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

"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Friday, July 24, 2009

Random Notes on Turkey

Still the footwear choice for the non-conformist hipster. Even in a burka, this cool girl sports her camouflage converse.

Everyone thinks Ron is Spanish. At least a dozen times a day someone inquires “espanol?” or greets him with a hearty “ola!” I find this highly amusing. Takes me back to a charcoal sketch we got in nyc where he looked latino and I called him “taco” for several months afterwards.

It’s unclear whether this is a Turkish phenomenon or a tourist issue but there is a lot of litter especially empty water bottles everywhere tossed carelessly on the ground or stuffed in holes that were not meant to be trash cans. It’s pretty disgusting but after awhile you think it’s ok to finish something and throw it down. Y’know when in Rome…

Who is the man? Ataturk that’s who. The father of Turkey is everywhere, from the Turkish lira bank note to life size posters, inspirational signs and wall calendars. The man is a legend. Revered and loved, looking dapper in his circa 1930 suits.

There is no such thing as pedestrian rights. Cars will not stop for you and may even speed up if you cross the street. They must get 5 extra points to hit a tourist.

It is not uncommon to see men holding hands. Now this isn’t exactly a shocking site for us living in San Francisco but it is not a sign of homosexuality in Turkey but rather very close male friends enjoying a walk together. I find it interesting how men have no qualms showing affection for each other but then jealously wrap up their women.

Speaking of, its odd that tv is so inconsistent, one channel censors alcohol and cigarette smoking (literally blurring the image of Spencer Tracy taking a puff) and on the next channel is a fully naked woman with a phone number, just dial 05-3939-12186. Long distance charges may apply.

And then Wifi is plentiful but You Tube is banned. No fair Turkey. Ever hear of freedom of speech and the expression of idiocy through grainy home video? No? God Bless America and unrestricted internet!

Every man, woman, and child over 12 chain smokes like a chimney. Their hospitality is to offer you a cigarette, even at 10 in the morning, and you actually feel bad refusing. But the smell is foul and all pervasive. There is no escape. With ashtrays on every table to hold down the tablecloths from blowing away. Just this week they banned smoking inside public places. There may be a revolt so Ron and I are fleeing the country.


corina August 5, 2009 at 5:08 PM  

i'll have to come back to these recent posts when we get closer to our arrival in turkey in november. thanks for the info & tips. definitely have to share the scam with jay so he doesn't fall into same trap. yikes! be safe and travel well.

Tugsan August 12, 2009 at 1:29 AM  

Hey Alison, hope you remember me. We had worked together in mcom shortly before you left. As you may remember, I'm Turkish and just wanted to touch base with you in case you need any travel info or emergency contacts.

Also, one comment on the youtube ban: The reason why it's banned is that youtube is refusing to cooperate with the Turkish government regarding copyright infringements and other legal issues. For instance, all the Turkish movies and TV serials can be watched on youtube, something you cannot do here in the U.S. I still do not support the ban but the government has a point.

Anyway, have fun in Turkey.

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