26-Mar-2006 -- Coming from my visit of 38N 32E, I was on my way to Konya. When the road emerged from the mountains and I could get a first view down on the city, I was overwhelmed by its size: The plain in front of me was entirely covered by houses from my left to my right and as far as I could see in the haze – Konya has nearly 700,000 inhabitants. I was approaching the city from the West, but 38N 33E was lying east of the city, this meant I had to traverse the entire city. But this was rather easy, I simply had to look out for road signs pointing in the direction of Ankara, as I would have to drive on the main road to Ankara out of town for a short distance before turning off in direction of Aksaray ("White castle"). When I apparently was not very far from this road to Ankara, I must have taken a wrong turn, because at first I found myself crossing an uninviting industrial area, and then I was driving over a giant dump ground – for sure this was not the main road to Ankara!
A little later I was on the right way again, and also found the right turnoff towards Aksaray. From here on, the road runs nearly straight and for tens of kilometres over the most boring plain that I have ever seen. I have no words to describe the complete dullness of this plain called Konya Ovası! Adding to the unattractiveness of this flat, dry, yellow-grey plain, nearly without any signs of inhabitation, agricultural usage, or any geographical features, were the ugly leftovers of abandoned technical installations, for example fences, or a whole chain of destroyed, all in a similar manner torn down electrical pylons lining the road for kilometres without end. It took a long while till I could see the first signs of human habitation again, and also a chain of hills on the eastern horizon appeared that indicated an end to this mind-numbing monotony.
When these hills north of the Hodulbaba Dağı mountain had come closer, there was a turnoff in direction of Divanlar ("The councils" or "The couches"), which I found eventually to be nearly at the feet of these hills at an altitude of 1000 m. Being the closest village to the confluence 38N 33E, the remaining distance was nevertheless still more than 8 km, the Confluence was obviously to be found deep in these hills, and I had to ponder the situation: the remaining daylight time was not sufficient to venture this distance on foot; it might be an option to return here tomorrow, but this would also shatter my further plans. Fortunately, while driving through Divanlar, I noticed some sort of path or track leading up into the hills beyond the village. I did not really think that this track would be drivable with my car, but at least I could use the occasion to investigate the possibilities to get closer to the point.
While driving out of the village, I noticed lots and lots of gophers beside the way that ran away and slipped into their lairs when I approached them. It was nearly impossible to get a good photograph of them. Unexpectedly but luckily for me, the track revealed itself as drivable, though. I decided to try my luck and see how far it would bring me into the hills and closer in the direction of the point. Hopefully, I would be able to approach it for some kilometres more until I would have to walk. The track was sometimes covered by loose gravel, sometimes it had deep grooves, but then it was always possible to avoid these obstacles by driving over the pastures beside the path, the soil was dry and firm. It took only a short while to reach the height of the hills, then a wide area of pastures spread out in front of me. Not a single tree could be seen on these hills, but from time to time large sheep stables were strewn on the pastures with paths branching off towards the stables, where they ended.
Driving along the track, fortune always offered a new path that brought me nearer to the Confluence. The area was completely void of any vital signs of men or bigger animals, at least I couldn't detect any. I started to become a little uncomfortable because of the danger of getting stuck with the car here in this desolate area, but I compensated this disturbing feeling by even more cautious driving. But without any difficulties, the distance melted away until I could already throw a glance over the hills and pastures in the direction of the spot. The path descended into a dry riverbed, and this offered a new chance to get along towards the point. When only a kilometre was remaining, a side path left the riverbed towards a sheep stable that seemed to be really close to the Confluence. I thought that this would be the utmost place where I could go by car, but when I approached the stable, one of these giant shepherd dogs that I had already met at 38N 31E came out of it! So it was not a good idea to leave the car beside the stable, all I could do was to try to drive on over the pastures and to hope that the dog would lose its interest in me after a while.
This was the case, and having driven 150 km since I left 38N 32E and 15 km since passing Divanlar, I finally stopped the car in front of a shallow gully, the Confluence only 400 m ahead! I think if I had tried to get around the gully, I could have even driven to the spot, but I did not want to spoil the place with the car. So I took my gear and walked the remaining distance to the point, which I reached at 4:25 p.m. The GPS receiver indicated an EPE of 4 m and an altitude of 1239 m. The sheep stable that I had passed was about 600 m to the South of me, and to the Southeast I could notice another one several hundred metres away. I took the usual photos and again a series to compose a (nearly) 360° panorama, but suddenly I noticed a movement in the direction of the second sheep stable! I zoomed in on the stable with my camera and detected two shepherd dogs strolling in my direction, slowly but undoubtedly. Had they noticed me? Would they attack me as an intruder into their territory?
I did not wait to find it out. Without any signs of hectic I collected all my items and began to retreat in direction of my car. I know that one should never try to run away from dogs, because this stirs their hunting instinct, so I tried to walk both as calm and as quickly as possible and always kept a wary eye back on the dogs that came ever closer now. 400 m can be a terribly long distance, but finally I arrived at the car, quickly opened the door, and jumped behind the wheel – wham! The doors were closed and only a moment later the dogs were at the car, too. But to my relief they were completely peaceful, they did neither attack the car, nor bark around. After a while they even lay down in the warmth of the sinking sun to take a nap. But I did not think of opening the doors again. I threw some candy out to them, then started the car and began the long and slow way back over the hills at around 5 p.m. When driving through the dry riverbed, an idea came to my mind: This riverbed ran down on the east side of the hills that I had traversed coming from the West. Could this possibly offer a chance to approach the Confluence coming from the East?
I tried to drive down the riverbed but soon had to turn back because the driving became too difficult in the loose rubble. Moreover, I approached a herd of sheep and was immediately attacked by a number of shepherd dogs. Oh dear, you really like to have a couple of millimetres of steel between them and you! Obviously, they are only aggressive when they have to protect sheep, or else I do not understand the behaviour of the peaceful ones that I had met before. So I returned along the way that I had come before, maybe with a sturdier 4WD car or on motorbikes there is a possibility to get to the Confluence from the East, I will leave this as a task for other confluencers in the future.
Back in Konya I searched for a small hotel in the centre of the town, and after some driving around I found a convenient one, where I could stay over night in a nice, comfortable room for 40 YTL (25 €) including breakfast. It was now 6:45 p.m. and only a little later I left the hotel once more to walk around in the city centre for a while; many monuments, mosques, and mausoleums dating from the Seljuk Era can be found here, 800-900 years old. After having driven 450 km today, I would have liked to relax in an ancient but still in use Turkish Hamam, but the time did not permit this because I still had to look for a restaurant to get my first warm meal for today.
Continued at 37N 33E.