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An occasionally belligerent mother of four and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

I Put The HAG in Haggling - Siem Reap's Old Market


When in Siem Reap, netizens say that the highlight of one's souvenir shopping may be found in the various factories and farms in the area, together with the 4 night markets in the city. But the most popular shopping destination for all things Khmer, can be found in The Old Market.

Psah Chas (in Khmer) aka The Old Market, is an open air market that caters to both the locals and tourists' shopping needs.

Located at the South of town, it's a stone's throw from the Night Market and Pub Street - places you will undoubtedly read/hear about as must-sees in Siem Reap.

As with most Asian markets, haggling is always a useful skill when walking around the place. Take it to an art form level when buying more than one item. Most stalls offer close to wholesale prices, especially if you're the first customer of the day.

strollers are also great in carrying your finds :)

Together with Phil and our 6 year old, MAX, we entered Psah Chas' dry goods' warm interior (despite the ceiling fans above the stalls).


Dried spices, sausages, fish and other dried whatevers welcomed us.




Followed by art works from local artists...


...and stuff to bring home.
trinkets, hair and head accessories, art work, bags and clothes...

As we had arrived only the night before, we felt that the whole Tombraider experience would be a bit too much for us, that a laid back day of immersing ourselves with the local customs and culture was something we wanted to do.

jewelry, food, stuff for daily use intermingle at the dry goods section

I've always felt that the best way to learn about such things is to shop where the locals shop.

Deciding to buy souvenirs for home, I picked up the ff.:
our Old Market goodies


Here's one haggling experience I'd like to share: I picked up a couple of kaftans in one of the dry goods stalls in the market. While feigning interest at her pashminas and silk scarves, she offered me dresses (a seller after my own heart).

pashminas

The price started off at $10 (US) each. I said no to the pleasant vendor (who knew 2 Tagalog words - Mahal/expensive and Mura/cheap). I was not her first Filipina customer. It wasn't my first market rodeo either :P


I told her, I would just like to buy silk scarves for home (another haggling story for another day). She then told me that if I'd get 2 of the kaftans, she'd sell them to me for $8 a piece. Still told her, I was sticking to the 100% silk scarves, made in Cambodia (of course).

we also bought stuff from the stall behind us
She proceeded to ask her assistant to bring out more designs, and styles of dresses. At that point, I really wanted to buy em, but didn't want to cough up the $8 since I know how much those things cost, based on our last trip to Thailand. I went about picking scarves and even checked out fridge magnets, never letting on that I really wanted those dresses in the first place.

fridge magnets are cheaper at the Old Market

We then started talking about what country we were from, how old was my son and other random things, when she cut to the chase and said, "if you buy more than 2 dresses, I'll make the price even cheaper".  I looked at her straight in the eye and said, without pause: "how cheap?"

the pile on the left just kept on growing and growing :P

She smiled, thought she had me, and said $6. I told her "mahal" (expensive in Tagalog, the main dialect in the Philippines), and decided on the scarves and magnets.

haggling/poker face - on! Loved this shop owner's sales talk :)

This time, I had her. She relented. She told me I could bring the dresses home for 5 pieces at $20. At $4 each, it was 60% cheaper already. She also told me she was making a 50 cent profit only, since I was her first customer (we Asians can be sooo superstitious, where the first customer is said to cause luck throughout the day).

hello my lovelies

Since I was her buena mano, I decided to pick up more stuff. I was able to get MAX and Phil's cotton shirts (traditional) at 50% off from when I first inquired, the scarves were also discounted to about 60% off too and the rest, about 30% less.

fans kept MAX cool while I haggled

Got the smaller stuff (bookmarkers, keychains, wallets etc) from another stall at 30% of the original price. I never knew I had it in me. Apparently, the best way to haggle, is to not try hard at all!

keeping cool while the folks get some pampering

A couple of plastic bags later and $70 poorer, I had bought my souvenirs and gifts for home, and got to buy the nicer ones at that :) We didn't get to have lunch in the food stalls inside the market, but walked the 2 minute distance to Pub Street. I also got a wonderful foot massage soon after lunch, while Phil got a fish spa, in one of the mini massage centers around the market. Having a stroller, MAX pretty much sat through his ordeal (Mama's shopping). We also picked up a bug repellent spray at a nearby pharmacy and hoarded some Hirudoid (scar remover that I use that has not been sold in the Philippines since I gave birth to MAX).

#1  must have when you go out


fish spa at the Old Market

At 3 pm, our tuktok driver Sarath, came back to pick us up, but not after I bought some nice guavas from a local vendor. All in all, it was a pretty awesome day.

a 5 minute ride away, this is the best way to get to the Old Market


all in a day's work

BTW, the night market carries more dry goods in their stalls. They also sell roughly the same stuff as the Old Market.


From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours!




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