Gary and Sarah Girotti/Jones|
Southeast Asia, here we come!
Last night in Bangkok: Bartering rules!
We made our way back to Bangkok from Ko Chang without major incident. However, the boat trip back to the mainland was a little scary, as the captain packed 100+ people on a 30 person boat. Luckily the seas were calm and we made the crossing OK. Even better news--the VCR on the 6 hour bus ride back to Bangkok was broken, so thankfully, no Karaoke.
We spent the evening walking and bartering our way through the night markets. We have really improved since we first arrived: in fact, we got so good that we had to buy another bag for the flight home. (Surprisingly Gary did not see this as a success). Anyway, now that we´re pseudo-pros, here are the basic rules of bartering as we know them:
1. It is an insult to the merchant if you don’t barter, so don’t be shy.
2. If you look at something, the merchant will take that to mean that you just HAVE to have it, and right away will start into price negotiation. If you are not interested, just walk away. He/She may follow you for a few block (all the time yelling out a lower price or the ever popular “I give you good price, cheap”) but eventually they will let go of your arm.
3. Always pull the "walk away", whether for real or just for show. The fake walkway is one of the best tricks ever.
4. If you want to buy something, ask for a price and whatever the person says (ever it is seems like a good deal) look shocked (drop mouth, widen eyes, murmer "Dios mio!") and ask for half price (or a third, it you´re feeling saucy). Be warned, however: as Gary discovered, the walkaway is not just for shoppers--if you go too low the merchant will pull this stunt, and that’s not good for anyone.
5. If you have a partner in bartering, make sure you discuss a strategy going in. Not doing so can have lasting effect. Example: "Gino" fakes the disgusted walkway on a piece "Lauren" really wants. "Lauren" thinks he´s serious, and doesn’t buy it. "Gino" will most likely hear about this for the rest of his life. (If anyone knows of a place to get cheap Thai-style jewelry in the Boston area, a quiet e-mail to girottig@hotmail would be greatly appreciated).
6. Most importantly, always remember 50 Baht=$1. If you are at 250 Baht and the merchant wants 300, remember, you´re wasting precious shopping time over $1.00!
Mission completed: hawked or were hawked by every merchant for 8 blocks at least twice. One thing remained--the Canada v. US gold hockey game!
Unfortunately, Gary was unable to find a bar that was showing the Canada/US hockey game so he went to bed so nervous and tense he thought we was going to be sick (me too Bill). Canadians!! We woke, turned on CNN and watched in anticipation for the score. Congratulations to the Canadian team on ending a 50 year drought, great win. We celebrated with lazy day by the pool and late afternoon flight to Hong Kong.