This is part of the Trip Report So Long Mongolia, Hello SE Asia (December-January 2015) which covers:
- Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Chiang Rai, Thailand
- Yangon, Myanmar
- Ngwe Saung, Myanmar
- Mandalay, Myanmar
- Bagan, Myanmar
- Hong Kong
- Orlando, Florida
Catch up by reading the preview, The Banana Pancake Trail to Myanmar Starts This Monday, then the overview, Thailand, Myanmar, Hong Kong, Disney, Home, where the game time decision was made to leave Mongolia for good.
Ask anyone about my bargaining skills and you they will say that I am the best.
Don’t believe me, then stack up your “best quality” purchases with the following (which should also be used a basis for all negotiations going forward):
Sunglasses: $1, SE Asia
Jeans: $12, Shanghai
Tailored Suit: $73, Shanghai
Cashmere coat: $73, Shanghai
Underwear: $1.25 SE Asia
T-Shirt: $1.50-2, SE Asia and China
Boars Shorts: $2
Tailored Shirt: $12, Shanghai
Gym shoes/loafers: $8 Shanghai
Leather shoes: $20 Shanghai
DVD: 70 cents, SE Asia
Watch: $3, SE Asia
Longyi: $4, Myanmar
Polo shirt: $4, Shanghai
Big Polo horse: $4.50, Shanghai
Taxis: Forget it
This story serves many purposes:
1. It is a baseline for where your negotiations should begin.
2. It is to give you that terrible feeling of buyer’s remorse which you cannot runaway from no matter how much you rationalize that “it’s so cheap compared to home.” You aren’t at home, think local.
3. And it is to tell you how pointless the whole thing is. All your negotiating strategies e.g, the walking away, the poker face, the comedic tug-of-war with the merchandise, and the calculator game of he goes high then you go low then you go higher than his highest, all of it is for naught. Why?
Because in Myanmar the airport won’t exchange the money FROM its currency, the kyat, back to dollars. That’s right, it’s a one way exchange.
Now I know what you are thinking, why did you take out so much kyat?
Because the Internet misinformed me that there aren’t ATMs in Myanmar and it you’ll get a crap rate if you exchange outside the airport.
Both are fiction: the rate is far better on the street 1050 kyat to $100 instead of 1032 at the airport and there are ATMs all over.
I ended up with $35 worth of kyat, a closed duty-free shop, and bad restaurant food.
Why Myanmar why!