Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Malatya Day 3

I decided that I needed to start venturing out. Lonely Planet told me that the only real destination in all of Malatya was an archeology museum with artifacts on display from an excavation nearby. Everyone had decided that we would wake up later that morning and catch the dolmus to the university. Since the dolmus otogar (bus station) was somewhat on my way, I tagged along to see which one I needed to take to get to the university. Once that was all figured out, I proceeded to meander my way towards the center of town through the edge of the bazaar. Needing to keep my bread supply stocked, I stopped in a bakery that had just pulled some brown bread out of the oven. After purchasing a loaf, they kindly sliced it for me. For the rest of the week, I lived on nothing but bread and kumpir (baked potatoes). In some ways, this made everything incredibly easy because I never really had to worry about where I was going to eat because I always had food with me. Continuing towards the museum, I stopped in a store that specialized in Muslim clothing for women, particularly head scarves. The patterns on the headscarves can be quite intricate and beautiful. I kept wandering down the street looking up the side streets that lead deeper into the bazaar.

The bazaar is laid out in a pretty simple fashion, with different regions specializing in different types of goods. Vendors selling food related items are located closer to the highway where the dolmus stations are locations, hence the bakery where I bought my bread. Heading towards the town center, the vendors become more related to apparel. Tailors are intermixed with ordinary clothing merchants, vying for your attention and money. The apparel that they are selling is consists mainly of cheap dress shirts and major European and American brand knock offs. Some of the merchants were selling t-shirt with various art and writing on them. What caught my attention was that many referenced San Francisco. Most of them didn't make an sense really. I remember one saying "Intrigue" with San Francisco, CA written underneath it.

While in the bazaar, it is really important to keep in mind that you have to haggle on every price they give you, especially if you don't speak Turkish. This will be important for day 5. There is a street here that is lined with gold merchants, displaying their ornate pieces in large windows that in turn glow when the sunlight hits them. I decided to meander through the clothing area for a little bit before reaching the mosque that sits at the center of town.

I crossed the main street of Malatya, which predictably is named Ataturk Caddesi (Blvd). Heading south, I walked along a side street lined with shops. I came upon two men sitting along the sidewalk who waved me over. One of them was an owner of one of the stores, and he wanted me to take a picture of him and his friend. After snapping a few photos, he wanted to make sure I knew his name and to remember where he met me. He gave me his card on which he added Malatya, Türkiye. The other man offered me cay which I graciously declined. Smiling from ear to ear at this super-friendly encounter, I continued on my way to the museum. I think what makes me so happy about things like this is because they were genuinely interested in talking to me and finding out my story. If this had happened in Istanbul, it would probably have been to get an angle with which to sell me something, but here and in Ankara, that hasn't been the case. It is just really pleasant finding other people that are as excited and interested to meet new people as I am.

Upon arriving at the museum, I paid the 3 YTL entrance fee and was pleasantly surprised by the air conditioned interior. The museum itself was rather small consisting of only 4 rooms, but it was laid out and documented rather well. As with every other museum I have visited, I photographed everything. The artifacts were all excavated from a site north of town at a location called Arslantepe from which some of the artifacts dated back a few thousand years before Christ. These artifacts mainly consisted of every day items such as arrow heads, swords, clay and stone pots, glass containers, coins, and various tools. One of the rooms was dedicated to illustrating how various activities in day to day life worked, such as milling grain, making arrow heads, and making clay pots. Outside the museum, there was a small garden which contained various stone carvings and head stones, particularly from the era of Roman occupation. After finishing at the museum, I headed back to the catch the dolmus along the route on which I came.

Right outside the museum is a small park that sits between a small canal and several man-made waterfalls. As with the university and other aspects of Malatya, this park was made possible by large amounts of funding from the government. I enjoyed the plumes of mist created by the churning water to rejuvenate myself before my walk back. The streets were more crowded as it was close to lunch time. I got back to the dolmus station in time to hop on the one that took me to the university. Not knowing exactly where to get off, the dolmus stopped at the university hospital, so I decided to hop off since the hospital is attached to the conference center. I walked into the hospital hoping to find directions, but I couldn't find any. I walked around the hospital complex. Just before giving up, I saw two women who were carrying the bags that they conference had given out. I ended up following them (while feeling slightly creepy) to see if they knew where they were going. They ended up striking out as well, but they were able to ask for directions. By this time, I had introduced myself and we were able to weave our way through the hospital to the conference center. The signs pointing the way to the conference center were all located in the back hallway, far from where anyone would see them entering from the main entrance. It is things like this that make me laugh and shake my head about Turkey.

I arrived just in time for lunch, or more precisely give my lunch to everyone else and eat bread. For the rest of the day at the conference, I basically just hung out and tried to get a little work done. I found out long ago that it is close to impossible for me to get work done in places that have lots of distractions. It's safe to say that I didn't get much done. At 4pm, the poster session started, and everyone but Damla, Mert, and Sertan had to present their posters. I walked around and snapped everyone's photo.

Afterwards, we all boarded buses and were taken to a denim factory. For some reason, the conference organizers decided that this would be an exciting event. The factory was a little interesting bceause there wasn't a guide of any sort, so we had to figure out what everything did on our own. After the tour, we were loaded up into buses and taken to some random place with a garden for dinner. No one seemed to know where we were, but apparently the denim factory had paid for the dinner for us. With it getting late, we decided to just have the bus drop us off at the guesthouse on its way back to campus.

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