AFTER three flights, countless hours in transit and an hour-long drive, I finally arrived in Fethiye, South Turkey.
It was my first long-haul travel since the Covid-19 pandemic began, and as excited as I was to reclaim my old lifestyle, I had forgotten how to pack. All my travel essentials were dusty and expired.
How many pairs of socks are too many socks? Did I use to bring this giant bottle of minyak angin on previous trips?
The travel process was also more complicated than it used to be — PCR tests, health declarations here and there, vaccination certificates, the works.
Despite these things, I woke up on a chilly winter morning on the coast of Turkey, enthusiastic to see the world again.
How strange it was to see so many Turks walking about with absolutely no masks at all. In fact, they looked at me like I was a strange person stuck in yesteryear, back when everyone around the globe was cautious and fearful.
The waitress literally breathed into my lunch as she brought over my food in the cafe by the sea. This would've made news back in Malaysia. Life seems to have resumed normally for the Turks in South Turkey, with absolutely no need to scan any QR code upon entry into any premises.
I travelled along the coastal roads from Fethiye to Antalya, making stops along this long, scenic route whenever I saw fit. The beautiful coastline was dotted with small towns and villages, perched on high cliffs and calm shores facing the dark and mysterious Aegean Sea.
I visited ruins from eras long ago, built by kingdoms lost in time. Some of them were now nothing but broken fortresses and empty castles, or sunken cities drowned by the sea in an earthquake.
It was fascinating to witness these grand architectures, all the while thinking about the people who existed back then, whose names and stories we'll never know.
A particular place that is still vivid in my memory is Kayakoy, nestled somewhere along this coastal drive. Kayakoy is dubbed the "ghost town" and upon arrival, I immediately understood why.
It is indeed an empty ancient town, a large area of stone houses and buildings on the hillside that are now vacant. It used to be a bustling town inhabited by Christian Greeks and Muslim Turks, but the Greco-Turkish war of 1919-1922 had forced its citizens to abandon their lives and flee, leaving everything behind.
While walking down the pebbled lanes and peering into the weed-infested empty homes, there was an eerie feeling of loneliness. As I looked across the horizon, there were hundreds of houses, all lifeless and silent.
If this was Malaysia, a penunggu (or several) would have been alleged to roam this place by now.
My voice echoed through the halls of abandoned churches, and I saw old buildings that used to be schools, now deserted.
ARE WE REPEATING HISTORY?
Most of these ancient ruins, though not all, were abandoned due to wars and instabilities.
People were forced out of their homelands and neighbourhoods as a result of disagreements that turned violent.
As I traversed the ancient alleys that must have once been filled with children running happily up and down enjoying their days, empty villages that were once home to many, I couldn't help but think how similar these scenarios are to our present time, from the atrocities in Palestine which leave us all appalled, to the invasion of Ukraine.
History has shown us time and again of the immeasurable cost that comes from people destroying the lives of their fellow humans and yet, we continue to repeat this deadly pattern.
Do we ever truly learn from our past?
Save huge on flight tickets using AirAsia Voucher Code