At the Market…Dtalaat

ME: “Sawatdee Krap”. “Luuk luh thao rai nuh krap?”
VENDOR: “Loh luh saam sip baht krap”
ME: “Gaw Khitwaa mun paeng gun bai na krap”. “Gaw lote raakaa noi dai mai luh krap?”
VENDOR: ” yee sip hah baht dai mai krap?”
ME:”kaw lote eek noi dai mai krap?”
VENDOR:”mai dai jaa” “lote gun bai leao nuh krap”
ME: ‘Tah pohm sue sii luuk loht iik dai mai krap?”
VENDOR: “yee sip baht gaw dai krap”
ME: Gaw dee leao, kawp kuhn maak kaw sii luuk hai pohm noi nuh krap”
One of the favorite pastimes here in Thailand is “Haggling” at the local markets. I thought this to be a rather appropriate segway into the subject of marriage; I’m not ready to tackle marriage just yet but in order to understand it you will need to first understand the culture when it comes to money and negotiation in Thailand… The above is a short exchange between myself and a vendor at a local market. It’s purely phonetic, not actual Thai; as there is no set way of writing the Thai language using Roman letters I created my own. In short, I just bought four fish for 20 baht a kilo. I saved a wopping Ten baht each kilo.
Markets abound in Thailand. Since centuries past markets have been at the heart of Thai tradition and culture; held at a central locations and close to the small villages, in order to provide the folks with easy access to different foods, produce, clothing, and just about anything else a person could desire. Today,in Thailand, markets are everywhere. You have morning markets where you can buy fresh produce, meats, and the like. Restaurant and shop owners usually frequent these markets. They open up at around 2-3 in morning and run until about 10 a.m.or so everyday. We also have the night markets for clothing, and accesories. You can find just about anything from dogs to used tires at this market. They tend to move around the region on a daily basis. The day’s are usualy the same each week; a friday market will be here again the following friday, etc. You also have your nightly food markets. These markets tend to remain in the same place night after night and are made up of a variety of food vendors. You will find just about anything that you heart disires; your heart must desire Thai food of course. Great place to eat, and usually very cheap. There are parts of Thailand ,like Bangkok, which have many small canals running throughout. In this case you will have water markets(floating markets). They move up and down the canals, stopping at specific locations on each day of the week. The vendors set-up shop right in their small boats; you float right up next to them in order to make your purchase. Again, you can find just about anything at a floating market; except maybe a bathroom or two.
The most wonderful part of a visit to the market is usually the vendors playful attitudes towards making a sale. Unlike most other cultures, here in Thailand is not only expected, it can be a truly enjoyable experience. Typically Thais will leave their mechandise un-marked; giving you a chance to ask how much something costs. This is where the fun begins. Thais are experts in reading people and will set the initial price based on your assumed wealth, along with how likley they feel you are to buy from them. In my experience, the intital price is about 100% mark-up; you are never expected to pay this. If something is priced at around 100 baht you can almost always assume the actual price to be around 50 baht. I’ll start around 25 baht, and work up from there. We will haggle back and forth for a bit, and eventually settle somewhere around the 50 baht mark, if they are lucky 😉 The most important thing to remember is that you are expected to negotiate. The vendors are by no means offended by this; it is a part of everyday life. Infact, you would be viewed as silly if you paid the intitial price; not to mention making life difficult for the rest of us shoppers by setting an artificial price limit. The second most important thing to rememember is that shopping at a market should be FUN. You need to keep a light spirit and go with the flow. The vendors love to play, and thats just what it is, playing; no room for anger, high stress bargaining, or load voices. If you are seen to be overly aggressive, or choose to fight over 5 baht, your new Thai friend will probably shut you off completley and refuse to sell. I have seen it happen a few times; in a country where money is very important, somethings remain even more so.
I have met some really wonderful people while “playing” at the local markets. If you ever have an oppurtunity to meet my mother, ask her for a few tips on trading here in Thailand. She can haggle with the best of them! Right Mom? Me and Saam had alot of fun watching mom bargain shop. We tried to avoid helping and just let her go to work. The vendors seemed to always get a kick out of it also as they always seem to give her a “special price” just for her effort and big smile. I was very proud of my mom: I understand just what she was thinking everytime she asked for a “discount”. Mom wanted to pay full price just because she felt sorry for everyone; she didnt want to short change anyone. It can be difficult for us westerners to step out of our shells and plundge into a market headfirst. Haggling is not a big part of our way of life. Mom did a superb job nonetheless.
What can this possibly have to do with marriage, right? For starters, everything has a price in Thailand. In the case of marriage, “everything” includes your bride to be.
In the next day or so I am going to open the door into mine and Saam’s path to marriage; completley un-censored. Night all…enjoy your shopping

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~ by Scott on Friday, July 1, 2005.

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