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Morgan Gets a Man Bath – Turkey Part II

Nortoriously listed as one of the top 100 things to do before you die, the Turkish bath is quite an adventure. Unlike your typical tub with bubbles, a little rubber ducky and total relaxation, the”hamam” is where you go to get cleaned. And after three months of travel, it is more compulsory than a suggestion.

 It’s quite common that most people are quite nervous to encounter a true Turkish bath. I mean let’s be serious, what really goes on in a public bath?  

Will it be like bath time with siblings? If it is, I’m defintely getting in trouble and someone is absolutely getting soap in the eye. Are shampoo fauxhawks allowed? It is a social event though and even back in the Roman and Byzantine eras, the baths were very much a place for social gatherings from weddings, birthings, possibly even chess clubs. It was here that mothers would even scout out potential wives for their sons.

The process is quite interesting to watch and I had the luxury of watching Morgan get bathed by a hurly-burly Turkish man. To be honest, it’s hard to say who I think enjoyed it more, but I’ll venture to say it was the Turkish man. 

Entering the main common room with a large heated stone slab in the centre, you use the tas, or water pan, to pour cold water all over yourself. The burly Turkish man, wearing nothing but a mini dish cloth and a smile, took the water pan and tossed water at Morgan, laughed and slapped Morgan’s belly. Once you’ve cleaned yourself, the actual cleaning will begin. The large burley Turk grabbed Morgan by the ankle, who was resting on the centre slab, and dragged him the edge of the centrepiece. He is soaped up and scrubbed down, flipped, and done on the other side. The post-clean massage was vicious and Morgan winced in pain while the half-naked Turk chuckled. I sat and watched, laughing the entire time. My turn would be next, but in a seperate room with my Turkish bathing mother who sang while she cleaned me.

Let me say that I didn’t realize just how dirty I was until I was scrubbed down by a Turkish woman. Using the “kese” (keh-seh), a rough cloth mitt scoures the dirt out of the pores and used to deliver a bracing massage. You’ll shed so much skin it’ll amaze you that you’ve even got any left. You walk away feeling so clean you won’t want to touch anything and definitely be questioning your own cleansing methods. Have I been bathing myself wrong this whole time? Oh, and you will be asked to get nude, well half nude. Wearing a bikini is ideal. A thin bath towels called a peshtemal is wrapped around the body and when you meet your Turkish mother, she’ll ask you to remove it, then scrub you in every crack and crevis. 
Squeeky Clean

The Limey

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This entry was posted on February 5, 2011 by in Turkey, Turkish Bath.
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