The Grand Bazaar is a place everyone talks about. A must-go place in Istanbul. One of the largest and oldest market, over 3,000 shops, 61 covered streets, more than 300,000 visitors daily. Fancy.
We got a chance to go there on our last day. I wanted to buy little trinkets that I can bring back home and that was my only chance. My mom was determined to find a good leather bag/s with a great deal because we've heard so much about the place and its leather.
We went in from one of the entrance. I saw 2 things : people and colours. The over-whelming crowds, never-ending long paths in the maze of items and too many local shopkeepers. I can't buy things in there, that was exactly like the last time I was in Beijing and we visited the huge 5-levels building that claimed to sell pirated stuffs cheaper than any other places or while I was in Pasar Baru in Bandung.
It's a tourist trap - waiting for people to fall in like a huge pitcher plant waiting for its victim. I knew this by the eager look on the shopkeeper's face and the smell of dishonesty. Call me a cynic or whatever, I can read human by what they portray on their outward attitude and appearance. This is a repetition to every place I've been to. Frustrating reality.
We went in to the leather markets. Coats, bags, hats, briefcase, hanging everywhere. The place smelled like a room full with animal skins. We looked around, trying to find the price range for those things.
"Ze bag iz 500 Lira", that's around RM 1,000 for a fake Burberry.
"I want local leather, do you have anything local?", I asked.
"Local, here. Leather, hand-made from here. No brand".
"No brand? No-no. Burberry you no like? Gucci? Ferragamo?"
"No, I want no brand".
"How much is this one?", showed him the little white bag.
"Yes, yes. It iz good quality, see?", he burned the leather using a lighter.
"Too expensive", we walked away from the shop.
"No, no, how much you want?", typing away the calculator fast, "180 Lira, good? Yes?"
"No, no thank you".
"Iz cheap, yes. 150 Lira", he then took the bag and put it in a cheap plastic bag.
"No, I don't want it. 100 Lira?".
Clearly annoyed and started talking in Turkish, "Ok, ok, 100 Lira".
"No thank you".
You see? It's a lying game. We bid the price. Innocent people get cheated, and I hate that. Why can't they just put a proper price tag on each item and give proper discount without having to cheat tourist?
I told my little group about avoiding those fake designer brands and try to find anything without those fancy brands. Maybe those things are still real leathers, perhaps local made and tagged with designer's brand just to lure customers or meet the current market's need. They looked, smelled and felt exactly like one - but the fact about buying fake brands just so you can have the tag/name written on your bag, is still wrong.
I ended up not buying anything from the Grand Bazaar because everything was at least 100 Lira after discount - RM 200 for little leather bag isn't what I need. Finally, I bought bookmarks that looked like Turkish carpet from outside of the Grand Bazaar along the corridor of little shops.
*I still got 1 bookmark left, avid book reader can send a comment down here to have zis.
Thanks for reading zis long post ❤