’t tell if I was getting stared at because I was a woman or because my hair is teal. Either way, it was very strange, but didn’t keep any of us from enjoying the waterpark to it’s fullest. This included everyone trying to “surf” down the slides so they could jump up into the air at the last minute.
Dinner time came and after an hour or so of cooking I made: Albondigas, a spicy mexican meatball soup. Though I was missing a few ingredients (no mint!!) I managed to make something that everyone enjoyed, I even made a special batch for the veggies on this trip.
After an exhausting day of playing in the pool, we all began to wind down and went to bed early. The following morning Scott and Maartje would be riding the hot air balloon. And that is how I found myself being woken up at a horrible hour, and while less than cheery I went with them none the less and watched as they went up into the sky. Kris and I got some nice video and took a few photos before going back to camp.
Once everyone got back we packed up our camp and got on the road, this time headed for…well I’m not actually sure where we were going, only that we were going to get there. We stopped for a gas break then got on the road and about 30 minutes later we noticed the increasingly pungent smell of gasoline. Thinking it was just the area, we let it go and kept on going but after another 30 minutes it was way too strong so we told Scott to pull over.
And wouldn’t you know it, the gas cap was missing.
Turns out the guy back at the petrol station neglected to put it back on and now powerful gas fumes were permeating the back of the car and we needed to figure out how to fix this. Yay adventure! (even as I write this, the smell of the gas still haunts me)
Along our journey to get it fixed we found turkeys. C’mon, turkeys in Turkey? Dream come true haha
It took four mechanic stops before we found a solution that wasn’t stuffing a bunch of plastic into the port and duct taping it shut. But we found a guy, and he got us a new cap. So far, it’s been working out!
And onwards we drove. Seriously this was a day of just driving for what seemed like forever. We had a little rain at one point, actual rain. Despite the heat it was wonderful.
It was very late at night, around 10ish that we finally stopped. We looked for spots along the road, we spotted a path that lead us to some fields and it was there we set up camp. I opted to stay in the car (being short has perks) while the others set up the tents. Some random guy drove up and we spent about 30 minutes trying to understand what he was saying. We couldn’t tell if he wanted us to leave or move, at one point we thought that he said there were murderers around. Turns out he was trying to tell us to not sleep so close to the road, to move our tents more into the field and move the car as well. Otherwise we’d get run over. Following his advice we settled down at last and slept.
Despite the creepy warning from the man, we managed to avoid being murdered. It was actually a beautiful view, a cool breeze and rolling valleys. But alas, the peacefulness would not last. The roads are HORRIBLE. There were potholes everywhere and it looked like we were driving drunk as we swerved around trying to avoid everything. Sometimes the road would just…vanish. And we would have to sort of guess where we could drive, and a few times we hit rocks or something and I cringed. Poor Eddy still hasn’t’ got his sump gaurd and we’re not too sure we’re going to be able to get him one.
Pray for us xD
During our crazy bumpy ride we saw a rally car pulled over, naturally we pulled over to see what was happening, and we found them tentatively crossing a half rusted and falling apart train car that had been turned into a bridge. It was a bit dangerous to cross, what with a badly rusted floor and almost no where to step, but scooting our away via clinging to the windows, we made it to the other side and got some nice photos along the way.
At last we made it to Armenia…and had to pay $160 in fees. It was an endless dance between offices, getting paperwork done and stamped then being escorted to another office but after about an hour we were finished and on our way to our hosts house.
Ruzan is a friend of Maartje, the two met over 16 years ago when Ruzan came to the Netherlands for a homestay. It was only for about a week or so, but the two kept in touch. It was nice to meet her and their family was gracious when we showed up much later than we initially inteded. They had a feast ready for us and we ate until we couldn’t eat any more.
It was a very warm night, but after some more chatting we settled for the night. Come morning we decided to go explore Yereven a bit, and it turned out to be one beautiful little city. And they have water fountains everywhere, which is amazing. I wish all the other cities had it, it was nice to be able to stay hydrated with cool water for once. We saw an art centre which offered us a view of the whole city.
Our last stop in Armenia was at a beach, the day was warm and the water cold and after a bit of coaxing we got into the water and enjoyed the remaining time we had. After bidding our gracious host farewell, we went on our way.