I’ve been trying to read the chick-read, “Confessions of a Shopaholic” by Sophie Kinsela. I said “trying” because it is really trying to read the book. I think reading the 12 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica or the Old Testament in the original language would be far easier. The main problem is that I found the central character, a Rebecca Bloomwood, to be really unlikeable. I think she is a pea-brained, bimbotic superfluous woman with zero self control and totally detached from reality. And to read a book on her many silly antics could be quite difficult going. However, I have resolved to finish the book, and till date, has read 147 pages of the 350 pages book.
I bet I can write better. Let me illustrate.
Bangkok is a shopping paradise and that’s an understatement. Surrounding the hotel where I stayed in was the Central World (Asia’s largest shopping mall with the largest sidewalk and outdoor TV), the Pratunam Market, the Pratunam Centre, the Platinum Mall, The Big C, to name a few. All are shopping haven! My friends told me, “never buy from the hawkers along the streets because they overcharge you” and so I didn’t.
The conference ends at 4.00 pm everyday and after a short walk in the heavily polluted path between the conference venue (the Centara Grand Hotel) to my hotel, it would have been 4.30 pm by the time I reach my hotel. My routine then was to quickly grab a bite, a drink, change into my Bermuda pants and T-shirt and off I would go to any one of the shopping centres nearby.
“Why the rush?”, you ask. Well, these Thai retailers are probably afraid of the dark or they all have an incredibly active night life because they all close their shops as early as 6 pm! By 8 pm, all the shopping complexes are closed!!! That leaves me with less than 2 hours for retail therapy!
And so, everyday, after the conference, I do the same routine ~ walk, eat, drink, change, walk, shop, shop, shop! I call it ‘tsunami shopping’, the aim being, to buy as much as possible, at the lowest price, in the quickest time before the shop closes!
First let me show you some of the conference freebies:
Non-woven bag with a sewn-on elephant with sequins, courtesy of Pfizer. I won’t show you the conference bag because it looks hideous. I wonder why they can’t give the plain old simple back-packs anymore. The bag has been discreetly disposed off.
Laser pointers (yes, there are 2 of them), courtesy of MSD.
There wasn’t much on my shopping list and a lot less in my wallet but these are some of the stuff I managed to buy: (The current conversion rate is RM 10 = THB 100)
For the missus: a leather bag (retail price: THB 1600, purchase price: THB 750) which could be converted into a hand bag or a back-pack. Also bought 2 blouses (retail price: THB 350 each, purchase price: THB 250 each)
For the daughter, one cutesy T-shirt (retail price: THB 100)
Another one for the daughter (purchase price: THB 39 ~ seriously)
A complete ‘pilot’ shirt for the son (retail price: THB 250, purchase price THB 200) and also a ‘Ben-10′ T-shirt (which he loves to bits!) at THB 100
A much coveted hiking bag, retail price THB 1600; purchase price THB 800
I like it because of the plastic mesh at the back which prevents sweat getting into the bag and helps in aeration. A similar bag in Malaysia would cost between RM 200-300 (btw, a Deuter bag there cost THB 1600 as opposed to RM 400 here)
Working shirts, THB 150-180 each.
A cotton shirt with embroidery, THB 100.
Two cotton ‘muscle Ts’, THB 50 each.
A pair of khaki pants which can be unzipped into Bermuda pants. THB 230.
And two luggage bags since I will be going overseas again soon, THB 2500 for both!
Total money spent on the above: THB 6409.
Thai Massage (2 hours): THB 500
Thai Foot Massage (1 hour with tips): THB 200
Taxi fare from airport to hotel: THB 660
Sky train (from Central to Sala Daeng and back): THB 30
Burger King at Sala Daeng: THB 110
Food from 7-11: THB 300
Peeled mangoes bought from road side: THB 40 (it was yummy and I survived eating it)
Food at airport: THB 350 (1 bowl of beef noodle and 1 ice-cold Thai coffee)
Rock candy at airport (because the stupid Air Asia flight was badly delayed): THB 70
Total: THB 8689
Hmm, strange, I wonder where did the rest of the money (about THB 1300) go to?!!! I better check my pockets again…!
There are a few unique things about shopping in Bangkok:
1. I wasn’t hounded to death, unlike shopping in Beijing, or Shanghai or Ho Chi Minh City. In the latter, I was once held on by the edge of my T-shirt by a desperate shop keeper who insisted that I look at the clothes she was selling and refused to let go. I almost had to leave my T-shirt behind (and create a scandal in Vietnam ~ imagine this in the CNN headline: HALF NAKED ID PHYSICIAN SEEN FLEEING FROM NIGHT MARKET IN HO CHI MINH CITY chased by psychotic shop keepers!!!
2. I was repeatedly mistaken as a Thai man by the shop keepers in Bangkok. Maybe it’s because I am dark (according to my wife) and so they all spoke to me in Thai. Of course I haven’t the foggiest idea what they were saying. This made bargaining tough because as soon as I open my mouth and ask, “How much”, they had this look that seems to suggest they caught a big fat fish with loads of cash! Sigh…
3. I had so many ‘sawadikaps’ said to me that I was overwhelmed!
There, these are my ‘confessions’.
Oh gosh! Am I ‘a pea-brained, himbotic superfluous man with zero self control and totally detached from reality’ ?
Still, I think my version is definitely better than the book (or the movie!)
Sigh…, if only Bangkok is a mere drive away, I’d like to go (shopping) again…
Thurs, 260309 @ 0700; post call and on leave.