Getting out of Turkey while I still can

I used to think my New Zealand friend was a bit nuts for living in Turkey.

Then I spent a month here. Then I fell in love with it.

By love I mean love hate.

But more love.

And when I fall in love I fall in love hard, so on returning to Istanbul after a three week loop of the country the first thing I did was book a one-way ticket to Greece.

Well actually that was the second thing I did, the first being going along to a fantastic play by foreigners teaching English in Istanbul where they parodied the classic Lamb Chop’s song that never ends: “this is the song that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends. I came to Istanbul saying just one year and every year I say the same, it seems cos I’m still here. This is the song that never ends.”

It’s then it hit me that could very well be me, not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just there’s so much more in Europe I want to see.

So if I never come back, here’s a few things random things I will miss.

I will miss their national hero Ataturk, it’s hard not to, considering he’s everywhere.

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I will miss how much they love children. At first I found it somewhat disturbing to see random strangers coming up to children and pinching their cheeks and hugging them, but after a while I really liked it. They love children so much they even have a special Children’s Day (like a lot of things in Turkey you can thank Ataturk for that). I remember as a kid asking my parents why New Zealand didn’t have such a thing and they replied – “every day is Children’s Day.”

I will miss their food, but not their chicken dessert which had a similar texture to what I imagine a breast implant would taste like grilled.

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I will miss their way of life and how they always seem to have time for a cup of tea.

I will miss how cheap it is.

I will miss how open they are about their problems. My favourite was meeting one of my Turkish friend’s friends and while talking about electrolysis gone wrong she revealed (and I quote word for word) – “my vagina looks like Hitler.”

I will miss their generosity, particularly all the hoteliers who looked out for me as a lone wolf and the Turks who on numerous occasions swiped me onto the bus, shared their food on long bus trips, and escorted me to my destination. There’s one exception to this though and that’s an old guy who while on-route to the castle in Fethiye literally dragged me and another kiwi to see how he had random Lycian tombs in his backyard and then demanded we pay 5 lira each for the privilege. I refused. I did get a photo though.

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And, begrudgingly, I will kinda miss some of their sales one-liners including – “excuse me miss, can I help you spend your money,” and “is it my turn yet?”

The one-liner I won’t miss though is the ubiquitous “where you from?”

Seriously if one more person, on spotting my jandals, says to me “giddy mate, you from Australia? Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie” I may actually jandal slap them in the face.

And having a love hate relationship with Turkey I also won’t miss how everyone smokes and most of all I won’t miss walking down the street, dressed the most conservatively I’ve ever dressed, and feeling like a prostitute while random men yell at me something original like – “Lady Gaga, Lady Gaga,” or “why so sad, I won’t bite…hard.”

The play I was talking about earlier also had a song about how Turkish men view blonde tourists and I cried with laughter when they performed it because it was spot on.

The chorus went a little something like this – “You’ve got blonde hair, you’ve got blue eyes, you’re a foreign girl, you’re a prostitute. You’ve got blonde hair, you’ve got blue eyes, you’re a foreign girl, you’re an easy lay.”

Despite that I might be back.

As one girl in my hostel in Athens said to me last night as I was moaning about my dilemma of whether I go to Italy, house sit in Yorkshire, do Bus-About with a kiwi, or go back to Selcuk – “first world problems huh.”

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2 thoughts on “Getting out of Turkey while I still can

  1. Dear Rach I have just read your entire blog start to finish, and I am enthralled. It is so late I have stopped looking at the time but I couldn’t stop reading your posts. I love your writing and hope you continue with this. You have a talent here, maybe one you didn’t realize or just didn’t want to publish before now šŸ™‚ I hope all your travels are safe ones and that you find your reward. Can’t wait for the next post. Take care Annette (ex BSchool on case you had forgotten šŸ™‚ )

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