Ow! These ladies are tough!
That was the main thought running through my mind whilst having my first Turkish Bath. It was an interesting and unforgettable experience to say the least.
I decided to take part in this traditional past time, well when in Turkey, it is a must and also, I enjoy the sauna, spa and bathing combination in general. A Turkish bath can be best described as a mix between a Scandinavian sauna and Roman bath with more emphasis on water rather than steam. It all starts off with a sauna, one of my favourite things to do to unwind because the word ‘relax’ isn’t really in my vocabulary or a present fixture in my lifestyle. After piling on the beads of sweat over my body during the 15 minute sauna session, it was time for a bath and not just any regular bath either.
The last time I would have shared a bath involuntary would have been when I was under the age of ten. This time around, things are different, bodies have changed, I couldn’t care less about water conservation bills (sorry mum) and I am now aware what is actually going on when sharing a bath. I was instructed to get naked and enter a backyard pool sized bath to cool off from the sauna session. It remained an unspoken mutual agreement that the other person that was also partaking in old Turkish tradition would stick to the opposing side of the pool. After a half an hour sitting in the room temperature pool and feeling a tad awkward being naked in the same water as the other fellow bather, it was time to hop out. Turn around please!
Upon entering the room with nothing but a towel and bikini bottoms on, I was made to lay down on a Turkish towel along a hexagon shaped marble island called a göbek taşı which was surrounded by a wall of sinks. It felt like I was in a different time period altogether as the room is decked out with marble tiling and I had never been in a place like it before. The Turkish ladies instructed it was now time. The towel came off and my body was exposed minus the bikini bottoms I had on covering my modesty. My body is in for a royal treat!
One of the Turkish ladies, wearing a bikini top and bathing shorts, started to scrub away at my body using a loafer. After the intentional exfoliation scrub, the Turkish lady then proceeded to soap my body as if had just trudged through a five day boot camp despite dirt being not being evident and as if it was the last bath I would ever have in my life. May as well been an overflowing spa on my chest with the amount of foam on me. Then she really got into it by proceeding to clean me. Scrubbing me down well good. The lady then got me to turn around. It started out as a nice as hard yet firm massage but then I found my mouth doing the big O – for ow that hurts! It was pretty brutal but in hindsight my body needed it. They really know how to work your body and unknot those muscles.
During the (and I wish I could say pleasant experience), a group of fully clothed girls were lead into the room as if they were looking at the experience from a tourist point of view like ‘Oh so this is what it a Turkish Bath is, this is what we could be experiencing.’ My surprise debut Turkish bathing show spectacle was very uninviting to say the least. After my near naked zoo show exhibition, my rinsed off my body with buckets of water and then I was given the nod. I was good, sparkling clean and ready to go. I don’t think I have ever been so clean in my life and if I was in a cartoon, I would imagine sparkles gleaming all around me as if I were just polished.
I would say this type of spa experience is not for everybody. Body being the key word. It can get a tad hurtful but really, that is when you know they are doing a good job and your body really needed it. Besides the fact I was part of an unwilling participant of an impromptu peep show, I do it again. There is just two things I would change. I would be selective with who I would do it with and where I would do it (no visitors). Overall, it is still a must do when in Turkey and only in Turkey.