Just came back from Turkey. Some thoughts on Istanbul.
Not sure if other tourists think the same as me.
1) How can illegal taxis be controlled in the city? I noticed the ratio of legal to illegal taxis is 1: 10-15, especially at the bus station. I had no choice but opted for an illegal one to take me back to Alaaddin Hotel, Sultanahmet from bus station. The driver said he knows the place and charged us 25 liras. After a while, he went to the wrong direction and asking for proper address (maybe purposely doing so ??? ), and charged 30 liras (extra 5 liras), dropped us 1 km away from our actual destination, saying that he can't send us to sultanahmet as taxis are not allowed to enter the area. It was 7am, hard to find someone around to ask/communicate in English, dragging our luggages for 300m before spotting a legal taxi who safely brought us to alaaddin hotel for 10 liras.
By the way, we had been told by our tour guide that illegal taxis do not have contact no and name of companies as legal taxis do.
2) We as tourists are afraid of carpet sellers whether or not we have the intention to purchase one. They are so harsh to tourists who bargain so hard or telling an unexpected price (or insulting price) . Some tourists may not know the value of silk carpets until they observe the hardwork of Turkish ladies sewing carpets in factories. Sellers asked for our budget. Shall we tell them? Too low will be kind of insulting them. We as Asians do not earn pounds, euro or american dollars. I remembered a lady (could be a European) says her budget is USD 150 for a small piece of carpet. Well, if sellers feel that is too low, they should tell the lady nicely and not barking her by saying "You broke our hearts + Do you know how hard we produce it + Do you know the material of this carpet / Do you know how small is USD 150? " Very fierce just like terrorist act. We wanted to leave the shop but being blocked by two sellers. At last, we settled for a silk around 8 by 6 feets for USD 2500 (initially was USD 3500). They were happy as we could be their first customer for the past few days ???
Pottery and carpets companies will eye on European, American or Australian tourists before us :)
3) We had a fierce and impatient tour guide who was fasting during the holy month of Ramadhan. Our tour was supposed to finish at 5pm, but he left us at Topkapi Palace at 2pm, telling us to walk back by ourselves. Fasting is not an excuse to yell at tourists. He said to a Filipino family of 3 - "You know how hot is it? You are like this since morning. Everyone is waiting for us". Anyway I have complained his attitude to my tour agency.
Yet we did enjoy our tour guides' experiences and attitudes in Ephesus and Troy City. Totally different from the one in Istanbul. And not to forget a lady guide in Cappadocia who turned back and hiked by herself for almost 2 km searching for two Singaporeans who get lost at Red Valley.
4) It will be better to tour on our own rather than hiring a guide. We did not enjoy much honestly. Limited time was given for pics as we had to continuously walk, hardly stop for pics, as the guide was committed to take us to pottery, carpet and leather shops. Another nonsense.
Is Istanbul worth going again?
In turkey from 3-12 August.