About Pandemic Prowling: In this series, Pandemic Prowling, I share stories about my travels across 4 continents (Asia, N. America, S. America, Africa) amidst the outbreak of Covid19.
Onward to Chile?
About the Wiser Next Week Series: These entries will involve posting my book, Wiser Next Week, chapter by chapter, freely available to the public. Additionally, I’ll be recounting a story about something I’ve learned based on the chapter’s topic since the months that have past when the book was published in December 2018.
The Boot Has Hit The Ground
I remember the first leg of my perpetual journey abroad was in Chiang Mai, Thailand which is the largest city in northern Thailand.
I really didn’t know what I was doing, so besides applying for jobs as an English teacher to validate my self worth, I did the standard touristy stuff of site seeing.
One such adventure was seeing the “Long Neck Karens” a people indigenous to neighboring Myanmar but have been politically persecuted and pushed down to northern Thailand. The tribe and the Thai government have an agreement where these people can remain in Thailand for political asylum, but they would need to need to live in an enclosed reserve made to look like a “Long Neck Karen Village. ”
Many people are opposed to such treatment of a people. I have never too concerned myself with politics, so I went to see them.
I made the long walk to the northern outskirts of the city to catch a shared van, I asked a taxi driver (oh no) for directions.
He stared at me speaking English and smiled, waving me over to a big group of all his taxi driving friends. One spoke English and told me one of them would take me.
When the driver wanted me to sit up front not in the 2 rows of back seats and it was just me, I knew something was up. At this point I spoke zero Thai so asked him how much, he said 40 Baht (1.30 USD) in English.
Okay I jumped in.
But part way through the trip, I sensed something was off, so I asked with Google Translate,
“40 Baht? ” It said on my phone
“No, four hundred.” The driver said in barely comprehensible English.
I shook my head refusing to pay, he stopped on the side of the road and told me to get out.
Of course after walking on the side of the remote road by myself for some distance, someone offered me a ride, so I ended up Hitchhiking in Northern Thailand instead (more on that here).
Everything worked out in the end.
I was stupid, what I learned since then on how to repel these extreme demands is as follows:
Ask for objective justification based on facts. Ask logical questions until it looks ridiculous even to them.
My journey back from seeing the Long Neck Karens involved me taking local transportation that cost even less then 40 Baht.
How to Get The Best Price For Anything
There was no need to have such a large price tag for a ride, the taxi driver saw that I was a foreigner and wanted to take advantage. I should have been clever and clear. The price he wanted, then once I found out how much he wanted, I could have gathered information by asking other taxi drivers not in that group for the price quote of local transportation (which was what I was trying to take) or even better, ask some locals, Thais (minus most of the taxi drivers) tend to be very friendly and more then willing to help out.
This lesson has stood me well, I never trust the first price quote, especially if it seems the person sees a lot of foreigners (good English, very eager in ‘helping’ you). I ask people passing by who have no financial incentive so I have a good idea of what to expect whenever purchasing a product or service when pricing is ambiguous.
Here is the “On Negotiation & Influence“ chapter of Wiser Next Week. Take it and implement it into your own life.