Monday, March 4, 2013

Bargaining At Its Finest.

^^Not actual girl in story.^^
I'm going to give it to you straight.

See that picture up there? Don't be fooled by that sweet smile and "I come in peace" hand gesture, my dear friend.
Because that small-framed girl can be quite the ferocious tiger.
Oh yes, ferocious indeed.

I shall tell you why.

We went to the Ben Thanh Market today. This market is a ginormous indoor shop with rows and rows of clothes, knock-off purses, jewelry, and food galore.

The second, and I mean second, you walk in there, they attack like bees on honey!

And they touch you.
Gripping your arm, they ask if you would like a pair of Calvin Klein underwear.
Touching your shoulder, they show you a pair of Lakers basketball shorts.
It was hard to even pay attention to what they were trying to show me because I was just so uncomfortable with all the touching.

But then I saw some plain tank-tops and I remembered that I needed a tank or two. {Okay, need might be stretching it. More like, I'm sick of everything in my suitcase and can I just please have something new to wear?} 
So I told The Dizzle to hang on a sec while I took a look.

Now, before I go on, you must know that these were as plain of tanks as they come. I'm talking wife beater status. Ribbed. Plain. That's it.

So I ask, "How much?" Thinking in my head it'd be like $2.00.

And this tiny little Vietnamese woman whips out her calculator, types in some numbers, then shows me the result: 330,000 dong.

I quickly did the calculations in my head and gasped aloud! $15 for a tiny tank top?! 
Was she out of her mind?!
I then may or may not have told her she was crazy (in the most polite way of course), said no thanks, then started to walk away.

This was when the little, tiny Vietnamese girl turned into vicious, crazy, I-will-kill-you-if-you-don't-buy-this, woman.

She immediately grabbed my arm with a death-like grip and said, "You pay how much?"

And again, I tried to refuse it and say no thanks.

But she wouldn't let go!

She said, "It's Abercrombie!"

So I said, "No it's not. It's fake Abercrombie. Trust me, I used to work there. This is not Abercrombie."

So she stares at me and asks again how much I'd pay.

I told her 60,000 dong. Which is about $3.00.

She counter-offers with 100,000. So I told her I could get this in America for $3.00, no thank you. Then I start to walk away again. I mean, come on lady. Don't try and fool a fellow Asian, for pete's sake! Being cheap and bargaining is in our blood!

So then Crazy Lady grabs my arm again! And really hard this time.
Like, I wanted to smack her hand away, hard, but I refrained because I'm a lady and don't use physical violence. Ha.

She finally says, in a sort of angry tone, "Fine. 60,000."

I agreed. But still baffled by it all, I asked, "Do you realize that you just went from 330,000 to 60,000?"
As in, you should learn to bargain a little better because that was a ridiculous number to start with.

She responds with, "If I start low, you go lower, then I make no money."

But I assured her that I'm not that unreasonable and would have gladly paid that from the get-go.
Then I wondered why I was even having that conversation with her over a tank top.
So I pay her and by this time, she's not even making eye contact with me.
I say, "Thank you," and she hardly acknowledges me except with a snide little half smile.
So then of course, my Korean temper flares a bit and I say, "You're WELCOME." 
Then I walked off, tank-top in hand.

I never said this was my finest moment. I'm not entirely proud of acting like a 5 year old. But, sheesh. She didn't have to agree to the price. She didn't have to grab my arm with her death-like grip to keep me from leaving. I paid $3.00 for her fake Abercrombie tank top that I cold have just as easily gotten at Forever 21.

Do I sound really bitter? I think I must be. I need to just let it go. It's a tank-top, Michelle. Move on!

Okay, it's time to go. I shall leave you with this picture.

This is what it looks like all. day. long. Every step you take, every street you cross, you are constantly being asked to take a ride in their bike-seat-car things. Must I remind you what traffic is like here? So no sir, I do not want to ride in your death-defying bike for fear of being hit in the middle of an intersection with zero control of my situation.
But thank you, anyway, it really is generous of you to offer so many times.


P.S. Last day for this $25 Etsy giveaway!

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  1. Hey I'm one of your newest followers. I'm also from San Diego, born and raised. You are the first blogger that I've found that's from San Diego. I can't wait to get back there. The military is trying to take us everywhere except my hometown. lol. I would love for you to check my blog out and follow back. I'm happy to connect with a fellow San Diegan!

  2. Hahahahahahahahahahahaha...god this made me chuckle!!!!
    I would have agressively slapped/hit that cheeky woman's arm away..but maybe that is because I am from Essex and if someone invades my personal space I get CRAZY PROTECTIVE about it. WTF? I admire you woman!

  3. hahahahaha! I totally know how it is. I live in Africa, and the people at the markets are freaking relentless! I've never had an issue with getting all touchy-touchy though. But when you ask to go down and they don't and you walk away, they'll be like "ok, how much?" And at that point you don't even want that stupid wooden giraffe anymore. RE. lentless.

  4. Scary!!! You should be SOOOO proud of yourself for not hitting her when she grabbed you. I think I would have done it out of instinct and then felt really really guilty about it.

  5. hahaha! i give you props for no violence. they can be so outrageous with their bargaining but for some reason i still love it! thankfully there was no manhandling at the markets in thailand when we went

  6. Oh wow...i was laughing through reading your post because I have been there. It can get really ugly sometimes. I remember being in Bangkok and being haggled for prices for things that were so much cheaper up north in Chiang Mai. Every time you walk away they pull you back and then get upset when you tell them how much you'll pay. It can be entertaining.

    Ps. I agree with you about the bikes. I would not either. x

    Bonnie Rose | The Compass Rose

  7. Hahaha the ole' walk away like you are seriously going to walk away because that is just crazy. Well, it was an experience at least. And now you have a nice new shirt for $3! That is a steal.

  8. haha great story! but you seriously have to be just as crazy/pushy as they are. i think they kind of expect it haha. good for you for not over paying!

  9. i told you traffic was crazy there. SuperD almost died on our trip trying to be brave crossing an intersection.

    i want you to take a pic of the bricks of fake money you can buy to put on altars, i never got a pic of that.

  10. At least the bike/taxis (cyclos, pronounced "sheek lows") are colorful now. When I was there they were old and ratty looking and yes, can be very dangerous. You should at least try it once. It's quite an experience.

  11. They touch you?!?! Oh hell no, I would punch someone haha.

  12. Hahaha, I laughed so much at this story because I can relate. Asian market places are sooo dangerous, these people will pretty much do almost anything for profit which is understandable but it's just insane how they have a foreigner radar... so many times I've been pressured to visit a stall or buy it until my cousin or relative that was born and raised there was able to fend them off. It's just insane, but props to you for not slapping her hand away. That would have been my first instinct.

  13. YOU MAKE ME SO PROUD! Me in the other hand, ain't good at bargaining. I tend to cave in. Hence every time I go to such places, I grab a ferosh friend. Or I take my Mum. We do that once in a while at the LA Fashion District. Hahaha.

    Now I have another ferosh friend to take along *looks at mish*

    And that bike ride thing, us Indos call it Becak. I miss riding a becak. One time I was riding them becaks with my Mum back in Indo and our house was literally up the street. Like a little hill. I felt bad for the guy. He had to get off the bike and push us up, like we're princesses. I'm pretty sure my Mum tipped him well... since she was still fat at the time. *love you mom*

  14. Good job bargaining down, make us Asians proud. I am disturbed by the touching and grabbing by people. Ew. And those bikes/death machines look like they have giant car seats in the front!

  15. Ha. Man. This is so how they're like! My favorite is when they're that rude and then after you pay them they're like, "You're so pretty! How old are you?" etc. Like did you not just make me feel 2 inches small because i wouldn't pay your "Friend price"??! It's all such a show. Sometimes it makes me not even want to shop in markets! Id rather just go into a store thats a little higher but has the prices marked! They have it down! Way to go paying the price you wanted and not back handing her! ha.



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