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.”

BULLSHIT!

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.

Best.

 

 

 

 

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A Walk Around Hilal Village

Hilal Village is on the Northeast edge of Izmir, Turkey, on the Metro line. I took a walk there with my old Minolta Camera and made some pictures on April 23, 2018. It is a quite poor village with some Gypsies.

There is a local railway line that comes past the village.

There is a ramp down to the village from the Metro Line.

Looking down on a poor family’s rooftop terrace.

An old abandoned house.

 

A small mosque in the village.

A simple village house.

A street scene.

Houses are poor, but often colorful.

Much religious conservatism too.

A village peddler, without many customers.I buy some pairs of socks from him.

Another peddler selling simits.

Some village youth.

A wall design. Some of the houses were more elegant in the past.

A village house, using old Agfa HDC 100 film that expired some 20 years ago. The film gives an interesting color to the houses.

Peace of Mind Cafe in the village.

Above the shops, once a nice building that could be restored.

The main street in the village.

One of the patrons of the local coffee shop.

Friendly locals at the village coffee shop.

Locals at a game.

A village doner kebab shop.

Old Tree and village dogs.

Some village kids.

Some young girls, probably Gypsies, and young boy.

Some local Gypsies. The villagers were friendly and treated me at the local tea house, where I spent some time with them. But one man got upset when his young daughter wanted me to take her picture. He ran out into the street shouting at her. So I quickly said I was not taking a picture of her. The Gypsies, on the other hand wanted me to take their pictures.Most of the residents of the village are poor, but seem to not be doing too badly.

 

 

Fifteen Pictures of Izmir at Night

Basmane Train Station

Station Front

Hotels Across from Night Clubs

Restaurants across from the station. 

Grand Corner Hotel across from the station

Night Scene Near Station

Quick Food Place

Sweets Shop

A Popular place, but all men!

A Kokorec Place

Another Street

Dress Shop

The Other Side of Town- Places to Eat and Drink

Dedicated Drinking Places on the Street

Street with outside tables

A city surely dedicated to pleasure

Pictures taken with Leica M6 TTL Camera. Leica Summarit-M 35 mm lens. Ilford HP 5 plus film shot at ISO 1600. Film developed with Kodak HC-110 Developer.

April 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Class Divisions in Izmir, Turkey

Part 1: Kemeralti and Basmane

Kemeralti- A huge bazaar with a maze of streets and hundreds of shops selling almost everything. It is next to Clock Tower Square in Konak. Easy to get lost.

Along Anafartalar Caddesi that runs from Basmane Train Station to Kemeralti. It is a more downscale area. Most people are poor. There has been a large influx of Syrian refugees in recent years. Many of them are now running shops in the area.

Women along Anafartalar Caddesi in late afternoon.

Shoppers in Havra Sokak Fish Market. (Synagogue Street) At one time before World War I, this was a Jewish area and there are some synagogues in the area that are now closed. This covered street is mostly a fish, meat, and vegetable market, but other things as well. Fascinating place, always busy.

Shopkeeper and friend.

Shoppers in Kemeralti

Havra Sokak Scene

Alsancak-The upscale west side near the sea. A crowded restaurant.

One of many popular pub-restaurants in the old area of Alsancak. Crowded every night. Hard to get a seat.

The wide mall, closed to traffic, is crowded every evening. Many shops and restaurants for upscale shoppers.

Young women in Sardunya, a beautiful historical pub.

Evening crowds on the mall. 

The buses, trams, metro and ferry boats are all free if one is over 65. But who would ever tell you that about Turkey! 

 

Some Memories of Yunan

Buddhist Temple with the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain behind.

The old town of Lijaing. It is clear that tourism has greatly developed since I was there in 2007. The connection is through Kunming. Lijiang is some 100 km further. A big tourist attraction is the Tiger Leaping Gorge in the Jinsha River that flows into the Yangtze. It seems that the trekking trails were not developed in those days. I was on a study tour of China. Our bus stopped at one point and we descended a steep narrow trail down to the rapids. The climb back up was difficult. Some on the tour paid to be carried down and back up. Now many trekking trails have been developed. A great adventure if one is younger. It is one of the deepest gorges in the world, and incredibly scenic.

The River.

Shop in the old town of Lijiang. 

The monastery at Shangri La (Zhongdian). The name was changed to Shangri La to attract tourists, it seems. 

Inside the old town of Shangri La. The town goes back some 1300 years. I guess I was lucky to get some pictures because most of this old town burned down in January 2014. It was a tragedy for tourism.