Before leaving for Turkey, I was often warned against shop owners, especially carpet shop owners who will bend our ears to no end. I relayed the message to my traveling companion, who just smiled and said "I know," but sometimes I would wonder. Experience bore me out--he cannot say no to a carpet shop owner--but miracously it is invariably the shop owners who made lies out of all my well-wishers.
I don't know whether it was because we were Americans traveling to Turkey in the mid-1990s. At the time, trouble in the Middle East generally discourages American travelers, although Turkey was still filled with European tourists. Shop owners who fixed on us as possible targets seem to drop their sales pitch when they found out that we came from the U.S., not Japan as they originally thought (any one of Asian descent is a Japanese, I think). They genuinely wanted to hear all about life in the U.S., and plied us with questions on U.S. culture, U.S. movies, and U.S. attitude towards Middle East in general, and Turkey in particular. They questioned us about the lack of American travelers in Turkey, and always pointed out that we Americans are missing something precious. We agreed with them, but know that there is much prejudice here about that area of the world, and just wished that we can convince many people to go there.
I remembered one merchant particularly. He invited us in, served tea, and wanted to talk about the U.S. By that time, we were in Bodrum, the last stop before we go back to Istanbul and from there to Romania. We were in the market for a carpet at the time, and were ready to talk carpet. But the owner was adamant--"you can buy carpet anywhere," he told us. And so all our efforts at actually getting something from him was just no go. We spent three hours in his shop, learning about his family and telling him about our own. We left with no carpet, and no more time in Bodrum. I ended up getting my carpet in Istanbul, but did wish that we can have bought something there in that wonderful shop in Bodrum!