Archive for September 13th, 2010

To wrap up our time in Turkey, Kelly and I spent some time being lazy in the resort town of Bodrum with our friends Doug and Luke before heading back to Istanbul for another couple of days. There was still one cultural activity here that we had yet to experience – the Turkish Bath. 

A Turkish bath is a spa-like treatment that basically involves sitting in a steamy marble-floored room, sluicing warm water over yourself out of a basin with a plastic bowl, and then laying on a marble table where a large hairy Turkish man (or woman) scrubs you down, massages you for a bit, washes your hair and sends you off to sweat it out in a steam room. Our hostel made an appointment for Kelly and me at a female bath house (men and women typically bathe separately at different facilities) and our taxi driver dropped us off in front of an unassuming building where an authoritative looking Turkish woman was waiting for us outside. 

Most people receive their bath nude; however, we had heard from fellow travellers that it is perfectly acceptable to wear your bathing suit or underwear if you are a little modest. Kelly and I were planning on sporting our bikinis until the Turkish woman led us into a lounge and commanded us to ‘take off EVERYTHING’ as she showed us our respective dressing rooms. It seemed wrong not to listen to her, so take off everything we did. 

We were then shown into a cavernous marble room with a low marble table located in the center. The walls were lined with water basins and Kelly and I took a seat to our assigned spot and began to pour warm water over ourselves. Several other women were already in the room awaiting their baths. I’ve always been a little modest, so while we were a little uncomfortable sitting naked in a room with several strangers for a couple of hours, we had to laugh it off. ‘When in Rome’, right? 

The bath itself was awesome. The Turkish woman (now in her bra and underwear) motioned me over to the marble table and instructed me to lay .on my stomach. First, she forcefully scrubbed me down with a loofa…I could literally see the dead skin coming off, which was pretty disgusting. When she was ready for me to flip over, she indicated this by giving me a hard slap on the bum. After a rinse off, she soaped me up and scrubbed me all over – even getting between my toes and behind my ears – and gave me a leg and back massage along the way. All the while, I slipped and slid over the marble table as the Turkish woman pushed and pulled my limbs in order to get to those hard to reach areas. Finally, I was taken to one of the basins where she washed my hair and give me an incredible head rub. 

After Kelly and I had each had our turn, we were shown into a small steam room, which we didn’t spend much time in. ‘It’s like a sauna’ in those things. We left the bath house with our skin feeling as soft as silk and our bodies completely rid of the backpacker dirt we had accumulated over the past year. We headed back to the hostel to get a good night’s sleep. The following morning, Kelly and I would be splitting up for a couple of weeks on separate adventures…

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