Archive for September, 2009

24. Bargaining

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Every minute of every hour, in the public markets of the world, people are bargaining over the price of goods. Backpackers, most of whom are financially scraping along their trips, must brave these markets to get the best deals possible and make what little cash they have last. Since bargaining is a battle of wits, weak-willed backpackers from developed nations are traditionally terrible at it.


Conversely, third-world vendors excel at bargaining. In order to win an argument over price, one must have a hustler’s mentality, a comic disregard for social niceties (almost to the point of a mean streak) and an interminable amount of patience. You need balls and time. Poor people have plenty of both.

Many backpackers will beenou about how good of bargainers they are. They’ll claim that bargaining is a simple process of a) asking the price of an item, b) lowballing and getting denied, c) faking a departure and d) getting the price you want or meeting somewhere in between. If it were so easy, nobody would ever complain about bargaining — they’d just follow the four-step path to public market dominance. It is difficult.

The reason it is so difficult is because bargaining is often a dispute between a poor vendor and a rich traveler. As previously mentioned, poor people have balls and time. People from wealthy, “civilized,” fast-food countries are too nice to get into fights and too impatient to wait on anything. In then end, the poor saps need the extra 10 cents to survive. We don’t.

A vast majority of travelers will give up on the last 10 cents. People say, “It’s not worth the hassle. They need it more than I do, anyways.” These are unsuccessful bargainers. The good ones will not give up. It’s the principle that eats at them. They’ll stoop to the vendor’s level and haggle it out to the bitter end.

Backpackers, on the other hand, have trains to catch and sights to see. And besides, meeting somewhere in between is easier on the conscience. See #3, below.

The following is a list of common barganing catch phrases and strategies salespeople will try to use on unassuming foreigners:

  1. “I give you good price!”: Of course they will. This is capitalism in its rawest form. Their profits depend on giving you a bad price.
  2. “Same same”: This has become somewhat of an institution in Thai tourism, so much so that some cheesy motherfucker had the gall to put it on a t-shirt, with “but different” on the back. Vendors will use this line to reassure a customer that their product is identical to every other vendor’s in the market. A quick rebuttal to the fake departure/threat to buy elsewhere.
  3. Classic guilt trip: Vendors will often employ a variety of sad or desperate facial expressions to dissuade you from further reducing the price.
  4. “No deal”: Vendors may quickly halt negotiations with a simple no. Some even shoo you away or encourage you to buy elsewhere. These are all tactics to pressure you into buying at the last price. Just like your fake departure, their no actually means yes.
  5. Post-deal anger: Many vendors will pretend to still be frustrated after you’ve paid and are walking away. Rest assured that they are laughing inside. 
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Backpacking in the News

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009
Classic DFMO. Note the tribal tattoo.

What a shocking bit of news. You mean to tell me that backpackers are promiscuous? And they drink too much? No way.

Hmm… Perhaps the backpacking, drinking and promiscuity are related. Worth looking into.

A few highlights:

  • Over 430 backpackers in hostels across Sydney answered questions about their boozing and scoring tendencies for an Australian study, which also tested for Chlamydia. Subjects ranged from 18 to 30, with an average age of about 23 and an even distribution of men and women.
  • 3.1 percent of men had Chlamydia; 3.9 percent of women had it.
  • 7.6 percent of men reported a previous case of Chlamydia; 10.1 percent of women previously had it.
  • That pushes the percentage of ever having Chalmydia to 10.7 percent for men and 14 percent for women.
  • 31 percent of men had a new sexual partner en route to Australia; 20 percent of women had one.
  • 60 percent of respondents said they “always” used protection.
  • 33 percent of men are drinking over double the recommended daily intake of alcohol; 28 percent of women are doing so.

Doing a study like this is like polling Jamaicans to see if they smoke weed. Backpackers can regularly be seen having unprotected sex on the shore at Full Moon Parties, for chrissakes. While the investigative process was no doubt entertaining, we already knew the answers. I want to see a study examining the amount of beenouing going on in Sydney hostels. Wait a second, I know the answer to that question too: A lot.

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23. National Holidays Abroad

Friday, September 4th, 2009


They suck. Why would you stand on a table singing your national anthem in a bar, swearing, waving your flag about and drinking your exported booze with a smug self-importance, surrounded by locals who are stereotyping your every move? But a few drinks into it, there you are, joining in on some abhorrent chant or refrain you don’t even know the words to. “Fucking foreigners,” the locals think, and they should.

It’s not as though there were Afghan immigrants causing a scene last time you went to your local McDonald’s here in Canada/the U.S./Europe on Afghanistan Day. They weren’t waving flags, yelping or stumbling about because as newcomers, they exert a certain amount of self-control. They refrain from imposing their foreign culture on us in public places, at least. If only we could be so tactful when we’re overseas.

Yeah, the obnoxious douchebag you met on the on the tour bus the other day makes your skin crawl, but on this one day of the year, you’re willing to put up with him because he’s from the same country as you. That’s senseless. He wears white sunglasses. He litters. He’s an ignorant, perverted, overgrown frat boy. He’s an international embarrassment, but today he gets a countryman’s free pass.

I suppose in non-Christian countries, Christmas celebrations can also be considered national holidays forcefed away from home. So lame.

christmas-on-bondi3Yeah, I really want to be sweating my ass off on a beach drinking rum out of a pail of ice, while wearing a retarded Santa hat. I hate those hats on home soil. Why would I put one on south of the Tropic of Cancer?! That’s fucking ridiculous. Oh wait, you’ll fit right in with all the sunscalded bodies and faces with ironic stripes of sunscreen under their eyes. No thanks.

Why do I choose to be categorized with the types backpackers from wealthy countries that flaunt their inflated currency in locals’ faces, drunkenly giving Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and agnostic children toys, candies and firecrackers, and patting them on a head (so cute), on a day that doesn’t even show up on their calendar?

And then these curious cases, they go back to their hostel/apartment/hovel, roast a chicken in the oven (because there are no turkeys in said country), slap up an ironic, plastic Christmas tree and invite all the expats they can track down on Facebook over to get wasted and re-enact the tired and kistchy seasonal rituals usually saved for actual family and friends, only to conclude that it’s pathetic and insignificant to pretend them out with strangers.

"Australia Day at 40 below, in Canada" Yippee!

"Australia Day at 40 below, in Canada" Yippee!

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