Day 4 – February 27th, 2015
I am a very spontaneous traveller who tries to do and eat everything “local”. When I first had the idea of going to a Turkish bath, I was like “no problem, it’s just bathing with people and it’s a super cool cultural experience, I can try that”. Little did I know, it’s not bathing with people, it’s someone bathing you. I should have looked up more details before booking an appointment at one of the best “hamam ritual” places in Istanbul. I was running 10 mins late so I decided to hop on a cab for my first Istanbul cab experience.
It was quite frightening – the cars are so close together and the pedestrians even closer.
Pedestrians never use streetlights here. Since I am foreign, the cab driver took a lovely detour. I even saw the detour on my phone’s Google Maps and complained about it the entire way:
Me: “We are going the opposite direction! I am not paying more!”
Cabbie: “Ok no problem. No problem.”
HE STILL TOOK THE DETOUR, as if to prove the helplessness of tourists. Darn it.
When I arrived at the place, I saw this massive dome. It was more impressive than I thought. The place was extremely clean and welcoming. I sat down, had a cup of fruit tea, and almost literally signed away my body on this declaration form. They gave me a key-chain, a locker, slippers, and a towel.
Most of the women were walking around naked. I was beginning to feel slightly uncomfortable at this point.
The process went something like this:
1. Woman poured water all over me.
2. I laid down on the heated circular stone under the dome.
3. I felt like a naked fish being dried under the sun with heat emitting from the stone below me.
4. It was hard to breathe after 20 minutes. I was looking at the holes on the dome.
5. My skin felt steamed.
6. Woman took me to the side and started to exfoliate me with a scrubby thing
Alright so at this point I was beginning to comprehend that it wasn’t a “I’ll bathe myself” type of thing.
7. My skin felt very, very, very exfoliated. Very.
8. She did this cool thing with a cloth and made a ton of bubbles.
9. Then she started scrubbing me with her hands. (At this point I really, really wish I had a heads up.)
10. Shampooed and conditioned my hair.
11. Wrapped me in a towel.
Then I ended up like this, outside of the bath area.
It was actually very relaxing. I ordered awesome almond cookies and a fresh orange juice that I definitely needed after the steamy bath area.
The best thing about travelling is that, ultimately, you have control over your journey! Nobody forces you to do anything and you have the power to shape your experience in whatever way possible.
This was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I made a choice to gain this experience and enjoyed it in the end!
It’s awesome to go abroad and experience new, exciting, different things that may be slightly out of your comfort zone.