Tag Archives: Turkey

What’s the Deal with Asian Showers?

I’ve read lots of horror stories about Asian toilets (i.e., the notorious squat toilet), but none about Asian showers.  By this I mean a shower that has no tub, curtain, or any other kind of separation from the rest of the bathroom.  You turn on the water and, voila, the whole bathroom gets wet!  I’ve experienced this personally in Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey.

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An open shower/ bathroom in Cappadocia, Turkey

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Another open shower/ bathroom in Taiwan

I know I’m showing my ignorance as a Westerner, but I just don’t get this kind of shower.  It seems very impractical.  You can’t leave much in the bathroom (clothes, towels, etc.) because it will constantly get wet.  Unless the shower drain works perfectly, you will have a small flood in your bathroom every time you shower.  When the water finally does drain out, it leaves a ring of hair, lint, and other nasty stuff on the floor.  It promotes the growth of mold and mildew.  Plus whenever you go into the bathroom to use the toilet, you’ll step in a wet, icky mess.

I guess it’s cheaper to build bathrooms this way, but I don’t think it would take much to add a curtain and some kind of recess in the floor for the shower area.  I saw a bathroom like this in Thailand, and it worked pretty well.

What do you think about the Asian shower?  Is there a trick to using it?  Are there advantages to it I’m not seeing?  Or does it bother the heck out of you?

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Filed under Asia, humor, Thailand, travel, Turkey

The Top 6 Things About Living in a Cave

I spent a lot of time exploring caves during my trip to Cappadocia, a fascinating region in central Turkey. People have been living in caves there for thousands of years. They carved everything out of the rock: monasteries, underground cities, stables, workshops, and of course, homes. I wanted to get the full cave experience, so I stayed in a cave hotel in Göreme for three nights. Based on my experience, here are the top 6 reasons for living a troglodyte existence.

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Our cave hotel room in Cappadocia, Turkey.


1.  You can tell people you lived in a cave!  This is an automatic conversation starter, and people seem to find it very impressive — probably because they picture you living underground, without electricity, and surrounded by bats. As you can see from the picture above, it’s not like that at all.

2.  You have no idea how old your room is.  A cave carved out yesterday looks pretty much the same as a cave carved several centuries ago.  Let your imagination run wild as you think about the room’s past inhabitants and uses.

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A cave room in an ancient monastery complex.

3. With the right tools, you can instantly create extra shelf space, windows, doors, etc. (Warning: Don’t do this unless you actually own the cave.)

4. A cave stays cool in the summer, warm in the winter (relatively). We were still freezing in our cave in November.

5. Get in touch with your caveman roots. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into the set of The Flintstones.

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A man stepping into his cave house.

6. Feel like you’re roughing it without the roughness. A lot of cave hotels are actually quite luxurious, with all the amenities you would expect of a modern hotel.

Have you ever stayed in a cave? What did you think?

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Filed under ancient, Europe, history, humor, photography, travel, Turkey

Turkish Food: What a Delight!

One of the things that surprised me most about Turkey was how good the food is. I had expected it to be like Middle Eastern food, with maybe a hint of Greek, but I was blown away by the endless variety that presented itself. Outside of Turkey, Turkish food is represented by the ubiquitous doner kebab. Well, I didn’t have doner kebab once while I was in Turkey – there was simply too much else to try. Due to the widespread reach of the Ottoman Empire, Turkish food combines the best of Balkan, Middle Eastern, and Persian cuisine, and much more. They take great pride in the freshness of their ingredients, and menus are small but robust. As an added bonus – at least for the American or European tourist – Turkish food is cheap. The food costs about half as much as what I would expect to pay in the States.

With that said, here’s a gallery of my gastronomic tour through Turkey (I went to Istanbul and Cappadocia). Bon Appétit!

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Filed under food, Istanbul, travel, Turkey

The Cats of Istanbul: Haikus

In old Istanbul
At every alley and door
A cat lies waiting

From Hagia Sophia
To the ancient Grand Bazaar
Yellow eyes peer out

Cats of Istanbul
I long to carry you home
But customs says no

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Filed under cats, humor, Istanbul, photography, travel, Turkey

Istanbul, Not Constantinople

It looks like I’ll be taking an impromptu trip to Istanbul in the near future!  Hopefully I won’t strangle my travel companion for constantly singing the song “Istanbul, not Constantinople,” as he is wont to do.  (I really hate that song.)

Here’s a video of one of the most annoying songs in the world.  Warning: watching this video may cause you to want to shoot yourself.

I threw together a list of all the sites I want to see there, with their visiting hours.  It goes something like this.

Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia): Tues.-Sun. 9-5 in winter (or 7 in summer)

Blue Mosque: Daily 9-5 in winter (6:30 summer); closed during prayer times

Basilica Cistern: Daily 9-5:30 in winter (6:30 summer)

Topkapi Palace: Wed.-Mon. 9-7 from April to Oct.

Topkapi Harem: Wed.-Mon. 9:30-5 from April to Oct.

Mosque of Suleyman: Daily sunrise-sunset except during prayer

Kariye Museum/ Church of Holy Savior in Chora: Thurs.-Tues. 9-7

Istanbul Archeological Museum: Tues.-Sun. 9-5 in winter (or 7 in summer)

Grand Bazaar: Mon.-Sat. 8:30-7

Egyptian Bazaar/ Spice Market: Mon.-Sat. 8:30-7, Sun. 9-6:30

Hippodrome: No hours, free

If I have time, I also want to see:

Mosque of Sokollu Mehmet Pasha: Daily sunrise-sunset except during prayer times

Dolmabahce Palace: Tues.-Wed. and Fri-Sun. 8:30-4 in winter (4:30 in summer); daily quota of visitors.

Can anyone recommend how many days I should spend in Istanbul?  I’m thinking three or four days.  I may also throw in a trip to Cappadocia if I have time!

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Filed under humor, travel, Turkey

Genuine Fake Watches? Yes, Please!

The picture says it all.

Souvenir shop outside of Ephesus, Turkey

Bizarre souvenir shop outside of Ephesus, Turkey. At least they’re honest (sort of).

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Filed under Europe, humor, travel, Turkey