Gongju City 공주시, Chungcheongnam-do

Why Gongju? Apart from the slight personal preoccupation with anything Baekje (read up on your Korean history) due to archaeological sites close to where I live, not much more. It is close enough to Seoul to do a day trip, and small enough to be a walking town. It is also 20th July 2017, one of the hottest day of the year, so I was expecting a bit of walk in the sun.

 East Seoul bus station at Gangbyeon East Seoul bus station at Gangbyeon

Packed with two cameras, one digital rangefinder and one film panorama camera, something sorely lacking in the digital world, I’m off on a bus from East Seoul bus terminal. There’s a bus every hour. Perhaps more frequency at Nambu bus terminal but I prefer East Seoul. Ticket cost 9,000₩ in 2017 and it takes two hours one way. Left East Seoul at 10:10am and arrived in Gongju at 12:10pm and the bus will not make a rest stop. Don’t think it needs to. I don’t know if Gongju ever gets packed with tourists, at least on this day I could just walk up to the bus station, pick any seat I want in the bus and buy the return ticket when I feel like going back. Like a private chauffeur, although next time an electric scooter to get around town may make a bit of sense.

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Turkey: Cappadocia Day 1 & 2

View of Cappadocia from Uchisar Castle
Soganli

Every tourist here in Istanbul seem to have Cappadocia on their itinerary. I overheard many talking about their plans. I’m no different, but instead of a package tour, I plan to go with a rental car. Price of petrol seems quite steep here, but the plan is set and the wheels are in motion. Hoping to be able to get out to the countyside early in the morning before the sun rises and before sunset, so a car will be useful. I will be flying into Nevsehir, not too many flights per week, and then transfer to Urgup to pick up my car and drive to Goreme for the night. Goreme will be my base for this trip.

Cappadocia is, of course, famous for 2 things I am aware of. First are the cappadocian horses, which I don’t expect to see this trip, and second the rock cut churches where the first christian cultists practised their religion in the early years, away from the eyes of their Roman masters.

4 September 2009:
0728hrs: Airport pickup at my hotel in Istanbul. This is one of those shuttle that picks up a bunch of people in different hotels. Cost 10TL so it is cheap. This morning is not a good day for the driver as all the passengers are late out of their hotel except for me. The driver and I exchanged complaints about late passengers while we waited. You could guess what kind of passengers. Follow your stereotypical instincts.

1143hrs: Arrived in Nevsehir after a standard flight. Nothing special to report about. The landscape on the way didn’t look too spectacular and the place looks dotted with many small villages. I can imagine driving to those places looking for high ground for a better view.

View from up high...

Nevsehir airport is quite far away from the city. Nothing much here, just an airport in the middle of nowhere. On arrival, I get picked up by a shuttle I booked online and next destination Urgup. The minivan zips through some desert and a town or two. Towns here look like typical eastern european mid sized cities, with a small town center and everything else is made up of standard issue apartment buildings made to be utilitarian rather to look good. Realised I was talking about Nevsehir! Nothing to see here, so we go past it on the way to Urgup.

Not too many flights to Nevsehir airport. Today there are less than 5.

Nothing special about Urgup either, but the city center looks more tourist friendly than the previous one. This is where I pick up my rental car. This time I get a sedan Renault Clio 1.4 but before it sounds like a car of the year, the one I got is a wreck, or half way to becoming so. There are knocks all over, and I swear it looks like this car is made of fiberglass. The knocks looks like it is. The cigarette lighter is not working, not a showstopped but I will have issues with my GPS power if this is the case. And even for a rental car company as big as National, this one gets delivered with no fuel in the tank! All I get is a tip on the nearest petrol kiosk on the way out to Goreme.

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Turkey: Edirne

Early morning in Istanbul en route to the Otogar
Most tourists come to Edirne to see Selimiye Mosque, one of Mimar Sinan's prime creation

Edirne, in Thrace, is a city with plenty of history. In Edward Gibbon’s tome on the fall of the Roman Empire, this is where the Ottoman’s Mehmet II launched his attack that took over Constantinople around 1300AD. Historic place, which means I will need a GPS waypoint of this place.

2 September 2009:
It is an early morning for a daytrip to Edirne (Adrianople or Hadrianopolis), and the position of my new hotel allows me to take the first tram that passes Sultanahmet station on the way to the Otogar after a change of trains. Hope to grab my sleep later on the bus as the trip should take some time. If you recall, I booked this bus ticket in advance from the Istanbul Otogar on Monday and will be travelling with Ulusoy bus company on the 0800hrs bus. The trip should take around 2 hours. Left the hotel before 7am and at this time, Sultanahmet is totally dead. Nothing except sanitation workers sweeping up rubbish on the street from the night before. Lucky the tram starts moving at 6am. It looks like a blue sky day but I will be careful. Going with a small backpack with a spare lens, waterproof jacket and my all-important iPod. All cameras are coming along and I expect a long day of walking and aimless wandering in Edirne.

Local Edirne town bus

0715hrs: I have done this public transportation routine before. Tram to Metro station Aksaray and straight on to the Otogar from there. Just hoping to get there with enough time to have a light breakfast this morning. It’s always good to have a feel of the area before a tight schedule so that muscle memory takes over.

Nothing special here, boarded the bus like clockwork, and proceeded to the all important nap.

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