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DANGER & ANNOYANCES

Although Turkey is by no way a dangerous country to visit,  it is always wise to be a little cautious, especially if you are traveling alone. Be wary of pickpockets in buses, markets and other crowded places. Keep an eye out for anyone lurking near ATMs.

 In Turkey safety seems a low priority.  Holes in pavements go unmended and unlit  at night; precipitous drops go unguarded; safety belts are worn only as long as it takes to drive past a police officer before being released; lifeguards on beaches are conspicuous by their absence. Don't even ask yourself how safe it is for a driver to be negotiating a bend while simultaneously counting  out chance! Things are changing slowly but parents of young children in particular will need to be on their guard at all times .

At the time of writing, cruising in the southeast is safe as the unrest there appears to have largely  subsided. However, the Kurdish issue is far from resolved so be sure to check the situation before setting out

Flies and mosquitoes

 

In high summer, mosquitoes can make a stay along the coast a nightmare. Some hotel rooms  come equipped which nets and / or plug-in bug-busters but it is a good idea to bring your own mosquito coils to burn as well. As dusk  falls, remember to cover your arms and legs or at least to slather yourself with insect repellent.

 

In some towns the authorities try to combat  the more general problem of insects by sending out vans  death belch repellent into the sky, usually it's about the time in the evening when everyone has just sit down  on a terrace for dinner. Some people might consider these dubious clouds of noxious fumes to be as alarming as the insects  they are supposed to be eradicating.

Lese-Majesty

 

The laws against insulting, defaming or making light of Ataturk the Turkish flag the Turkish people, The Turkish Republic etc  are taken very seriously. Be warned that even if such remarks were never made. Turks have been known to claim they were in the heat of a quarrel which is enough to get the foreigner carted off the  jail.

Traffic

 

Unfortunately Turkey has a terrible record when it comes to road safety, which means that you Must drive defensively at all times. it is particularly unwise to drive in the dark on country roads  where tractors may be ambling along with unlit trailers. when traveling long distances it is worth paying slightly more to use a bus company with relief drivers, rather than risk being driven by someone who may be at the wheel for a straight 18 hours.

Scams and Druggings

Turkey is one of the friendliest and most welcoming countries on the planet but there will be always be a few sharks in the mix.  Although always it wouldn’t do to be paranoid about potential scams, It does pay to be careful, especially in Istanbul . 

One of the most popular scams targeted  at single men in the nightclub- bar shake-down - it mostly happens in Istanbul. You probably know the scene:  you are strolling through Sultanahmet, when you are approached by a dapper young man who starts up a conversation. After your initial hesitation and once you realize he's not affiliated with a carpet shop,  you start chatting away. He’s says he’s off to meet friends for a drink in Beyoglu, as there is nowhere to party in Sultanahmet. Would you like to go along? Woohoo! You go into a bar and are approached by some  girls by which time it is way too late to back out. When the bill arrives, lo and behold the girls’ outrageously expensive drinks appear on it. It is no good claiming you have no cash on you- you will be frogmarched to the nearest  ATM and ‘ ‘persuaded’ to cough up. If this happens to you make sure you will report it to the tourist police; some travelers have taken the policeman back to the bar and received some or all of their money back. 

Drugging isn't a common problem, but it is worth mentioning  nonetheless. In this situation a single guy is approached by two or three so-called friends,  open claiming to be from Egypt or Lebanon or Romania and often accompanied by the fig leaf of a woman.  Fall for this one, and you risk finding your drink spiked and walking up in some unexpected location with all your belongings,  right down to your shoes , missing- or worse. When the missing person billboard in 2005 went up for a Korean tourist, most locals knew the fate of this unlucky young man-  a month later his body was found on the outskirts of Istanbul. Most likely he was a victim of a drugging gone wrong.

Moral of these stories? Single men should not accept invitations from unknown folk  in large cities without sizing the situation up very carefully beforehand. You could also invite  your new-found friends to a bar of your choice;  if they are not keen to go, chances are they are shady characters. 

Turkish Tobacco-Smoking

Who hasn’t heard of Turkish tobacco? It’s surprising:

— Tobacco (tütün) is not native to Turkey, but to North America. Tobacco was imported to the Ottoman Empire to be cultivated.

— Most Turkish tobacco is mild and aromatic, not strong.In fact, it’s so mild that a cigarette of 100% Turkish tobacco would not have a full, satisfying flavor. It would taste too weak, too thin; but it would be naturally low in nicotine and carcinogenic substances. (The exception is tumbak or tömbeki, the dark, strong high-nicotine tobacco grown near Konya and Antakya for use in nargiles—water pipes.)

— The finest Turkish tobacco was not grown in Turkey proper. It’s the prized Yenice (YEH-nee-jeh) leaf developed in Macedonia (although Yenice leaf is now raised in Turkey along the Black Sea coast.) Mild Turkish tobacco is blended with stronger, fuller Virginia and Burley tobaccos to make a full-flavored, satisfying smoke.

— Manufactured cigarettes (sigara) sold in pack(et)s are a 19th-century invention. Before the development of the cigarette-manufacturing machine, smokers rolled their own or, more commonly in Ottoman lands, smoked tobacco in long-shafted pipes called çibuk (chee-BOOK) or çubuk (choo-BOOK, “stick”).

— The nargile (hookah, hubble-bubble or water pipe) is currently enjoying a renaissance of interest in Turkey. (See the nargile page.)

— Tobacco is still an important export crop in Turkey.It’s grown along the Aegean coast near Izmir and Ephesus, and along the Black Sea coast between Sinop and Samsun.

— Cigarette smoking is a passion among many Turks, a few of whom ignore the No Smoking signs (Sigara Içilmez) in public buildings such as airports, railroad stations and theaters. However, most transport, including airplanes, trains(except for the smoking cars) and intercity buses are smoke-free.

— Few Turks smoke cigars, and Western-style pipes are an artsy affectation in Turkey. Briar pipes are rare, and even the beautifully-carved meerschaum pipes from Eskisehir sold in most souvenir shops are rarely smoked by Turks. Meerschaum pipes are for selling to tourists who prize meerschaum pipes.