A Travellerspoint blog

You Don't Throw Glass!!!

Seriously, who does that???

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As the end of May was upon us, so was the end of our difficult yet amazing semester in Turkey. We decided to plan a dinner, ie. make a reservation for 40, and celebrate before we had to say goodbye. The goodbye dinner afforded the opportunity for the exchange students, and Turkish host students to get together and reflect upon the events of the past four months. Little did I know that possibly the most momentous occasion for me personally, was a mere few hours into the future. We finished dinner, and decided to move the party to a nearby bar. We proceeded to drink, and have an all around great time. After a few hours we got ansy, and decided to move yet again to a nearby club where we could dance. During this short walk through the streets of Ankara, is where this night takes a turn for the worst.

Now a group of 40 sober people can stay together no problem, but once you get 40 people drunk, you can forget about maintaining any type of cohesive unit. I end up at the tail end of the pack, waiting for a few stragglers at the very back. Once everyone catches up, we all start heading to Club Manhattan to dance the night away. I am walking with my friend Courtney, who soon finds a glass bottle more entertaining than yours truly, and takes off, dribbling the bottle up the sidewalk. I continue to walk alone, minding my own business, when CRASH! A beer bottle lands in front of me, breaking into several large chunks of glass. I look down. My hand is gushing blood. It is too dark for me too see what happened, but I know that my hand is cut, and there is blood all over the sidewalk, and my clothes. In my stupor, I become frozen in place, and now am really far behind my friends. They start yelling at me to hurry up, and I just keep saying “guys, I am bleeding” over and over. Finally someone is like “you are what!?” and come over to find me standing in a pool of blood. Somewhere in those few moments I realize that the beer bottle had been thrown at me from the balcony directly above . My friends aren’t the only ones who show up in this moment, but so does a sketchy Turkish man in his Mercedes, telling me to get in his car. Dream on you fucking loser, and come on, do you seriously want me to get in your car and get blood all over the interior of your Mercedes??? Get lost. My friend Emir, who speaks Turkish, THANK GOD, has no idea what just happened, or how I had cut myself. He starts talking to the assholes on the balcony, who were apparently apologizing to him. He immediately sticks me in a cab and takes me to hospital number one. After they tell me I would have to pay an exorbitant fee out of pocket just to be seen, I say ‘forget you,’ and we go to hospital number two. Where is hospital number two located, you ask. Oh, in Ulus, code for: the-worst-part-of-the-city, Ankara….the public hospital. But here I am. We pull up, and there are news reporters and camera crews all over the damn parking lot. I get rushed inside with Emir, the rest of my friends are told to wait outside….in the ghetto….with the reporters. In any case, I made it to the hospital, end of story you think? Well you think wrong my friend.

The interior of the hospital is marked by utter carnage and complete chaos. For starters, there is no waiting room….there is just a hallway. So everyone who needs to be seen that night is crowded together in the hallway. Three may be company, but fifteen is definitely a crowd. Especially when your fellow fifteen are dripping blood from their faces…..because they have been shot/ stabbed…..by the dude who is currently handcuffed to his gurney, and flanked with policemen!! Yes that is correct, there had been a murderous rampage earlier that night in Ankara, where 30 something people had been wounded or killed. And the culprit was in front of me in the X-ray line. Not only is this homie handcuffed to his bed, he is also stabbed multiple times in the torso, and choking up blood. Apparently I missed something incredibly disgusting, because Emir winced and gagged, and told me not to turn around. After getting x-rayed in a room that was covered in someone else’s blood, I got to go search the otherwise empty hospital for the plastic surgeon. I was so confused, I don’t think we ever found a plastic surgeon, just some woman doctor who checked my hand for nerve damage…..and there was none (again, THANK GOD). Then I got my stitches….by some fat grumpy bitch, probably on her period, and definitely ugly. I was more scared at this point than I had been at any other point that night…..and probably because for once, I knew what was coming next…. and I had never had sitches before (oddly enough, I have had a glass bottle thrown at me before though….but that was by my stupid and sober-for-12-years-friend, Ryan…and he had missed). Emir let me squeeze his hand, and before I knew it, I had three stitches, and the bleeding had finally stopped. Emir and I ultimately did get to leave the hospital, and go home for the night. My savior and protector, and translator extraordinaire, Emir put me in a cab, and refused to let me pay him for the fare. I feel so indebted to him for his help and companionship that night, I cannot even express my gratitude. In any case, I think I made it home around 4am, but I really cannot be sure, because I was in a total daze.
My friends had left hours before, turning down the opportunity to hang out in the parking lot of the public hospital, and possibly catching a glimpse of a mass murderer. They all texted me very sweet and concerned messages, and went to bed. Pekka on the other hand, waited up for me….and then met me at my apartment when I got home. I was pretty shaken up, upset, and angry with what had happened to me. And while I was exhausted, I was way too worked up to go to sleep. Pretty much, Pekka took over where Emir left off, and baby sat me for the night. Once again, I was wide awake as the dawn prayer calls were sounding throughout Ankara. In the morning, my roommate Matthew, stunned at the sight of me sporting a huge white bandage on my hand, had to hear the entire story. He then proceeded to make us all breakfast. I have to say that I was really lucky to have such good friends around me when all this shit went down.
I was in foul mood over the next few days. I was so bitter and angry, and utterly appalled at what had happened to me. I could not believe that someone would actually throw a glass bottle off their 4th floor balcony, when there were people walking below. I was incensed. Fruthermore I was very irritable and unhappy about the status of my handicapped (ie. useless) left hand. Now obviously, it could have been so much worse. What if that bottle had hit me in the head? Or sliced open my wrist? But still, what happened was bad, and the fact that it was not an accident makes it even worse. Furthermore, my whole index finger, and knuckle were numb. Even several days after the accident, I had no feeling in this area, and that was really starting to worry me. I went to see the doctor on campus, hoping to get some insight, and relief. Instead I got a sexist, unprofessional asshole, who wanted my cell phone number, and asked if I was having problems with my boyfriend. Instead of putting my mind at ease, he scared the shit out of me. He told me that I might need to have surgery for nerve damage….immediately. I was thinking in my head that there was no way in hell that I would have surgery in Turkey, and would have to scratch all my travel plans for the summer, and go home. Now like I said earlier, this all happened at our goodbye dinner, meaning I was about to leave Turkey, and go travel around Europe. My last week in Turkey was spent running around from one doctor to the next, seeing a hand specialist to ensure once more that I did not have nerve damage, and being sexually harassed by the “specialist” on campus. I made this so-called specialist take out my stitches on my last day in Turkey, despite him telling me that it was too early. I pretty much did not value his ‘professional’ opinion at all, and told him to take my shit out anyway. Then I left Turkey, with a slightly bitter taste in my mouth, and a huge chip on my shoulder. This experience unfortunately (albeit temporarily) made me lose sight of the wonderful and beautiful country of Turkey, and its amazingly friendly and hospitable people. Now temporarily was the key word in that statement. Now that I am back home, missing Turkey more than ever, I can fully appreciate it, despite such unfortunate experiences as this one. Three months later, the area directly around my scar is still swollen and numb, and the movement in my finger is restricted. This is a total pain in my ass, but like I have thought to myself a million times, it could have been so much worse. I can deal with having a slightly useless finger, and a really ugly scar. I mean at least I am not bleeding from my face or permanently on my period. See? Things really could be worse.

Posted by edward31 01:17 Archived in Turkey Tagged disabilities Comments (0)

Turkish Creeper Pick Up Lines

Or at least the ones I can remember....

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  • "You dropped something....your underwear."

* "Hey Angels, where is your Charlie?"
* "Spice Girls!!"
* "Are you Chinese? You are the most beautiful Chinese women I have ever seen."
* "Yes please"
* "I am here"
* "Where are you from?"
* "Come and see my trash"
* "Como éstas?"
* "Bonjour"

and possibly my favorite....

* (to Zuhair) "Where are you from?"
- Zuhair: "Pakistan"
- (pointing at me) "Is she from Pakistan too?"
- Zuhair: "Yes"

Posted by edward31 01:33 Archived in Turkey Tagged women Comments (0)

Blonde on the Inside

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On January 11, 2007, I, NG, dyed my naturally blonde hair dark brown. I thought it would be a fun change of pace, and possibly even a smart move. I had always entertained the thought of becoming a brunette for a little while. I figured, what better time than now. I would be going somewhere where no one knew me, and had no idea what I was supposed to look like. If I was going to do it, now seemed like the perfect time. Not to mention, I was about to move to the Middle East, where I thought being a blonde may possibly pose a problem for me. So on January 11, I went to Riley, my hair stylist, and told her I wanted a “light brown, maybe with a tinge of copper for kicks.” Turns out my hair loves red hair dye, and soaked up every ounce of that “tinge of copper,” and turned my hair purple. Uh huh, PURPLE. That was not exactly what I had asked for. Now at this point, Riley is freaking out a little bit, and trying to figure out how to rectify this hot mess on my head. She decides that in order to counteract the red (purple) we must go darker. I leave her chair that day with very dark red/brown hair. Not exactly what I had in mind, but what’s done is done. I basically look like a freak, and my dear sweet friends all tell me it looks good. It looks bad and I know it, but what can I do? Thankfully, the blonde in me is a fighter, and that dye faded significantly in the first week. By the time I actually left for Turkey, it was a much more manageable hue. That’s not to say that I liked it, but it was a marvelous improvement. I was determined to deal with it, and stay a brunette, until the end of my six month adventure abroad. However, I increasingly began to hate my hair, and for the life of me could not get used to the reflection I saw in the mirror. Furthermore, I own one too many pieces of bright pink clothing, which goes great with blonde hair...but not so much with brown/ red. One of the reasons I dyed it dark in the first place was so I would not stick out so much in Turkey. However, it really made no difference at all. People stared at me all the time, and it had nothing to do with my hair. I know this sounds ridicules, I mean it is just hair, who gives a shit? It matters! Try dying your hair some freak ass color, and see how you feel. Now like I said, the shit faded fast. I kept telling myself to hang in there, that it would be at that “light brown” stage soon at this rate. The problem was that because of all that red dye in there, it was not fading into a nice light brown…..it was fading into fucking pink. PINK HAIR! Not ok. I was constantly thinking about dying it back blonde, but was a. Worried about the language/ style barrier that was definitely present in Turkey and 2. Really wanting to just stick it out.

I could not do this, and on March 9, 2007, just two months later, I dyed my shit back blonde. Problem solved, right? Uhm….not so fast. Let me remind you that I was in Turkey, and despite having a fluent Turkish speaker with me at the salon, the fab five Turkish men stylists had a vision of their own. That is right, they completely and totally disregarded the instructions they had been given regarding my hair. Not only did I walk out of there with the trailer trashiest shade of blonde on my head, but also with BANGS!! I have never in my life had bangs, nor have I ever even thought for .5 seconds that I wanted them or that they would look good on me. Fuckers gave me bangs! And some crackpot beauty school dropout haircut. I looked like I was wearing a bad wig. And thanks to the bleach, my hair felt like straw. :(

Again, what could I do? Hair is hair, it grows back….and like I said, no one in Turkey knew what I was supposed to look like. I mean by now, I was probably already known as the chick with the weird pink hair, might as well live up to the nickname. I was so traumatized with my experience with the mulleted mafia that I refused to let anyone else in Turkey touch my hair. It grew out, and the bleach job also began to fade. By the end of May, I could pull it back in a ponytail and pretend that it wasn’t so bad after all. When I got back to California, I immediately went in to see Riley, begging her to fix my train wreck hair-did. She did, thank the lord! After making fun of the ugly and uneven hair cut I came in with (and reassuring me that the bleach did not ruin my hair after all), she gave me the haircut I had wanted all along! I will never again underestimate the importance of not having fucked up hair. Unfortunately the entire time I was abroad, my hair looked like shit, and I have about 2,000 pictures to help me remember that. However, now my shit is more or less back to normal, and I will never ever ever mess with it again. Not even if I move permanently to Saudi Arabia.

Posted by edward31 01:20 Archived in Turkey Tagged women Comments (0)

The Wheels on the Turkish Bus Go Round and Round......

and sometimes veer off the road because the driver is drunk....

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During my 4.5 month stay in Turkey, I spent a significant portion of my time on the bus. By the end of May, 10 hours on the bus was a cake walk. By that point I had survived so many strange and interesting experiences that pretty much nothing was going to phase me. Turkish buses truly are cultural experiences....if you want to know Turkey, take an overnight bus somewhere. Probably 90% of the “funny stories” I have regarding Turkey at least indirectly involve a bus ride. So there are the very general aspects of a Turkish bus, like the permeating, saturating stench of B.O that overpowers you.....especially when it is hot. Then there are is the inevitable female to male ratio.....almost all males, except for myself and my friends, and the few men who dared to bring their covered-women wives along with them....... For the most part there were only men on the bus......and I think by now, we all know how Nicole feels about Turkish men (see earlier blogs). Now these sausage fests on wheels are especially interesting at night....when homeboys are all snoring. And these fools are no more inclined to brush their teeth than they are to apply deodorant.....so yeah, more interesting smells to deal with. At least I never had to sit next to any of these neanderthals......why not you ask? Oh because in Turkey men and women do not sit next to each other unless they are married. However, I almost always sat in front of and behind Turkish males. Trying to sleep was a real struggle when you can barely breathe and you might as well be sleeping in a pigsty. Usually by 5am I was so damn tired that I finally would be able to sleep for about 1-2 hours. So there is a broad painting of the glory that is the Turkish bus, now lets reminisce on some particularly memorable experiences.

Like I mentioned earlier, it was very difficult for me to sleep on these buses. I brought a prescription of Ambien with me to Turkey, and decided to pop one of them to get through a particularly long ride....14 hours to be precise. I was sitting next to my dear friend, Anders, and warned him that I was going to take a sleeping pill so I would get some rest/ kill some time. I have no memory of the following incident happening......I only know about it from Anders telling me the next day. Apparently at some point in the night, the bus went over a bump, and I went flying off the seat....and onto the ground. From what I am told, I made a pretty loud noise, because I also woke up Karin, who was sitting in front of me. I have zero recollection of this, but find it absolutely hilarious nonetheless........so much for the Ambien. That particular bus ride turned out to be quite memorable for another incident. Like I said it was a 14 hour ride, 13.5 hours into it, our bus gets pulled over. We were entering Kurdish territory and security was high, we thought this was routine procedure. However, after standing outside of the bus for an hour wondering what the hell is going on, we finally get some answers.....our bus driver is drunk!! 13.5 hours into a 14 hour bus ride, our driver is removed for being inebriated.....great. The bus drivers on these buses are anything but vigilant or sagacious....clearly.

Aside from the drunk driver, there were plenty of other drivers who were....hmmm......multi-taskers? There was the one guy who had a cup of milk in his lap the whole drive....at least i am really hoping it was milk, and not anything shady like a white russian...or Raki (Turkish liquor, known as ‘tigers milk’ because it is white, and very high proof). This guy also had his cell phone to his ear more or less the entire drive. Then there was the other driver who was totally sweet, but took his eyes off the road one too many times for comfort. He kept turning around and offering Courtney and I pieces of his lokum (Turkish delights). Courtney and I pretty much came to the conclusion that sitting directly behind the driver was the worst possible place to sit, because you notice all the shady and unsafe activities taking place. That is precisely where we were sitting when we nearly crossed the center divider into oncoming traffic....my heart skipped about 6 beats. Or the time when I was sitting directly behind the driver, and everyone else around me was asleep. The driver and I were the only two people on the bus that noticed when we ran over a bird the size of a Pterodactyl . That was also awesome/ memorable. And then there was the time when the bus driver missed the freeway exit. So what does he do? He puts the bus into reverse.......on the freeway.....for a good 1/4 mile, to get back to the missed exit. Thank you for that!

In general, Turkish buses do not really adhere to any rules or regulations.....or really any structure at all. There are no crazy such ideas as ‘bus stops,’ or ‘speed limits,’ maximum capacities, or restrictions on ‘carry ons,’ etc. The so-called ‘bus stop’ could really be anywhere....the side of the freeway, a ditch, the middle of the road on the freeway. You literally can be standing in any of these places and flag a bus down.....and it will stop. As for carry-on items....we once saw a man bring his plow onto the bus, which seemed to be just tamam (ok) with everyone aboard! Zuhair, Courtney, and I were exchanging ‘what-the-fuuuuck’ glances, and try real hard not to laugh at the absolute absurdity of the situation. The policy for maximum capacity seemed to be ‘the more the merrier.’ It was quite common to see dolmuses (mini buses) that were so packed with people, that their back ends were scraping along the road....and that was pretty tamam too as far as I could tell.

Like I have already explained pretty much anything and everything is tamam on a Turkish bus....which is why I saved my favorite story for last. My good friend Zuhair and I decide we are going to visit the border town of Edirne, which is a good 10 hours away from Ankara. We take an overnight bus of course, thinking ‘this is mid May, we are pros at this by now.’ Not so fast. Zuhair and I take our seats, preparing for the breezy bus ride ahead of us, when in walks a Turkish soldier....hand-cuffed to a convict.....and another soldier.....holding a massive machine gun. Zuhair and I notice this occuring at the same moment, and look at each other like ‘wtfffffing-f!!” Three is company decides to sit directly behind Zuhair and I.......and our peace of mind goes flying out the window. We immediately begin texting all of our friends and letting them know that we may never see them again....and to please tell our parents that we love them. Fortunately we did survive that trip, we were much too scared to fall asleep....but we did walk off that bus alive, albeit quite tired and dumbfounded, but nonetheless alive and well. Now honestly though, who transports criminals on public buses?!! That is not tamam! Get that fool on some jail bird mobile with bars on the windows and other convicted felon comrades....not civilians! Gd Turkey, is a biraz (small) amount of common sense too much to ask for sometimes?

Now I could probably write another 2 pages on the glory of the Turkish bus system, but I think this little sampling of experiences will suffice for now. Despite the absolute anarchy and laissez faire philosophy, the Turkish buses did get us around. They afforded us the opportunity to travel all around the beautiful country of Turkey.....cheaply and easily.....and provided us with çok (many) funny stories to travel home with.

Posted by edward31 01:26 Archived in Turkey Tagged bus Comments (0)

The Torpid Turkish Male....

about as useful as a hole in your head.

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View Turkey 2007 & Europe 2007 on edward31's travel map.

Turkish men have the most useless and arbitrary jobs. Complete wastes of spaces. I mean I guess when your "job" is a complete joke, you are able to pray five times a day, drink as many cups of tea, and smoke as many cigarettes as your little heart may desire. Seriously though- fools get paid to guard public bathrooms, hose off buses, photocopy books, check ids, put shit through metal detectors, try to sell you bullshit off the street, try to proposition you off the street/ offer their services as personal tour guides, stand outside (fill-in-the-blank) business/ shop/ restaurant/ bus station and try to convince you to come inside, etc. I could go on for days. Basically if you are a Turkish man, most likely your job is a fucking joke, and you are not doing anything useful or productive with your time. Most likely you spend large quantities of time standing on the sidewalk, and even more likely, while your bored and unproductive ass is chilling there, you are staring at / harassing passerby. Is that really what denotes a devout Muslim? The men that have the time to hit up the mosque five times a day are the men who have nothing better to do with their lives. They literally kill time doing/ selling bullshit between prayer calls. At which time, they head over to the mosque, wash their feet, and holler at Allah. Which brings me to another important observation regarding Turkish males: they are not so fresh. Homeboys most certainly do not wear deodorant, much less bathe regularly. However, I am pretty sure that since they wash their feet five times a day, that negates the need to actually cop a shower. I mean duh, right? Who has time to shower when there is tea to be drunk, cigarettes to be smoked, and sidewalks to be patrolled??

  • ***Disclaimer****

I wrote this on April 1, 2007, while I was in Turkey, and extreeeemely bitter about the attention I was receiving from the Turkish male population. I formed a very negative opinion of Turkish men due to the constant and incessant staring & harassment. With that said, many of the Turkish guys my age were fantastic. The ones I met at Bilkent, in BISC, and in general the ones who were college students or college graduates were great. The deadbeats patrolling the sidewalks and bazaars are the ones I am complaining about.

Posted by edward31 00:36 Archived in Turkey Tagged women Comments (0)

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