Monday, April 18, 2016

The learning curve never ends

Sushi at the Tsukiji Fish Market

11.   Haggling is not a winner take all sport. Senior Monkey is an excellent haggler both in the good ol’ US of A and abroad. In the developing world, you are expected to haggle a little to get the best price. It involves invoking your poor mother, children, the rolling of eyes, tearing of hair and all sorts of demonstrative actions to get your point across. Sometimes you walk away, only to get the price you wanted in the first place. Yet we are not the poor, young travelers we used to be. Don’t get me wrong, we still want a good price and not to be ripped off but a dollar or 2 here and there will not make or break us. But it comes to mind, that it might be the difference between dinner or not for the shop owner. So Harvey now plays a slightly different version of “the best price”. He plays with the vendor like a cat toy and gets to the rock bottom price. Hands are shaken in agreement. Then the wallet is pulled out and the last price the vendor really wanted is paid! Everybody wins in this game. I get the lovely trinket I want. Harvey wins the Haggle Game and the Vendor gets a price where he is able to sustain his business and family.
Folding Lotus Flowers

 2.   Buy a silk scarf to wear right away and deter the souvenir vendors. A scarf is extremely impractical at 103 degrees outside, but it does help decrease the calls of “Hello Lady, you need lovely silk scarf now? Later maybe?” For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction which is wearing the new scarf and hearing, “Oh Lady, that scarf is no good for you. Bad color, you need a new one.” Sigh.
On the boardwalk, Dumaguete City, Philippines

13.   These are not the air conditioners you are looking for. Since we have arrived, there had not been a room that has been air conditioned to the American (or my) taste. Plus, all the beds have lovely down coverlets. I mean are you kidding me? I don’t sleep with a down blanket at home. Where are the plain sheets, for god’s sake? We have learned to remove the cover of the A/C and clean the filter. Afterward, to over-ride the “economy” setting. Plus, most rooms have card keys that must be in place to have the electricity running and therefore, we have learned to remove the key from the card, without being caught except in one instance. We now Make Sure every hotel has a ceiling fan in the room or at least a counter-top rotational fan. Do not rent the hotel until you have felt the A/C actually work.
These lovely ladies showed us how to order and eat Vietnamese BBQ

14.   3 in 1 Coffee has saved my life. I do no wake easily, as most of my good friends know. I need at least 2 cups of Joe before I can face you and you want to face me. Most hotels give you one coffee freebee in the room that I usually find very dissatisfying; until we got to Vietnam. Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee in the world. Who would have thunk? They have a coffee there called 3 in 1, I have no idea who makes it (Nestle has a version) because the script is all in Vietnamese. But the packaging and logo are unmistakable. I have bought 2 boxes thus far and perhaps this one fact has saved my marriage on this trip.
And we thought it was hot here!?!

15.   Airport Security is just another word for nothing left to check. There are multiple check points when you enter the various SE Asian airports thus far. Everything you would expect from the asshat’s from TSA. But everyone here are just going thru the motions. In my bag, RIGHT NOW, on my flight to Koh Samui, I have forbidden batteries, lotions, scissors, fingernail clippers and wine that no one really gives a damn about. Someone did stop Harvey at the Bangkok airport to check out his really big recharging battery, but that’s been it. I was called back to the Vietnamese TSA counter, only to be told how much they all liked my hair, all grey and curly.

Ta Prong - Ankor Thom, Cambodia

16.   Just because it’s not New Years in the USA, doesn’t mean that it’s not somewhere else. We have found ourselves smack dab in the middle of Chinese, Khmer and Thai New Year. Just because we’ve been seeing New Year’s decorations since Vietnam doesn’t mean we’ve put 2 and 2 together. The year of the Monkey became all too real when attempting to find hotels in Koh Samui and almost every nice hotel was full. Ahhh, family getaways for the whole country! The whole school week a holiday. It is Songkran in Thailand. The holiday of water. In India, it is Holi, where they throw all the colored chalk. We came home to the hotel last night to find a water blaster gun, provided for our holiday fun. No camera with me today, as I don’t want it to be ruined in all the fun.

Blessing from a Lady Monk
17.   Bring plenty of dollar bills. I really wasn’t expecting this! It’s like Mexico in days of old. Everywhere, except for the Philippines wanted dollars, which is sort of weird, as the Philippines were tied so closely to the US for so long. Cambodia was nuts! All our bills at hotels, attractions and restaurants were USD. Change is given in both USD and Cambodian. As a side note, there was no coin in Cambodia. All of it was in paper money.

More New Years Fun with Eggplant
18.   Keep up with the days. I thought I had covered this in my last “what we have learned” but I guess I needed a reminder. I knew that we were leaving Koh Samui on the 19th, but thought it was Sunday instead of Saturday. So thank you Linda Hogan, for setting us straight. I have an extra day at the Scent Hotel, lounging around the pool.

Best Bar on the Island of Koh Samui
 On Bangkok!!!!!

No comments: