Posts Tagged ‘honesty’

Should you beware of your tour guide? Even in Turkey?

January 2, 2013

 

150 RustemP P1000074I think Turks are more honest than most, and I’ve written several times about how hard it is to lose a wallet in Turkey because some Turk will always pick it up and track you down to return it. In contrast, when a friend lost her wallet in front of the Whole Foods market in Westwood—an upscale part of Los Angeles, right by UCLA—it vanished without a trace. I wouldn’t be surprised if Turkey was the only place in the world where you just can’t lose a wallet.

So what to think when Today’s Zaman, Turkey’s top English language newspaper, runs an exposé headlined, “Beware of your tour guide”?

The article, along with a follow-on piece, gives several examples of

“tourists who are taken advantage of by a licensed, professional tour guide, someone who they have hired to show them the historic sites of the city, who builds up a sense of trust and who then knowingly fleeces them out of additional money after they have already paid a sometimes hefty fee for a guided tour.”

The scams mainly involve kickbacks from shops and restaurants who jack up their prices and share the loot with the unscrupulous guides who bring the poor trusting tourists to be fleeced.

So should you beware? No and yes. No, because you’ll forego an enriching experience if the warning makes you avoid guides altogether. Some of my most rewarding travel experiences have been with licensed guides, particularly Arzu Tutuk Altinay in Istanbul and Atil Ulas Cuce in Cappadocia.

But yes as well. Use common sense, check them out, and don’t give someone you don’t know carte blanche to choose your restaurant, carpet dealer, jeweler, or spice shop. Even in a country where honesty predominates there are sharpies and crooks looking for you. So hire a guide, be enriched by the knowledge she has, and—always—think for yourself.

 

 

Nobody ever loses a wallet in Turkey. It always gets returned

April 17, 2012

 

I’ve visited Turkey eleven times, and always return in awe of the honesty of Turks. I’ve written here about the lengths Enver Beyazyuz went to in order to return my wallet, which he had found in the men’s room at an Istanbul Starbucks. And here, about the Gaziantep cab driver who trusted us to call him for a return trip so we could pay him after he had been unable to change the TL 20 bill (about $12) I had offered.

On my latest visit my daughter, Susan Le, was lingering over breakfast coffee when Johann, a fellow guest at our hotel in Cappadocia (the Esbelli Ev—visit Cappadocia and stay there if you can!) sadly recounted how he had lost his wallet, stuffed with IDs and credit cards, at the huge Goreme Open Air Museum (photo).

“No problem,” Sue replied cheerfully. “Nobody ever loses a wallet in Turkey. It always gets returned. Tell Atıl (our guide, Atıl Cuce of Middle Earth Travel, hire him when you visit Cappadocia), he’ll know what to do.”

Two minutes later Atılhung up the phone. “They have your wallet.”

My friend Arzu Tutuk (best guide in Istanbul, hire her when you go there) says if you lose your mobile phone in Turkey the finder will first refill with additional minutes, then track you down and return it. I wouldn’t be surprised.

 

Turks trust strangers, and the trust is repaid

March 20, 2011

I’ve written here about the remarkable honesty of—seemingly everybody—in Turkey. I got another example two days ago when our taksi stopped at our chosen restaurant in Gaziantep. The meter showed TL 7—about $4.00. Our friend Arzu Tutuk handed the driver a TL20 note. “Sorry, no change,” he said (in Turkish). “Here’s my card, just call me when you’ve finished dinner and I’ll take you back to your hotel. We can settle then.”

And so we did. After a sumptuous dinner at Imam Cağdas Arzu called the driver, he picked us up within two minutes, and she settled the bill for the round trip.

What’s remarkable about this story? The cab driver trusted a total stranger to go out of her way to pay him, when she could have stiffed him with impunity. It never occurred to the driver or to Arzu that the trust could be broken.

Hooray—again—for Turkish honesty.

Are Turks more honest than most? My Turkish friends modestly say no; I say yes.

April 22, 2010

If you lost a wallet with credit cards, a driver’s license, and $300, what would your chances be of getting it back? Depends on where you lost it, right? It would be interesting to know the chances by location—are Minnesotan more honest than New Yorkers? Or are Germans more honest than Italians? We don’t know.

But one thing I do know: if you’re going to lose your wallet, do it in Turkey.

Last month in an Istanbul Starbucks I reached for my wallet and it wasn’t there. I had just ridden in a packed tram, and I figured that I had lost it or had my pocket picked in the tram. Several hours later—11 pm, when I was in bed—I was awakened by a call from Enver Beyazyuz, a businessman who frequents that Starbucks. He had found my wallet on the men’s room floor, turned it over to the store manager, then had second thoughts: he wasn’t certain the manager, busy as he was, would make every effort to find the wallet’s owner. So he went back to Starbucks, asked to see the wallet again, found a business card of the hotel, and tracked me down. (more…)


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