Friday, October 30, 2009

Bye Bye Bangkok

The night before we left Bangkok we went to Suan Lum Night Bazaar - a massive set of retail spaces near Lumphini park. This place had everything you could ever dream of buying while on vacation in Thailand.

From bathing suits to incense to buddha figures and of course plenty of counterfeit goods. Countless handbag knockoffs and watches that, when real, would set you back several thousand dollars and finally tons of North Face and Lowe Alpine backpacks.

Jon mentioned before I left that if there was one souvenier he might want from my trip here it was a "North Face" backpack - so it was my singular goal to walk away from the bazaar with one.

I've been practicing my bargaining skills on this trip. Also, it is just so easy to be taken advantage of as two female tourists in a part of the world we have never visited so I have learned to keep my game face on at all times. I approached the first "North Face" backpack vendor and asked him how much he wanted for one. Then I got to what I thought his lowest price was. I told him "ok, I'm going to come back." Then I went to the next guy and said "Well. That guy over there told me he would sell it for 'such and such' price. Can you beat that?" Inevitably each vendor was willing to offer a little bit less than the last. And when I felt like I had widdled the price down sufficiently I approached one final vendor. He wanted nearly $100 for the bag. I said "No way. That guy over there said he would sell it to me for $15. I'll just go back to him." He, of course said "No No, ok, I'll sell it to you for $15." It seemed pretty incredible that his price came down so fast and I assumed that must mean that it could go down even more. In the end I paid 10% of what he wanted. I was stoked and I continued to talk about and caress the bag all evening long which I think my mom got sick of.

I also approached one last vendor - backpack on my back I said "Listen. I don't want a bag. I have one here, I already bought it, I just want to know if it was a good deal." After convincing the guy that I did not need two of the same bag he told me his lowest price and with a slap on the shoulder I told him "BAM. I got this for less that THAT."

Victory: Schumanator.

But honestly I'm so over having to sift through the shit to get a fair price on things. Even our cab driver to the airport this morning wanted to barter for a fair price. I wasn't willing to budge on this point.

"Use the meter." I said.

He said "Ok, 400 baht. You pay tolls and you pay me go back fee"

Me: "Go back fee? You're a taxi driver, just pick up another tourist at the airport. No go back fee. Use the meter."

Him: "Ok, how much you pay me?"

Me: "We'll pay you what your meter says we owe you and we will pay the tolls" (which is normal)

Him: "Ok. and you pay go back fee" with this he starts the car and pulls away from the curb

Me: "Meter and tolls. Thats it."

Him: "Where you from?"

Mom: "US."

Him: "Ohhh. Big money."

Mom: "Not really anymore."

Me: "Maybe big money, but taxis still use meters there."

That seemed to settle it. Although conveniently when we arrived at the airport he didn't seem to have enough change for us.

To be fair to Bangkok, we didn't see much of the city - just the malls at the center of the city, the cabs, China Town where our hotel was and the insane traffic in between. But that being said of all of the cities we've been to so far I would say that Bangkok was my least favorite. I'm glad we stopped through, but I probably won't make a point of going back.

Phuket on the other hand....

Well. A girl could get used to it here.*

We arrived early this afternoon and after I took a nap I joined my mom outside on the large balcony that overlooked the ocean. It is utterly gorgeous here. We did a little swimming and later grabbed some dinner at the outdoor restaurant. The staff seemed to be checking the weather a lot while we ate. They all but licked their fingers and put them in the air to get a sense of where the wind was blowing. We've heard that it rains practically everyday here and as though on cue, just as we started to get full from our food the clouds starting dumping rain and the staff quickly and efficiently moved everyone under the overhang in under a minute. And just as quickly as the rain came, it went away.

Something that has been cracking me up is the way that my mom has been unintentionally talking to the locals. Cab drivers in particular. For some reason she feels the need to abbreviate her English so that they can understand her better. So she says things like:

"How many hour you work in one day?"
"You have son? How old he is?"
"We want go to airport. How much you charge?"

I'm not sure why she is doing this, but each time it comes up I take the opportunity to make fun of her for it.

After all...What are daughters for?

*Not too used to it though. I'm missing my Love, my dogs, my plants and my Mexican food.