I love an authentic Turkish bath, but I could have done without the waterboarding experience…
My Waterboarding Experience In Jordan…In A Turkish Bath
Waterboarding is a form of torture in which water is poured over a cloth covering the face and breathing passages of an immobilized captive, causing the person to experience the sensation of drowning. It was used by the USA (in CIA black sites including Jordan) after the 9/11 attacks in an effort to make captured alleged terrorists talk.
After over 20 miles of hiking through Petra, I was quite tired and thought a Turkish bath experience would be relaxing. The town of Wadi Musa, outside the gates of Petra in Jordan, features a number of spas that offer the full Turkish bath or hammam experience.
I found one at a rate of 20JOD for an hour and made an appointment for 5:00 pm. After enjoying a cup of tea in the waiting room, I was escorted into the changing room, given swimming trunks to put on, then led into a steam room where I sat for about 20 minutes.
After that, I was led into a large room that was also full of steam and directed to lie down on a hot marble stone slab like the one pictured at the top of this story. A washcloth-sized towel was placed over my eyes. There, the Turkish bath would take place (where a guy essentially scrubs and massages you).
This wasn’t my first Turkish bath experience, but what I didn’t experience was that the dude would pour a bucket of water over my face to start the “bath.”
And suddenly I realized how scary waterboarding is. Water filled in my nose and mouth. I could not breathe. I sat up and gasped, choking for breath. Trust me, I’m not exaggerating when I say it was one of the most unpleasant experiences I have ever had.
The guy did not speak English, but patted me a couple of times on the back and then pushed me back down. Over the next 30 minutes, he poured several additional buckets of water over my face, but going forward placed his hand over my nose and mouth (which also was not a very pleasant experience…) before doing so.
I don’t really feel like getting into the ethics of waterboarding here, but goodness that is a horrible feeling. I cannot imagine being subjected to that over and over and would probably tell anyone anything to make it stop. I love a Turkish bath experience, but will make it very clear next time that if water is going to be dumped on my face, I better be warned first.
I had a similar experience in Istanbul. One trip to the Turkish baths was enough for me. I’ll take a Korean spa over this any day.
As a regular visitor to Korean spas (although I rarely take the extra scrub down option) I’m wondering what the differences are? I’ve never been to a Turkish bath.
They both look horrible to me. The least relaxing thing I can think of is some stranger touching me. Is don’t care if it’s a bath, a massage or whatever else people seem to be into. No. Don’t touch me.
I’m not sure how it works at a Turkish bath, but at a Korean bath house you just go about your own business and nobody will touch you unless you pay extra to get a massage/scrub down to remove dead skin. It’s not a compulsory part of the process, so if you’re uncomfortable with that, it’s easy to avoid.
I’ve been in a Korean bath house. I looked at it and left. Also those Thai places. Looked. Left. I really don’t get the whole thing. If i want to take a nice bath, I’ll get a hotel room with a nice bathtub. I loved South Korea. And I love the middle east. And, I love Thailand. But, i don’t need their public baths or massages, it just doesn’t make any sense to me.
Disturbing. No energy to discuss torture tactics either.
Waterboarding never was torture.
Isn’t a Turkish Bath when gay guys go to s#ck each other off like The White Swallow in South Park?
Obviously you aren’t gay, but definitely a strange post from you.
Ut-oh. The comment and LGBTQIA+XYZ police “Aaron” will be here soon.
Gaydar says no on Matthew being gay. Even if he was, it’s his business, but I doubt he is anyway.
Question. Was this place recommended by someone? It appears a bit iffy from photos.
@Maryland: LOL!! Iffy is a compliment. What a dump. I would never get myself into that place. If I were to try anything like this I would see if the hotel has a spa and pay more but it feels more safe. Who knows what happens behind those doors. @Matthew: Did I read correctly that you got a bath suite from the place? WTF!!!
No expert but it brought up a disturbing vibe!
@Maryland: It was well-reviewed on Trip Advisor, 1/4 the price of the Mövenpick, one block from my hotel, and beyond the jolt of the first bucket, was a nice experience. It was actually quite crowded with co-eds, though you cannot tell that based on the pictures. Nothing seedy about it.
Thank you. I am glad you’re safe! It looked like a dungeon
@Matthew: please tell me you didn’t wear a bath suit from the place.
Agreed, it looks terrible.
The place looks cool. Love to go but I have a George Castanza type phobia of men massaging me (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).
Nope. That’s a Seinfeld response. George was oblivious
I would not go to a bath house in a foreign country unless I was absolutely certain of what I was getting into. It might be a house of prostitution or house of gay prostitution or a place to be waterboarded, which some people with certain psychiatric disorders might want to be subjected to. Don’t laugh. There was a German man that wanted to be killed and eaten.
Again, it wasn’t just a hole in the wall…I compared it between three places (all on the same street, Tourist Street) and it received high marks on Trip Advisor, FWIW.
I figured you had checked Yelp or similar and I was right
(where a guy essentially scrubs and massages you).
Right there is the deal breaker for me. No dude is scrubbing or massaging me.
“I’m not a biologist.” –Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
@David, ultimately I don’t see why the gender of the masseur/masseuse matters. In Islamic culture, this is very common. There was nothing erotic or sexual about the massage or scrub…it was, in essence, a ritual that people in the Levant have been doing for a thousand years.
Thank you for your honesty and willingness to even talk to the haters. Impressive–to me.
Yeah, in a true waterboarding, beyond the hands being tied, the board is actually tilted down some with the head obviously going towards the low end. Invigorating to say the least. I see ads on TV now for a machine that runs liquid through your sinus, same thing.
My first thought when I read the title was “Aww hell, is Matthew gonna have one of his ‘lounge apartheid’ episodes again?”
I went there & the place right up the street the next day after a bunch of hiking each day. Consider yourself lucky you went there & not the later.
Comparing your experience to the tortures at Guantanamo is a bit of a stretch.
But reading about reviewers commenting on your sexuality is even cringier.
Waterboarding isn’t torture.
Thought that debate had long ended.
Bollocks. And infective too. Why don’t you get waterboarded and then get back to us?
Only thing sketchy I see is the entrance. Hardly inviting! But inside, it’s completely what one might expect for a Jordanian building of likely multiple-hundreds years of age, very solid and aging quite well. If all one’s accustomed to is construction less than 20 years old, says more about you than the place your evaluating. Love the posts, Matthew!
This would have been a horrible experience for me too. No, Matthew is not gay considering he has a wife & kids. It is funny how much a lot of straight guys talk/write about homosexuality. Thank You for being more than an ignorant American!
To be completely fair, having a family and kids these days isn’t exactly a disqualifier for some. There’s a lot of craziness out there. But you’re right, speculation and rumors should stop. He is straight and a humble family man of faith, IMHO. He writes good content and I am grateful for that. While I know him to be straight, I wouldn’t stop reading even if he was gay—which I don’t think he is.
Overall, thought, the gay agenda needs to stop being forced down peoples throats—enough is enough. Marriage equality was one thing but now it’s become grossly inappropriate. Let sexuality be private again.
Yeesh. I… cannot understand why one would pay money to be washed by some dude. Or some lady. Or whoever. I can wash myself. And, I definitely have no desire to be waterboarded. Some people have a really weird idea of what relaxation is. I, personally, prefer a cup of tea. Maybe a good book.
I was in a Turkish hammam in Istanbul in front of Hagia Sofia (obviously a tourist hotspot) and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Didn’t know that prude Americans look at it as gay, lol. Later I went to a better rated hammam which wasn’t nearly as good, so if you want a recommendation, go to the first one.