Pamukkale, a paradise in Turkey
WILCO VAN HERPENI never wrote about something I observed in Pamukkale in the western province of Muğla. I assume most of you have seen it, or at least have heard about Pamukkale. If you haven’t… Shame on you! This is one of the highlights of this country besides Istanbul, Ephesus, Doğubayazıt, Ani, Cappadocia, Sürmene Monastery, Beypazarı and beautiful Turkish nature… I can fill the whole page of this newspaper with examples; there is so much to see and do in Turkey.
But what I witnessed in Pamukkale, when I was there, was something interesting. I was there with my friend and cameraman Ethem Tosun to make a story for my program “Wilco’nun Karavanı.” We were waiting for the manger Ali, but obviously he was quite busy because we had to wait for him for more than an hour. Don’t get me wrong; this time waiting was not a problem for me. As a Dutch guy, I do not like to be late on any appointment and I expect other people to have the same mentality as me. Well… here in Turkey that’s a bit difficult. Of about 80 percent of the appointments that I have, I am sorry to tell you, I have to wait for the people. Sometimes I have to wait for more than an hour. A funny detail is that it was a Dutch-Turkish photographer friend of mine who made me wait the longest: 1.5 hours (and no excuse or reason for his delay!). But I’ve become accustomed to it; and even I do arrive a bit late to some of my meetings.
People in Istanbul, although this is a big city and is completely disconnected with nature, still have the idea that they are Mediterranean people (Turkish people always proudly announce that they are Mediterranean people where life is relaxed and laid back). I think that is wrong. This is a huge city and is not connected with the Mediterranean Sea at all. (The reason people come up with for being late is mostly the terrible traffic in this city. For me that is no excuse anymore. We all know about the terrible Istanbul traffic…) So calculate three hours to go from one point in Istanbul to another. I do the same.
So while waiting for Ali and enjoying ourselves at the same time we were also looking for the best locations to film at. The Roman bath of Pamukkale – the beautiful white basins – or the necropolis; in a way it is very easy to make a nice program about Pamukkale.
What we were searching for was the best place to shoot from; where and how would I make my announcements etc. It was another busy day in this paradise of Turkey. Wherever we looked we saw Russian girls. One was even sexier than the next; it was distracting us a lot. I know this isn’t really female-friendly but (unfortunately) this is what happens with men. Anyway, the young girls with their beautiful bodies made beautiful backgrounds (or foregrounds) for some pictures we took at the Roman pool. It was as if Fashion television came to Pamukkale to do a Fashion shooting and we ended up in the middle of it.
Then Ali arrived. Without waiting, he explained why he was late and then went on to daily life. Last year they caught a guy who was taking voyeur-esque pictures of the women in the water. He sent his security to the area and they learned that the guy had taken over 500 pictures. I looked at Ethem and it was as if I was on fire. We had been taking pictures of so many people (girls) as well.
It was almost evening and the sunset. The sunlight got softer minute by minute. This was not planet earth anymore; we were on a different planet. At the end and at the beginning of the day you have the most incredible light to take pictures of Pamukkale. The only problem being that Pamukkale is humongous. You have the graveyard, the Roman pool and, of course, the pools made of travertine; Pamukkale is a real special place to visit.
The weirdest feeling I had while I was walking around occurred during the end of the day. Actually it was not a weird feeling; it was more of a clash of cultures! It was during the early sunset. While walking around, I saw another pair of Russian girls walking in front of me. Just the opposite, a traditional village woman was approaching me! The woman, dressed in traditional village clothing, made such a contrast compared to the Russian woman who did not wear more than a string…
Clash of cultures
We are not always aware of it, but it would be nice if we foreigners would pay a bit more attention and respect to the situation we are in. I have seen groups, including their guide, walking into mosques without covering their hair. For me, that is something not to be done. I think you have to respect the feelings of the local people. In every country, there are numerous unwritten rules that you always obey, so why don’t you obey them here in Turkey?
Do not get me wrong; the picture of the Russian girls combined with the village woman made a beautiful picture. (That is, from a professional point of view). Traditional life versus “modern” life. At least I took my picture of the day and, by the way, the program turned out well. But then again, it is very difficult to make a bad show about Pamukkale, one of the miracles of nature in Turkey.