Day 112 - Bazaar Games

July 28th, 2015

My view from the shower
It’s Game day! Yes, that’s right, Game day! And I have no plan!  Shimou proposed that we go into the Ubud Market in search of a gift for one another to commemorate the trip. It’s on! Price limit: $100,000 Rupiah!

Entrance to Babi Guling
But first, I must wake up. The room is bathed in sunlight, which makes my inner vampire wretch. The curtains - thin, sheer, white - do a wonderful job of making the room bright and lively, starting at 6am or so. I manage to sleep through it until around 8:30am and start playing around on my phone because the wifi is working as it should. Shimou had picked up a portable battery charger, so I’m no longer as much of an energy vampire as a data vampire. Wifi? Where!? Gimme!

We pack our things, and call Nick to take us to one of the stops that Shimou had wanted since we arrived: Babi Guling. Nick works in Ubud, and did well by us when we first arrived, so why not? Plus, he brought us to the coolest places! On to Babi Guling: after considering what happens as a result of this particular stop, I'm glad we did it on the final day. The cabbie who dropped us the day before said it would be $40 to the airport (Shimou swears it was $30). We knock back our coffees and hop into the cab.

Babi Guling is Indonesian suckling pig, I think. I was never quite clear on what it was, but I know Shimou was very excited about trying it since the last time she came. I figured we should at least try to fit it in for brunch. It was good, but not really my thing, though she really liked it. I think eating fried pork skin to be kind of… uh, gross, but to each their own. I like when others like the stuff I don't, and vice versa - we each get more of what we want.

An outdoor part of the Bazaar
Scooters are Popular here
On to the *Bazaar! 100,000Rp is the limit, with some wiggle room. It’s hard to get anything decent for that rate unless you really push the vendors. Here’s where I learned some bartering lessons. I’m not sure if having little money made the training better, or if having more money and getting to play more often would have been better. In either case, while looking for gifts, I only went to a handful of stalls, largely ignoring the shopkeepers because as soon as you acknowledge them, they will hound you. Hell, they follow you around and try to push stuff on you the moment you’re in their vicinity. I keep the book The Paradox of Choice in mind: the more choices we have, the longer we deliberate, and the easier/longer we have to return something, the less satisfied we will be. I look through a few stores and eye up this small, hand-woven (so they claimed) wicker basket. Round, tight sealing lid, about the size of a semi-squashed softball. Le the game begin.

I’m actually not really sure I want this thing, but no prices are listed anywhere, forcing me to ask. Starting price: $120,000 ($12 AUD). Ah, that’s alright. I’ll look around and come back. Immediately, she starts dropping the price.

“First customer! Lucky, lucky! you’re good luck, 80,000!”
“No, that’s alright, I’m just going to look around,” I gently decline, attempting to place the item back
“Ok, ok, 60,000” she says, blocking my hand from putting it down. Yeah, 50% off sounds doable. Final Price: $60,000.

A semi-covered stall
Shimou and I bump into one another just after I sneak the purchase into my messenger bag. She’s worried she won’t find anything I like, but I'm not concerned. I still want to find something to put inside the spheroid. "Don't follow me" she instructs.

Across the cramped hallway, past the extremely bored-looking woman resting head-on-hand-on-knee, I bend closer to a pair of earrings. I had given her a pair earlier that she seemed to like, and I know what colours she likes to wear. Let’s see if my taste holds up. Looking at one pair of stretched droplet earrings, silver, the bored woman comes over and tries to upsell me to another, larger pair that look exactly the same. She’s asking $180,000. Almost double our original limit, I'm willing to walk. They could be a good size to fit in the box, but not for that price. I'm legitimately trying to walk away, and she’s aggressively pushing me. She asks a counter price, leading me to say 90k, 50% off. She balks at it, but after enough insistence that I'm leaving, she finally says she'll part with it for $100,000. Sweet deal.

The whole situation made me think of two things: 

  • Nick told us that the average worker in a cafe would make 50,000Rp per day. That’s $5 AUD, or about 4.78 CAD / 3.66 USD at time of writing. The average rent for a mediocre apartment is round 1 million Rp per month. Knowing this, I consider how much this woman made off my sale. Was I taking advantage? Doubtful, since she wouldn't have accepted the offer. Suppose she bought the earrings at 80k. At the price I bought, she made 20k, which is 2/5 of a daily wage of someone at a cafe, and she did so within 5 minutes. Sure, if another guy came along and took the initial price, she could have made 100k instead of 20k. 20 is better than 0.
  • A story I heard a few times over the years about an American business negotiating with a Japanese business. I don't remember the exact details, but the broad strokes go something like this: The Americans want to hire the Japanese to manage some aspect of their business and set a price. The Japanese simply don't react. The Americans interpret this negatively, and immediately start back-pedalling, raising the amount they'd be willing to pay. The Japanese still don't react. The Americans end up raising it to the point that their margin is dangerously low and say it's their final offer. The Japanese accept. It was a cultural misunderstanding - the Americans were used to negotiating with other Americans, which would be a continual back-and-forth discussion that would more likely be on the side of heated than frigid. In that circumstance, silence meant disapproval. The Japanese, however, were contemplating. They wanted to fully consider the prospect before coming back with a response, but were not given enough time to think. I’m sure it didn't take long for them to realize saying nothing was a formidable strategy.
Best shot I could get while driving on the highway
After finishing my purchasing, I settled on a stoop, writing, while waiting for Shimou to finish. Nick picked us up shortly afterward. During the 1.5h trip to the airport, we exchanged our gifts. She bought me this better - and cheaper - version of a kimono I saw in a shop the day before (they were asking $35 AUD, and she got it for $9) and a utensil set with chopsticks, placemats, and soy sauce bowls. If people didn't think I was a weeaboo before, they'll probably think it now**. Think what you want, they were very nice gifts, and I’ll keep them for as long as I’m able. 

At the airport, we said farewell to Nick and grabbed a picture with him. We wished each other well, and wandered through airport security, chugging all the water we had been carrying up to that point. The flight itself took off shortly after we caught the bus from the terminal to the plane. I taught Shimou the basics of chess, and she taught me some more vocabulary in mandarin. During the turbulence, I would distract her by asking questions about fond memories or about her favourite things. This was as much to distract her as it was me, really. There’s really nothing you can do at those times, anyway.

We land, spend some time in the duty free, and change to warmer clothes. Lee and Ella graciously picked us up, and we snagged Joy on the way home. Around this time, I’m starting to get painful cramps that keep getting stronger. I figure it’s just from eating garbage and sitting uncomfortably for the past half day. Wrong.

I spend some of night groggily editing a post for the next day with chattering teeth. The rest is spent between the toilet, and shivering under several layers of thick blankets until I can stop my teeth chattering long enough to fall asleep***. 

*It’s actually called the Ubud Market, but I like the term Bazaar and will stick with it for pun reasons.
**Japan's cool, but I'm not obsessed with it.
***My temp was around 37.8C at this time, normal being 37. It got up to 38.5C at one point.
Bonus: A guy selling sim cards
with an ad etched into a rock.

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