Bargaining / haggling can be fun, but it can also be tiring.
In some places, you even haggle when it comes to changing money and the effective exchange rate you will get. For instance, you will change money at one rate, then as they are counting out the money to you they will want to keep the last few notes "for a drink" or something, but this can be up to 10%.
It's funny when the shop owner bangs away some rubbish on a calculator and comes up with some meaningless figure that you are expected to pay.
So much been discussed about bargaining, I will like to share a bit on the "giving money to beggars" part.
For me, I don't give money to beggars. Full stop. Begging is a social problem that the country has to resolve, we don't encourage it. It is not that I am heartless or stingy, in fact, I really pity them. But there is no way to tell whether they are real beggars, or people who just don't want to work and simply beg for easy money. The purpose of not giving money to them is to discourage the able-bodied guys from begging when they can actually look for jobs. Oh, some guys got clever and asked their elderly parents or children to beg! And of course, there are the crippled ones (there were rumours that some were crippled deliberately)...
If your kindheartedness get the better of you and you eventually hand some money to ONE of them, you risk having a MOB running towards you. You can't possibly give money to all of them. So the best is to keep money out of sight and walk away. Look for other ways to help them if you can, but giving out money can put your own safety in jeopardy.
I made a mistake 3 years back when I was in Vietnam. I handed some money to 2 kids about 4 years old, wearing rags. I thought it's ok, only 2. But what happens next scared me, out of nowhere appears some 10 people, kids and adult, running towards me, asking for money. I had to brush them aside and ran away. For all I know, these people could have been hiding and using the kids to "try asking" the foreigners. What if one of them carries a knife and intended to rob... unpleasant thought, but we always want to travel safe.
Thanks ngrick for answering my question! Im usually a sucker for giving money away to the homeless but really don't want to be bombarded like that, that sounds quite scary!
One of the best ways to get a good price almost anywhere in the world is go to a market when it first opens. Most cultures have a superstition that making a sale early in the day means good money for the rest of the day. But this extends even further as the day goes along the vendor knows if they are going to make the quota or not. If you know your not going to make the quota then you don't care. If you already made it why bother to bargain?
I even noticed this myself when i used to sell stuff at art sales. At the beginning of the day before i made many sales i was willing to cut many kinds of deals. But by the end of day not at all. Maybe because i was mentally checked out, or i was just done for the day. All that matters is going early in the morning does save money in most cases.
When it comes to begging i think it depends on the location. Like the above poster i never give money to children or people coming up to my face. But there are locations in the world were begging is part of the culture, such as many Buddhist countries where people are suppose to beg while on a pilgrimage. Although mobs of children begging is not part of any culture that i know directly about.
[ Edit: Edited on Mar 5, 2008, at 8:36 AM by Lavafalls ]
sound advice ....it always seems that the thing about the early bird and worms is right. when a Thai market vendor makes the first sale they will take the money and "bless" the rest of the products with it for good fortune.
I would also say that the end of the day can be good....if there is stuff there you want.....a quick sale at the end of the day means less to take home or pack away and of course some goods are perishable so have to go.......(you also get your petrol money on the last sale).
To reply to your begging question, what I do is always carry with me some packets of biscuits so that whenever someone begs you can give them some food. If they are really needy of food they will be very happy with being given biscuits and especially the kids love being given food. There is also a scam in some countries where these poor unfortunate souls are owned by gangs and made to beg everyday. However they dont get to keep the money as it goes straight to the gangs at the end of the day. They are kept in poverty and live terrible lives so giving them money is pointless. Again by giving them food they will at least get to eat it straight away and it will probably be the only decent food they get all day.
[ Edit: Edited on Mar 12, 2008, at 1:19 PM by bwiiian ]
Bwiian is right about the begging - I have sat by the river in Vientiane many evenings the last 18 months and noticed the beggars - their numbers swell from about 4 people in the low tourist season to about 50 in the peak Nov-April season.
Most come down to Vientiane from other towns to take advantage of the free money but are by no means desperate people. And the grubby kids are sent out by their parents, and 'grub-up' to get ready for work - You see the same kids clean and smiling when they are not 'working'.
It is largely a commercial enterprise - as it is in tourist destinations in Europe and elsewhere. Remember the british journalist that begged in london at christmas time a few years ago and collected in excess of 500 pounds per day?