America’s Antiquated Passenger Trains

This is a nice video on the Amtrak Southwest Chief from Chicago to Los Angeles. The US is a great country for high speed rail. But the technology has been totally neglected compared to Europe, Japan, and even Turkey. Turkey now has high-speed rail, building more. I just rode the trains in Poland. Most trains are not high-speed, but are beautiful trains, leaving from the beautiful large stations in Warsaw and Krakow continuously. These trains are quiet and very comfortable. And popular. Italy has beautiful high-speed trains.

Just imagine how easily high speed trains could be built in the vast space of the USA. And imagine how popular fast and efficient travel would be. So civilized being able to live comfortably, eat and sleep on the way in comfort. A fraction of the US military spending would build a wonderful system. I guess Americans never think of that, for the most part. That country just keeps spending hundreds of billions of dollars on wars and producing havoc around the world.

Don’t tell me that it cannot be done in America. All the US has to do is find out how any European country does it. Or Japan. Or even Turkey! That is the truth, and Americans should be honest enough to admit it. It is shameful to see these old antiquated trains that pass for passenger trains in the USA! The US is showing its failure to the world on Youtube.

I love Amtrak and used to travel on it a lot, but now the US needs to try to catch up with the rest of the world with a high-speed rail system! Of course, the state (Government) must be willing to put up the money to build a new infrastructure just for fast passenger trains. This will be safer as they will not be mixed up with freight trains on the track. They need not try to come up to Japanese speeds. Half that speed would revolutionize travel in the US! A couple of hundred miles an hour would be a start. The Japanese can show the US how to do it, if they cannot figure it out.

Hogwash About Turkey

Hogwash about Turkey

Eddie J. Girdner

There is an article on the internet with the title: “14 Things NOT to do while traveling in Turkey.” The author is Justin Andress.

Really, Mr. Andress, I wonder if you have even been to Turkey. I think that if you had ever landed at an airport in the country for just half an hour, that you could not write such stupid things. Actually, it strikes me that one would need to work excessively hard to get so incredibly misinformed about the country.

Surely a glance at any travel guide such as Lonely Planet Turkey would disabuse you of a lot of the nonsense you have written here. There are a few suggestions that are true and useful along with the flood of horseshit. This flood of horseshit would leave one aghast when they actually visited the country if they really believed it!

I have lived in Turkey and North Cyprus for more than twenty-five years, so I can say that much of it is not true.

1.“Don’t eat or drink in public during Ramadan.”

Really? Are you kidding? I live in Izmir. All the restaurants have been going strong during Ramadan with Turks! There are fewer people in them. That is all. We have eaten several times in Merkez Lokanta in Seferihisar, a regional town, during Ramadan this year. It was a little less crowded for lunch with Turks! What you have written is utterly silly!

Some Turks fast during Ramadan, but lots of them pay little attention to it. In conservative areas, like Konya, it would be a little different, but Turks are allowed to eat and drink in public in Ramadan.

This is totally different from Pakistan, for example.

  1. “ISIS wants to ruin your vacation in Turkey.”


If you believe that, you should buy a lottery ticket, since you are far more likely to win the lottery than to get hit by ISIS! Actually, ISIS does not give a shit about your holiday. Sure, bombs have gone off in Turkey. Guess what? The USA has been launching wars next door for decades. So not surprising that this has happened. But one could get hit in Paris, London, New York or almost any place in the world today. Turkey is not more dangerous than these places. Most Turks just wish that the USA would get out of the area. That would help a lot in their view. (and mine too)

  1. “Don’t walk in front of someone who is praying.”

I guess this refers to inside a mosque. First, a tourist would not normally visit a mosque on a Friday when the service is happening. And if they did why would they walk in front of those praying? Most of the times, the mosque will be relatively empty. So, one can walk around without bothering anyone.

In Izmir there is a huge mosque near the old bazaar of Kemeralti. There are prayer rugs outside as there is an overflow of worshipers from the mosque on Fridays. They pray in the walk-way with people walking on every side of them. And no one is getting upset. So people are very reasonable.

Anyway there is a lot of tolerance toward foreigners, who may not know exactly what they should do. So, there is no need to worry as long as one respects others.

  1. “Don’t ignore the dress code. Wear conservative clothing.”

There is no dress code in Turkey. Women are free to wear a headscarf or not to wear one. There are many types of headscarves. Some peasant women wear them just to keep the sun off, like my mother used to do in the USA. Some represent styles of religious tarikats (sects), or just a fashion.

The only time a female tourist would need one would be visiting a mosque or other religious site. So, this is not a big concern.

As far as shorts, I see Turkish men wearing shorts all the time. Much more than some American tourists. It is hot. Why not? As for women, they wear shorts too. A lot. Sometimes I am actually shocked at how skimpy young Turkish women are dressed around Izmir and other tourist areas.

Maybe your information is very much outdated. There are all kinds of Turks and some are quite wild in their dress. One will see everything. From the southeast, some women cover completely in black. Now there are many women from Syria covered all in black. But tourists do not need to worry about dressing conservatively. That is hogwash!

  1. “Learn body language of Turks.”

Turks do not expect foreigners to use the Turkish body language. If one lives in the country long enough, one will learn it. But there is no reason why a tourist should know it. One can easily communicate yes or no without knowing it. Most Turks know at least a little English, German, or French.

  1. “Don’t expect a lot of booze, but expect a lot of smoking.”

You may not expect to see a lot of booze, but if you happen to be in tourist areas or in certain parts of Izmir and Istanbul, you are going to not only see a little booze, you are going to see RIVERS and RIVERS and RIVERS of BOOZE! In Turkey!

In Izmir in the Alsancak area, it is hard for me to get into a pub as a single, because they are all full to overflowing on almost every night of the week. Out in the street, both sides, the mayhanes (drink places) are full. In Istanbul it goes on till morning.

Some places have more than 20 brands of beer from many countries!

Wine and raki flow like rivers of water. And other drinks.

In summer in tourist areas, beer and wine suppliers are working overtime to keep the restaurants, pubs, and bars supplied with booze! The only way one would not see it is to keep their eyes closed all the time!

Are you kidding????? Get Serious!!!

Smoking, of course. Turks love to smoke.

Americans stopped smoking but are dying of obesity, it seems.

  1. “Don’t leave any food on your plate.”

I have never heard of that. And my wife, who is Turkish, says that she has never heard of that. So where did you get that?

You will not offend anyone by leaving food on your plate. Don’t worry.

  1. “Don’t buy ANYTHING without bargaining first.”

Actually, this only applies to items like carpets or other high value items that tourists might want to buy.

I buy all kinds of things all the time in Turkey, and one almost never needs to bargain. Most prices are pretty well set and quite fair. Tourists sometimes spoil this in tourist areas by thinking that one needs to bargain for everything. It is OK to ask for a small discount on many things. Sometimes shop keepers will give a discount without even being asked. They are generally not greedy. This is totally different from, say, India.

So generally one would just bargain for carpets of other higher-value items. The shopkeeper would normally give a discount without any hard bargaining.

Things in the article that are good ideas:

1.“Take off your shoes at Mosques”

One is not likely to forget this because there will be racks of shoes where others have taken them off. So, it is no problem. And one does not need to worry about their shoes being stolen.

2.”Learn a few words of Turkish”

Sure, this is a good idea.  But Turks will not necessarily expect it. Also, it will take some practice in pronunciation for the Turks to understand one. Whether they understand or not, it is a good idea.

3.“Manners and social graces.”

This is the same in Turkey as in any other country. But Turks are more polite to each other than in many countries. People are generally far more rude in the USA, depending on which part of the country.

  1. “Turkish males only talk to males.”

Maybe, maybe not. It depends upon a lot of things. Some Turks are very liberal. Some are very conservative, socially.

This would not be true in a university, for example.

  1. “Addressing single Turkish women.”

Again, this depends upon the situation. In general, it would not generally be a great idea to go around trying to pick up single women. This is probably true in most countries.

6.“Don’t say anything bad about Ataturk.”

Sure, a good idea. But the caution should probably be to avoid all politics for the most part. It would be better to ask Turks what they think and just listen. Most Turks love to talk about politics and generally have a lot of criticisms of what is going on. But they might not like to hear criticisms from foreigners. This is also true in many countries. Nationalism can raise its ugly head easily.

So, it is better to let the Turks curse the system, as this is popular and they love to do it.

More important cautions that were not mentioned:

  1. Be careful crossing the roads and streets.

In European countries, cars generally stop for pedestrians. Turkish drivers are not used to looking out for pedestrians. Sometimes they will even honk at them.

So, one is in far more danger from cars and trucks than ISIS or other terrorists. This is probably the biggest danger in the country. Don’t step out in front of cars and trucks. They will probably not stop, as in Europe.

  1. One will not suffer from a lack of food and drink. The biggest danger is over-eating and over-drinking.

One is not likely to be under-nourished. But there will be a great danger of being nourished-under. So take it easy on food and drink.

  1. Sun. The sun is very hot in the summertime in Turkey. Get professional sun-oil to protect one’s skin and do not bake one’s self in the sun like a broiled chicken. Some tourists lay out in the broiling sun for hours unaware of the dangers.
  2. If one drinks Raki, it is a delicious drink, and goes down easily. But because of that, one can drink too much very easily. So one should be cautioned. It is not a good idea to get dead-drunk in the street. One should be able to hold their drink.

True in any country.

If Mr. Andress ever writes more about Turkey, I hope that he either makes a trip to Turkey to actually see what is going on, or at least does his homework.

Horseshit has its uses, but it probably should not be piled on top of those who are planning to visit Turkey.