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Prices and rules of buying stuff

View Around the world ın 8 months on chrisvasil's travel map.

Prices in Turkey are generally not too high, but there is generally a lot of room to bargain. Tips 1 and 2 below are gleaned mainly from a couple experiences in Istanbul; the rest are observations. Here are the two main experiences I draw from:

First experience (positive)
We have found that salesmen will often lower their prices even if we don't offer a price, provided that we take enough time in their shop (enough to, say, have the tea they offer). Our best was in Istanbul, where we almost bought a rug. The starting price was 700 TL (1USD = 1.5 TL, 1 CAD = 1.35 TL), and we couldn't buy without showing pics to the person we're buying for. Over the course of more than an hour, the price went down to 250TL (550 cad to 200 cad), without us ever offering a price where we'd be willing to buy, and reducing by about 100 TL each time (each time he reduced to the price I was thinking of bidding).

Second experience (negative)
For paragliding, we paid the tour group 150TL. It was cancelled because of the weather, and could not be rescheduled for the same day because that company was overbooked. So we got our money back. To our surprise, someone in our group found a place that had spots, and which was 20TL cheaper (130 TL)! We were happy to book there for later in the afternoon. Later on we walked along the main strip, and 2 blocks away from the place where we were booked for the afternoon the guy started talking to us about Turkish baths and paragliding. We asked prices, and his offering price was 100TL for paragliding. That was 50TL less per person than through the tour group, and 30 TL less than the one we had just booked. Presumably we could have had it even cheaper had we negotiated. We tried to cancel at the other place, spending over an hour there and pretending Sue was too scared to do it; they said they'd try to find people to take our spot but that probably wasn't true. In the end they offered us to cancel with a fee of 30 TL per person, which we refused. So for that, had we walked an extra block, we'd have saved about 50 cad had we walked an extra block before booking. In the end it was a lot of fun though, so we only were bitter toward the city for a few hours.

1. Bargain (some of these tips are time-consuming, only worthwhile for an expensive piece)

1a. Accept the tea. Talk to them, listen to them, and they'll lower the price as time passes.
1b. Ask them to lower the price more.
1c. Tell them you can't buy right away, but have to check with someone back home. Take pics. Stay in the store. They'll prob keep lowering their price.
1d. Walk out of the store. They may well lower their price again.
2. Do not offer a price until they have lowered their price several times.
This becomes a lower bound for negotiations and doesn't help anything.

3. Never buy anything from the shops nearest the entrance (first shop on the street, or shop nearest the entrance to a shopping district, or closest to the hotels or attraction). The prices are generally 20-30% higher.

4. Shop around before taking recommendations.

Posted by chrisvasil 07:20 Archived in Turkey Tagged shopping Comments (0)

Grand and Spice Bazaars

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The grand bazaar is big. Big enough that it would probably take an hour just to walk past all the shops. I think the sign said the area now taken up by the bazaar used to include 5 mosques, a school, and some other stuff... It's big. Prices are higher than other areas, and the main attraction is that it's big. A lot of jewellery stores, some clothing stores, some wallet stores, some turkish delight (candy) stores (which offer free samples).

The spice bazaar is pretty cool, sells a lot of spices by the kilo. The shopkeepers will often ask people to smell or even taste the spices.

We preferred another place near the spice bazaar, an outdoor market that we stumbled upon today. Similar size, a bit cheaper, more fruits, and a lot more locals (though that might be partly because today is Saturday and yesterday wasn't). We bought 1/4 lb of hazelnuts, 1 lb of plums, and 2 1/4 lbs of cherries. Total cost: 6.4 lira, or $5CAD. It was a pretty cheap dinner.

Things to note at markets:
Never shop at the first store of anything, the shops closest to the entrance generally have prices about 20% too high.

If the price they're charging isn't clear, check a different shop. We had some turkish delight at a shop, they brought us to the back and we bought some. The price at the front of the store was per kg, the price at the back was per 500g, so we paid twice as much as we thought we would. The prices were clearly marked, and the products might have been different, but we should have only bought at a place that follows the standard pricing formula. Not a huge difference in money, just a bit annoying that we might have overpaid.


Posted by chrisvasil 13:02 Archived in Turkey Tagged shopping Comments (0)

People in Istanbul, ctd

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July 11 - People in Istanbul, ctd.

We're still impressed.

While sitting down to have a rest, the guy sitting next to us, who sells water on the street, started talking to us (mostly to Sue). After a few minutes he offered us water for free. We declined, since that seemed like a high friendship fee...

At lunch today (fish bread, on the waterfront, CAD3.50 per person), we put Sue's sunglasses on the table. On the edge of the sea, it was windy, so the glasses ended up either under the papers on the table or on the floor. We noticed a few minutes after leaving, and by then the table was cleaned. We ask one of the table/floor cleaners whether he saw them (point to mine, point to table, point to floor, do the same a few times), and he calls a few people over. After some discussion with the other floor / table cleaners, he goes to a garbage can and starts searching through it. To find our sunglasses. Crazy. That didn't seem right, we had been hoping for a lost and found. We told him not to worry about it.

Here is the view from our table.

While walking around with my map (which I tend to do), people often ask me if I need directions.

Sue often walks on the road instead of the sidewalk, which is bound to get at least one of us injured before our travels are done. As she's walking near the tram tracks (in full view of the tram) someone walking the other way makes noise and points behind her. She looks back and moves out of the way of the oncoming tram.

Posted by chrisvasil 12:59 Archived in Turkey Tagged shopping Comments (0)

Turkish rugs

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July 10 - Turkish rugs

Are pretty, expensive, and negotiable.

We nearly bought this one for Lee (with him reimbursing us). The experience was very pleasant, the salesman showed us about 50 rugs seperately (he had hundreds or maybe thousands in his shop), gave us apple tea, and talked to us. Silk on cotton, around 1.5x2 ft, the salesman brought his price down from 600 to 200 CAD over the course of half an hour (first customer special, still on at 1pm - first customer brings good luck so they're willing to negociate more, and most of the business is done in the evening), without us even asking for a price (our line was that we'd have to contact someone before we can make a decision). He said it takes over a month to make, and based on the speed of the lady working downstairs I believe it (she was amazingly fast, but a rug even that small would have around 200,000 knots).

This carpet had a tree of life design where the leaves symbolize people, very temporary, starting life in spring and dying in autumn; the tree symbolizes the world, which keeps existing before and after each person does, and the top part symbolizing paradise, also eternal, and to which people aspire and hopefully reach (which is symbolized by the pattern generally pulling upward).


He held a lighter to it for close to a minute, demonstrating that it is real silk, as silk doesn't burn.
Here are a few other nice silk rugs

This synthetic one was selling for TL10 = $8 CAD full price, about 3x5ft, and the beige parts are not tufted, the green parts have the highest pile, and the other colors are somewhere in between. Very unique, I had never seen a similar one, thought of getting it for Lee but decided against.
Here is one with a landscape stitched on top of a rag rug. Also interesting.

Posted by chrisvasil 12:52 Archived in Turkey Tagged shopping Comments (0)

Nova Scotia hookers, very skillful indeed

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We stopped in Cheticamp at an Acadian museum where they make hooked rugs (Sue was much faster than me, and looked less confused - pics are in her post), and then at a Hooked Rugs Crafts shop (or so says the roof). The lady that runs the place, Lana, was very friendly and made Sue and I even more jealous of people living there. She had excellent stories about her cats and her work, all while hooking a custom rug. She was extremely quick, especially remarkable after trying it ourselves earlier in the day. Apparently some of the folks that hook the rugs object to being called hookers, but I'm in favour and some of the hookers including her don't see any stigma attached to the label.

Posted by chrisvasil 00:43 Archived in Canada Tagged shopping Comments (1)

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