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Bangkok, Thailand (Thinkstock)
Bangkok, Thailand (Thinkstock)

Mastering the art of haggling in Bangkok Add to ...

Sometimes things don’t go as planned – and those moments often make for the best stories. Tripping columns offer readers a chance to share their wild adventures.

I get up early and step out into the sunshine of Bangkok’s Khao San Road. I sidestep the vomit and piles of greasy Styrofoam plates left by last night’s revellers and head toward the vendors. I am going to take advantage of the “Good Morning Price” and I have to be up early to do it.

A friend of mine told me all about the Good Morning Price. He explained that it is bad luck for shop owners to have the first customer of the day leave their store without buying anything. And in their need for you to leave their store with some of their wares they become very easy to bargain with. My friend also told me that vendors give different coloured bags to each customer based on their bargaining skills. The coloured bags then act as signals to other shop keepers about how far they can drive up their own prices.

At 7 a.m., the streets are quiet except for the exhausted slap and drag of sandals whose owners haven’t been to bed yet. But there’s a lightness in my step as I go to the first stall I see and look through a rack of T-shirts.

“You like? Shirt very nice. Shirt very high quality.” The vendor says as he sidles up next to me.

“Yeah, they’re all right,” I say.

I am trying not to give anything away, even though I have already decided that I will buy them.

“How much you wanna pay?” the vendor asks.

“I don’t know, how much are you going to charge?”

The vendor pauses and thinks. “For you: you pay 300 baht.”

Since that’s about $10 I shake my head.

“Oh no, that’s too much for me,” I say and start to walk away.

The vendor puts his hand on my shoulder, stopping me.

“Wait, wait my friend. How much you wanna pay?”

“I’ll pay 60 baht for one shirt.”

The man laughs and shakes his head, but lowers his price by a fraction. We go back and forth like this for several minutes. I realize that I am arguing over pennies, but it’s the principle of the matter.

We settle on a fair price and he folds them into a green plastic bag. I go to the next stall and am greeted by the vendor with a bright smile, a smile that dilutes when her eyes flick from my face to the colour of the bag in my hand.

That’s right lady. Be afraid. You’re dealing with a green-bagger.

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