Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 6 Kaymakli, Sultanhani Caravanserai, Konya

Kaymakli, Sultanhani Caravanserai, Konya

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For many in the group, the day began with a hot air balloon ride! They tell me it was amazing, and their photos certainly suggest it was. As for me, I slept in and saved the money.


Kaymakli

Kaymakli was incredible.

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It is an underground “city”, which was a fortified escape destination, probably developed as far back as 2000BC. Stop and think about that. That’s when the Hittites were roaming Turkey. That’s when Abraham was called by God to go to the Holy land…

In the first few centuries after Christ, the Romans generally persecuted Christians to a greater or lesser extent, and this underground city, and others like it, became their refuge when attacked. It is impossible to do justice with photographs, as you will find if you hunt around the Internet. You just have to go there, and clamber and crawl down, up to four floors deep under the ground…


 

Uçhisar

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Perhaps the oddest of the things we saw, Uçhisar more or less speaks for itself. It’s a fortress and an associated town, essentially made up of caves. The region has countless caves full of frescoes, but we didn’t visit those. Check out the Goreme Open Air Museum, just for example.

 

But before you do, get a load of this:

If that all seems terribly alien, don’t worry. There are always reminders that you’re in “tourist territory”.

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Sultanhani Caravanserai

Then there was the Sultanhani Caravanserai. This was a sanctuary for travellers. The Seljuk era structures were build at intervals of one day’s journey. They provided security for the important trade routes like the Silk Road.

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Konya

2014-01-16 08.45.45As we rolled into Konya, our guide described it as “one of the most conservative cities” that we would encounter. For the girls, with Istanbul airport still fresh in their memories, this had a chilling effect. In actual fact what the guide meant was that there was no point going out looking for a pub. You won’t find one. Alcohol is only available in Western hotels.


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Engagement with the People

At the Sultanhani Caravanserai I had two interesting encounters with locals.

First, some young boys were riding bicycles around and spotted us as a bus load of tourists from a mile away. They approached us, asking “One Lira? One Lira?” The site of children effectively begging was very confronting! I think someone gave them some money in exchange for a photograph. I think that was a good compromise. I felt too uncomfortable to respond imaginatively.

Second, I was accompanying one of the ladies to the toilet block (because there were some men hanging around near the entrance). It turns out that at least one of these men was responsible for receiving the 1 Lira fee for using the bathroom.

While my companion was in the bathroom, the bold young man stepped forward and asked, in his severely limited English, where I was from. I told him “Australia”, and he asked, making the sign of a cross with his fingers, whether this is a Christian country. Rather than split hairs about secular democracies and so forth, and for the sake of the conversation, I signalled that he was correct. I indicated that our group were all Christians, and that we were studying the Bible together. He seemed to understand. I also made sure to add enthusiastically that I was loving Turkey, and that it is a beautiful country.

To my surprise, this fellow then attempted what I presume is Muslim evangelism. He pointed to himself saying, “I am Muslim”. I nodded to indicate that I understood this. He pointed to me and said, “You are Muslim also”. I knew what he meant. It was clever.

Essentially, “Muslim” means something like, “one who is submitted to God”. What my friend was saying was, on one level, true. On another level it was a play on words. He wanted to get me to proclaim myself a Muslim to subvert my commitment to Christianity. It was a game. I like games.

I responded, “I am a man of prayer”.

He repeated his statements about himself and me, and I repeated my response. There was a brief pause, and we both smiled at the impasse. My tour companion had finished in the bathroom by then, so I said, “God bless you, friend, goodbye”. We shook hands warmly.

As it happens, I have had a conversation in the past which prepared me for this. I was seated next to a Muslim Imam on a plane. I asked him, “Are you a man of prayer”. He nodded. I said, “So am I”, and we chatted for the whole flight.

Engagement with the Text

The text for the day was 1 Peter 1. It is a deeply beautiful exhortation to purity and endurance under potential persecution, while exiled from the homeland, but these aspects of the text were not directly invoked by the day’s experiences. What mattered was that among the recipients of the letter were residents of the region of Cappadocia where we were travelling.

I reflected afterwards that as a tourist, it was polite to respect my young friend by playing the evangelism game with him with a view only to parry, not to thrust, as it were. In other words, to kindly deflect his attempts, rather than to make my own attempt to subvert his faith.

But if I was living in the area the story would be different. I might seek common ground with him on the basis that we are both men of prayer, and begin to reveal the amazing revelation of the Gospel: that God is not actually interested in demanding “submission”, but instead is seeking a loving relationship. This is a conversation I have had with another Muslim, which gave him a lot to think about.

Being a “conservative” area, however, if I was to do that on a regular basis I would risk being treated fairly roughly by the townsfolk. Turkey’s secular democracy is probably not as well understood and appreciated in these parts as it is in the big cities. Starting a church in Cappadocia would be… exciting.


Other posts in this series:

Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 0 Anticipation

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 4 The Oracle of Delphi

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 5 Athens – Istanbul – Cappadocia

Posted on Jan 14th, 2014 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 6 Kaymakli, Sultanhani Caravanserai, Konya

Posted on Jan 15th, 2014 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

Kaymakli, Sultanhani Caravanserai, Konya For many in the group, the day began with a hot air balloon ride! They tell me it was amazing, and…

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 7 Mevlana Museum, Pisidian Antioch

Posted on Jan 16th, 2014 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

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Posted on Jan 17th, 2014 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

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Posted on Jan 18th, 2014 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 10 Ephesus

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 11 Patmos

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Posted on Jan 21st, 2014 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

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