Saturday, 4 May 2013

The cons of travelling- Part 3 Prices and perceptions

Picture this, you’re walking into Tesco to pick up some last minute ingredients for the dish you’re making tonight, but there are no prices on the shelves. That quick 5 minute whizz around (maybe 10 minute if you tend to get distracted by the reduced items) turns into a 40 minute chore of having to price check each item with the nearest store assistant. Then imagine that the store assistant hasn’t decided on a price yet, they ask you how much you will pay for it and then they shake their head and offer it for double that price. This is Asia.

Admittedly in Asia things tend to be cheap. Yet after a few weeks of careful observation you will become savvy to the way that every item has a foreign price and a local price. For bags, Bintang vests and fake Rolex check out my previous post on Haggling. Food stalls are a whole other playing field. Being charged double is often unavoidable, but learn, if you will, the art of surveillance:  Channel your inner Sherlock! Hold back before asking how much something is, wait for a local to buy one, take note of how much they hand over and then thrust the same amount into the stall tender’s hands before swiftly departing with your 30p spring rolls.

Dog sticks anyone?
Don't be offended by being overcharged. As a Westerner you will often be stereotyped as a rich, ignorant fool who can’t handle spicy food, and yes there are many of us out there. Deciding to use this to my advantage and wearing my wealthy stereotype like a cloak, on my last night in Bangkok I went to indulge in one of the swanky rooftop bars. Despite having tamed my sun stroked hair and adorned my smartest dress, to my utmost embarrassment I was turned away for wearing sandals! Ok havainas ... ok fake havainas covered in dirt. Be warned that stereotypes do not make up for a lack of acceptable footwear, and trade rooftop cocktails for a barbecued cricket and a bucket of Sangsom rum.

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