Our SG Tour Manager, Linda Pan was extremely helpful and kind, she went out of her way to assist with any questions and concerns we may have, she was also generous and shared tips to improve our trip experience. The salesperson who attended to us, Danny was also helpful in replying to our queries even when they were directed to him outside office hours.
The covid situation can be better managed, to be frank, we were disappointed with how this was handled. We hope Super Travels can strive to be more flexible and updated with regulations with regards of entry requirements. $60USD for a simple swap test is unreasonable, we know how much it actually cost to do so in Turkey and how badly the people there are trying to take advantage of the situations.
Guideline mentioned that visitors has to wear masks in public places, but these were not enforced due to “freedom”, which does put people like us in danger. My career involves in taking care of lives and it does not allow any chances of us being sick. In fact, Aras our Turkish guide was disrespectful of the covid precautions, asking us to all stop wearing masks as everyone would eventually get it if one is infected.
Although Hotels were 5 Stars, we did not enjoy some of the hotels selected, some were dirty and others had bad services with substandard rooms. Out of all the hotels, Bolu Koru Hotels Spa & Convention and Kolin Hotel were the better ones. At Clarion Hotel Golden Horn, constructions lasted till 3am which caused us to stay awake the whole night.
Aras, Turkish guide from Look Vacations was knowledgeable with history, itinerary planning and food was great. Unfortunately, there were too much problems arising with his attitude towards pride and being profit oriented. First, he was late for 3 hours, he blamed it all on the flight which we can understand, however he was not apologetic about making us wait. In fact, he emphasized that there was no point blaming him. Everyone was tired and frustrated from the 11 hours flight, it was only after some of us spoke up which he then changed his attitude and apologized, but only for a moment.
Next, he mentioned about asking him any questions or problems that we may have, but always end up being short tempered and reluctant to help. Aras was unaccommodating towards questions related to planning and questions regarding our concerns. As a foreigner, we were sometimes taken aback towards some of his response. One example, he mentioned about doing a PCR test, in which my wife and I were sold from Super Travels that it was ART test and not PCR, hence we kindly approached Aras for the first time to clarify. He had a short temper, frowned, sighed and laughed at us, in which he replied in his on words, “It is not my fault and not my country’s problem, it is your country so you should ask your country, not me. You can do ART test if you like but if you can’t go back to Singapore, it’s not my fault, okay?”. There were no attempts to assist further, nor follow ups, we didn’t sense any empathy from him. Another instance on questioning Aras, we were supposed to have a last minute shopping at the grand bazaar on the last day, but he arranged for us to leave at 9am straight from the hotel to airport. One of the group members asked about probability of departure timing being too early on the date of flight, Aras as expected frowned, sighed and laughed like he always does. Instead of explaining the reason for doing so, he told everyone that he is the main guide, he is the one who decides itinerary, not us. He emphasized that he has 15 years experience, so there is no need to question his plans. He may be experienced, but having a short temper is not a good trait of a guide even though he tries not to show them. Isn’t he paid to answer questions? I have a recording of a part of his speech.
In terms of shopping, Aras brought us to a number of mandatory shopping locations, which upon check were tourist traps, mainly zultanite, illegal branded goods, leather jackets, carpets, snacks souvenirs that were way overpriced with 2-4 times the price of shops in public, as well as salesmen that were extremely pushy and caused us to be uncomfortable. We were locked in a space in nowhere and most did not allow us to leave without listening to the mandatory pitch. Some who had made purchase had regrets after learning the truth, we learnt about this during our conversations and walking around the street to find the same items with at least half the price tag, the so called certificates were invalid upon check, it was just a printed paper about lab produced stones. The 6 mandatory shopping locations took up to 8 hours of our trip, which could have been used for rest or other leisures. Whenever we hear Aras telling us how precious the next shopping trip is going to be, we knew that he was a part of the trap, he simply spent too much time advertising those products in my opinion. Most of the information shared were untrue upon checking. I’ve also seen him speaking to those salesperson to inform them about who to target, it was very uncomfortable knowing that a guide was supposed to help us save money was involved in the scam. For instance, he mentioned that grand bazaar sold overpriced products, but upon checking in person they were much cheaper than the places he brought us to.
Back to the ART test, which the government announced on 1 April that everyone can do virtual ART test upon departure, Aras was extremely reluctant to let us follow through with the new regulations. I understand that Super Travels was worried for our safety, however Aras wasn’t, he was worried about losing 2 x $60USD, as well as other visitors that may follow suit can cause him to lose profits. It was easy for him to find out the right information, because after a lot of self checks and calls to turkey embassy, MFA and clinics, which they all said that we may be unnecessarily pressured by the turkey guide, Aras then told me that we simply needed to call Singapore airlines in turkey to get an accurate answer. And bear in mind, this was after a lot of persuasion from him plus all the stress from our end doing the pointless calls and checks. He used scare tactics multiple times on us, even during our 15 minutes Virtual ART test with the clinic, he asked us again to consider doing it with him or we may not go back to Singapore, which we rejected. Thereafter, he whispered to me to ask the cost of our test, after learning that it was just $9-$25SGD, he made a sigh, rolled his eye and walked away.
Overall we enjoyed the trip, the itinerary and sight seeing was nice and much better than we expected, Turkey is definitely a nice place for a trip.
I just wanted to share my feedback so that the company can better understand about what people look for in terms of travels these days, we are no longer living in times where people are incapable of finding out the truth about what they are paying for.
Hopefully, my next trip with Super Travels would be a more fruitful one. You have good staffs in your company, I would definitely recommend my friends to have their trips with you.