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The Labors of Bucephalus No matter how tedious life at times could become, one look out the window was enough to remind me that not far away, the world-and adventure-were impatiently waiting.-R. Morse

Scams aplenty

TURKEY | Tuesday, 5 February 2008 | Views [1531]

haggling in the Grand Bazaar

haggling in the Grand Bazaar

You know, I'm really making every effort to be culturally sensitive, to enjoy the rich history and scenery of Istanbul, and to be friendly to it's inhabitants.  But after five days of attempted scams, cons, hustles, and general badgering, I'm pretty much done with it.  I've come to the sad conclusion that if any stranger talks to me, they want something.  Granted it can be this way in the states, (don't get me wrong, people can be sleazy the world over), but last Friday night really set the bar.  Our hostel has belly dancing friday nights, and that was pretty cool, but as soon as we left the safety of Orient, things took a turn for the worse.  The same old story, guy befriends us, except this one has his hustle fine tuned.  He's not from Istanbul,just wants to meet people, blah, blah, blah.  This guy keeps up the "getting acquainted" phase for a long time.  But then it comes, he knows a great club, and the rest is predictable. I know, I know, the old adage "curiosity killed the cat" should be heeded in these situations, but the club is actually quite nice, and moderately full of customers, so we feel fairly safe.  The same old drill, drinks, girls, food, 400$ bill.  It's gotten old already, and this time, we're expecting it.  Another lovely shouting match with the manager, who screams at me, "I am not your dog!" (?), leads us to the police threat, which leads us to the lobby, which leads us to another free of charge club visit.  You'd think these scams would lose money in the long run, but evidentally not.  So now, we just want a nice, quiet place, to relax and laugh about our bad luck.  Nope.  Next club, same deal.  We pay for ouy efes ahead of time, so as to minimze "confusion" and are, sigh, pestered by an old man and hookers for our entire time there.  There is  something so singularly disturbing about watching an old man point at a girl who can't be more than 20 years old, saying, "40 lira!" And of course, the night just wouldn't be complete without him trying to charge us for their drinks.  Ridiculous.  The last, and most subtle scam was yesterday.  Walking by a restaurant, we ask, "how much for a gyro?" To which the store owner replies, "4."  A good price, we get some sodas and a mezza plate, and the bill is suddenly 26 lira. A bit inflated, but then he says, "26 euros."  This, in lira, is 36. More incredulous laughter, and of course we have to ask, "what country do you think we're in right now?" 

The moral of the story, get the price first, be suspicious of everyone overally friendly, and don't be intimidated.  They know they're ripping you off, and you don't have to pay, granted you don't stick around too long.  One Turk we met informed us that, sadly, the police are often in on these cons.  TIME TO LEAVE. arg.

Tags: scams & robberies

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