Tag Archives: Kuşadasi

Little Surprises in Life

Today Ashley started the process of getting new glasses since his old ones are more than two years old and we were pretty certain the  prescription had changed.  We went with staff from the Optician in Kuşadası to a local hospital for an eye test, and learnt that for some unknown reason our GSS (Health Insurance) was no longer in place.

We paid for the eye examination (at 100 lira it was not unreasonable).  It should have cost a lot less, but had we cancelled, gone to Tire to sort the insurance out, then back to Kuşadası, all the running around would have significantly eaten into any savings.

Back at the opticians we ordered the lenses, varifocal, transition, with anti-glare coating and scratch protection, at a very reasonable price.  They will be fitted, into Ashley’s existing Flexon frames, and should be ready for collection on Friday afternoon.  As part of the general customer service Ashley had his current lenses fitted into older frames, Hilary had hers adjusted and çay was provided.

Then since we were in Kuşadası  and it was approaching lunch time we went for balık ekmek in the much improved square near the fish market.  It was, as always, cheap and delicious.  We did look into the fish market just in case there might be some tuna or swordfish – unfortunately no such luck.  We did learn that the restaurant / locanta next to the fish market will cook fish bought by customers on the market.  There was a good deal of trade in giant prawns, selling and cooking.  Ashley may give this a try at some point.

We’d gone on the dolmuş in case the eye exam involved something that would make riding unwise but, once we got home with a few bits of shopping we hopped on the bike and went to the SGK office in Tire (about 35 km up the road in the opposite direction from Kuşadası).  Which was fun and games as it is market day in Tire and, of course, we couldn’t resist a couple of purchases.  Anyway, the people in the office were as puzzled as we were about why our insurance was suddenly stopped.  They checked our documents, took some photocopies, filled out a form, and  they reinstated it…

With all the issues we have had with GSS we will be checking in the pharmacy that we are both properly on the system, but they definitely did something, as we have now been able to pay our current premium.

Health Insurance

Putting plans for the future aside we decided it was a good day for sorting out another of the basic essentials of life in Turkey. This may have been galvanised by Ashley having had a cold for the last few days and feeling quite unwell. Today we took ourselves off to Kuşadası and sorted out health insurance. This is needed since we are living here, our travel insurance has sort of covered it given we have been back and forth, but, longer term, getting local health insurance is a very good idea. At the present time Turkish state health insurance is probably not available to us, the situation is confusing and may change soon. We did not think it wise to wait.

We were given some quotes a couple of weeks ago so returned to that particular office with a few questions. When we got there the agent was at lunch, we decided to waste some time doing nothing much in particular and return later. Given it was pleasantly warm in the sun we went to a tea garden on the seafront, drinking tea is a great way to fill time, the Gűvercinli tea garden is particularly pleasant and very good value. The name means ‘Place with doves’ (loose translation) and it is run by the Belediye (roughly equivalent to the local council). The collared dove is a symbol of Kuşadası – the name Kuşadası itself means bird island. The tea garden opened last year, we think, it has fountains, a children’s play park and tables pushed right up against the waterside. It’s self-service and incredibly cheap considering the wonderful situation.

We had started to do a little window shopping which is much easier to do in Kuşadası in January than during tourist season, and bought a pair of combat pants, before we were called by the agent to let us know he had returned from lunch. We met, had some questions answered, talked a little about the various schemes, made some decisions. The only documentation requested was Residence Permits and we were asked for kimlik numbers, all of which we thoughtfully had to hand. We had some forms filled out, drank more tea, paid some money, and walked out with health insurance for both of us.

Customer Service

We did a lot of business in Turkey today in Kuşadasi and in Selçuk.  We encountered banks and other professionals.  It’s quite different from doing business in the UK.  For a start, we have not made appointments; we’ve just wandered in and taken our chances.  This has led to waiting around in air conditioned offices whilst the staff deal with people who came in before us.  When the wait is long we have been offered çay, coffee and water.

We’ve achieved quite a lot with the banks in terms of organising our money.  I can access my Turkish accounts on the Internet which, being who I am, I find very reassuring.  The process, however, took up most of today.

The people who have dealt with us (in English) have been quite delightful and, probably irrelevantly, very attractive.  They work incredibly hard.  The lady who helps us here in Selçuk told me I could phone her any time up till 19:00.  I am sure she works at least a twelve hour day, yet she is always helpful.  When I thanked the lady who helps us at the Kuşadasi bank she told me she was just doing her job.  They smile at us, they recognise us, they make us feel like individually valued customers.  Occasionally I have come across that in the UK (the chap at the bank in Paddington who helped me set up the Turkish account for instance) but those people are the exceptions.  Here they seem to be the rule.  The minimal contacts we have had with officialdom have gone much the same way.  The men in the passport office in Kuşadasi were extremely helpful and put straight the problems with the dates not having printed on the visas in our passports.  We were sent to the café to wait as opposed to being offered tea, but it was a very interesting place to sit.

Ashley thinks that the fact that I try to speak a little Turkish helps a lot.  I think it does help a bit.  Security guards soften a little when I try to explain why we need to go to a particular place.  People smile when I say something ‘unexpected’ even if it’s only ‘problem yok’ or ‘çok zor’ when they try to pronounce my name.  It does, of course, remain to be seen how things will go in Izmir when we go for our residents permits next week.

I think it’s a very different work ethic.  And different again from the kind of work we see going on around us in our street.  We understand that we have to wait…  We don’t like to move quickly in this hammering heat and I’m sure people who work 12 hour days don’t like to move too quickly either – even in the air conditioned offices.  The pace of life is slower and there is more time for the niceties.  I can understand that some people find this very frustrating but I go to these places expecting to have to wait and, nearly always, I wait less time than I had anticipated.