Wednesday, 10 February 2010


I'm not sure if the market stall holder in this photo is telling the buyer what he can do with his offer or if he is asking for $2! Back in the 1960s, bartering was a way of life. You would start at about half what the seller was asking and between you, you would haggle to a price somewhere in between. This way both parties were happy. If you were unhappy with the price, you would walk off but you could always guarantee that the seller would call you back. Whatever the price was, you always felt that you got a good deal. The market stalls were great places for bartering as was Change Alley but it seemed that everywhere we went, they were happy to reduce their prices. When I went back to Singapore in 1990, I tried to barter again. I found that I was just laughed at, things had changed! People enjoyed trying to get a bargain and the locals expected it anyway so put their prices up to start off with. I remember when we first got there, my parents were looking for a table and chairs. They saw some they liked and asked how much they were. Sometimes, you would get ridiculously high prices because the locals knew that you had just arrived by how white you were! The reply was ‘Two Dollar Fifty, Missy!’ My mum was surprised and turned to my dad and said ‘Two Dollars Fifty!’, thinking it was very cheap. The man in the shop thought that she thought they were expensive and instantly reduced the price to two dollars! They couldn’t have made much profit in the shops because they always gave all of us a drink and if you didn’t have a car, they would take you and the furniture back home for free! I'm sure that many people got a bargain and there must be souvenirs from Singapore all over Britain because of this. Unfortunately, after 40 or so years, much of it seems to have ended up in charity shops!

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