kabak syndrome

i will have a difficult time fully expressing my thoughts/feelings about the time i spent in kabak valley. kabak means multiple things to me. it means peace, friendship, community, relaxation, work, learning, self-awareness, patience, reflection, openness, responsibility … i could go on. this was such a different “travel experience” for me. maybe a bit more genuine in some way. i felt settled. i didn’t have an agenda. i didn’t have to do anything … well, except for wash dishes. i had the opportunity to work in exchange for accommodation at the camp. life is more simple there. less to worry about. less distraction. more meaningful conversation. being surrounded by nature.

as my friend shelby says … i had “kabak syndrome” … which is just to say that i had a really hard time leaving the valley. i had plans to go to cappadocia, but i could not leave kabak. i also had plans to spend the last week of september in hong kong, but i could not leave kabak. i could have stayed even longer, but i do have plans to travel with my friend monica around SE asia. it’s easy to get sucked into everyday life there. shanti garden became my little home. i worked, spent time at the beach, played loads of tavla (turkish backgammon) and cribbage, hiked to the waterfall a couple of times, swam in the sea to the cave (one of the most amazing spots ever), kayaked, camped in the mountains, slept in a tent almost the whole time i was at shanti, woke up to roosters crowing, went to sleep to the sound of crickets chirping, sat by the bonfire at night, ate lots of turkish food, started to learn some words in turkish, laughed a lot, and had some great conversations with my friends shelby and eleni. this will be one of the most memorable times of my life actually. i felt connected to something … or maybe to everything. to be honest … i have felt more closed off to the deeper things in life for sometime now. if you really know me then you know that i have not been completely closed off, but you also know that i have changed over the years. i do not have life figured out … i don’t think that any of us do. i have loads of questions. there was a season of my life where i felt that i had figured things out … felt like i had some answers. i have come away from that thinking and the transition has not been easy. but i can only be right where i am. and i see that change is always happening. around me and inside of me. sometimes i feel that i’m a really open person and other times i see that i can be super closed off. i felt aware of that during my time in kabak. i see how easy it is to run from my own feelings and fears. we are almost trained to do that by society. it’s what so many people do. say that you’re fine when you’re really not. say that everything is ok when it’s really not. and often times, it’s just the act of talking about things/feelings that helps us to feel better and more balanced. a girl i met in kabak had some good advice. she said to ask myself what it is that i want. but to really ask it. maybe to write it down … daily. what do i want? what do i really want my life to look like. the scary part about asking that question is that it makes you come to grips with the fact that you are the only one who can make the changes in your life to be who you want to be. if i want to be a more positive person, then i have to begin to look at things differently, to see the good in people more often, to not focus on the negative. nobody else is responsible for my life or my well being and that is sometimes a difficult thing to remember. it was so good for me to be around shelby and eleni … they were challenging. shelby is 19 years old and so full of life. she is an old soul and has some really interesting thoughts on life … i continually found myself learning from her. quite humbling. eleni is so self aware and open to what she is feeling and what she wants. it’s inspiring. so thank you to both of you! i will miss our chats!  i will also miss beating shelby’s ass at tavla! haha … actually she got a lot better and was winning some games. i had to win at that since she always beat me at cribbage.
i think there is this freedom that is hard for people to get to in life. i’m sure there are multiple combinations of reasons for this … where a person is born/raised, our culture, our family life, our personal struggles, heartbreak, disappointment, what we learn from society, what we think is important, our self confidence, the way we perceive things, the way we see ourselves, what we think we are worth. these things can be a part of what keeps us at bay, feeling trapped or helpless … or these things can also be a part of what sets us free. i think i’m mostly just rambling here, but these are the things that have been on my mind since being in kabak. it really is a magical place. it is not at all a perfect place … but the positives far outweigh the negatives so i don’t even think they are worth mentioning.
another good thing …
nobody cares what you wear or if you have makeup on or if you have shaved your legs in the last week … i love that.
it was a little sad to leave turkey today. it has a bit of my heart now and i hope to go back one day. i will miss the turquoise blue sea, the cool mornings, and the mountains in kabak, along with lots of other things about turkey. it is definitely on the top of my list. i will put some photos of kabak up, but i really didn’t take that many. i put the camera down for a bit.
i am currently at the airport in jedda, saudi arabia. the prayer chant just ended a bit ago on the loudspeaker. i am on my way back to singapore to meet up with my friend monica. we are planning to travel to cambodia, vietnam, laos, and maybe one or two other places over the next month. should be pretty amazing!

this is fethiye … stop on way to kabak

kabak valley

tattoo shop


11 thoughts on “kabak syndrome

  1. Nicole, I am so glad that you found a place like Kabak. Feeling free, really free to be yourself to be yourself is a rare experience. Often life gets in the way of being that way. But, once you’ve felt it, you will always have that time in your heart. Who knows, when you will find it again. Times change, and even returning to Kabak may not be the same. Hopefully, you will have many more experiences that will mirror your time in Turkey. Meanwhile, Singapore awaits your return & the beginning of a new stage of your travels.
    There many things we haven’t talked about, but, be sure, I have had my own Kabak. In Coos Bay, Oregon. When we have time, I will tell you about it. And, why I had to leave it. I often remember my time there, and wonder what would have happened, if I had stayed. I don’t regret it, and will always carry the memories with me…..but if I hadn’t left, you would not have had the chance to do what you are doing now…and that makes me just as happy as I was in Coos Bay, or if I was now in Kabak. I love you & wish we could play a round of golf..but maybe sometime in the future. Glad you are playing cribbage, I’d love to kick your sorry butt…and now I know who to give my 30 year old cribbage board.

    • oh 30 year old cribbage board??! sounds cool. yea it’s weird to think about what could have been in certain situations. you will have to tell me about coos bay! love you!

  2. Perhaps you should return there when nearing the end of your travels and see if you still feel the same.
    Sounds live you had a revelation of sorts.

    • hmm … well, i don’t know. sometimes things aren’t the same when you go back. these are things i’ve come to in my life before, but unfortunately they come and go a bit. ohhhh how to make them stay!

  3. This is the most meaningful of all your experiences to me. I’m so pleased that you reconnected with your spirit and we have so much to discuss! I want to be in this place. It sounds like heaven to me!

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