I have always been a proponent of the statement if you don’t need it, it’s not on sale.
But suddenly I am tossed in a land where everything is less than $5. Yesterday, at a mega-mall, I was tempted to buy many clothes-some that seemed very like the clothes on Mission Street in San Francisco. Or was the quality better? I rubbed my fingers over the cloth…but who knows whether it would last many washes as I tried to bargain unsuccessfully with a saleswoman, who seemed to laugh at my attempts.
I bought 3 gifts, not even thinking-do I really need to get this?
Then the food. CDC must hate me now for eating the soup, the drinks, the fruit…and the delicious ice cream mixed in with fruit from a street vendor. This morning, ta-ching and I walked through a market…what I thought was going to be a market of vendors of goods…but it turned out to be a huge farmer’s market. A whole chicken cooked for only $2. Cockroaches (at least what they seemed to be), live squirming fish. stinky live frogs, wiggling larvae…low cost.
I didn’t see a single foreigner for almost an hour.
Finally, I walked into a hair salon, but after I had my hair shampooed, cut, rinsed and styled…I realized that I could have gotten something very similar in San Francisco chinatown and the mission for only a little bit more. I paid a total of 450 baht plus tip which amounts to around $10. The hair salon ambiance was close to the salon I used to go to on Mission and 25th. Was I saving a lot? Or was I enjoying my own inability to understand any Thai and be serviced by four individual Thai women? Where I pointed and gestured to indicate what I wanted and smile politely when it was correct…which is what I do anyway in the Mission salons. Or should I have gone to a frantic hair salon in the megamall where I would be serviced with “azn” hair dressers with highlights and pop music.
In Shanghai in 2001, my dad proudly came back to the hotel room, proclaiming that he got a haircut for $2. He talked about it for the rest of the trip.
In the nearly 1.5 days I have been here, I realize that pricing is relative. One might say that pricing in the states is more expensive…but there’s always somewhere you can find equivalent service. Maybe not a decent meal for $2. But you can always find something worthwhile if you look hard enough.