Getting what you pay for…

A recent conversation between a friend and a pharmacist in a country not to be named (it is not Thailand):

Friend: Do you have any cipro?
Pharmacist: Yes. Which would you want?
Friend: What?
Pharmacist: We have the Indian kind or the German one?
Friend: Oh. German, please.
Pharmacist: But the Indian is much cheaper.
Friend: I w.a.n.t t.h.e G.e.r.m.a.n v.e.r.s.i.o.n
Pharmacist: German very expensive!
Friend: That’s fine!!!

Sale Season

As far as I can tell from my limited tracking, it is now generally a huge department store/mall-wide “end of season” (what season?) sale time. Clothing that are generally overpriced even on American standards are marked down as much as 75%.

Warning, though, the lower marked clothing are not available to try on. So you either better be a very good guesser of sizing or a professional shopper to already know what fits. Being neither, I got pretty lucky when I bought three knit shirts ranging from $5 to $12 a piece.

No a bad deal given that the quality of department store goods tend to be better as the expression “you get what you pay for” truly applies in Bangkok. My $3 sandals bought in a stand in the weekend market have been, well, $3 quality. Which is why I bulk up on some cheaper quality goods, treating them as discardable consumables. If I weren’t so uninterested in shopping at the moment, I would actually be browsing the department stores more to get some better clothing whilst they are on sale and still available.

Pirated DVDs

It’s no secret Southeast Asia offers a huge hub of pirated DVDs.

I’ve been asking some travelers about how much the different areas offer a single DVD for. Approximate prices, factoring in fluctuation of the current exchange.

Cambodia: US$1.50
Indonesia: US$0.70
Malaysia: US$2.50
Taiwan: US$2.50
Thailand: US $3

Some tidbits I found out in my highly unscientific research:
– Buyers should always ask about quality, usually expressed in percentages.
– Sellers are generally very honest about the quality.
– Prices are hard to negotiate because competition amongst vendors have been fierce enough to reach a stalemate. But it doesn’t mean don’t try.
– Most vendors will pop the DVD in a tv to demonstrate if asked.
– Captioning/Subtitles are a hit or miss.
– HD is a hit or miss.
– For an entire city, there can be as little as two or three original pirated DVD providers. The rest are just copies from the same sources.
– Price is per DVD, regardless of movie or TV show. TV show DVDs are extremely popular since many shows aren’t offered here on tv (see post about available tv channels).

annnnnnd, I’m back online

onThank god. My apartment’s cable tv package is rather pathetic. Here’s a channel listing:

Ch 01 some fuzzy channel
Ch 02 NBT, Thailand’s state-run channel
Ch 03 Star Sports
Ch 04 ESPN
Ch 05 BBC
Ch 06 Star Movies
Ch 07 Cinemax
Ch 08 HBO
Ch 09 CNN
Ch 10 channel cannot be decoded
Ch 11 CNBC
Ch 12 Animal Channel
Ch 13 True Series
Ch 14 Thai V3
Ch 15 Thai TV5
Ch 16 some Thai channel
Ch 17 some Thai channel
Ch 18 some Thai channel
Ch 19 Cartoon Network
Ch 20 History Channel

It must be some foreigner package because of the sheer number of English-speaking channels. The channels switch around. I swear, there had been a Hallmark channel earlier when they first activated my account. And channels go out with a “card read error” type of message every now and then, like channel 10 at the moment.

You get what you pay for, I suppose, at the fat rate of 250 baht per month.


I saw a woman on the sidewalk with a sewing machine. I decided to try to live as Bangkok people do and dropped off a pair of slacks that needed hemming with one such seamstress.

Picked it up and paid a surprising 50THB (most sidewalk vendors selling any food or service charge 10THB for any one sale). Coworkers later told me it might be because I chose a seamstress on a rather high-class street.

I was disappointed about the quality. It looked like any home hemming job that my mother (but now I) could do, with dimpled seams all the way around. I commented on my reaction to a coworker.

His response: “You paid $1.50 to a girl with a sewing machine on her lap on the sidewalk. What did you expect?”