Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The Bargain Bazaar of Kusadasi

Our early morning arrival to the coastline of Turkey revealed a rocky landscape of spartan low lying hills that ran down to the sea. Nestled along the shore was the resort town of Kusadasi, renowned for it’s sun drenched beaches and unique shopping experiences. Over the years the town has established itself as a regular stop over for cruise ships, so naturally enough the local traders were well prepared for the influx of visitors that would invade the township ready to spend.

Jules and I had been reliably informed by our ships company that this was indeed the place where bargains were to be had and that if we were prepared to ‘haggle’ we would come away with some exceptionally good deals. Apparently bartering was such a tradition in this part of the world that refusing to negotiate on price was tantamount to an insult. It was also suggested that prices would be coming thick and fast in the crowded bazaars of Kusadasi, so the best strategy would be to play it cool by at first ignoring the various banter and enticements being thrown at you. If we were seriously interested, we should begin by offering around 30% of the original asking price, which would in turn trigger some serious negotiations and if we played are cards right, it would eventually result in us paying around half price.

Armed with this information we headed ashore, although our pre-embarkation pep talk had not quite prepared us for the consumer assault that we were about to experience. As we headed along the lanes, traders would bolt from their shops following us down the road quizzing us about our obvious need for all manner of rugs, clothing, jewelry, watches or souvenirs. It was all done in relatively good humor, but it was nonetheless quite intimidating and rather than luring us into their shop, it had the opposite effect as we picked up our pace to get away. Eventually we settled into the atmosphere of the bazaar and began to purchase a few things, mindful that any brand names we were buying would generally be fake. In fact we both laughed when passing one very honest watch shop that proudly displayed the sign ‘genuine fakes here', which seemed indicative of much of what was for sale throughout the market.

Having felt somewhat victorious from our bargaining (well, we thought so anyway) we headed back to the ship slightly exhausted. Not only had we negotiated on every item purchased, but also endured the constant verbal barrage from the various traders who were determined to have us reach even deeper into our pockets. This was certainly no place for casual browsing, but rather a shopping experience that had developed into a battle of wits and endurance that we were both happy to have survived.

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