Sok Sabai-HI

I know Cambodia is still a few weeks off seeing as classes just ended on Friday, but to me it feels like Christmas, 7 work days, and a week in Thailand with one of my best friends. Then BAM I will be with my classmates learning along side them

I have been living vicariously through my friends study abroad pictures and blogs. Now I get to participate in one.

I am so frightened and excited. This seems like something from a dream.

My fears include:

1. Finding my way to the hotel without the group

2. Bartering with anyone who is trying to sell me something (from what I have read of last years blog in the cities this happens quite a bit.)

3. Forgetting something very crucial at home.

My goals for this trip:

1. Bring my backpack ONLY on this trip for the entire month. (I have been checking over my packing list for the last month to make sure it will all fit in my bag)

2. Learn something (this is my easy to hit goal)

3. I also want to learn some Khmer (Kuh-mai). I really love languages, but my first calling engineering makes it hard to study other languages.



2. seeing wonderful sights.

3. making friends with many new people (my favorite thing in the world is to meet new people and I know some faces but really I don’t know anybody going on this trip)

Finally I leave with a useful piece of advice from the last trip to Cambodia.

For those of you who may one day travel to a foreign country, print this blog out and memorize these steps which will grant you great success in your future bartering moments.

Number 1: Scope out the area. Browse among the shops and trinkets, keeping in mind who sells what and where. In this time, AVOID ALL EYE CONTACT!! Absolutely no pointing and touching…

Number 2: Slowly graze among the area and find something you would like to purchase. Let them approach you.

Number 3: Inquire about the price, but don’t let the words, “We have discount special for you” pull you in. (Don’t show too much interest in the item, for this shall surely drive up the price.)

Number 4: Counter offer their “discounted” price. This offer should often be 45-55% of the vendor’s first attempt to rip you off.

Number 5: The vendor will then proceed to say, “Oh lady, lady (or sir, sir), I lose money for that price (tisk, tisk, tisk, tisk noise)” Then proceed to drop eye contact with you. WARNING: hold your ground, maintain your ground and eye contact! Price will be lowered only a little, but don’t fear. There is more to come.

Number 6: Assess the situation and choose one of the following options:
Situation A: If vendor does not budge on price, say Ï will go to the lady over there where my friend went and get a better price.”
Situation B: Vendor dropped price, but it is still not as low as you would like. Repeat your initial price and say it is as high as you will go. Only in extreme situations, do you raise your maximum price by 5% more.
Situation C: If the vendor is insulted by your price, they will laugh, or yell at you for being crazy. In this rare situation, back up with your hands up, turn, and run.

Number 7: If the item was obtained at step 6, get out the agreed amount. Do not take out your wad of American dollars, but do this in secret. Pay the vendor, grab your item, and kindly thank your competitor. Walk away.

Number 8:If the vendor did no agree with your price, set item down and state that their price is too high and slowly walk away, keeping an open ear. The vendor usually gives in, and calls you back to the stand, saying ”ók, ok lady, I give to you.” Don’t be discouraged by her upset facial expression. If vendor does not call you back, do not worry, you can get the exact same item at the next stall. Repeat steps three through 8.

Congratulations! You have completed a successful bartering experience.

Some extra helpful tips and warnings:
1. Stay strong, dont give in, and don’t feel bad.
2. Buying in bulk can give you a bigger discount (Sam’s Club, Cambodian style)
3. Talk amongst your group before your adventure begins to get a relative price range.
4. Bartering is very exhausting. If you begin to feel fatigue, go back to your hotel and rest up. Begin in the early evening tomorrow.
5. Warning: these tips do not apply in the United States. Do not attempt any of these steps on a shopping spree at your local mall.

-Claire Phillippi


1 thought on “Sok Sabai-HI

  1. One thing to keep in mind is that these people are trying to make a living. While Americans do seem like easy targets to “rip off” with high prices, we are also able to afford more. Feel free to barter but try to picture the seller’s children in your mind while you do. Settle on a price that is fair to both of you.

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