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Entries about kas

Shaven and Shorn Turkish Style

by Ben

overcast 14 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Abby Getting Haircut

Abby Getting Haircut

Abby, Hannah and I were able to check off a very important item on our to-do list today. We all went for haircuts. Muriel had gone to a hairdresser in town last week, which paved the way to the girls getting theirs done this morning. A nice perk for all of us waiting or observing is the inevitable offer of chai (tea). The tea is not made in the shop but delivered as fast as lightning by a cafe nearby.

By my uneducated eye, the woman’s hair salon was not much different than one you would find in Canada, but the kids say the hairdresser had fewer fancy tools of the trade. Another interesting perk was the fact that Abby was given her own specially formulated hair treatment product to take home with her. It was mixed right in the shop by the hairdresser assistant according to the specific instructions of the hairdresser and put in an empty water bottle. I think the only downside was total cost of the experience. The price for a woman’s cut and shampoo although lower than in Canada is not a true bargain.

After we were done with the girls, we headed over to a barbershop I have had my eye on for the last few weeks. It has a steady flow of customers, and looked very well maintained. The clients seemed in the 20 to 50 year range. The pictures on display and the clients seemed to have haircuts very much like in North America and Europe which is what I am most comfortable with. Your more traditional Turkish haircut seems to be a brush cut. As the average male Turk is blessed with a very thick head of hair and I am not I thought it best to seek out a barber who favours a more North American style.

What can I say about a man’s haircut and shave in Turkey? Let me start by an observation I have about women and hairdressers in Canada. There seems to be the need for a certain bond or chemistry between client and hairdresser. After all a woman’s hair is a very personal and precious thing. It seems for many Canadian women, getting their hair done is quite an occasion. It is anticipated much like a social event and can be a highlight on their calendar that might equal a coffee date with a dear friend. For others, I gather it is valued nearly as much as a holiday celebration such as Christmas. In contrast, for most Canadian men the classic era of the old-fashioned barbershop where the boys seek each other out to shoot the breeze is mostly long gone. Nowadays, getting a haircut is something you quickly fit in between a trip to the recycling depot and mowing the lawn and it may often be done reluctantly. In Turkey, I would venture to say the tables are completely turned.

One of my most vivid memories of my previous visit to Turkey over 20 years ago, was a haircut I had in Bursa. I can report that things have not changed one iota over the years. It is an experience that takes time and is far more intimate than any relationship a woman may profess to have with her hairdresser in Canada. Let me just say it can be a bit of an adjustment for a more stand-offish guy from British Columbia.

Abby, Hannah and Muriel are not ones to miss out on a cultural experience. As a reult, my barber visit is well-documented. Muriel took pictures and video clips of the process which was a brave thing to do in the male sanctum of the Turkish barbershop. When you view the video montage that Hannah made from Muriel’s handiwork, you may notice some pretty serious facial expressions on my part. I think they deserve some explanation before you view it and begin your snickering at my expense. I also hope you will bear in mind the sacrifices I made to make this cultural experience available not only to my kids but dozens of people safely ensconced in the comfort of their armchairs back in Canada.

Turkish Straight Razor Shave

Turkish Straight Razor Shave

In the few lazy weeks before my barbershop experience I grew a beard. This was the first item I wanted to be rid of, followed by losing over three months of hair growth from the top of my head. I have heard it said, "The only proper shave is the one done with a straight razor." All I can say, is that you only really understand the definition of vulnerable after you had a complete stranger hold a knife to your throat and singe your ear hairs with a flaming cotton swab. The application of the warm shaving cream is quite a pleasant start, save for the cream on the lips and the barber running his fingers along them to clear up the overflow. The actual shave was deftly done. I obeyed the unspoken command not to move a face muscle lest I wish to be make an unscheduled blood donation. After the shaving was done I let my my mind wander and tried to joke with my fairly silent family behind me (none of which was caught on camera). It was just after this that the alcohol was liberally rubbed onto my newly shaven face. I know my male readers might be able to appreciate what a really close shave does to the sensitivity of the skin on one’s face. Women, well what can I say, it is not quite on the level of child birth but there is some significant discomfort involved. As I was coping with this new development (hence serious expression in video) a little pain chaser was served up with a flaming cotton swab on the end of stick that was brushed along my ears to deal with any peach fuzz or hair that may be trying to gain a footing. A problem I didn’t think I was suffering from. By the time this all had transpired my barber really had my full and serious attention once again.

Upon my entrance into the barber shop, I had clearly and earnestly explained what I wanted in terms of a shave and a haircut. My barber had some grasp of English which was quite a relief. So the first instructions of getting rid of the beard were flawlessly, albeit not painlessly, executed. The second set of instructions was about the haircut. I had combed my hair in my normal fashion and indicated that I was looking for an overall cut that would follow the lines of my normal haircut. The barber got out his fresh pair of scissors and comb along with an electric razor.
The razor brought back a memory of a trip to Morocco with a friend of mine from college. He was in bad need of a haircut. He had brashly, if not rashly, sat in a barber chair and just said cut. In a twinkle of an eye the barber had run an electric razor over the top of his head, it was too late for him to ask for a different less utilitarian style. It was a haircut that took his wife more than a few days to accept.

Unlike my friend Phil, I had taken pains to make a snipping motion with my fingers while explaining the hair cut. The razor was for my neck and for a final trim around my temples, I erroneously thought. Quite to the opposite of the Moroccan barber the first cut took place well out of view on the very back of my head but the rest of the execution was about the same. This was of course in prime view of my spectating family. Hannah made an inaudible gasp and told me later she was going to yell stop but was too late. In the mirror, I could see both Abby and Muriel’s eyes noticeably widen. It was too late to work on a better translation of my instructions now. I lost hair at an alarming rate once my barber got moving with the razor. There was no indication that scissors were going to make an appearance anytime soon. Mercifully he did finally slow to a stop as he started to get closer to the top of my head. At this point he let fly with his scissors. In the pictures and video I can report that I look a bit more closely shorn than I indeed am. This is in large part due to my scalp having been hidden from the sun all these months. The sickly white palour seems to overtake the thin layer of hair that in fact remains. The whole effect is magnified by the fact that my neck and face are a quite contrasting shade of golden brown.

A Massage After Shave and Haircut

A Massage After Shave and Haircut

By the time the cut was done, I thought I was on the home stretch. Little did I know the best was yet to come. I was now ready for my hair and face wash. I am put face first into a sink and have copious amounts of water and soap put on my hair and face. I was quite glad that I had some prior experience with this or else the risk of drowning is not quite out of the realm of the probable. When I finally was allowed to come up for air, the course of my shave and cut experience took a radical turn. I think earlier in this post I used the very unmasculine term, “intimate” to describe the relationship between Turkish barber and client. A facial massage with copious amount of lotion and a whole upper body massage are where the bonding experience begins. Perhaps he is trying to calm me down after nearly lighting my ears on fire or he is making up for rubbing pure alcohol into the cuts he made on my face. I have to admit the video is quite hilarious especially with Hannah’s added captions. I certainly have been stripped of any pride by Hannah’s video handiwork. The whole situation of not knowing what will happen next is probably one of the reasons for my serious expression as well as the somber, if not disinterested nature of my barber. I have to admit the cracking of my fingers by the barber was one of the quirky highlights of the massage. Perhaps, I could grow to like this whole ritual. But was this barber really the one for me? Alas, I will never know. I digress.

The haircut was looking not quite as bad as I first feared, but my face was looking pretty red and irritated by this time. Fortunately, this was quickly addressed by a liberal application of baby powder and another facial massage as my barber consulted with his partner about the state of my neck. The treatment really seemed to do the trick. I thought I was home free but I had to experience a few more procedures. First was a lightning quick and completely unexpected foray in search of nose hairs (sometimes it’s just better not knowing what is going to come next) and an equally speedy trim of my eyebrows. This was all followed by a hair gelling with quantities of product that rivals that used by some teenagers to maintain their punk rocker look.

Yes, I was finally done! The damage to the pocket book was much less than my daughter’s haircut and cheaper than a basic haircut by a Canadian barber. As for the hair, it will eventually grow back. The damage to my self-respect and pride as a result of the video, may take a good deal longer to fix and the memory of the experience will never go away.

Now that you have read my take on the shave and cut you can watch the video and make your own observations. You can even do a Google search of Turkish haircuts and shaves to see the use of the flaming Q-tip to singe ear hairs and witness other versions of facial massages.

Posted by KZFamily 06:57 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkey kas Comments (9)

Getting Things Done

by Ben

overcast 15 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Gozleme Being Made

Gozleme Being Made

We are getting used to the reality that we will be back on the road in a few days. This is an exciting prospect but we do need to adjust to the return of structure to our lives and certain time constraints. It is much harder for the kids to study when we are on the move and certain tasks become more difficult when your environs are constantly changing. As a result, we have been working to make life on the road easier.

The kids have done a great deal of school work and taken some key exams while we have been in Kas, which will buy them both a lot of breathing room and peace-of-mind. Abby is just waiting to take one more module test after which she will be finished grade nine. We have been very impressed by Abby’s discipline, energy and independence in getting her studies done. Hannah has completed half an English course in three weeks time and is producing amazing writing. She is less than half a course away from completing the eleventh grade, quite an accomplishment when you do it all by distance education.

Muriel and I have been making it pretty much our full time job this week to get as much planning, transportation logisitics and accommodation booking done as we can. We have just wrapped up all the work for our seven weeks in the UK and Ireland. This will be a great relief to us when we are on the road. It is great just to be able to put your feet up after a day of sight-seeing and relax knowing all the picky logistics for your next location are already taken care of.

Some shopping and business tasks are more difficult to accomplish when you are travelling every 2 to 4 days so we are doing our errands this week. Until now we have been able to get any printing or scanning done for free. In Kas we finally have had to pay the piper. With all our plane tickets, car rentals and the kid’s school work it adds up. I went to an internet cafe to get 50 pages of documents printed and will have to go again soon. It doesn’t seem like people use laser printers here so 50 pages on an inkjet starts to add up in cost. It also takes some sleuthing to find a place as Internet cafes are becoming a thing of the past. The first place I went they wanted to charge over 60 cents a page. It seems that we have not yet entered the realm of paperless travel as car rental companies and some airlines and hotels still want a paper copy indicating your on-line purchase. Even the school wants the kids to do their tests on paper and have me scan the complete test (I just take pictures) send it via email and mail the original copy for auditing purposes. They really want to make sure that it is the kids completing the tests.

Potato and Spinach Gozleme

Potato and Spinach Gozleme

A nice perk of running errands is that we can go out for a relatively inexpensive Turkish lunch. We tried a new restaurant which serves gozleme. Gözleme is a savoury (sometimes sweet) hand-rolled pastry. The name derives from the Turkish word göz meaning eye. Fresh pastry is rolled out, filled and sealed, then cooked over a convex shaped griddle called a saj. We had spinach and cheese and spinach and potato. They were quite nice and it was great watching them being made from where we sat (click on link to see the video). We couldn't resist ordering an additional nutella gozleme to share for dessert.

Posted by KZFamily 03:08 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkey kas Comments (4)

Remembering Saint Nicholas


sunny 18 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Hannah opted to stay home today, to get a little more work done on her English course. One family member down, the rest of us climbed into our car (her name is "Zoe") and went off to find Myra. Our GPS kept leading us down unpaved roads, but because the Myra Ruins were supposed to be a big attraction, we decided to wait until we saw a sign. Unfortunately, no signs were to be found, and we opted to leave it for a while and drive on to Saint Nicholas's church in Demre, which is a church dedicated to Saint Nicholas.


Saint Nicholas had been a bishop in Myra during the third century; he was well known for his generosity as well as his gift-giving. We eventually found the church, but unfortunately, we had come at the same time as three large tour buses. We were pretty surprised at this because at most of the attractions we have been to, we are pretty much the only ones there, as a result of the" off season". I think my parents made a bigger deal out of it than they needed to. I just accepted the fact that we would have to walk around the crowds of people, but after we were out of the attraction, I heard complaints from them like "they were all so slow" and "just thinking of tours makes me sick".


I really enjoyed seeing the church, even though it was definitely classified as a ruin in my books. You could see where the structure stood, but the flood left it in pretty bad shape. It was easy to see that it had once been quite grand, especially when you took into account how much work it took to carve and sand just one pillar, let alone enough for a giant church. You could also see the remains of lots of works of art on the walls, even though most of the colour was already faded. Lots of the parts were under restoration. We were able to see the crypt, as well as a small amphitheater-like set of seats in the largest area of the building. Just out front, there was a statue of Saint Nicholas with a few children, and on the statue it had a statement about world peace. There were lots of flags from around the world on it as well, no Canada though. It was cool being able to get my picture taken in front of a statue of the "original Santa".

After we left we poked our heads into a couple of shops on the street sides, but soon we stopped for lunch. We all had a Turkish pizza (pide), and devoured them pretty quickly. But from there we went to have another go at trying to find Myra. We decided to follow our GPS, but in the end, we just found a very small village and drove around there for a while. It was still interesting though, seeing how the people there lived. It seems like a pretty harsh existence, as you could see that their homes were mainly made up of sticks and tarps.


On the way back home we stopped at another place called Kekova, but it turns out to actually appreciate the place, you have to take a boat tour. But even from the shore we were on we could see just how beautiful it would have been. We saw that most of the boat rental shops are closed for the season, and we weren't very into taking a ride from a stranger's own boat. To my mom, however, the whole side trip was worthwhile because she spotted the same man and his cart from whom she had bought baklava a couple of times. We bought a few more pieces and my dad and I tried some honey rings, which weren't so bad. We were followed by a few rabid dogs though, which made the experience a little less fun (you may remember I'm more of a cat person).

But this was the end of our journey, and we made the drive back home, and later enjoyed some fabulous lentil soup cooked by Hannah.

Posted by KZFamily 05:58 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkey kas saint_nick Comments (1)

The Plan

by Ben

sunny 16 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Last evening Muriel and I put the finishing touches on our upcoming road trip to Istanbul. It takes a fair bit of effort to book accomodation in six different locations and figure out the logistics of car rental pickup and drop off as well as getting flights in place for our exit from Turkey. All of this is really just the warm up for the logistical planning we need to do for the final four and a half months of our trip. If you are not partial to planning, a nine month trip may not be for you. Our research is showing that Europe in the spring and summer is not a place to just roll into town and look for a self-catering place to stay for a family of four. If you do, you will soon be out of cash and packing your bags for home. Finding affordable accomodation needs the same time and patience invested by gold prospectors.

Before we left on our grand tour, we had put together a fairly detailed plan of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see. We knew things would change as we learned more about pacing and our interests as a family. We have learned a great deal from three months of travelling and from three weeks of staying put. In our last week in Kas, Muriel and I will be putting in quite a few hours reworking our itinerary and will start booking many of our accomodations. Until now, we have only booked a few weeks in advance so we could be flexible. Unfortunately, we don't have that luxury for much longer as we see the rest of the world is getting ready for spring travel. If we hope to keep within our means (extended though it is!), we have to trust what we have learned and reserve a good deal of the rest of our trip. This is a huge undertaking. However, we aren't fishing for any sympathy from our readers.

Muriel and I set up our travel office today on our veranda. We have moved a large table out into the sun and run a powercord for our laptop. We can just look up, gaze at the sea, feel the breeze and enjoy the warmth of the sun whenever we feel like what we are doing is anything like work.

Abby finished all her social studies coursework today and needs to only take two exams to be finished her studies for grade nine (except for that pesky French 9 course when she gets back). Hannah is progressing on her English assignments and will finish up while on the road.

And, now, back to planning!

Posted by KZFamily 04:57 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkey kas Comments (1)

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