Just spent an interesting dinner with one of my cousin’s oldest friends Lao Lei, a Chinese man in his sixties who just spent 50 days traveling in Turkey. It was interesting to hear what he had to say about his trip and what it meant for the horizon-opening nature of travel, particularly as more countries make it easier for Chinese people to travel there as they scramble for the Chinese dollar…but mostly because I just thought it was a fascinating tale of encountering.
“After seeing the Turkish people I just felt that we Chinese are short and ugly…it’s as though we are all missing a whole middle portion of our waists,” he said, gesturing at his midsection. “They are all so tall and slender, it’s just as though we cannot compare.”
“And the men are truly good looking,” he said, “with cheekbones that stick out to here, and beards that reach from their ears to their necks, and eyelashes that are so long. Some of them have light eyes.”
He went to a Turkish bath, where he said he got to observe the Turkish men up close. “The hair on their chests is thick and luxuriant, and isn’t like the hair on laowai’s chests in China…. they swirl in a clockwise direction, like flowers,” he said, “and the hair on their belly is so thick, it’s almost an inch thick, and some of them had white tips.”
His eyes when he was telling this to us were so wide and expressive they made me laugh out loud. Here was this (totally straight) Chinese dude explaining the beauty of Turkish men with a sort of childlike wonder and just sheer appreciation for human beauty. It was a special moment.
He also mentioned the prevalence of cats in Istanbul. Apparently they were just hanging out on the high street, weaving in and out of the Prada boutiques like it was their birthright. “Mainly tiger and leopard style cats,” he said. “And they were all fat and well-fed, and clean. There were clothing boutiques where there would be clothes hanging on a rack, and in between the clothes you would find a cat.”
“But the food I really couldn’t take for long,” he said sadly. “Even so, even though I spent more than a month there, I only saw a third of what there was to see. It’s a good place to visit, even better than Greece.”