Exploring Turkey

By Marni Bienfang ’97 Sakumoto

Twenty-three Punahou alumni and friends, led by Mei-mei Zane ’84 Engel, ventured to Turkey last October for the Punahou Alumni Travel Program’s third trip. With its rich history that extends back to the ancient Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires, the country is a vibrant melting pot of culture, art, food and religion.

Throughout the two-week tour, alumni from Classes of 1962 – 2007 visited cultural landmarks and natural wonders, took part in various outdoor adventures, and feasted on delicious local cuisine, all while immersing themselves in intriguing Turkish history.

The travelers bonded while exploring the major sites of Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace, the Bosphorus Strait, Suleymaniye Mosque and the Blue Mosque. In Cappadocia, the group checked off bucket lists with a sunrise hot air balloon ride overlooking geological wonders.

They also meandered through the centuries-old Kaymakli underground city and cave dwellings carved out of mountainsides, and enjoyed a daylong sail on the crystal blue waters of the Aegean Sea. Other highlights: A traditional Turkish bath experience and a dip in the Pamukkale thermal salt pools; excursions to the ancient cities of Ephesus, Aphrodesias and Heiropolis; and visits to the agrarian village of Etrim, featuring the Turkish cultural craft of carpet making and famed Egyptian Spice Market.

Top right, from left: Ken Sumida ’74, Mark Buenting, Wendy Viellenave ’83 and Mei-mei Zane ’84 Engel while hiking in Cappadocia
The anticipation before the flight. The group awaits a breathtaking sunrise hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia.
Exploring the fanciful geological wonders of Cappadocia called Fairy Chimneys.
Top: Inside the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, the group takes part in a history, art and architecture lesson. Front row, from left: Guide Mert Taner, Amy Sato, Mei-mei Zane ’84 Engel and Jean Dillingham ’72 Abbott. Middle row, from left: Marni Bienfang ’97 Sakumoto, Warren Ono ’69, Karen Ono, Karen Zufelt, Susan Lau, Jan Chouljian ’78, Wendy Viellenave ’83, Diane Kimura ’73 and Ethan Abbott ’72. Back row, from left: Daryl Sato ’65, Ken Sumida ’74, Wanda Wong ’62, Mark Buenting, Kaethe Kauffman, Rene Sumida, Haydn Hite ’07, Melinda Iverson Inn, Bill Nagle, Martin Inn ’62, Christine Smith, Chris Smith ’67 and Jennifer Davis ’84.
A glimpse into the Sufi path by way of the Whirling Dervishes sema ceremony.
The group takes in a morning boat ride on the Bosphorus Strait, where Turkey straddles two continents – Asia and Europe.
A memorable dining experience and surprise encounter with celebrity chef
Musa Dag˘deviren. From left: Ethan Abbott ’72, chef Musa Dag˘deviren and Melinda Iverson Inn.
The vibrant Egyptian Spice Market stimulates all the senses.
A delicious lunch experience with fresh-made flatbreads, lentil soup and local-grown salad in a village home restaurant.
A mosque in Istanbul overlooking the Bosphorus Strait.

Kaethe Kauffman enjoys a camel ride.

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