Buy Now or Cry Later: A Memoir

Genta Kalbu Tanjung

My family and I travel frequently, even though we don’t have a lot of money. But my mother is great at managing our family’s income so we manage to go around. Ever since I could remember, I have always wanted to travel to Turkey. Everything about the country is fascinating for me, from the landscape, the culture, the food, and the people. So imagine how ecstatic I was when my father announced that we were going to Turkey for holiday in August last year. It was a 10-day-trip across Turkey to several cities in the country. Deciding the date of our trip was such a hassle because we had to adjust the days of my sister’s office days so she did not need to take too many days off. Besides that, I also wanted to go to a music festival called We the Fest by Ismaya which I go to every year. I did not want to miss out that year because some of my favorite bands were on the line up. So me and my family went back and forth to several travel agencies trying to find the right date. Finally, I gave in and my mom picked the date. I was a little bit sad that I would miss out on the music festival but I was more excited about going to Turkey.

Our trip started on August 10th, we flew there with Turkish Airlines which was amazing. The flight didn’t have a transit so we were in the sky for about 11 hours. The first we did when we arrived at Istanbul was eat, got on the bus and went straight to Canakkale. We were always on the go when we were there because we had ten days to go around almost half of Turkey, so we did not stay more than two days in a city. While we were there, my parents gave me pocket money so I could buy anything I want there myself and I did not have to constantly ask them. Turkey’s currency is called lira, but my family didn’t exchange all of our money to lira. We were told that we should exchange some of our money to euro and dollar since a part of Turkey, particularly Istanbul is in Europe so they accept Euro too. I was very careful with that money as I did not want to spend it on useless things. Canakkale was really beautiful, I was very impressed with the scenery and the culture. What I didn’t love so much was the food, I remember one of the first meals I ate there was roasted fish, rice, with a side of salad. It tasted very bland, I really wasn’t the biggest fan of the food the whole time I was there. I think it’s because the food there is very influenced by Greek and Middle Eastern so my Asian tongue is not used to it. But thank God my mother didn’t forget to bring chili sauce, it was the only thing that made me want to eat honestly. The next stop was Ephesus city to visit the remains of Roman Era like The Great Theatre, Library of Celcus, Augustus Gate, Salamis Theatre & Gymnasium, then we went to House of Virgin Mary. I love the culture there, the people are tolerant even though most of the citizens there are Muslim.

So we first arrived in Istanbul and for the last day, we went back to Istanbul. For all the time I was there I knew that on the last day we were going to Grand Bazaar which is one of the largest and oldest covered markets, so I was looking forward to that and I saved up a lot of my money to prepare to shop there. Before we went there, we got on a cruise to cross the Bosphorus river which ends in the Asia part of Turkey, then we visited Miniaturk. For lunch, we ate at a restaurant in the hearts of Istanbul. I put my bag on my feet as I sat on the table, everything was going well until someone from my travel group came to me panicking and said that she thought she saw someone taking my bag. I thought it wasn’t mine at first until I looked down under my table and my bag wasn’t there. My first instinct was to chase the person who stole my bag, I came running downstairs and to the street trying to maybe catch him. But he was nowhere to be found, so I did the second best thing I could do which was crying. I was so mad at the whole thing but I was also really disappointed at myself for having this thing to happen to me. The things that I lost in that bag might not be as big of a deal for some people but it was a big deal for me. Also for someone who never experienced this kind of thing before. I was mostly just shocked. What I had in my bag at the time was my wallet witch two of my debit cards, my ID, student ID and all of my money that I have saved up when I was there, my iPod, power bank, and some makeup. The first thing we did was lock out my debit cards so the money I had in the saving could not be taken, my sister called her friend in Jakarta to call the banks so they could lock my accounts. The restaurant owner was honestly no help at all, he handled it very slowly. But we did get a CC TV footage of the thief. My mother was just holding me all the time I was crying, it was traumatizing. What I hate was how my tour guide told me to stop panicking and crying? Excuse me, sir my whole life was just taken away I could not just snap out of it. Some people were very nice to comfort me though, the souvenir shop next door was owned by an Indonesian lady who goes to school there when she saw me crying she came up to me and gave me free souvenirs and told me that it was okay, don’t let this one incident ruin my trip here. I was also worried that I could not buy anything in Grand Bazaar because I did not have any money left on me, and I was thinking about the friends that I have not bought anything yet. But my parents were simply the best so they exchange more money for me, my sister also gave me some from her pocket money. Thankfully my crying did not last very long, I stopped by the time we got to Grand Bazaar and I started shopping. My other tour guide was surprised to see me all smiles and cheerful like the way I was when we started this trip, my father just told him that being upset was not my thing and I never let something bother me for too long. I was still very happy to be there, besides it was the last day I did not want to spend the last day in the most beautiful city to be gloomy. I wanted to leave it on a positive note.

Photo by: Genta Tanjung

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