Turkey: The Kind and Friendly Turks

by jenjenk on October 20, 2011

I’m always surprised by [and suspicious of] kind people strangers.  I live in a part of LA where the chance that someone would even bother to respond to your greeting is a 50/50 shot [something that I find highly annoying, especially when I’m running, out of breath, on the verge of death and yet I can still manage to squeak one out].  So imagine my surprise on my very first day in Turkey as people are coming up to me asking me if I was lost and needed help??  People who only spoke Turkish and still had the desire to help.

I felt like I was going through some sort of detox, all twitchy and suspicious of every kind person, of which there were many in Turkey.  Take for instance this guy on the left:

I was looking at the cart offerings, when the guy on the left assured me [with hand gestures] that it was the best one ever and that I had to try it.  As a matter of fact, even as I was ordering one, he insisted on buying it for me so that I could see how good it was.  I was so surprised by this kind act that the only knee jerk response I had was pointing to my camera and asking if I could take their picture. [Incidentally, the pastry was WONDERFUL!! Flaky, warm, fresh out of the oven.]

We were constantly pulling out our maps everywhere we went.  Sometimes we were just trying to decide where to go next, other times we were genuinely lost.  Regardless, people would inevitably come up to us asking us where we were trying to go.  I started trying to find dark alleys where we wouldn’t attract attention just so that we could get our bearings straight!

I also loved how most vendors were always willing to ham it up for the camera.  They found ways to creatively position [their wares or themselves] for a fun shot.

I couldn’t write about my trip to Turkey without first mentioning how wonderful, friendly and helpful the Turks are!!  It’s something that I find to be in short supply.  What other countries should I know about where the people are incredibly, overly, and ridiculously helpful & kind??

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Turkey's For Life October 20, 2011 at 5:33 am

Love the bottom photo. We don’t usually take photos of people for the blog but we took one last week in Istanbul because the guy was so happy to pose for a photo. We generally find people to be helpful here, too. We even had a guy in Istanbul ask us if we’d like him to help us get across the busy road. Err, I think we can manage thanks. :)
Julia

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jenjenk October 20, 2011 at 5:31 pm

yeah, these guys are TOTAL hams! [they told me if I wanted to live in Istanbul, I had a job with them!] :)

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Andrea October 20, 2011 at 4:44 pm

I agree! My husband told me how friendly they were before I visited and he was right. It was so easy to travel there, even with the language barrier.

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jenjenk October 20, 2011 at 5:30 pm

I was really worried before-hand, but they really did make it so easy for us to be there!

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Lavanya October 20, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Hi! I totally agree. We’re in Turkey right now and we’re just floored by the hospitality of the people here, even though it’s quite a touristic country. We were hiking in Goreme in Cappadocia and came across some local women plucking vegetables from their farm and they invited us in for fresh tomatoes and apples and asked us (in sign language) to take as many as we want! Incredible! :)

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jenjenk October 20, 2011 at 5:29 pm

WHAT??!! that is AWESOME!!! I *hate* tomatoes but I was eating the ones in Turkey by the bushel full!! They were WONDERFUL!!! Jealous. Hope it hasn’t been raining much for you!

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Cathy Sweeney October 20, 2011 at 8:35 pm

I had never heard that the Turks were so friendly. I actually would have been quite suspicious about the guy at the food cart, but I guess it turned out OK. Great pics –especially those guys in the last shot.

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Earle October 20, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Over a 25 year span, I have traveled to Turkey exploring everything in that country. it’s been a wonderful journey and indeed no matter where you go the folks are genuine and friendly. They have an open heart which for better or worse depending on your mind set, it’s the true teaching of the Muslim Faith. The radicals have given it a bad name for which I am sorry. Over the years I have made long lasting friendships and always warmly greeted each time I return. Have had Turkish folks stay at my home here in VA and it has been a true happy experience. So, when I read the kind remarks by folks who were absolutely surprised by the open behavior of merchants, etc. it warms my heart. Yes, the hawking is endemic in the culture of Middle Eastern thinking. One must bargain because it’s expected as a friendly exchange and means of communcation totally unknown in the US. Well, I think we are rapidly approaching bargaining here… don’t we ask the salesman “is that your best price” So, my dear readers, pazarlik is among us as well. Best little hotel in the old section of Istanbul, is the Celal Sultan Hotel… Have watched that little single building grow over the last 20 years… nice location, and wonderful service.

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Annie - FootTracker October 20, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Hahaha, reading your post reminded me that I am the kind that likes to ask “tourist looking people” who seems to be lost about where they are going and help them (In San Francisco only) XDDD I will remember to hold that back a bit so people do not have to hide from me in dark alleys.

Turks are really nice people though. I went to a Turkish restaurant here in California, the owner could not stop talking to us about his homeland and kept describing their yummy cuisine to us. I think his magic worked, we ordered a lot of food.

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laurel October 21, 2011 at 7:29 am

I haven’t been to Turkey yet, but the people do make a country and I love how these guys are hamming it up. I lived in Thailand for 2 years and some of my fondest memories are of the people who are unbelievably kind and friendly.

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Mark - ramblecrunch October 21, 2011 at 4:18 pm

We couldn’t agree more. The Turkish people are some of the most fun and hospitable folks we have encountered. Always helpful and very friendly. Not wanting to part, we’ve decided to winter in Turkey to soak up more hospitality. And my daughter is working to learn the language. Thanks for the post.

P.S. I also LOVE the last photo. The composition is marvelous — like a painting. Great shot!

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Joy October 24, 2011 at 8:09 am

Happy to hear you had a great trip here! I’ve lived in Istanbul for 1.5 years now and am always amazed by how nice people are, especially when you take the time to speak a little Turkish back with them. I always think of how “This would never happen in NYC,” either. I’ve had random guys in my apartment building help me carry up my groceries on several occasions. There’s a lot to explore in Turkey, so hopefully you’ll be back someday! Afiyet Olsun!

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jenjenk October 24, 2011 at 4:06 pm

definitely, definitely!! There’s just so many more places I’d love to explore in turkey!!!!

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inka October 25, 2011 at 3:11 am

Glad to see that you experienced how helpful and friendly the Turks are. Sometimes they go a bit over the top, but that’s much nicer than than the arrogant and rude people I have met elsewhere.Of course I’m in love with Turkey and her people, why else would I live here 6 months each year.

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Christopher October 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm

I had the same experience in Istanbul. Very friendly folk.

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