Posts Tagged ‘lost wallet’

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.

 

 

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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.

 

If you’ve got to lose something, lose it in Turkey, not in Silicon Valley

May 15, 2010

I’ve written here about how I recently left a wallet with all my credit cards and $300 in cash in an Istanbul Starbucks, and how the finder tracked me down and returned it intact. I had a similar experience in Turkey several years before. Good thing I didn’t do that in Silicon Valley, where Apple engineer Gray Powell left a priceless prototype of Apple’s next edition of the iPhone in a Redwood City bar. Brian Hogan, a 21-year-old college student, found the phone and shopped it around, finally selling it to technology blog Gizmodo for $5,000.


Hogan’s roommate, Katherine Martinson, said she and other friends tried to talk Hogan out of selling the phone, arguing it would ruin the career of the Apple engineer who lost it. Hogan responded,


“Sucks for him. He lost his phone. Shouldn’t have lost his phone.”


He sure shouldn’t have lost it where Brian Hogan could find it, steal it, and sell it. He should have lost it in Istanbul where it would have been quickly returned to him.

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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…)