You start having thoughts about damage control, so you Google “Free things to do in Istanbul” instead. You find that the list contains lots of trips to museums, parks and mosques. “The list absolutely recommends visiting the (insert mosque name here) mosque!” you squeal in excitement. Here’s the thing. Many of the famous mosques are designed by the same genius; Mimar Sinan. Unless you really have an eye for detail, I assure you that within 3 days, every mosque will look like the Blue Mosque to you. So of course keep up your prayers at the numerous mosques around you but there is no need to go searching for a particular one.
1. Playing with the cute, fat and friendly cats of Istanbul
2. Watching a Turkish league football game with locals at a restaurant
3. Playing Backgammon
4. Confusing people as to where you’re from
The first thing that you would notice when you enter the grand bazaar in Istanbul is that they speak almost every language possible. In order to secure the privilege of helping you spend your money, they try to form a connection with you by correctly guessing your nationality. Here’s where you gain your free thrill; just confuse them. You can be Singaporean or Malaysian Chinese but just tell them you are Korean or Japanese, you can even say you are Mongolian or Nepalese. Trust me when I say most of them would not know the difference except that they would then try to tell you something in the language of your borrowed nationality. So if you are going to be there for an hour, might as well confuse as many people as you can and see their reaction. Stretch the boundaries, maybe say your dad was Kazakh and your mother from North Korea but they forbid you to learn either of those languages since their parents did not agree to their union. At the grand bazaar, your past is also in your hands and if you’re not happy, you can change it from shop to shop.
5. Feeding the Seagulls