Putting Things Into Perspective: My Visit To A Turkish Police Station

I recently wrote about my unfortunate stopover in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Many of you commented about the part where my phone was taken from me, and where I fortunately got it straight back. Reader Michael commented that this experience must have soured the entire country for me:

Its sad that some may persive your comment as negative review and miss out on unique experience. Hope you will visit Ethiopia properly and give your comment.

But that made me think of a time when my mobile phone was actually stolen while travelling, and I didn’t get it back. It was an interesting story that led me to actually like a city more, not less.

Let me explain…

Istanbul: A beautiful city

Several years ago, while still living in Australia, I spent 10 days in Turkey, including about four days in Istanbul.

I found Istanbul to be a really beautiful place, a dramatic city of contrasts, and some parts were like something out of Star Wars. One night my partner and I went to a local restaurant to enjoy a traditional Turkish meal. The restaurant was well-rated, and part of a small, family-run hotel. The food and setting were excellent.

Being the Gen-Y that I am, I was taking photos of my meal and had my mobile phone face down on the table next to my cutlery as I ate. Two men walked into the restaurant, and took an interest in the traditional Turkish lamps that were beautifully displayed on the wall behind our table. One of them started pointing at the lamps, and asking us questions in Turkish (which we did not speak).

We tried to tell him we didn’t understand and both men then left the restaurant.

But I could not find my mobile phone anywhere. We were in Istanbul during Ramadan, so had not had any alcohol and were very alert. I checked my pockets, under the table, asked the waiter if anyone had handed something in, etc.

I couldn’t find it anywhere.

It then dawned on me that someone might have taken it, and we noticed a surveillance camera pointing at the area where our table was. We asked for the manager/owner and explained our situation to him. He was very concerned and offered to show us the camera footage, to see if he could determine what had happened.

The hotel owner took us behind the front desk of the hotel and found the footage. Sure enough, when the two men had walked in asking about the lamps, while one was distracting us the other had leaned on the side of out table with one hand resting just next to my phone. The footage showed that he carefully moved his hand over my phone, and slid it off the table and into his pocket.

Of course I was annoyed and angry at myself for leaving it in such a visible place, but at least I knew what had happened to it.

We quickly went outside to see if they were lurking anywhere on the street, but of course they were long gone.

Turkish lamps, a feature of our restaurant

A concerned local

The hotel owner said he did not recognise the men but mobile phone theft was common in the area. He asked what he could do to help and I explained that I never expected to see it again, but that was okay because it was fully insured but I knew I needed to file a police report for the (Australian) insurance claim.

Police reports are notoriously difficult to obtain in a country where English is not the local language, because if the person taking the report cannot speak or understand English, they can’t write the report properly.

I asked the hotel owner where the nearest police station was and he offered to drive us there himself as he ‘didn’t like this happening at his restaurant.’ I told him this wasn’t necessary and he could just tell us where it was, but he insisted — correctly pointing out that the police officers were unlikely to speak English, while he was fluent in both languages.

So we accepted his offer and off on another adventure we went.

Beautiful Istanbul

A Turkish police station

He drove us to the police station and explained the situation to the police officer at the desk. It was about 10:30pm by this stage. They took us to another desk and I started to explain what had happened to the hotel owner, while he translated to the officer, and the office typed up the report.

As expected, the police officer spoke very little English.

The officer asked several clarifying questions through our interpreter, completed the report, and printed it out. The hotel owner then translated it to us, and we confirmed it was an accurate representation of what had occurred. The officer (through our interpreter) gently informed us that this was common in Istanbul and we were unlikely to see my phone again. I explained this was fine as the insurance would replace it, but they would require a copy of the police report.

The hotel owner had also recorded the camera footage of the incident onto a CD, and submitted it to the police.

The incredible Turkish Airlines flagship lounge in Istanbul, one of the world’s best business class lounges and another highlight of my time in Turkey

Some perspective on my situation

The police office then needed his superior to sign-off on the report. His superior was occupied at the desk next to us with a young Turkish woman who was very upset, with three small children who also appeared to be filing a report. While we waited for the superior to become available, we sat there quietly while the woman gave the information for her report (in Turkish). I asked our interpreter if the woman and children were okay.

He explained that he could overhear that she had been in an abusive marriage and had finally made the decision to leave her violent husband, with her children, and file charges against him. According to our interpreter she was unsure of where she would sleep with the children that night.

That really put things into perspective and suddenly it seemed downright foolish to be there, wasting the police’s time about a stupid mobile phone. I asked our interpreter to communicate this to our officer and that we were happy to leave right now, but he insisted that we should wait for the superior, as we were almost finished.

The superior eventually reviewed and signed-off on the report and gave it to us. In their very broken English, the officer and his superior both apologised for this happening to us, and hoped this hadn’t tarnished our view of Istanbul.

Going above and beyond

By now we had our police report and it was after midnight. We encouraged our hotel owner to return home to his family (he had told us he had two young children while we were waiting) as we could find out way back to our Airbnb – we weren’t even staying at his hotel.

He insisted that he drive us home and on the way stopped at a convenience store and bought us both a soft drink ‘because we must be thirsty after our long ordeal.’

I was really touched away by his hospitality and asked him (politely) why he had helped us so much. He explained that he didn’t like bad things happening to his hotel, and also that he knew how difficult it would be for us to file a police report when we didn’t speak Turkish and didn’t know any locals. He said he didn’t want to leave us on our own.

Then he dropped us home, late into the night, and we thanked him profusely for his trouble. The cynic in me was thinking he was expecting a generous tip for his time, and as this was completely deserved, I gladly tried to give this to him.

He refused, we insisted, and he still refused, explaining that ‘it’s just what friends do for each other.’

He wished us a good night and headed home to his family.

My memories of Turkey

We still had almost two weeks of the trip left after this point and headed to Croatia a few days later. Of course it was a pain travelling without a phone as I was so used to relying on it whenever I was in a wifi zone.

But as soon as I got home I submitted the police report with the insurance claim and they promptly replaced my phone. While the terms and conditions of my insurance stipulated that the insurance claim must be in English, I submitted the Turkish claim (that was in Turkish) and they still accepted it. I highly doubt they translated it themselves.

While the cost of a Turkish visa for Australians frustrates me, I had a wonderful time in Turkey and would happily return. If anything the generosity of our interpreter only made me love Istanbul more, and it’s an example of something negative being overshadowed by something really wonderful.

The next day I wrote a very complimentary review on TripAdvisor for his restaurant. In case any of you are wondering the authenticity of this story — here is the link, and the review:

My review of the hotel/restaurant

No conspiracy theories, please!

I am predicting some of you may comment that it was some grand conspiracy theory and the thieves were in cahoots with the hotel owner, and everyone was screwing me over. I will never know if that was the case.

My argument against that is that the hotel owner would not have gone so far above and beyond to help me if he was someone in on it and surely wouldn’t have installed security cameras, or if he did would not have shown us the footage or handed it over to the police!

He could have easily said ‘sorry but this happens here – you need to be more careful’ and sent us on our way at the restaurant.

But he didn’t.

He went out of his way to help us, devoted several hours of his time, refused to accept a tip as gratitude, and turned a negative into a positive.

Bottom line

What struck me most when remembering this experience was both:

  1. How insignificant my troubles were compared with others at the police station; and
  2. How happy my memories of Istanbul are thanks for the incredible kindness and generosity of a local who went out of his way to help us with no ulterior motive.

Sometimes a negative experience in a foreign country just makes you love it even more.

Have you ever had an experience where a stranger has gone out of their way to help you? Or ever filed a police report in a foreign country?

Comments

  1. Istanbul is the most important city of Turkey, but its capital is Ankara… basic geography class..

  2. Did James have a contract that said “for the first month you’ll run the blog entirely and must publish 200 articles a day”?

  3. Love the Turkish people all over the country. I have never come across more hospitality than in Turkey. On top of this Turkey is incredibly pretty and the food is great.

    Had similar experiences with locals.

  4. Turkey several years ago is not the Turkey of today. The once-fabulous IST business lounge (never mind its frequent overcrowding) has been renamed in a very political way, and there are still ISIS bullet holes in the wall, if well-plastered over, but the memory of the dozens of people who died there will also not go away, not even through free lemonade and hummus. Most European colleagues I know will not fly TA anymore or go through Istanbul, for basic safety concerns. Turkish hospitality is indeed legendary, but to praise Turkey as a system and especially the Turkish police (with their famous tendency to rape suspects with their batons) in 2018 in OMAAT is reckless and callous at best.

  5. I only wish more restaurants would enforce the no mobile phone policy: for conversations, photographing the meal ,the decor, whatever. It’s rude, intrusive and completely unnecessary . A snap or two at a birthday dinner, fine. But I see these loonies stalking through hotel lounges, restaurants, everywhere, face never moving from the camera/phone, unless it’s one of those fancy strap-on devices.
    It’s my fervent wish that more of them come to grief while doing it: falling off cliffs or bridges taking selfies, down escalators in shopping malls, stumbling under a bus , into sewers, trampled by elephants. Whatever, just Darwin kicking in.
    Nothing personal and yes, a nice man to help in that way.

  6. Great story, James. I’m really enjoying your new contributions and perspective. I was skeptical when Tiffany announced the plan to hire new contributors, but you’re proving me wrong again and again.

  7. Kindness: it does exist people. And you don’t need money to have it.

    #a hint for all the selfish travellers out there.

    I would do the same if it was within my premises

  8. Your experience ties in with ours – Turkish people were some of the most hospitable locals I have encountered in all the countries we have been to

    When we asked for directions – a man who was going home with his child insisted he walk us to the restaurant we were trying to find

    A shopkeeper who gave my little girl a gift because he aslo had a young kid

  9. I was regularly touched by Scottish people. The day I arrived in the country, a cab driver walked me to my destinations (~ 15min), because he said I shouldn’t waste my money on such a short ride.

  10. How many more stories about you not paying attention to your belongings are we gonna have to hear about? Been traveling to South America Africa India South East Asia and all over Europe for 25+ years and never had anything like this happen. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR STUFF.

  11. Loved the story (but nearly stopped reading when you said Istanbul is the Capital). As an American who loves geography and is saddened by the lack of geographic education in the US, I have to ask, are you sure you’re not an American? Maybe Australia’s schools do a poor job at geography too.

    I’m sure glad I got past that error, however. The story has a wonderful sense of place and notes how the bad stuff that happens while we travel can often translate into the best experiences. Good job!

  12. @James

    Really enjoyed this post. Life is about variety, and post after post of yet another first/biz trip report, though serving the mission of the blog itself, gets boring for me as an individual reader. Your writing here brings the spice of life leaping off the page. Love it, keep it up, and kudos to OMAAT for recognizing James’ talents.

  13. Turkey’s capital is Ankara, not Istanbul. Though your experience with Turkish hospitality in Istanbul mirrors mine.

  14. @James, why did you stop reviewing places on Tripadvisor. Good to see you stay (or at least used to) in local hotels rather than corporate chains.

  15. “Police reports are notoriously difficult to obtain in a country where English is not the local language, because if the person…”

    English travelers have notorious difficulties learning any foreign languages, so any official governmental points of contact they may have generally result in them speaking more loudly than usual so that the non-native English speaker will better comprehend.

    Just an observation from 80+ countries visited

  16. To be honest, I find that most people in most countries are keen that foreign visitors have a nice time. I’ll never forget the Icelandic couple that spent their saturday driving us around, because we asked how to get to some sites on the bus and they decided that would take us too long. We offered to take them out to dinner, and they declined saying it was too expensive. Instead, I offered to cook for them if they drove us to a grocery store for provisions, so we ended up having an impromptu dinner party.

  17. @James

    good job trying to save yourself from the embarassing filthy Phily report..

    By the way it is great that in some parts of the world people have kept their humanity and emphathy..but everyone here knows better applying it sincerly in your daily life is the hardest part..

  18. +1 to Paolo about how obnoxious cell phones in restaurants are. Put down the #%*! phone and experience life for a change. Idiots…

    also +1 to JoJojo – I guess this is in perfect keeping with your boss’ frequent display of naiveté here – despite his endless travels, he seems to have not a drop of common sense – he writes about incredibly foolish things he has done overseas and then professes shock that something had gone wrong. Leave your expensive gadget sitting on the table, meanwhile strangers come up and start some random distraction right there? Come on, were you really born yesterday?

    Finally, about perspective: yeah, you got part of that right – you are indeed fortunate and privileged – but you missed an opportunity to pass on the good will that was shown you and to help someone else. You saw the state that the woman and her kids were in at the police station, fleeing a bad situation and with no place to go. You wanted to “tip” your restaurant/hotel owner (OK, kind of crass, but well motivated).

    You know what you should have done? You should have asked the hotel owner if you could pay for a room for that woman and her kids for a week, so they could have a little time to sort out their next steps. That would have cost you much less than your phone was worth, it would have helped the woman and her kids in a desperate situation, and it would have helped your hotel owner, too, by filling a room for a week. Everybody would have won. And it would have cost you pocket change. What a shame it never occurred to you – ultimately, your loss.

  19. No wonder you have been given a warm welcome by the Queen of the skies – BJ would hate to have a seasoned traveller outdoing him in the OMAAT team.

    But seriously – reports from places you have not visited or / and you have visited years ago?

    What’s next? Ford calling himself luxury travel guru?

  20. Great post, but I can’t stand the phrase “let me explain”. What exactly does this add?

  21. Thanks James. Interesting article, in particular, as much of the other content is (understandly) US focused.

  22. ” I have never come across more hospitality than in Turkey.” – I dunno maybe you need to travel more because I spent five days in Istanbul and that was certainly not my experience at all. Outside of Istanbul I can’t speak of and it would not surprise me if that was the case outside a main city. Off the top of my head Japan and Serbia come to mind for more helpful people. Even in China I found the people much more helpful. In Istanbul dealing with the shop owners etc I ran in to rude people 70% of the time. Obviously the people at the hotel were helpful, but outside of the hotel I was mostly approached by people trying to set me up for robberies (three times this happened in one night with well known setup scams), people in stores who would just walk away and leave me standing there without so much as a wave if I could not speak Turkish, a cab driver who on the way to the airport literally pulled over on the side of the street and got out of the car to go look at some construction, etc. Out of 40+ countries I found it to be one of the most inhospitable places I have visited. I was there after the failed coup in 2016 and maybe that has something to do with it. The attractions were worth seeing, but I have no desire to return.

  23. Great article, sad that happened in such a beautiful destination.

    And from my perspective, with plain common sense (lacking so much in this new liberal snowflakes generation, as one can read plenty in the comments), what the owner did is what I would definitely do if something like that happened to one of my customers. I would refuse the tip either.

  24. @Bill “I dunno maybe you need to travel more because I spent five days in Istanbul and that was certainly not my experience at all.“ – Gee, good point. Your anecdotal experience clearly invalidates the author’s personal experience. I’m so glad you shared this in a way that didn’t make you come across as a total jerk. Oh, wait…

  25. I like your stuff, it highlights the fact that people are the same everywhere, there are good and bad. Anyone who has spent more than 24 hours in Turkey, would understand how crazy their traffic is (in IST), how many security cameras there are, but most of all how endearing the people are. 100 years ago Turks, Australians (and others) were killing each other on Turkish beaches, but there is never malice, just a proud people, warm and respectful; never a consideration that they are Muslim and you are not or that your grandfather was probably shooting at their grandfather, just assistance, above and beyond. Would your local restauranter drive a Turkish speaking tourist to the police station over a mobile phone left on the table?

  26. James,

    I also love Turkey and most of the Turkish people. I’ve spent a good deal of time in the country and yes, I’ve had a bad experience or two but generally the Turks are good people.

    Please ignore the naysayers and the grammar police and those who try and succeed in injecting politics into everything; both the left and the right. They’re a bunch of miserable holes. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Oh, and thank you.

  27. My partner was arrested in Pai, in rural northern Thailand. So I’ve seen the other side of a police report in a foreign country! We were stopped while riding a moped from our guesthouse (which was out of town) into town for dinner. They made my partner pee on a testing stick and then accused him of being a heroin addict. I ran back to our guesthouse to get help from the landlady there, she was Thai, her partner German. She talked to the police, insisted they take my partner to the hospital for a proper blood test, waited with us at the hospital while he was tested, and once he was declared “clean” he was released and she took us out to dinner.

    Not only did she stand up for us the whole time, but the staff at the hospital told off the police officers as well.

    At that time my partner was recovering from an illness and didn’t even drink beer. There was nothing in his system that would have triggered a false positive.

  28. Years ago, when I was young (21 y/o) and traveling alone through many countries in Europe and finally arrived at the Hellespont, to Istanbul, I spent 6 months in an inexpensive 6-person room in what might today be called a bunk room. After a couple weeks, I decided to take a train trip (3 days long) to go through the rural, agricultural parts of Turkiye. The train departed at 4:30 a.m. from the train station. It was early, early spring, cold as hell, damp, and dark, and I had a long wait ahead of me because I had, as usual, arrived well before departure time. I had waited on the open-air platform quite a while when a family of mother, father, and 3 young children (maybe 5, 6, 7 years old) brought a large quantity of luggage and settled in on the platform about 10 yards from me. The kids were wide awake and running and talking loudly and disturbing my peace of mind. So, I periodically cast towards them the dirtiest, meanest, most disgusting looks that I could. This cold-shoulder treatment from my side went on for maybe 30 minutes. There was no where to move to in order to avoid them and the kids’ frenetic activity and noise. So I just continued to dart dirty, disapproving looks at them. The parents called the kids to them and they huddled down and began to unpack things, and distribute things to each other. I did not pay much attention to their activities, because they were quiet. Then the mother and father sent the oldest (or tallest) boy over toward me! I couldn’t imagine what for. But the boy came up to me, smiling, and offered me several delicious Turkish oranges, the wonderful crusty Turkish bread of yesterday (don’t know what it is like nowadays), and a half a fried fish.

    As I thanked him and them (tesekkkur ederim!), the child left to go back “home” and I began to cry because this courtesy was totally unwarranted by me and was so unexpected and I truly felt unworthy and humbled beyond my previous experiences. It all changed me on several levels, for the better: to be more patient, less critical, less judgmental, less intolerant, less “hateful” if you will, and more grateful to be alive and to have proper priorities. And it transformed my perspective from that of being a traveler in a foreign country to that of understanding how to be a decent, worthy “guest” in another people’s culture and country. I was only 21 years old (so it was 50 years ago exactly), but it is all part of a major life memory that I cherish still. It still brings tears of gratitude to my eyes.

  29. James, what an incredible article, and again congrats to Tiffany for hiring you. You’re fantastic! Keep it up mate.

  30. +1 on what Dylan said. You’re articles and perspective is a great addition to the OMAAT community.

  31. James – I’m enjoying your contributions to OMAT including your adventure in Istanbul. Don’t let the naysayers here get under your skin.

    For those complaining about the photo takers in lounges, restaurants, hotels, and other locations. How do you expect to have the quality posts here and elsewhere? The photos really are helpful to enhance the posts here.

  32. “Police reports are notoriously difficult to obtain in a country where English is not the local language, because if the person taking the report cannot speak or understand English, they can’t write the report properly.”

    So if a German tourist can’t get a police report written in German from a U.S. police department, the U.S. police department would be unable to “write the report properly” and getting a police report in the U.S. would be “notoriously difficult?”

  33. @tda comment wasn’t directed to the author of the article, but to another comment. I have traveled extensively and Turkey (or at least Istanbul because the rest of the country may be different) was by far my worst experience.

  34. @James – oh so you’re smit0847! The bit about going to Guam however many times suddenly makes sense now.

  35. Dr Stan – that’s an amazing story. Living here near NYC, and dealing every day with some New Yorkers’ typical impatience and rudeness, I can tell you that there are MANY people who have not learned the lesson you did 50 years ago. Which is really a shame, for their sake and the sake of the rest of us who have to put up with them.

    If only chill really did come in pill form.

  36. After backpacking through Europe in 1987, we were at the end of our money. We had our return tickets to the US, but that was about it. On the train from Paris to London, we were in a compartment with three middle-aged African men dressed in business suits. A steward with a food cart entered the compartment and asked if we would like anything. After inquiring about the cost, we declined, despite being both hungry and thirsty. At that point, one of the men handed the steward some cash and instructed him to “give them what they want.” We protested, but the man waved us off while his two companions smiled broadly. As we pulled into Victoria Station, we thanked them again and shook hands.
    When we arrived at customs, we were waved through with barely a glance. I happened to glance over in time to see the three African men being diverted into an office by four customs officials.

  37. That is a great story.

    I’ve found that most places in the world have great hospitality. I mostly travel solo and have been in a few sticky situations from time to time, mostly related to terrible cases of food poisoning. Once in Thailand where I threw up all over the beach, but managed to make it back to my hotel. An American doctor who happened to see me get sick suggested that I go to the hospital. So when I got back to the hotel I asked if they could help me get to the hospital. The front desk manager had the hotel car fetched for me and the driver took me to the hospital and made sure I was able to check in. The hotel contacted my travel agent to let them know what was going on. I spent the night in the hospital but was well enough to leave the next morning. I was supposed to fly to Chiang Mai. I think the hotel sent the driver to pick me up and thanks to their coordination with the travel agent I was put on a later flight to CM. Everyone really went above the call of duty for me. It’s still a country I really love but I am a bit more careful about what I eat.

    I had a similar situation in Taiwan. After spending the whole night up sick I asked the staff to help me get to the hospital. They called me a taxi and told the driver where to take me. I spent several hours in the ER with an IV stuck in me. I had to rearrange travel plans that day too since I was headed to Hong Kong. I was able to extend my hotel stay for a night and fly over the next day. It was another occasion where my Bangkok-based travel agent had to rearrange some things for me but they took care of everything on the HKG side.

  38. @James: Love the story, also, thank you @DrStan.
    This will probably end up not grasped by many, but, I believe in my heart that angels are around using various guises, like the elderly toothless Chinese woman who chased me in Hong Kong to hand me my wallet and passports I left on a counter when I was traveling with a handicapped child.
    @GaryLeff: Have you ever watched a Gladiator movie? 😉

  39. @DrStan your story brought tears to my eyes. What a powerful lesson to learn at age of 21! And what a huge, open heart you must have had at such a young age.

  40. @ Lucky, @ Tiffany,

    Yet again, I read an OMAAT article, and find that a comment on the article comprises a gratuitously offensive remark about another commentator’s post (see above), for no apparent reason other than that he disagrees with the views expressed in the other person’s comment. Do you moderate your readers’s comments? You should!

  41. At 71 years old,I am still travelling around the world and enjoying it. I have many stories like this from 50 years living and working in Kenya (1960s),Uganda(1967/9) Pakistan (1970 civil war ),Bangladesh (1970 civil war ) ,Ghana (72/76),Hong Kong (76/99) , Asia generally for short time assignments and Cyprus(since 1999) .And lots of travelling to many countries ( first trip to India and Nepal in 1978 and China in 1979) and have visited about 80 countries. But I do not plan to recount the stories now.
    Except to say that I have found the less educated country folk are always more hospitable than the city dwellers.Especially in Turkey.
    Keep the great stories coming James , let me know if anyone wants to hear some unique experiences in the countries that I lived in.

  42. @Ken,

    Yes. Just post them here. I think there is a large demand for actually interesting life stories.

  43. So is this the official part of OMAAT in which you share your eye opening ,tearful experiences etc..Jeez, I never thought that I am literally missing @Lucky’s shallow reports now..Oprah is already negotiating copyrights deals with the involved parties!!

  44. I was drugged and robbed in Istanbul some years back (roofies slipped into a glass of juice). I should have known better when offered an open bottle of juice, but I was jetlagged and inattentive and the rest, as they say, is history. I came to in an alley, no idea how I got there. My wallet was gone and with it over USD1000 (I was enroute to a place in the former Soviet Union where cash is king), but other than a few scrapes was physically unharmed. An cab drove past, the driver saw me, dragged me into the cab (at 6’3 and 225 pounds, not an easy task), was able to elicit from my groggy state where I was staying, drove me to the hotel, found a night manager, and explained what had happened. The night manager called a doctor, called the police, and got me safely to bed. The next day, the hotel manager accompanied me to the police station, helped with my statement (I do speak some Turkish, but not not enough to give a fully descriptive statement), then took me to a hospital to confirm that I was going to be OK. The hospital refused to charge anything for examining me. When I got back to the hotel and went to my room to rest, the maid who stopped by left me dozens of towels and bottles of shampoo as her way to showing me her concern. Three or four days later, while at the airport for my flight onward to the former Soviet Union, the doctor from the hospital recognized me, asked how I was doing, and joined me for some food before we departed (he to Germany where he’d had his medical training). In short, numerous individuals spontaneously sought to help me without any prompting or thought of compensation. Some were doing their jobs, of course, but there is a big difference from doing the minimum necessary (or even less), and going above and beyond and showing genuine personal concern. EVERYONE I encountered fell into the later category. To echo James, if this was a conspiracy of wallet thieves it would make Dealey Plaza look like child’s play 🙂 That’s not what it was: it was a beautiful example of Turkish culture at its best. While admittedly the facts and circumstances were a bit unusual, in its basic humanity it was completely typical of what I have experienced repeatedly from “average people” in Turkey.

  45. lol some of these comments are insane. People will find anything to hate on. James – keep up the good work. I enjoy your content, stories, and style of writing. A great addition to this blog!

  46. James, thanks for the reminder that while there is a small minority looking to take advantage of tourists, the vast majority of people everywhere are decent folks and many are incredibly kind. I was reminded of this when I was in Egypt last year – so many pushy and rude carriage drivers making offensive remarks. But in a local market in Esna, we encounter d a shopkeeper who insisted that he would not take any payment for his fresh baked bread as a gesture of hospitality. It’s those small experiences that make traveling truly memorable.

  47. Seriously??? Are you aware that Turkey is run by a megalomaniac dictator-President for the last few years and that democracy and human rights have been severely diminished under his regime’s tight grip? Is it responsible to be promoting the idea visiting the country under such conditions?

  48. A blog post about author’s utter stupidity and carelessness. That’s how Lucky will make us long for another review of Etihad apartment or LH First.

    I find this and previous post by James very shallow. Like a child describing an experience which while significant to them can only elicit pity from the adult.

    This is not a blog for snowflakes to share their growing up and coming of age stories. This is a blog about first class seats and expensive champagne.

  49. @ Dcaguy : I described one of James’ previous articles as being trite. Shallow is equally applicable. Others seem to like his posts, but I guess they are just being kind.

  50. @Dcaguy

    ..you are on the spot and the truth always prevail..how often you try to hide it or in this matter..how often you write or speak over personal dramas during your adolescence..
    so sorry@James but some here still can see through the veil..and it is true..this a blog which foundation is a premium travel and luxury F&B as well as hotels..not the area where infantile memories are shared..
    Finally another person who shared my thoughts!!

  51. @Elijah

    As example of infantile generation which I am refering to..I know the truth hurts..don’t worry the shame will go away after a fashion!

    By the way you are getting delusional..caravan park!..You should not speak so poorly of your origin..you seems so ungrateful..be proud of where YOU come from..le petit cretin..

  52. When in Istanbul watch out for the Taxi Driver/magicians. At the end of a ride they will give you a inflated price. As you try to figure out the notes they will reach over, take a large denomination note, sleight of hand and suddenly a low denomination note will be in their hand and they will be asking for more. They will also generally stop a little away from your destination so you cant call anyone to intervene.

  53. why does one have to have a cell phone while traveling in a foreign country? i am an american and i always leave mine at home. why also do you need to have your cell-phone out at the dinner table? why can’t you concentrate on the dinner, read a book, conversate with your dining companions, etc…??

    i will never understand people’s unhealthy obsession with the cell-phone, it is like they are the people’s master or something.

  54. @ Daniel

    I do not know how old you are..but nowadays especially what other people here regard as snowflake generation is obsessed with mobilephones as a part of their lives..let them do what they want..if it gets stolen, well it is their own fault not mine!

  55. James, great article!
    Dr Stan, thanks for sharing your wonderful post! It taught you a life lesson in a most wonderful way!
    There are those who feel the need to share their “ two cents” worth and then there are those who are driven to return six times in order to share their buck and a quarter despite that fact that we could care less.

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