Yesterday we spent the day shopping and eating. Jessie’s been concerned for quite a while that we don’t have very appropriate clothes for traveling in India, especially since we’ll be in the fairly conservative northern half of the country. Luckily, we’re finding that unlike our first time in Thailand three years ago, many of the clothes merchants in the area we like to stay are now stocking larger sizes to accommodate taller and bigger foreigners. So we each picked up two pairs of slacks and a shirt. Our slacks have Thai elephants and patterns on them, which is a bit silly but I think we’ll be able to pull them off. At the very least they are made from super thin material so they’ll keep the hot Indian sun from burning us while allowing a great deal of air circulation!
As we shopped around we were so confident because we’ve learned how to dicker down the prices from past times. Pants that started at a price of 280 baht (about $9) were bagged and handed over to us for only 200 baht (a $3 savings). That’s one thing we’ve definitely learned about clothes shopping in Thailand: you can expect to pay about 1/3 less than the quoted price if you stick to your guns. We’ve also learned that if you walk a mere block outside of the foreign districts you can get a metered taxi instead of trying to agree on a price with the driver, which is never fun. For example, just today we hailed a taxi to take us clear across the city. He said “300 baht” so we started to walk away. “Okay, okay! Meter!” he called after us, so we got in. The half-hour ride ended up costing us only 140 baht.
However, some things you don’t dicker over, like restaurant prices and convenience store items. So when we walked into the pharmacy to pick up a few ORC packets (for electrolyte rehydration) and the lady told me they were 90 baht each, I quickly handed over 270 baht for three packets. The price seemed a bit steep to me: I thought that they’d been cheaper when we bought them before, but since we hadn’t been in Thailand for over a year I didn’t trust myself to be remembering that correctly. I was also confused. For some reason I was thinking that 90 baht was equal to $1 instead of $3. It’s hard keeping all these different exchange rates separate in my head sometimes!
After we stepped out of the pharmacy Jessie said that she thought the price was pretty high, but I explained it away. A few hours later we walked into a 7-11 to buy some water and they had the exact same packets at the checkout counter for 6 baht a piece. That’s right…six! Not only had the pharmacy woman overcharged me 84 baht, but she’d sold three packets to me. So basically I got ripped off for about $8.50 by a pharmacist. I never expected that!
This isn’t the first time I’ve been had, and with all the travel we do I’m sure it won’t be the last. The nice thing about being cheated in South East Asia is that the amount is always pretty miniscule. So I’ve decided not to get too upset over it (or let Jessie’s occasional teasing get to me, haha)! I’m treating it as an important reminder that I have to be on guard, especially in the places I’m most comfortable with, while on the road. But if at any time you find yourself strolling along Soi Rambuttri in Bangkok in the future, steer clear of Rama Pharmacy. They stink!