I went on a mission today, to find and purchase a hair dryer for Brenda. Some fun huh; old, bald headed, white guy running around Bangkok not speaking the language, but trying to find a hair dryer. What do I do, point at my head and pretend to dry the non-existent hair? Lots-o-laughs.
Anyway, I decided to check out a place I had heard of called IT City. It is about Â¼ city block with a five story building dedicated to computers, electronics and software. Strictly speaking, a hair dryer does not actually belong in such a place, but I was going on a hunch.
Entering IT city is a hazard. A tall Farang (remember we are "rich and naïve ") is immediately set upon by hoards of hawkers especially if he is wearing a Harley-Davidson Tee shirt from Shepherds HD in Houma, LA.
"Software sir, you want software?" "DVD" said another and yet another "Sexy DVD sir, you want sexy DVD." Even if I did want "sexy DVD" the demeanor with which these guys approached me would have kept me away. Like a little Satan close enough to whisper in my ear one guy finally took a risk with his well being when he put his hands on me to make sure I knew he had "Sexy DVDs." Upon being touched, I turned and let the fellow find himself so close to me that all he could see was my shirt at about belly button level. After that, I had no trouble from him or anyone else. I had tried to handle these guys by maintaining my pace and avoiding eye contact. That would have worked in the states, but here they are more tenacious and more annoying. I finally learned to make eye contact as soon as possible and wave them off from afar. After that they kept their distance and my wandering became more enjoyable.
After making it through the entrance and the welcoming committee, I slowly made my way around the place, taking it all in. Shop after shop offered everything from blank media (CDs, DVD, etc) to ink cartridges, or even just the ink. Components including mother boards, memory cards, processors, every imaginable PCMIA card and USB device, along with complete computers that, from the logo looked like Michael Dell had put them together himsdidn't only they didnÂt look like any DELL I had ever seen. The cases were smaller but thicker than the ones they use in Texas. Hmmmmm. Cameras, printers, you name it and it was there and at a variety of prices.
Given as I am to wandering off the beaten path, I found myself way in the back of IT city where the pic here was only one of the "re-packaging" operations I saw. Brand new computers were being systematically removed from their factory packagingcouldn'tomething (I couldn't figure out what) was being done to them and they were being put back in the boxes and sealed. What could it be that they were doing? Not sure, but all over IT city there are shops that specialize in crates of pieces-parts sitting on the floor in various stages of un-packing. I saw power supplies, disc drives, memory cards and the mundane things like cables and patch cords. Could these pieces come from the computers being "inspected" in the back? Lots of stuff got inspected at IT city but not just computers, but smaller things too. And much of the stuff I looked at on the shelves of the shops had suspiciously inferior looking cables and odd shaped power supplies in the "factory sealed" box. Hmmmmmm.
Recall however, that I am on a mission. I gotta find that hair dryer. On my wanderings, I located three places that had dryers that I wanted to try to negotiate. The top price I saw was 1300 Baht and the cheapest was 580. The difference in price was primarily the wattage of the dryer ranging from 2200 watts on the high end to 1800 on the low. Here is how the purchase went.
Before going back to the stores to negotiate and while well away from any of the stores that I intended to visit, I put 400 Baht in my pocket all by itself. In each case I really didn't care if I got the dryer or not because there are always department stores if the negotiations didn't work out.
Store #1 had the most expensive unit and wanted 1200 Baht. I walked in and politely waited while the proprietor helped another customer. When she addressed me "Sa wa dee ka" I responded "Sa wa dee kup" with a smile on my face. I pointed at the 1200 Baht dryer and said "400?" She said "No, 1200" so I held out the 400 that I had separated prior to visiting the store. She said "No, can not." And offered a smaller dryer that had a price tag of 380 Baht on it. I thanked her and left, but slowly in case she wanted to call me back.
Store #2 had the exact same dryer as store #1 and was asking 950 Baht (which I knew from my earlier visit.) I again greeted the proprietor and offered 400 Baht for the dryer. She countered with 900 so I held out the money and offered again to which she said she could not. I thanked her and left.
Store #3 had a 1800 watt dryer that they wanted to sell for 600 Baht. We engaged in the same greetings and I offered 400 Baht. The owner said "No can not" but offered 550. I said "No 400." She said "OK 500." I said "No 400." So she said "450?" I said "No 400." And after a two second conference with her partner, they took the deal and my money. Now Brenda has a 1800 watt hair dryer for $10.80 including tax. Pretty fun!! Time will tell if it actually dries hair, but take a look at the box in the first pic of this post. It promises "Super silent. Cold. Warm. Hot wind and Fast Cold Four Shifts." Like I said, Time will tell.....
Each time I negotiate with a Thai the pattern is the same. They are initially Âvery happy to helpÂ and as the negotiation proceeds, it either falls apart quickly as in the stores above that simply said "no." Or it begins to go back and forth with each successive pass leaving the Thai more crestfallen. By the time my price is reached the disappointment of not getting the payday that they envisioned when I walked up is obvious on their face. I know that they are making money on the transaction or else they would not take the deal. But it is fairly difficult to leave the transaction with such disappointment on their faces. Difficult, but doable. Now I wonder if I can get that Lamborghini for 400 Baht????
This last pic is interesting because it showed me where old Dell's go to die. Note that they are Pentium III's which are pretty old. The price is less than $100. Remember you can click on any pic to get a larger version of it.