Saturday, 8 September 2007

Turkish Grand Finale

This morning, former pupil Mark Beaumont who is currently cycling around the world, approached the Iranian border from the direction of eastern Turkey The white line marks the border between Armenian Turkey to the west and Iran to the east. After 10 days of amazing sights while cycling through Turkey, surely one of the most impressive would have been the massive summit of the extinct volcano Mt Ararat 5165m (almost 17000ft in old money or four times the height of Ben Nevis!) and its sister peak Little Ararat 3978m rearing up to the north as he approached the border. A search on Google produces a huge amount of information on Mt Ararat, much of it related to the Biblical story of Noah's Ark . Because of its height, it also attracts a lot of climbers and you can read about a typical climb here.
Sadly, as with all remote places which now attract tourists, it seems Mt Ararat is not immune from litter, as I discovered on this photo taken above the snowline (spot the discarded water bottles).
As the NASA Earth Observatory web page on Mt Ararat reveals, neither Ararat (Agri Dagi to the Turks) or its 'little sister' have been active in the last 10,000 years. I was therefore not a little susprised to zoom in on this image .. and this even closer one
It is clearly not lava if neither volcano is active but something is burning! Forest fire perhaps?
At this altitude, it would be perfectly possible for coniferous trees to grow but in the heat of the summer, they could well be vulnerable to wild fire. What do you think?

Finally on the subject of Mount Ararat, here is a large collection of lovely images of the mountain and its region for you to browse.

As I type, Mark has probably now negotiated the Iranian border. If you check out the GPS tracker on there are some interesting high res images of the border.... huge queues of vehicles (mainly lorries) approaching from the Iranian side and waiting to get through. While zooming in on the area around the border, I chanced on this... If you look very closely, there is writing beside the Turkish flag. It appears to say 'Once vatan'. I don't know a single word of Turkish but I know how to find out what that means! Try putting 'English Turkish on-line dictionary' into Google and this is what you get. 'Once' means first and 'vatan' is native land or homeland. So the slogan on the ground reads 'Country first'.
Some more research produced a couple of bits of trivia on the topic of the slogan... there was a film called made in 1974 and there is a national daily newspaper in Turkey which carries the same name. (Click the flag to link).
Mark's journey through Turkey has been another wonderful learning journey for me and reminds me how much of the world I know so little about. That's the fascinating thing about geography - there's always something new to learn. Roll on Iran!

No comments: