Sometimes I think there’s a five-year-old kid living inside me.
When I am really happy in a moment I can’t contain my emotions. I break out in some ridiculous grin. my eyes light up and I’m giddy with excitement. If I thought it was appropriate I’d probably squeal. To reveal a slightly embarrassing trait: when I was younger I used to get so excited sometimes I’d go cross-eyed and start to shake. No, I didn’t have a medical condition. Sometimes I was just really really happy.
This happens a lot when I travel – not the shaking thing, but the elation that comes with incredible experiences. It’s one of the things that drives me to keep exploring the world. It happened when I stood on the Great Wall of China, when I saw Coldplay perform just a metre from me in Vancouver, when I rode a small train through the mountains in Serbia and took a boat trip on Uvac Canyon. Sometimes a great conversation with someone I meet on a bus will have the same affect. I never tire of the thrill of being interested, fascinated and amazed.
At Pamukkale, as I walked barefoot across the travertines, my toes skimming through the warm water, I broke into that familiar grin.
It’s just so cool!
From a distance you might mistake the white slopes of Pamukkale as being covered in snow for that’s exactly what it looks like. But the travertines are formed by the build up of minerals from the hot springs below that have settled and hardened over hundreds of years.
The site is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a title which has helped preservation of the site. Apparently part of the path I walked up to reach the top of the cliffs was once a road and there were hotels built over the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis. When Pamukkale was given World Heritage status, the hotels were removed and the roads were covered with artificial travertines built.
Pamukkale isn’t unique. There are similar sites around the world including in Yellowstone National Park in the US and at Huanglong in China. But I had never seen anything like this before.
It is an incredible sight.
Two people told me Pamukkale was best seen at sunset and that worked well with my plan to catch the night bus to Cappadocia. It was 4pm when I took off my shoes and sunk my feet into the soft minerals at the bottom of one of the pools. As it’s so late in the year I didn’t have long before the light disappeared, but in the meantime I was treated to another striking Turkish sunset.
I don’t edit my photos much before you see them here. A slight adjustment of the lighting or a bit of cropping is the most effort I’ll usually make. That’s partly because I don’t know what I’m doing but also because I want to show you what you can realistically expect to see, not the world according to Photoshop.
Pamukkale is such a naturally beautiful place that it doesn’t need any editing at all. The tip to visit at sunset was gold – the light was perfect and nearly always behind me as I photographed the cliffs and pools.
This is Pamukkale as you’ll see it with you own eyes: