One late night in Istanbul, Doug and I were making the long trek back to our flat in Balthilimani. We walked by the Bosphorus, smoking cigarettes. We finally made it to the street right before our flat.
It was really dark — only a couple of street lamps gave their light. Doug was wearing his fucking 3 wolves howling at the moon shirt. We’re about 10 min from our flight, and then we notice that to our left, maybe like 25 yards away, was a pack of mangy stray dogs. They looked mean.
The Brilliant Doug, wearing his wolves shirt, takes one look at them and barks. Yes, Doug barked at the pack of rabid mangy stray dogs. They paused for an infinitesimal moment … and then started barking and charging us, foaming at the mouth. A pack of mangy stray dogs. We shat our pants and fucking booooked it up the hill to our flat. We didn’t risk looking back. It was some scary shit.
One night in Istanbul, Doug and I joined our friend Tarik Bilal and his buddies at a bar in Beyoglu. Bilal is a prototypical hip Istanbul sociaite. He knew all the ins and outs of the nightlife and took us along. The bar was really divey and reminded me of San Francisco.
Doug started feeling sick and left, while I messed around in the bar with my shitty English. I talked to Doug later that night and found out:
He asked some guy if he had weed. The guy invited him into the bathroom to smoke some hashish. The hashish extremely harsh and nasty, and Doug was scared he had to give up some sex “in exchange” for the hashish. (This may or may not have been Doug’s first gay experience. We’ll never know). I was extremely, extremely jealous of Doug for having found the elusive marihuana in Istanbul (despite Bilal’s protesting that it’s really easy to find, that was definitely not our experience). He kept saying it sucked, that the hashish sucked.
After I left Istanbul, Doug stayed for another few weeks. Apparently our other friend Kacper was good friends with a grower, so he was all set.
If there’s one movie I’m glad I didn’t see before going to Istanbul it’s Midnight Express. “The true story of Billy Hayes, an American college student who is caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey and thrown into prison.”
Doug and I went from smelling Cali Tree on every block in San Francisco to the Morrowind-esque foreign trade city of Istanbul. We missed our cali tree, so in usual space cadet fashion, we tried to get our hands on some. After spending the day exploring Old Istanbul, we were wandering around near the golden horn when a man approached us. “HASHEESH?” he grunted at us. Doug and I shared a glance and were like “yeah…”. We gestured and used our rudimentary Turkish. The man looked disgruntled and asked us to follow him.
We followed, he walked away from the main street. Told us he could get us some weed for 100 Lira, and kept raising the price. Then he told us we’d have to get into the car to go with him somewhere to get the weed from his friend. We kept getting further and further away from the main street. Ok, fuck that. Shit was getting really weird, and I hadn’t even seen Midnight Express! We turned around and started walking back.
The Man followed us and shouted at us: “WHERE IS MY WORK MONEY? WHY U FUCK ME?” I just kept power walking, and we went into some 5 star hotel to ask them for directions and escape from this crazed fool. The hoteliers could tell we was scurred, and they helped us out. Finally, we got back to the tram and booked the fuck out of there.
In conclusion: watch the fuck out when buying marijuana in Istanbul, or you’ll end up in a Turkish prison, and that does not sound fun. However, our journey to find the elusive marihuana in Istanbul does not end here…
2012 — Doug and I had been in Istanbul for over a week when we realized we hadn’t even touched any of the cultural (“touristy”) sights in Istanbul. This was a travesty. Istanbul was one of the most important cultural, political, and economic centers of the Old World. We had to check some shit out.
We made our way to southern Istanbul, Old Istanbul to go to the Grand Bazaar. We checked it out, and after 5 min had pretty much seen all there was to see. Hawkers selling their wares, people yelling at you, keeping your hands in your pockets so you don’t get stripped, etc. It was aight, just a bunch of stalls with warez and white people getting ripped off.
Then, we got lost on purpose (this is one of my favorite activities). We took a side path out of the bazaar and just walked. The people faded away, the stalls faded away. It was a dilapidated shanty town with remnants of the old power… you could feel the vibes in the place. Totally Morrowind-esque. It was like getting lost in a fantasy novel.
Our main man in Istanbul, Kacper*, shot us a text out of the blue one day in Istanbul. Said he had 4 tickets to the WTC championships and 2 left. FOR FREE!
Doug and I booked it over to the Waaaaaaaaay west side of the city. We had to change trams a couple times and follow some chainlink fence, which miraculously led us to the stadium.
We met Kacper and his Polish buddy, went through the security and went to claim our seats. It was awesome. Big ups to Kacper for the hookup. BTW, Serena is way buffer in person.
* We had met Kacper through the awesome site Vayable, where he took us on a walking tour of Istanbul at night. Really chill dude, told us a bunch of stories about traveling and stuff.
(Referenced by Finding Doug)
Istanbul is an insane, insane city. I mean this in the best possible way. It’s home to more than 30 million people, a wide mix of arabs, jews, christians, and everything in between. The city center is pretty damn hip and people stay out partying all night. The old town is a hookah filled Ottoman hangout. And the area where the Women’s Tennis Championships were being held — well, outside the arena there was just… more insane hustle and bustle. A modern day spice market. A bazaar filled with hawkers and peddlers.
After experiencing the WTC and gawking at how big Serena William’s shoulders are from 30 feet away (another post coming up), I set out to find Doug. He had to leave the WTC early to take a business meeting. We made plans to meet at some cafe nearby that had Wifi around 11:30PM and catch the last midnight train back to where we were staying. It was about an hour and a half commute from our place to Zeytinburnu where the WTC was being held, and the commute involved switching off on trains and all sorts of circus. So I really didn’t want to lose Doug and have to figure out the way back by myself, sans map or internet.
I couldn’t find Doug. I went to the cafe we were supposed to meet at sat around for a few minutes, pretended to look at a menu. All the while I was thinking “fuck, we have to catch the last train back.” I went up to the waiter and tried to describe Doug. “IRISH.. BEARD.” Nope. I looked into his vapid eyes and didn’t see a morsel of understanding. I was getting a little panicky at this point and it was almost time for the last train to leave so I just sprinted to the train station and got on.
There were like 5 people on that train. Me, two Nigerian dudes talking loudly, and two guys who appeared to speaking Russian. The Russian guys were dragging a large body bag with him (it was probably an instrument or furniture… or a body). They got off at the most fucking random stops in the middle of nowhere. I was just huddled in the corner. The train ended up stopping early because the last train doesn’t go all the way, so I hopped in a cab and got out about 20 min from our place next to the Bosphorus. I’m getting pretty fucking worried about Doug at this point, cuz like I’m brown and I can survive in Asia but this is an Irish dude with a RED beard.
Anyway, I’m strolling along and I look up and I JUST FUCKING SEE DOUG STROLLING ALONG in front of me. At this point I’m 50% sure he’s in some Turkish prison somewhere. I’m like WTFFFF and I just casually spring up on him. Both our minds were blown.
(apparently, he waited for me and thought the train was leaving, so got on the train right before me)