A chronicle of Alison and Ron's trip around the world in 2009-2010.

"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Monday, July 20, 2009

Our Very Own Turkish Night

Everyone does tours here and prepackaged experiences. It drives us crazy. There are too many tour buses and too many tourists. And a gazillion Japanese. The whole island of Japan must be a ghost town this time of year. They pay top dollar to be shuttled in and out of the sights at breakneck speeds. But the one tour you will find the Americans (and Aussies and Germans) is Turkish night. Apparently the bars here are pretty deserted normally. Ron and I popped in after dinner one night for a whiskey but at $10 a drink we reluctantly turned around and walked out.

How does Barney Rubble afford a drink around here? I mean, how do they stay in business? The answer is Turkish night. They bus in 50 party goers, bring out the belly dancer, crank up the music, and its open bar all night. Of course this means you try to drink your moneys worth. One local remarked that he and his buddies would bet on how many tourists would stumble outside and puke in the street. Tonight, I got my money on lucky number 4.

But this post isn’t about the Flintstones Bar. Rather, we met some friendly Turks at the local moto rent place (because apparently this has been a good strategy for us to meet people) that invited us over for dinner and we had our own Turkish night that I guarantee was much more fun and a billion times more authentic, even without the belly dancer.

First the cast of characters: Kubilay and his adopted niece Ashay started Action Rent A only a month or so prior renting bikes, scooters, atvs, jeeps, and have cornered the market on buggies. Abdullah or “Abul” is the translator, who owns the jewelry shop next door. Mr. Unal is Kubilays best friend, a lawyer who lives in Kasery, dresses sharply and just that week met with the President of Turkey.
We came over at 8pm and as it was a little drizzly outside, set-up the little bbq right outside the shop. Starting the fire and getting the charcoal to burn was aided by an Ancient Turkish method of using a Vidal Sassoon hair dryer, but however speedy this got the grill going it still smoked out the restaurant next door, much to the dismay of said restaurants owner who came over and frowned at us, barking something I couldn’t understand in Turkish that very well might have been “Why the hell are you lighting a fire outside my restaurant?!”

First on the grill was tomatoes and green peppers. Next onions and garlic. Then the main event of lamb seasoned to perfection. Earlier that day, Abul helped us negotiate a good deal on the meat (our contribution to the meal) which was 30 YTL for 2 kilos. This and several loaves of ekmek (bread) and we had the best downhome meal yet. They call it mongol bbq, we called it delicious.
“Hosgeldin Unal!” this is what I repeated at least a dozen times before he arrived over and over so I wouldn’t screw up the welcome. He came with a baglama which is a handcrafted folk instrument that he played beautifully.

No Turkish night would be complete without smoking some water pipe. We all took turns sampling the sweet apple tobacco and sometimes taking too much and coughing it back up.

Not to mention, you need to be drinking raki to have a real bonafide party here. And watch out because with copious raki drinking, the dancing is bound to ensue. Ron got out his iPod and played DJ for our new friends while we danced, often comically, into the night. I will spare you my poppin' and lockin' video that I will have to take to my grave.

Through Abul we bridged the language gap and made four new friends. I learned more Turkish in one night then I did the whole week prior, even struggling to learn good pronunciation that they seemed proud of me for trying to get right. We broke bread, shared music, laughed, talked, danced, joked, and had the most special night in Turkey by a landslide.

Bizim sevgili arkadaslarimiza: Abdullah, Kubilay, Ashay, ve Unal…cok tesekkur ederim!


doug e July 31, 2009 at 4:04 AM  

What a great night. Reminds me of the night jason and I had in spain when we were befriended by mohammed and his buddies at a bar in Marbella. They ditched their women and took us on an all night disco all over town. Locals night is allways better. Doug

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