The rains came and went just in time for our 6 am hot air balloon ride! And guess who were the other passengers in the basket with us? A lot of Chinese (again!) and a Turk couple from Istanbul. Barring the struggle to not photobomb anyone while they kept the shutters going at max speed with their selfie sticks, ensuring that I held my own phone with a grip strong enough to not lose it to the 800m drop below, trying not to worry about balloons crossing each other’s paths because there were over a hundred of them around and the only navigation they were capable of was up and down, I was transfixed by how mesmerizing the whole experience was. The landscape could pass off as waves painted on a canvas. All that we’d seen the previous day from a nose close distance was now laid out from the bird’s eye view. If I were a pigeon, I’d stick around too. The ride ended with a glass of champagne, running around trying to help deflate and fold the hot air balloon, a completion certificate and a picture with happy smiles!
Advantage of packing earlier than the rest of the family is that you can randomly head out towards the heights where hotels, people and even the birds thin out. And without people in sight, your resourcefulness increases but so does the peace you find in solitude; checked off the bucket list – create a tripod out of cobblestones to click self-portraits at a random, deserted place!
We were flying out to Pamukkale and who was to know the interesting encounter I’d have on the flight! But before I get to that. Have I mentioned how pleasing to the eyes the people in Turkey were? And no, I don’t mean the shade of their skin but their features and physique – I couldn’t take my eyes off a man loading luggage on to the conveyer belt and damn, if only he’d come to India, Bollywood would have lapped him up! Maybe shoot a garish Bollywood version of the Taken series, spouting Liam Neeson’s lines. Back to interesting flight encounters. So, my fellow passenger started making conversation with me and for the first few minutes, I wondered what he could possibly be wanting from me – because India. He did have intentions alright – but this doctor at Denizli General Hospital’s emergency ward wanted me to create a short video for his fiance and invite her to India after their wedding! I ended it with a flourish thanking her in Turkish and a couple of days later, the lovely couple sent me a video thanking me for my invite! Nothing could be more welcoming to a tourist than the unbridled love and warmth that couple showered on us, even if through a couple of short videos and a 30 minute flight conversation. The doctor also warned us of the slippery slopes and was more than happy to be our emergency contact in Pamukkale, if the need arose. Say congratulations to the couple on their upcoming wedding, peeps! ❤