Student visits moonscape in Eurasia

Zhu Yunxi embarks on adventure to Turkey 

In Istanbul, strong aromas of Persian and Arabian culture overwhelmed me like falling into the scene of the Thousand and One Nights.

In Istanbul, strong aromas of Persian and Arabian culture overwhelmed me like falling into the scene of the Thousand and One Nights.

I found that I did not know how to understand and appreciate pulchritude and its essence. The four-day experience in Istanbul during the spring break amazed me. I thought I knew everything about Turkish culture before I visited the country, but I was wrong.

People from the Middle East are always distinguished as Arabians, but the chauffeur who picked me up at Atatürk Airport was a typical meridional. This encounter made me realize Turkey, a country which stretches across Eurasia, blends cultures, race and history.

Turkey was founded on the ruins of Ottoman Empire. In Istanbul, strong aromas of Persian and Arabian culture overwhelmed me like falling into the scene of the Thousand and One Nights.

By the bay of the Propontis, people bask by the bay, while others pick Egyptian spice or Persian cloth from marketplaces. During the afternoon I spent in Propontis, Muslims began their chanting of Quran during the Maghrib. Afterward, the moon rose from the Asian side of Istanbul and the fiery sky stretches and shone radiance on the tributary of Propontis.

Muslims began heading into mosques during this time of day to begin their prayers to Allah. However, the market vendors said their prayers in the marketplace besides their stalls. This bustling seaside bazaar began to quiet down, and all that could be heard was prayer, seagulls and the crash of waves against the shoreline.

Everything looked leisurely. Teenagers in Turkey are proud of imitating European’s lifestyle. Turks enjoy Cay (Turkish Tea) and smell its fragrance, sitting on the rooftops of many flats, overlooking dense and antique buildings perched on the hill. Moreover, looking across the tributary, forward to those three mosques on the top of the hill, life in the city of Istanbul never stops. Lounging on the rooftop and taking life; this enjoyment reminds me of the feast of the amazing area of Cappadocia.

Some of Cappadocia’s troglodyte dwellings serve as homes and others as hotels, which offer a truly unique experience to visitors. Sitting on the rooftop of a rocky cave hotel, people ate breakfast and Turkish Cay, while watching the launch of hundreds of hot-air balloons. The balloons rose from bizarre rock mounts during daybreak as the sun peaked across the skyline of Goreme valley.

Cappadocia, here is known as the most likely of the lunar surface in the world by its bizarre physiognomy. Hundreds of hot air balloons are all launched before dawn, every single morning being inside of one of the hot air balloons felt like a pink dream come true.

It was a cloudy morning and mother earth looked dull without the sun shining, but as soon as the balloons launched, a streak of rosy crepuscular rays started breaking the darkness. The gray land started turning luminous red as the sun lighted up on this morning to begin another fabulous day in Cappadocia.

Erosion shaped these incredible landscapes of cones, pillars, pinnacles, mushrooms, and chimneys located inside of the Goreme Valley of Cappadocia.

Erosion shaped these incredible landscapes of cones, pillars, pinnacles, mushrooms, and chimneys located inside of the Goreme Valley of Cappadocia.

Hot air balloons did not move fast. Those who were hidden by those mushroom-shape tuffs fluttered out smoothly, offering passengers the fun of hide-and-seek. The balloon flew up and down and as I looked from the balloon’s basket, I imagined living among the clouds. Moreover, as low as few inches from the ground, looking around those quirky landscapes hiding with haze, no sound could be heard but the intermittent burning of my balloon, just like a visit to the underworld.

This happens every single morning.

Erosion shaped these incredible landscapes of cones, pillars, pinnacles, mushrooms, and chimneys located inside of the Goreme Valley of Cappadocia. Ancient volcanic eruptions formed these fantastic forms to create this rocky wonderland that is honeycombed with a network of human-created caves; places of worship, stables, and storehouses.

Cappadocian was founded as White Syrians by Persians. Goreme sat uncomfortably on the boundary between rival empires — the Roman Empire and the Persian Empire. This precarious political position meant that residents — White Syrian needed hiding places, and their hands performed equally incredible works here to avoid war.

We had a celebration after landing, and then my friends and I drove the UTV to explore the rocky wonderland. After we came back, I sat in my room of the cave hotel, reminiscing Byzantine histories that had taken place in this beautiful valley.

Those White Syrian dug those amazing caves to avoid war, but what about the Syrian refugee crisis?  There are about 2,973,890 Syrian refugees in Turkey and 366,000 in Istanbul.

Turkey is a developed country, but when I visited Istanbul, I thought that parts of the city did not look like a developed country. Something that confused me is that some people are still doing some very traditional and low-income jobs such as selling balloons by the bay, selling bottled water and napkins to drivers on the road.

But, when I went through the northwest corner of Tarlabaşı, the Istanbul’s oldest slum, I knew why. There are a lot of children and even some adults try to get drivers’ attention by selling bottled water and napkins. And Tarlabaşı is the famous Syrian Gypsy community in Istanbul.

As I look from the balloon’s basket, I imagine living among the clouds.

As I look from the balloon’s basket, I imagine living among the clouds.

The locals told me there always some Turks who beat these people and even the children because the Syrian refugees are shaking Turkey’s social stability. From what I saw in Turkey, I think that’s true, there are cops everywhere in Istanbul because of those terrorist attacks carried out by groups like ISIS.

How does war torture people? I don’t know, and I want to know. And I put Syria on my list.