u think u got it cheap at Petaling Street?

i am not fond of flea markets. i have recently realized that if you are not careful, you could go home with stuff you cannot remember the reason for buying them in the first place.

but people have been insisting that Petaling Street in Kuala Lumpur is a must-see. and because there was a good an hour and a half to spare before i hit the bar for salsa, it was quite a good option to take.

i and flea markets do not work.

i cannot tolerate the drama. of the merchant shouting. the temper rising. and the ridiculous prices they initially quote the tourist. i cannot tolerate all these that in the end, all i bought was a dozen of key chains to distribute to people back in PI (yeah, i do not have that many friends).

the behaviour of the merchants in flea markets are the same everywhere. they tend to be very aggressive. they also do not like it when u start to haggle and in the end would rather not buy their stuff. especially when they just cut their price by 2/3.

“how much is this?” i asked, looking at the pashmina displays.

“RM59.” the merchant answered. that is about Php780. they’ve got to be kidding me. i could buy the exact, same product at the malls in PI for Php250.

“oh.” i said and began to walk away.

“hey, give me your price.” he said in his chinese accent and handed me his calculator. “tell me your price. if its good, i give it to you. if not, i don’t. easy as that.”

“what is your last price?” i inquired. i kinda like the pashmina. and you know, the rule of the thumb when you are shopping at the flea market is: cut the initial quote at least 2/3 of the price.

“RM35.” he said, cutting it by almost 40%.

i shook my head. “too expensive.”

he handed me his calculator again. “tell me your price.”

“RM13.” i said. yes, i can get it for RM15 at Greenhills Shopping Center. why pay for more in KL?

he shook his head. “no.” he punched some numbers on his calculator and showed it to me. “RM25.”

“can’t do. RM13. that is how much it costs back to where i came from.” of course, i lied. but he doesn’t know that.


“thank you. but that’s my last offer.” i said and walked away.

he started shouting. “come back! come back! RM17.”

i shook my head. “no, thank you.”

“RM15! you come back here. RM15, last price.” his voice was louder now. and he was angry. he was starting to complain that he had given me a bargain; that he already lowered his price. and that it was just RM2 more than my offer. he was angry and it showed and i couldn’t understand it. what was he angry about? he did insist to hear my price and i gave it.

the bastard.

by now, he was shouting on top of his lungs it started to terrify me. that drama is exactly why i avoid flea markets. it is too much for my taste. and although, my former colleague was right in saying the drama is part of the entire experience and that the anger and the shouting are nothing more but an automatic attitude, it makes me uncomfortable.

and he wasn’t the only one. i was picking some shirts for my brother and found some nice ones (imitations) which was initially quoted at RM39. i haggled for RM9 because i knew i can get the same one in Divisoria for that price anyway. the merchant lowered it down to RM13.

my companion, who speaks the merchant’s language, told him in broken chinese. “sorry, man…she can get it for RM9 in her country.”

of which he replied in chinese. “don’t tell her this but she is a foreigner. i cannot quote her a cheaper price.”

so, well, i didn’t buy the teeshirt, either. why would i? i can get it at RM9 in PI. doesn’t make sense buying it at RM13 in some other country’s flea market for the experience.

and so, i left the flea market with nothing more than a dozen of key chains which were of Petronas Towers… which were something i cannot buy in Greenhills or Divisoria. seriously, i could have skipped visiting Petaling Street. for the experience? no, thanks.

the day after, i went to the Central Market and found out that the key chains i bought in Petaling Street were only RM1 cheaper than the ones inside that souvenir shopping mall. this, however, was a surprise for me for i was warned that the stuff from that place is not cheap; it is after all, not a flea market. the key chains i bought were still good purchases, in a way, though i realized i could have got the key chains cheaper if i haggled for more considering how much it costs in Central Market. going up to the second floor, i found out the pashminas were being sold for RM15.

who would have guessed?

i bought from that shop instead. and why not? for the same price, there were no angry merchants shouting. there were no ridiculous initial quotes. there were none of those drama and tension.

that’s just me. i travel that way.


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