Istanbul Strip Club Scam with Tourists

Istanbul Strip Club Scam with Tourists

I completely realize my actions were dumb on the night in question and I was asking for trouble, yet I was drunk and held myself well in the confrontation. Maybe the story will serve as a warning to other drunk tourists in Istanbul.

I will mention the fact that I had suit pants, black shoes and a nice shirt on with my hair slicked back. Even though I was hitchhiking at the time I still had got to a hostel and cleaned myself up that day, I definitely was walking around “looking” like a tourist who had money to spend and not a hitchhiker or student.

So on the night in question I was sitting with my pal Connor from Scotland at a Hookah Bar in Istanbul, well there was a girl there too. An Asian chick chatting with Connor, I got up to leave them some privacy because I’m a top drawer wing-man. I also really needed to use an ATM. The ATM in question was a little walk away, maybe 500 meters up the road.

After I withdrew cash a guy pulled up nearby on the road in a nice saloon car, the type of car in question I can’t remember. I was already drunk at this stage.

“Hey, excuse me… do you speak English” he shouted.

“Ye sure, will you drop me back to my friend” I answered.

“OK but do you know where the something hotel is?” Obviously he didn’t say “something” but I can’t remember the exact name he said to be honest and I didn’t know any directions.

Anyway we chatted for a few minutes then he dropped me back, he claimed to be from Kazakhstan and work for Andrea Agnelli (the Italian who owns Juventus F.C.)

When I got out of the car he offered to bring me and Connor to a party and the hotel with many “bitches”. I knew this was a shady deal but Connor was also drunk now and the Asian girl wasn’t sticking around so we were ready for adventure.

Half an hour later we pulled up at a strip-club. This clearly wasn’t a Hotel but I didn’t car because our new friend claimed he would take care of us (i.e. free drink and food). A Turkish guy approached him when he got out of the car and they haggled in Turkish (at least that’s how it appeared) over the price of parking the car in the certain spot.

In we went and sat at a booth, bottles of wine were brought, nuts, cucumbers, you name it. The party ensued and three ladies joined us each drinking from the wine too and sharing our cigarettes.

The place really appeared legit, there were many other Turkish customers sitting and chatting to girls, none of which were topless. Maybe it’s just Muslim strip-clubs but I can hardly call it a strip club when the girls were pole dancing with their tops on.

My girl claimed to be Ukranian, I said how are you in Russian and she looked confused (red flag #1). I told her Connor and the Kazak guy were my business friends, she looked annoyed when I said this (red flag #2, she obviously knew the Kazak guy had picked us up because he’s done this before).

Now I kind of knew what was up but I kept playing along, figuring I couldn’t leave (big bouncer at the door) so I might aswell drink as much of their wine as possible.

Eventually the time came for them to try and fuck us over, Connor was happily flirting away with his girl and I with mine when the bill arrived. 10,000 euros apparently, the Kazak guy turned to us and asked for our cards, the bill was getting split 3-ways according to him.

“”Fuck off, we havent any money”

“Why would you come here with no money? Do you know who I am? Of course you pay, you think your mafia or something?”

I couldn’t believe he was pretending to be Mafia, the Kazak really was pathetic. Next thing he punched me right on the chin as I sat there. Anyone from Ireland has been punched on a night out, this guys punch was really crap (and he was being careful not to leave a bruise I quickly noted). He specifically aimed for the chin.

Another punch, this one to my ear (again nowhere that would leave a bruise).

He hadn’t hit Connor at all, I guessed it was because Connor is huge and I was the cheeky one.

Anyway next thing Connor pulls out his cash €200 in fifties,

“This is all we have”

What the fuck I thought, he’s not getting our money with gay punches like that, I quickly snatched the cash and stuffed it into my boxers. The Kazak went crazy at this and demanded the money.

“Fuck off, you think a few punches is worth €200, I’ll give you €10 at the most for the shitty wine”

Now the Kazak was losing it, the bouncer quickly arrived over telling him to calm down (though it was obvious they worked together). The strip-club manager soon arrived too demanding to be paid the €10,000. I knew they wouldn’t create a scene in front of the customers so I kept on winding the Kazak up, I can remember even claiming I would petrol bomb his car. Meanwhile he threw a few more punches, so I stood up, as did Connor (who is also over 6 foot) and squared up to him.

The manager called me aside into the corner not wanting a scene. He gave me the “what are you doing here” bla bla bla treatment. He demanded my bank card.

“I haven’t got any money, I’m in Turkey because I was in Bulgaria and its cheap, I’m not here to see Mosques”

He demanded to see my wallet, (I had emptied it while at the couch into my pocket and stuffed one of the fifties into it, I figured this would be a fair price to get out on.

He cursed in Turkish, taking the fifty and told me to leave immediately. Outside the same guy from earlier whom the Kazak had haggled with was standing by his car to make sure it wasn’t vandilised.

That’s that, we got away with just spending fifty quid (about 3 bottles of wine drank). I never panicked however and kept the rest of the cash in my boxers, the only way I would of produced it is if they had a knife, which they never did.

I bet they have scammed big sums of money from other tourists doing this though. The important thing is to just stand your ground and exhaust them, also be a young guy so you can convince them your only a student.

I was annoyed at the fact there were other legit customers in the club though who knew this was happening to tourists and didn’t care in the slightest.

 

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Facing Arrest in Turkey

Facing Arrest in Turkey

I was surprised to see an SUV switch lanes and pull in a few yards in front of me. I hadn’t been even looking at the traffic never mind thumbing as I walked along-side the main road from Istanbul to Silivri. It wasn’t a motorway but the traffic still had been speeding by quickly for the last hour.

I stopped by the window of the SUV, a fella alone probably in his mid-thirties with a tidy beard and serious yet friendly face, he wasn’t on the phone he had pulled over to offer me a lift even though I hadn’t signalled him.

Some people are just on the look-out in life for chances to be sound human beings I reckon and I love it when they spot me on the road.

“Autostop?”

He nodded in reply so I opened the back door and wedged my rucksack in between the passenger seat and the rear seat. Then I left my tent-bag, camping-bed-bag and my plastic-bag with food and water on the empty child’s car seat in the back.

There was the obvious language barrier between myself and himself but he gathered I was Irish and hitchhiking to Bulgaria via Edirne.

He brought me further than Silivri to a busy crossroads near Corlu where I had to jump from the car in a hurry since he wasn’t allowed to pull-over. I grabbed my rucksack plus the bags from the child’s seat quickly and let them drop to the ground as he took off again. When I looked down I felt the blood drain from my head.

“Shit, how the fuck?, o no”

I could see the guys fanny pack, you know them sort of wallets that tie around your waist on the ground with my bags. It must of been on the child’s car seat and had fallen out when I pulled my bags out in the hurry to get out of the car.

Might aswell see what’s inside sure I thought as anyone would.

About €320 in Turkish Lira, the guys driving license, some prescription medicine and a set of keys. Well that’s enough to land me jail time in these Muslim countries I figured.  A loaf of bread or a car? Isn’t all the same to Muslims I thought once you steal then your a thief and you get fucked into some overcrowded jail for years.

Arrested in Turkey.

I can’t go a year without a bacon sandwich I nearly cried.

I wasn’t thinking rationally in my mini panic.

OK lets sort this mess out I thought, one things for certain is I can’t hang around here. I got to move, if he realises his wallet is gone and comes back here then he will probably just drive straight into me, or at least get the police involved.

No way will the police believe some smelly hitchhiker with about €100 to his name accidentally robbed the law abiding citizen by accident. How can I explain myself anyway without Turkish?

I had to get out of here fast, then make a plan.

I began thumbing immeditaly and the third car to pass pulled over, thankfully hitchiking in Turkey isn’t difficult.

I jumped into the back of the old Citroen Xsara, there was two local guys in their twenties in the front who spoke English, it took me a second to regiister the potent smell of marijuana because of my panic.

“Where you from my friend?”

“Ireland”

“Aww, nice. You want a smoke?”

Just to calm the nerves I thought, then a plan will come to me. Weed dosent get offered to me that often when hitchhiking but what a potentially disastrous time this could be for a joint to be passed around.

We talked for a bit then the guys pulled over at a petrol station, they wouldn’t go further. I ended up explaining the situation to them.

“Fuck it man, do what anyone else would do and keep the money. Sell the ID to some fucking Syrian”

“But he knows I’m Irish and on my way to the Bulgaria border, supposing he called the cops then I can’t get out of the country because the border police will be waiting on an Irish hitchhiker”

“Shit your right, hmmm well don’t go to the border then just, well fuck I can’t help I’m stoned man. Don’t leave the country for a few days, just disappear for like a week. Don’t go to the police either, they won’t understand you and will definitely put you in a cell tonight, that story won’t check out with them man. Turkish police are shit they can sometimes be bastards. Good luck though”

“I can’t keep the money of someone who offered me a lift too, I’m not a suspicious person but that would be completely shitting on Karma. Thanks anyway for the lift”

I began hitchhiking again and got collected soon in a small hatchback. The guy looked like a young father and a good guy. Don’t you know when you see a guy and just know that he’s an honest, decent guy, well an honest, decent Muslim will always try to help anyway they can.

“Hey do you speak English”

“A little”

Good a plan had come to me by now.

“I have a problem”

I explained everything right from the beginning and he (Givi) believed my story about the accident. Now I wanted to find the man who owned the wallet on Facebook using Givi’s phone to find out if he had contacted the police yet.

Givi found him on Facebook using the drivers license and messaged him in Turkish asking for his number, no reply though.

Givi then rang the doctor who wrote out the prescription for drugs in the wallet. The nurse provided a contact number he could use.

The man’s wife answered the phone and Givi chatted for some time. The police had been contacted, the border police at Bulgaria were aware of my Nationality and description. She said however that her husband had remarked to her that he wasn’t sure if I was a thief. We needed to go to the nearest police station and her husband would clear my name.

First though we had some Chai (Turkish Tea) then went to the police.

They didn’t quite like my story, there was four of them in the station, luckily they only spoke to Givi. I became uncomfortably aware that there might be a smell of weed off me too so I kept my distance.

When the wallet owner did call and declare the inventory of the wallet and exact amount of money it matched up perfectly with the contents of the wallet. He told the police he believed I made an accident too and they did clear my name.

They had actually been driving the roads I hitchhiked looking to arrest me!

Givi dropped me off near the main road and I hitchhiked one more lift to Edirne before camping there. I will forever be grateful to that guy, I couldn’t of gotten out of that messy situation where I had no Turkish or internet without his help. All I had was my word that the wallet had been an accident and he believed me.

 

Hitchhiking in Turkey Tips

Hitchhiking in Turkey Tips

Capital : Ankara

Population : Around 78 Million

Languages : Turkish

 English (Common in Istanbul)

 German (Common in Istanbul)

Difficulty : Good for Hitchhiking.

Money : Lira, (Not very Cheap in Istanbul to eat and sleep, Alcohol is expensive too)

chai
Turkish Tea

Visa : Gotten online from here (USA and most EU countries) for about €10. Print the receipt and bring it to the border.

Hitchhiking in Turkey is not as difficult or dangerous as many people assume.

Though I did nearly get arrested here.

Waiting times are quite minimal and truck drivers can be very helpful, often making you Chai (Turkish tea).

The roads in Turkey are far superior to those of Eastern European Countries such as neighbours Bulgaria. The traffic often moves fast and Turkish drivers are unpredictable on the roads.

Its best to find somewhere good to hitchhike at the edge of towns and cities where traffic moves a little slower and a car can pull in. Hitchhiking with your thumb or a sign works. Looking clean will also help a lot hitchhiking in Turkey.

I found camping easy here too, at one stage I camped for three nights in a row with two friends on a beach without any trouble at all.

camping in turkey
Cooking up a meal in Turkey by the beach.

The country is absolutely immense but moving long distances in a day is possible because of the good roads between most cities. Getting out of Istanbul is a nightmare though because the city is so huge.

To get off on the right foot with your driver just be sure to complinet the nice Mosques and food (lovely kebabs). Don’t ever joke about Turkey or insult Turkish men or women! Some guys are quick tempered and have huge pride in Turkey and the language. That’s why learning a couple words in Turkish is great to help get lifts.

Is it safe for girls to Hitchhike in Turkey?

I’m not being ignorant here, I’m just trying to be honest about the culture in Turkey.

Women definitely are not respected 100% as much here by the men, even if you visit Turkey with your girlfriend and walk around holding her hand clearly stating that you are a couple. She is still likely to get hit-on by at least one idiot virgin.

Not all Turkish men are awkward like this around girls, most are friendly people but there is one every now and then.

That said I did meet girls who have hitchhiked extensively and safely in Turkey with truck drivers and regular traffic, having a great time. So don’t fear it! But I would recommend not hitchhiking alone for girls, because of what has happened in the past.

My friend Lea of L’Spirit Cross from Switzerland hitchhiked in Turkey and told me about her experience.

“To travel in turkey as a woman is a must.

Imagine standing on the road with thumbs up, you well get right away chai and sometimes a chorba (Soup) but mostly you even don’t have time to finish it, because cars stops soon. 

I had a good experience with trucks drivers. I learned the basic turkish.

It’s beautiful. the country and the people and they are very happy if you know some words and they really like to talk to you, try hard to understand English.

No worries they all have smartphones and you also can use translation app. and also they love to take selfies.

About the men, they have a different attitude,but if you travel and understand the history and culture, I feel is not that much different as somewhere else.

Take care , go for what you love and enjoy having no plan. Turkey is a organised chaos and will surprise you. have fun.”

Driving into Turkey with UK or Irish car.

Driving a UK Car into Turkey.

Driving to Turkey with a UK car was not much trouble. I had an Irish driver’s license and my friend Connor had a British License (the car was under his name).

The car was a Peugeot 206 by no means flash or fancy.

We were clearly two young guys who could be carrying lots of alcohol or weed too in the eyes of the border police.

Vignette

This is some sort of road tax, required in some European countries (Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary included). We got caught out at the Romania Bulgaria border for not buying one. The fine was over 200 euro, a 50 dollar bribe sufficed though in our case.

It’s better to get one though at the first petrol station you find (usually less than 10 euro for a month).

We never bought one in Turkey and I don’t think you need one, instead you pay motorway tolls.

Motorway Tolls

These can’t be paid by cash or credit card. Instead you register your car registration at a PTT (Yellow Post office in Turkey) to enroll in the system and credit your account. Then every-time you pass a toll the cameras will charge your account.

At least that’s the jist of what I was told.

I was told in theory that every-time we passed through the toll without this set-up we were receiving a fine, the cameras had the registration after all. If my friend didn’t receive the fine by mail we would be charged when we drove the car over the Georgia border.

In reality we drove though many tolls on our way across Turkey to Georgia, setting of an alarm every single time. In reality also much to our relieve the Turkish police’s computers at the Trabzon to Batumi border did not know that we had skipped all the tolls across the countries northern coast. We never paid this fee.

I would recommend you do visit a PTT if staying in Turkey a while though, we could of just got lucky in the smaller 206 which didn’t catch attention.

First Aid Kit, Fire Extinguisher and Two Warning Triangles

Never checked at the border but you might aswell buy these bits, we got them all as a kit in a Practikar in Bulgaria for about 15 euro.

GB Sticker

Nope, I’m Irish and Connor is Scottish (the failed referendum was soon) so we decided that we could talk our way out of this one if we got caught, never did get questioned about the sticker.

Headlamp Converters

Seen this mentioned on a sign, ignored and never questioned. Can’t see the point once your dims work fine.

Certificate of Ownership

Something that will prove you own the car, like the log book with your name written on it just the same as on your passport.

Home Insurance

Something that will prove your insured inside the EU, probably not needed but bring it anyway in-case.

Cash is King for Insurance

Cash (Euros) to buy Turkish Insurance. Pounds are probably good too but not Scottish pounds for some stupid reason. Best to just have Euro at the end of the day.

The cost will vary depending on your car size, we got the diesel 206 insured for 6 months (no shorter period allowed for us) in Turkey for around 60 euro. This was cheaper then the signs suggested so be sure to try chat with the border police, I’m sure it’s a bit at their discretion to give a good price.

You will get a printed certificate of insurance, keep it with the car at all times. In our case either of us could lawfully drive the car (both full license) but a crash would be liable to Connor (the owner).

Good Bulbs

You always have your dipped lights on here, even during the brightest days by law.

The Search

Be prepared for a search of the car, they didn’t look rigorous but don’t be bringing tonnes of Alcohol into Turkey (even though it’s a good idea since its far more expensive than Bulgaria). No recreational drugs either, Marijuana is a big deal in Muslim countries, a prison cell big deal.

The Driving

Turks are dangerous drivers, be careful on the roads and expect that 30 foot truck to over-take you on the bend. Good idea to always have a passenger to help you with over-taking since you will be driving on the right-hand side of the road in a left-hand side car.

Istanbul is insane to try drive around with a population of like 20 million, bring a sat-nav.

stray dog bulgaria
Meet this stray dog near the Bulgaria-Turkey border, throw him a bit of bread if you see him. 🙂

Hitchhiking from Turkey to Bulgaria

Hitchhiking from Turkey to Bulgaria

Hitchhiking from Edirne in Turkey to Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria proved quite difficult, mainly at the Bulgaria/Turkey border.

hitchhike edirne veliko

I presume the Bulgarians were a bit less trustworthy of strangers because of the amount of Syria refuges sneaking across the border at the time.

I had camped in Edirne the night before after travelling from Istanbul and began thumbing beside where I had slept.

The first car to pass by collected me, a Turkish fella and he brought me to the border then turned back, don’t really know where he was going originally.

Overall Rating : Greatcamping edirne

Waiting Time : 5 Mins

I had no luck what so ever at the border though. I waited nearly an hour just after crossing it then another hour on the immediate highway but with no luck (the traffic is scarce yet moving fast).

After walking along the highway though about a kilometre I spotted a hole in the fence that led down towards some service stations and restaurants for truckers. I had a bite to eat then continued walking from here towards Svilengrad.hitchhike svilengrad

After walking another 2 or 3 km I got collected by an old man who dropped me at a good “autostop” spot in Svilengrad for travelling north towards Veliko. I was very grateful for that lift after the hardship of the border.

At my new hitch-hiking spot it only took about 20 mins to get back on the road again.

Overall Rating : OK (Not very busy)

Waiting Time : 20 Mins

This elderly man had no English but I believe he claimed that he regularly picked up hitchhikers from all over Europe around the border.

He was only going to Cherepovo so I jumped out before then and tried for another car. There is no need to point out the specific locations because this route I took is full of small villages and it’s possible to hitch-hike anywhere on the road.

The next car to pass was a pair of Gypsys in their thirties with a banged up old Dacia, some part of my brain said to ignore them but my aching feet were happy with any ride so I stuck the thumb out and caught my first lift with Gypsys.

It turned out to be just fine like I expected (wouldn’t of thumbed otherwise) and I got let off in Polski Gradets. I walked out of the town and started hitch-hiking again on the side of the road.

My next lift took maybe an hour to arrive but I was glad in the end because the (mafia looking) guy drove ridiculously fast, and he had a mercedes with comfortable leather seats. He was only going to Radnevo though.

By now I was a little confused as to my location but I knew I was still heading in a northerly direction.

So after hitchhiking in Radnevo I arrived in Stara Zagora and since it was after getting dark I decided to sleep, I pitched my tent up by a small lane-way which was to the side of the E85 motorway just outside Stara Zagora. To me it looked like a Mechanic’s Garage was maybe at the top of the lane, I couldn’t tell in the dark.

After maybe one hour of sleep though I was awoken by a flash-lamp and the sound of a dog. I opened my tent to find four fully armed Bulgarian soldiers looking at me (more on this later) but luckily one spoke English and I talked me way out of the situation. Apparently the ground was Bulgarian secret service territory (some spy I would be).

I walked down the motorway another 500 meters and found a secluded spot in a wooded area without soldiers.

In the morning it was raining heavy but I really wanted to get to my friends place in Veliko to get tidied up and showered so I began hitch-hiking anyway. An elderly guy in a truck stopped for me even tough I was drenched (some people are just great) and he brought me to Kazanlak explaining in broken English how I had went wrong on my way to Veliko.

The road from Nova Zagora to Veliko by Gurkovo is much faster and used by the Veliko traffic no the Stara Zagora route. When coming from Polski Gradets I shouldn’t of veered west to Radnevo. He helped me get back on track by radioing other truckers too and found me one in Kazanlak for Veliko, and that’s how I finally got there in the end. Getting lifts in trucks can be a slower method of travelling but will often proove rewarding since no-one knows the roads better than them.

 Before : Hitchhking from Istanbul to Edirne

 After : Hitchhking from Veliko Tarnovo to Nadlac via Bucharest

 

Hitchhiking out of Istanbul towards Edirne

Hitchhiking out of Istanbul towards Edirne

This is bloody difficult (it took me two days) unlike general hitchhiking in Turkey. Istanbul is just too dam huge.

I began near Ataturk Airport (jumped in a taxi with a friend from my hostel who was getting a flight) and walked west, my plan was to get to Silivri then work my way up to Edirne off the motorway so that I could hitchhike. After there I was heading to Bulgaria.

hitchhike istanbul edirne

On the first day I walked for the whole day. It was a late start (like 3pm) and I was too hungover to bother talking to drivers so I never really thumbed either. I must of walked for maybe 7 hours following the D100 then camped in a field by the road putting my tent up after dark. The area was still residential and I spotted the local security guard who gave me permission to camp.

On the second day I kept my thumb out as I strolled along by the side of the D100 road and got picked up a couple of times in various locations. After maybe three lifts I was in Corlu and things were looking good to reach Bulgaria and in one of the cars the young Turkish guys were smoking some weed.

I however got into a bad situation when this other guys wallet fell out of his car when he let me out, (see Facing Arrest in Turkey). That wasted another two hours at least and it was getting dark.

I was however by then in Babaeski. I walked to the edge of the town and turned left at the hitchhike edirnejunction to get onto the D100 again. The traffic was moving very fast but I got collected quickly without even a sign. I really thought this spot was useful.

Overall Rating : Great

Waiting Time : 10 Mins

In Edirne then I walked through the city center. The place looked a bit dodgy to camp in (Refugees trying for Greece and Bulgaria around).

I found a nice place to camp though. A sort of park camping edirnejust after the bridge (marked in red), it had a friendly security guard who was working all night and had no problem with me camping on his grounds.

In the morning I hitch-hiked directly beside my park on the road just after the bridge towards Bulgaria and got collected by the first car.

After : Hitchhiking from Edirne to Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgaria)

Hitchhiking from Batumi to Trabzon

Hitchhiking from Batumi to Trabzon

Trabzon and Batumi are two popular seaside towns among backpackers. Mainly because the Iranian embassies in either town can provide a visa in just a few hours without any required documents other than a passport (or so the rumours say).

This was my first time hitchhiking in Georgia.

hitchhike trabzon

 

When I was leaving Batumi I began walking from the town center in the direction of the Turkish Border with a Scottish friend named Connor. hitchhike Batumi

We started hitch-hiking after a fork in the road with a sign for Turkey.

It took around 30 minutes to get collected by two young Georgian guys driving to the border in a convertible.

Overall Rating : Good

Waiting Time : 30 mins

Its a strange border with Turkey, all passengers of cars (except the driver) have to exit the vehicles and cross separately.

After keep on walking up the hill to the right and you will pass people selling corn on the cob and then a Mosque. You can hitchike by the Mosque as there’s space for cars to pull in.

The traffic is slow but frequent enough, use a sign for Trabzon or some other town along the Black sea. It’s probably possible to catch a lift direct to Istanbul.

Overall Rating : OK

Waiting Time : 45 mins

hitchhiking to rize

From the border we got brought to Rize by an elderly Turkish man.

We kept walking along by the sea on the right side of the motorway from the city center until we saw space for a car to pull in and began thumbing again.

Overall Rating : OK

Waiting Time : 1 Hour

From here we were brought directly to Trabzon by a Turkish guy in his thirties who spoke fluent English. He explained to us a lot about Turkey’s past and also one or two Turkish words, the Turks are very proud of their language and history.