Enjoying the company of naked men

Posted: Aug 27, 2003 3:50:31 PM

It is official: Turkey rocks! Over the last couple of days the only genuine annoyances have been the endless procession of touts that insist on trying to strike up a conversation before they try to sell me something I don't want (hmmm...a carpet; I'd love to carry that around Europe for the next four months).

The usual approach is to either ask if I need directions, comment on my ugly hat (those of you who have seen it will understand; the usual description is 'interesting'), or try to guess my nationality. This last one is actually a common passtime amongst the local crowd, apparently, as not only the touts but the ticket-sellers and bus-company representatives have taken a shot. So far the guesses have been: American, British, Australian, Canadian, Spanish, Brasilian, and Estonian. One was willing to bet money that I was either American or Canadian. So far no-one has tried New Zealand, although as soon as they find out they cry 'Kiwi!' and all is well. Incidentally, one of the people doing the guessing was Australian - he was convinced that I was British. Go figure.


Istanbul is fantastic, and I have explored quite a few places, although I'm saving Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque (pictured) for my return to Istanbul in two and a half weeks.

Yesterday I tried the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, which had some astounding Greek and Roman Statues (liked the Nymphs...) and some great Hittite artifacts. Only those of you who know my particular fascination about Mesopotamia (and my fascination with ancient writing) will understand what an incredible thrill it was to actually see an original cuneiform tablet of Hammurabi's law codes from 1790 BC, or to touch a tablet with writing concerning the religious activities of Nabonidus.

I also went for a real Turkish bath, in a place that was built more than four hundred years ago: the Çemberlitaþ Hamamý. It was equal parts nerve-wracking and nerve-relaxing - I made one or two etiquette faux-pas, but generally had a great time being scrubbed down with rough silk gloves and doused in near-boiling suds. For the full story on what goes on in such places, the bath I went to even has its own website: Çemberlitaþ Hamamý. Yes, it is as fun as it looks.

Today I explored the huge Topkapý Palace, which was also amazing (I shall be using that word a lot, I predict), particularly the sword of Mohammed (and hairs from his beard!) and the Sultan's harem (now sadly empty but for us tourists - I didn't spend long in the Eunuchs' Chambers, either). After, descended into the bowels of the city to see the huge underground Basilica Cistern, built by Emperor Constantine so long ago it's not funny, and now I'm going to take a rest. Quite enough excitement for one day.

Tomorrow I set out from Istanbul on the Fez Bus, heading in the direction of Gallipoli. I will, as always, keep you updated on my progress.


Charlotte   Aug 27, 2003 4:54:25 PM

The baths look very cool *laughs*, but did you almost die from the heat? I lasted about 3 minutes in the hot water onsen I tried here in Japan. Not so easy to appreciate when it's 35 celcius outside!

Heh! No one in Japan ever correctly guesses my nationality either, but I get the same reaction when they finally find out. I get a bit sick of the immediate cry of 'sheeps!' though.

*generally envies at all the cool history stuff* Hmm, I'll just have to console myself by finding a nice old Japanese temple to hang out at!

Rimmers   Aug 27, 2003 5:00:00 PM

no one guessed you german?? now that´s very strange...

sounds you´ve seen already much in the city. you description of the bath sounds both fascinating and, um, a bit scary. what were those etiquette faux-pas you mentioned?

leaving on the hat?

Maladroit   Aug 27, 2003 7:36:12 PM

*specific envy*

*envy, envy, envy*

You'd better be taking lots of pictures, bub!

fraz   Aug 27, 2003 9:30:05 PM

nice, yeah, im not sure if i can e-mail you so ill tell you now. the othe day i went down a grassy-hill on a big block of ice(iceblocking) but then i hit the foot-path, i just hurt th musicles in my arm . nothing broken....... very dumb, but very funny & dumb. & oh yeah im going to canada tomrrow

alrighty. have fun.

Bosco   Aug 28, 2003 4:44:48 AM

*scowls* Never forget you are married to me. Partially. Those naked men had better not mean anything to you.

Morgan   Aug 28, 2003 2:03:04 PM

Okay, If I wasn't jealous before, I am now!

Mum and Dad are a bit busy at the moment but I assure you they have been reading printouts of your reports with much glee. I'm sure you would be successful if you emailed Mum as she's very good with replying.

Yes, I must say my curiousity was sparked by the etiquette faux pas. Please tell us....

Dad   Aug 29, 2003 1:22:19 AM


I'm glad you're having a good time. It's also good to hear that you're keeping your wits about you and that you knew enough to just turn around in that subway in Hong Kong. Its called survival skills.

I went to the Gang Show last night and I saw it but didn't hear it. Mum put Norm and I right down the back.

Have fun.

Peter   Aug 29, 2003 7:35:38 AM

I'm off for a week now, Damon. So just keep having fun and pray that the server behaves ;)

Bosco   Aug 30, 2003 12:18:35 AM

Uh oh, Ellis dad, and at least one Ellis bro. Better start behaving myself. Also, see this fat tear rolling down my cheek? No? Okay, well imagine there's a big fat tear there, cause that's the tear of too long an interlude between reports. Your hordes of adoring fans yearn sir!

Libbette   Aug 30, 2003 1:58:57 AM

I so want to go to Turkey!! How's the food???

People here always assume I'm English...

Charlotte   Aug 30, 2003 3:42:06 AM

*chants loudly*

We want more reports! We want more reports!

Damon   Aug 30, 2003 8:33:19 PM

Down the back? You should have hooted and wailed until they promised to give you seats at the tables in the front.

And I am learning survival skills - if I didn't, this trip may be a bit shorter than normal.

By the way, I am going to try to post a report now, but I have very limited time, so I'll only be able to do my best.

This report has been archived - for new reports go here.