Istanbul, Turkey Jilted by YouTube, Lost in Turkey

Landed in Istanbul at midnight. Luggage went missing en route. My hard drive with all the raw dancing footage is either in Chicago or London. After 24 hours, the baggage folks in Istanbul have no idea.

Got to the hotel, met Patrik and Jonas, the Swedish commercial guys.


The hotel is fancy and luxurious and there is an enormous transvestite who stands at the corner outside. So there’s that.

Went to bed by 1am. Up at 5am to catch a flight down to Fethiye on the southern coast for a day of bad dancing.

The landing was aborted due to freakish winds that threatened to flip the plane on its side. Esra, our production assistant and translator, made use of the vomit bag.

Instead of landing at Fethiye (in Turkish: "land of the fused eyebrow"), the pilot took us to a safer airstrip in Antalya ("land of the very old ringtones"), three hours away by car. We hired a guy to drive us back, but not before stopping at a local strip mall to re-clothe me. Having no luggage, I’d been wearing the same clothes for about 60 hours. I put together a crude approximation of my dancing uniform, by way of Billabong and Quiksilver.

…at least I didn’t smell so bad.

We drove all afternoon, stopping to set up in front of random patches of the stark Turkish countryside. I danced with a goat. I danced on a boat.

It was cold and rainy and I was tired.

We got to Fethiye with some daylight left. I danced in a set of ancient tombs carved into a mountainside.


There was slippery climbing required, but Patrik and Jonas are experienced mountaineers – must be a Swedish thing – and they helped me up.

By dinner time, whatever auxiliary fuel I was running on ran out. In the lead-up to this trip, I’ve had a lot of late nights making preparations for the imminent start of the new video. Most of the sleep I’ve gotten has been in short patches of a couple hours. It finally caught up and I was a corpse on the flight back to Istanbul.

Tomorrow is the big event; a dance with 50 Turkish men on a rooftop overlooking the Hagia Sophia. It’s an odd change being strictly a performer on this Swedish TV commercial thing. I don’t have to plan or orchestrate anything – I just dance where they tell me. It’s been my own weird little personal hobby for so long, I hadn’t considered what it would be like to hand that over. It’s kind of nice, actually. Not for one of my own videos, mind you, but for this side project, it’s okay.

The voting just closed on the YouTube awards. The dancing video was nominated for "Most Creative Video." I was mildly flattered and intrigued when I heard about it a week ago. Then when I learned I was ranking second in the voting, I got a wee bit more interested.

…okay, I’ll cop to checking the polls every chance I got. And I was deliriously happy when the video jumped up to the top spot for a few days. But it dropped back down the day before the voting closed – which was about an hour ago – and I’m pretty sure the award went to Ok Go for their treadmill video.

If it hadn’t been so close, I wouldn’t be disappointed. But seeing it at the top got me excited. The awards are being given out in New York on Monday, and it would’ve been neat to meet the AskaNinja guys, Terra Naomi, and the world’s most adorable puppy.

It also would’ve been neat to kick the Free Hugs guy in the balls.

…man, that guy really needs to get kicked in the balls.

But when I step back a bit – I mean, empirically speaking – the Ok Go video was amazing. The category is called “Most Creative,” and there’s no way I can compete on those terms. As far as that adjective is concerned, there’s no contest. The victory was just. If the category had been "Most Frequent Flyer Miles Earned," then it would be a different story.

So I was down for a bit. But then I remembered the whole awards concept is totally arbitrary and meaningless and I felt a little better.

In fact, I’ll say I’m completely content if the Ok Go guys would go ahead and kick Free Hugs guy in the balls for me.

30 Responses to Istanbul, Turkey Jilted by YouTube, Lost in Turkey

  1. Stephan

    Hey Matt, care to elaborate on kicking in the nuts of the Free Hugs guy?

    Glad you’re enjoying yourself anyway :p

  2. Berna

    Such an interesting coincidence for my regular boring life!
    I learned about you, and your video just half an hour ago..”Such great experiences, a great video, what a brave person” i thought. “Hmm, let’s check the pwrsonal website, too.” The site opens:Shock shock shock!!” What? Is he in Istanbul??Is he here? I should definitely invite him to my university(Koc University), he should share the things he lived during his trips with us, in a conference or something”…But the excitement did not last long, “he already left here, damn”
    Anyways, I think you are living in the dreams of millions of people, Matt.

    I hope you will have fun in my country.

  3. Hey Matt. So did ya get your luggage back yet or still waiting on that? Glad to see that someone else things the Free Hug guy should be booted lol. Keep up the good work and excited to see the commercial.
    Take care,

  4. Rich

    I wonder how many people will understand that kicking the “Free Hugs” guy in the nuts is a joke?

    Anyway, now that you can get 4GB zip drive cards for a song have you thought about backing up your stuff and carrying that little zip drive in a separate place? I know that’s not really how you operate, but maybe it would be worth your while? You never did get that lost footage back from when your laptop was stolen, did you?

    All the best,


  5. Amy

    It’s a shame yours wasn’t under Most Inspirational, because it is!

    I signed up for your dance tour 2007! Come up to the Okanagan. We have wine 😀

    You have inspired me, I’ll be watching your blog. i need to travel more. And do goofy stuff.

  6. durali

    Hey man, I wish I could do it.. Anyway, I am from istanbul and i wish all the best for you. HAve a nice trips and of course, enjoy this beautiful country…Turkey, and of course, Istanbul, where east and west meet here.

  7. Mitch

    Meh, I got sick of the Ok Go video after seeing it two or three times. Yours stays fresh.

    Oh yeah, it’s awesome to see that you’re travelling again!

  8. Katie

    you provide me with great procrastination material. and i thank you, oh so much, for that. hope you meet me in Uruguay this summer!

  9. Turkey is a great country to visit. It would take more than a year if you ever wanted to see all the historical places from east to west.

    I’m glad you’ve seen some of it.

    Did you know that Turkey has the only country that has mosque, church and synagogue all together in the same square?

  10. maria

    And when are you coming to Spain?? xDDD you have to visit so many countries still :X Go to Andalucia!!!! we´ll be waiting for you!! XD

  11. Marky Mark

    Hey Matt!

    I envey your travels! I just returned last month from a 30 day safari tour from Johannesburg to Nairobi. I came across your ‘Dancing’ video when I saw you were dancing on Dune 45 in Sossusvlei, Namibia, such an awesome sunrise there isn’t it?

    I hope you can fit Zanzibar into your new trip, it is such an incredible island archepelago. Go to Nungwi at the northern tip if you can.

    Best Regards,


  12. Candace Kowal

    You had my vote Matt!

    And I still can’t believe you got beat by treadmills.

    Pretty much my friends and I are astonished [in the worst way] by this.

    I’m really happy to be reading your travels and adventures for the third video in a row!

    Take care of yourself Matt!!!

    Best of luck to you buddy!

  13. Rogério

    text in English

    Hi, my name is Rogério and lives, in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil… being that I saw its video in youtube and liked very and stow thinking if you ja had the idea to be in Brazil and to film varios famous places as: Beach of Copacabana, Christ Redentor, Bread of Açucar etc. It is the said idea well ok I hug.


    texto em Português

    ola, meu nome é Rogério e moro no Rio de Janeiro, Brasil… sendo que eu vi seu video no youtube e gostei muito e estive pensando se você ja teve a idéia de estar no brasil e filmar varios lugares famosos como : Praia de Copacabana, Cristo Redentor, Pão de Açucar etc.

    Bem fica a idéia dita



  14. Why do you want the free hugs guy to get kicked in the balls?
    He’s a fellow aussie mate, I don’t want to have to tackle ya to protect him : P
    I’m just joking of course…kick as much as you want…but why???


  15. Nuria

    Hi Matt!

    I’m green with envy! I want to travel around the world like you but my house mortgage does not let me go :-(

    Enjoy your travel and remember visit Spain (Madrid, Toledo, Sevilla and Santiago de Compostela to be precise) 😀

    Best regards!


  16. Bud


    Just leaving a comment to say that so far the new design of the site looks great. It seems that a lot of it is still in the works and getting tweaked here and there, but overall, it looks awesome and the whole early 20th century explorer theme really works well together. Nice job to you and whoever else has been working on it.

    Safe travels,

  17. Baggage lost in London? That’s standard not exceptional (my balance: four flights via London, twice baggage got lost)


  18. Gabi

    Hi! I liked your video better than the Go thing… I think you shouldn´t agree that the other guys were more creative. It was a close thing, I think your as much a winner as the other guys. I am not used to click alleatory for videos in You Tube, but your video called my attention and I saw it many times. It´s happy. It makes us feel good. I hope you´re enjoying the new trip… Update this journal so that we can get news about you. Hugs.

  19. Any interest in doing this in a Comfy Sack? I need some creative advertising and I have a bad ass product that fits your video gaming image. Let me know.

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