Inside My Head, Solo, Solo Travel, Turkey

Unwanted Advances Along the Lycian Way

16 Comments 25 February 2014

Beloren Ruins lycian way

Ruins near Beloren along Lycian Way

I squinted my eyes and peered out onto the bush filled mountain searching for the trail. “Look, do you see it?” he said as he placed his hand on my knee. “The trail is right here.” Pointing across my body.

I still couldn’t really see it but decided to fake it since it would bring these charades to an end and we could just keep on driving up the mountain. He was driving me to the old village of Belören where he had taken Warren and Betsy earlier that morning to begin their climb. Instead I had planned to spend a couple of hours coming down the mountain while leaving my heavy pack behind at his pension. A way to enjoy the views, solitude, and do the part Warren and Betsy skipped. Plus he said that it was one of the most beautiful parts of the Lycian Way.

As we continued to drive up the narrow, deserted, gravel road in a weird delayed reaction my mind fixated on the slightly out-of-place hand on my knee fleeting moment, which occurred earlier. My mind worked it over a bit and even though it was strange, it was short. And Warren, Betsy and I had developed quite a rapport with him over the last day so I dismissed it as a friendly, yet odd, gesture.

We met this lovely man and his family when we were searching for a place to stay in Demre. He owns Kent Pension located near the trail and was willing to cater to our every hiking need. He was the first person we had met who was really forming his business around hiking the Lycian Way. He provided laundry, early breakfasts, packed lunches, water for the trail, and assistance on the trail through his network of friends. He did pickups and drop offs – and on top of all of this assistance he had immense passion for the ruins, the trail, and the history. As Warren, Betsy, and I sat in the comfortable lounge drinking a beer we all remarked on what an amazing find he and his pension was.

We told him we were all writers who were covering the Lycian Way in the hopes to bring more people to the trail. We all chatted that night about Turkey, history, and festivals while his wife cooked us up a feast and his little daughter watched Justin Bieber videos. Such a perfect evening that when we went back to our room to sleep I remarked, “What a great man. Normally there is some ulterior motive when I meet people like this and I spend the evening trying to figure out what it is. But I think what drives him is his passion for history and the trail. Sure, he’s also interested in money, but it feels like it’s driven by passion. I love meeting people like him – it makes me believe in humanity again.”

The car continues to climb uphill and I continue to make small talk asking him about the trail and his family. He points out a ruin in the distance and suddenly his hand is on my leg again – and it’s staying there. I’m in shock. I don’t say or do anything for a few seconds as I try to process this betrayal.

He started telling me how beautiful and sweet I was and while still in shock – all I could say was “No, no, no. I have a boyfriend at home.” He took his hand away and apologized saying he couldn’t help himself I was so beautiful.

Mind you – I was wearing a baseball hat and dirty hiking clothes that covered every piece of skin. As he reacted like a giddy schoolboy I did a mental inventory of what I wore the night before thinking about if I was culturally appropriate and I was always covered in the right places.

Sherry Ott

Me at the pension the night before – culturally appropriate.

All of a sudden he now grabbed my hand and was trying to hold it. I immediately reiterated “No, no, I have a boyfriend. And pulled my hand away.”

“Yes, yes – I have a wife.” he replied, which made my blood boil even more. I detest disloyal cheaters with a hatred that runs deep. Yet my main thought running through my head was “Fuck – I’m alone in a car with this asshole going up to an abandoned village. No one knows where I’m at. He could do anything to me and no one would know.”

I never normally put myself in these situations – but I had let down my guard as I was traveling with Warren and Betsy yet he took them up to the village earlier and I had no way to reach them – or anyone. My mind was in a full on panic at how vulnerable I was in this situation.

I told him thank you but I am not interested as he continued to gush like a schoolboy. I decided to try to keep it pleasant and non-confrontational at this point since I couldn’t communicate easily with him nor him with me. He spoke English – but it wasn’t great. I didn’t feel like it was necessary to get forceful yet and was hoping I could stop any further advanced with civility. Had I been in the US I don’t know that I would’ve done the same but in foreign cultures you sometimes need to adjust. Screaming at them in a foreign language will probably not work.

He took me up to the old village and showed me a few things but did not touch me again. He then drove me to the trail where I happily exited the car like a bolt, said thanks and started hiking down the steep trail. I turned around a few times to see if he left and he was still there watching me, waving, telling me to be careful. Finally he left and I could sit on a rock out of site and process everything.

Anger was my main emotion at him, at all men, and at myself.

I was pissed that he would make such a stupid move as I was genuinely excited to write about his business as a great resource for hikers. How could he be so stupid to screw that up? I was pissed he would so easily screw over his wife and family. And I wondered if he had that typical stereotype view that some Muslim men had of Western women – that we were all easy and looking for sex. This thought made me mad because I travel the world and write about it because I want to diminish some of these horrible stereotypes media has provided us and I really didn’t want to be a part of perpetuating them.

I was mad at myself for allowing myself to trust him enough to go off alone in a remote situation. One of the things I would love to change about myself is to be a more trusting and open person. Yet as hard as I try my first reaction when I meet people is to withhold and not trust them. In fact, I’ve been marveling at Warren and Betsy’s ability to be so enthusiastic about meeting strangers. I had been analyzing myself as I watch them on this trip and have wished that I possessed that openness and enthusiasm they have when meeting people. I’ve wondered why I’m so jaded, I’ve wondered if it hurts my ability to have a relationship. And here I was trying to step out of my pattern and trust people first and it backfired. I was mad it would make me even more untrusting now. I understand this isn’t’ the most healthy reasoning, but it’s what was going through my head. It was a sort of mental “I told you so” battle between my brain and heart.

I hiked for 2 hours downhill thinking about the situation and having to consider the fact he was going to pick me up at the end and I was staying at his pension again for the night but without Warren And Betsy this time. I considered moving to the next town instead.

Lycian Way Demre

Lycian Way with Demre below

However, I’ve put up with these kinds of advances before on the road many times but I am in a space where I’m not remote or alone and can normally brush them off and feel safe because there are people around nearby or people I know. Since I was staying in the pension where his family and other guests were I decided to stay again. It was getting late and as long as I wasn’t ever stuck alone with him I felt ok. However you can be sure I locked my door tight that night and was on high alert.

The rest of my day/night in Demre was a big downer as I processed all of these thought and feelings. I know time will make the anger go away eventually, however I hope the incident doesn’t leave too deep of scars. Trust and having an open mind is important when you travel, yet you always have to be prepared for the assholes in life.

To see the mountain section I skipped – check out Warren and Betsy’s daily journal
Demre to Alakilise Ruins
Alakilise Ruins to Belos

Your Comments

16 Comments so far

  1. Corinne says:

    I love Turkey, but it is true that many Turkish men believe that all western women are happy to jump in bed with them. It’s unfortunate, because the majority of Turks would never do this. Usually it is the ones that have access to tourists and I have heard of some women who enjoy the attention, which of course, does not help. I traveled all over the country with no problems, but I was with my husband. It is a good idea always to have someone with you, and if possible a man. I’m sorry this happened to you. I hope you don’t begin to distrust all Turks.

    • Sherry says:

      Not at all do I distrust all Turkish men – in fact I have many Turkish male friends. This could have happened in ANY country. In fact I thought long time about not publishing this as I didn’t want to add to the stereotypes out there – but also weighed it out and felt it was important to be honest about it too. Thanks for your reply!

  2. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is limited to just Turkish men. A great deal of men from all over the world think American women are easy. I got it from people in England when I traveled there alone (not all from England). I’ve read books about it in South America. It’s just a fact of life that we as American women have to deal with when we travel. It sucks. I try not to be alone with men, but sometimes, it happens. I’ve had some great experiences and met some lifelong male friends, but I have had some bad ones, too. So, try not to beat yourself up about it and I hope that this won’t completely shut you down. However, I know me…and I would probably do the same. I’m just glad it was nothing more than his hand on your knee and some words.

  3. Jonathon Ward says:

    As an Englishman, I would say that its mainly limited to Turkey. One Turkish man had the audacity to get in touch on Facebook and ask to sleep with my girlfriend!

    I can speak on behalf of the vast numbers of men who do condone advances and general filth like the man you met on your walk in saying it is certainly inappropriate and he is very lucky that you haven’t damaged his business.

    I was in Turkey last year and I hate to admit it, but I kept my guard up around my girlfriend and the waiters who were a little overly friendly.

    Shame its happened :( on the positive side it will make you a stronger person for the future.

    • Sherry says:

      Thanks for your feedback – but I do want to be clear that I”m not bashing Turkish men at all. This just happened in Turkey – but I’ve traveled to Turkey 3 times now and have never had an issue. All of the men I have met there have been very proper and considerate and many of them are my friends. This one just took me off guard. Men like this are everywhere – in the US and the UK too. I just finally ran into one of them in a situation that I didn’t have an easy exit.

  4. Frankly, I’d like to know the name of the place so I can avoid it when I visit that area. Ugh!

    • Sherry says:

      Barbara – I did include the name of his pension in the article. I also did write a review on Trip Advisor to warn solo female travelers. Demre really isn’t a very great stop anyway overnight unless you are hiking the trail. There is only one hotel there and 1 pension – very agricultural. Finike down the road is much better!

  5. Natalie says:

    I feel angry for you. I have had the same problem on the odd occasion but prefer to focus on the times when Turkish men have been nothing but courteous. He has lost out anyway. you could have sent him a lot of business.

  6. Rhonda says:

    It’s a sad fact that many men around the world view women as 3rd class citizens and sex objects. I always admire your spunk for being so willing to travel around the world as a solo female. Since we, too, travel as a couple, I probably find myself more open to strangers (like Warren & Betsy) than you because we have that built in security of a travel partner. I am thrilled to say I believe the majority of people, the world over, are good, it’s always painful to find those that are not.

  7. jaymo says:

    I am so very sorry that happened to you, that must really be awful. And to think it happened while you were trying to be more open, more trusting. Really, really hope it doesn’t cause you anything more than a bit of extra caution. We just love Turkey, and the Turkish people in particular. We have had one waiter be inappropriate with my wife and her sister, but I think he was just the bad apple in the bushel. Hang in there, I really enjoy following your adventures, you’re a good person!

  8. your anger is completely justified and understood. Just remember: there are shitty men all over the world. Don’t let this affect your view of other strangers. Just remember to ALWAYS take the right precautions when traveling solo and, with that taken care of, shouldn’t have a problem with any future encounters with strangers: whether they end up being douches like this idiot or not.

    HUGS from the USA! (You are a lovely person, I met you at TBEX Toronto. Please don’t change because of dirt bags like him!)

    -Maria Alexandra
    another solo traveler

  9. “you always have to be prepared for the assholes in life”

    Best advice I’ve heard in a while :-)

  10. I too was angry for you when reading your account of this guys inappropriate behavior. I hope in time you will be able to look back at this incident as a lesson learned regarding being in a potentially vulnerable position (alone with a stranger in a remote setting without anyone knowing your location is scary!).

    Please don’t let the few creeps in the world tarnish your outlook. I firmly believe that the majority of people want to rise to meet your highest expectations. Travel safely with an open heart and let your gut guide you.

  11. Ross says:

    That was terrible that he could do that both to you and his wife. You were lucky that he didnt have anything too malicious in mind as you were alone.

  12. Wow you handled that pretty well actually. I hate people like that and men who take liberties with women….well let’s just say I would not be adverse to spending 10 minutes alone with him one day…:)

  13. Alamut says:

    Hi everyone. Lycian Way Fethiye in place, we will be happy to welcome you.
    http://www.alamutalinca.com
    http://www.facebook.com/AlamutAlinca


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Sherry traveling the world

I'm Sherry, a corporate cube dweller turned nomadic traveler. I travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations to bring you unique travel experiences and photography. But it's not just about travel, it's also about life experiences of a middle age wanderer.
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NYC -> TBEX in Cancun

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