Alright, I’ve made my way to Phuket, Thailand. The journey was long and I’m happy to have arrived.
Most of the journey was with Qatar Airways, which was my first experience with them. They flew me to Doha, Qatar and after a 90 minute gap I connected to another flight to Bangkok, Thailand. I got a very positive impression of them – the staff called me “sir”, each flight included a meal with drinks (I always opted for Heineken beer) plus teas and coffees. None of that cheap budget airline shopping or lottery ticket crap required.
The staff asked me if I enjoyed my meal and later one girl took an interest in the book I was reading and asked me about it. The overnight flight provided an eye mask to hide any lights, earplugs, a toothbrush and toothpaste and of course a pillow and blanket. This was all very nice.
The onboard entertainment was good – I watched three movies, listened to music and enjoyed my book. I could get used to this…
I met up with my mates at the airport in Bangkok. And within 2-3 hours we were on our final flight to Phuket. That was a short journey (1 hour in the air) with a very cheap budget airline. It was nowhere near as nice to my previous two flights but OK due to the short duration.
We got to the hotel, which is a bit of a dump. We expected better but maybe it’s what it should be for £33 a night in a twin room. For example the bathroom seems to be someone’s “project”. The showerhead has been plastered or fixed an ungodly amount of times. I’m too scared to adjust it as it’s likely to fall off the wall. We have similar issues with the tap over the sink – the metal tap part hasn’t been secured to the porcelain sink. So every time you turn the tap the entire thing moves. Also, the picture on the TV is horrendous – how do you mess up that? Finally, the walls seem to be very thin – we can hear all the noise from the hallway and neighbouring rooms.
Those things aside, we have a working air conditioning unit and water comes out of the tap.
After making ourselves beautiful, we decided to go check out the beach. As we walked, we discovered how dirty and smelly Phuket is. I expected it to be more Westernised as it gets many tourists but I was wrong. We also decided that we need to buy some travel essentials – beach towels, flip-flops, sunscreen, sunglasses etc.
It wasn’t easy to find flip-flops for my size 45 feet. They didn’t have anything my size in the first few shops. Somehow, as a joke, we decided to haggle with the price when we kinda found something we’d like to buy.
Haggling was very entertaining. For example they asked for 450 THB for flip-flops, I say 250, they counter with 350, I say 275, they say “350 is good price”, I start walking away and then they drop it to 300. I didn’t buy, it was good fun though as we discussed what our next offer would be each time they moved on the price. I did the same in two more places as they priced flip-flops similarly.
Eventually, I ended up with flip-flops at 120 THB (£3) where the lady asked for 150 THB (£3.75) originally from a shop a bit further away.
Out of curiosity, I walked into a few tailor’s shops as well. I wanted to know if I was able to snatch a bargain custom tailored suit for myself.
The first tailor was a poor fit as the chap struggled with English and I didn’t feel comfortable doing any business there. He said good suits start from 6,000 THB (£150).
The second place was similarly priced but the chap had decent English. I spent at least an hour there talking about suits, styles, materials, sampled fabrics etc. I had a much better feeling about this chap even though we noticed he had a massive cockroach roaming around in his shop as we discussed business. He said it would take about a week to get the suit.
His initial price for my selected suit with Polish linen was £200 (the alternative with the cheaper linen material would cost £145) but I got it down to £175. He took my measurements and I gave him a deposit for half of the cost. I will need to come back in two days for “fitting” and then later again to pick up the final product.
In retrospect, I think I should have paid a smaller deposit and visit another two or three tailors before making my consumer purchase decision. Although the Polish linen felt much thicker and the texture was nicer, I’m not sure if it actually is any better or should be more expensive than the thinner type of linen. I will keep you posted.
I must say, although haggling started as a joke and that normally I feel hugely uncomfortable when somebody suggests I should try to get a discount on something, I had a lot of fun and it was so easy. I think the locals expect it and everything is up for negotiation.
Try some haggling, I’m sure it will help you on your FIRE journey. You might even have some fun with it.