Before I went to Bali I didn’t envisage myself being an avid shopper and while I didn’t go over the top, I did indulge. After all, old habits die hard. The first shopping expedition I went on I didn’t buy ONE thing for myself. I got some clothes for my son and a couple of t-shirts for The Surfer upon his request as he’d not taken many clothes with him and he was watching the children.
As we were staying near Kuta we went to the Discovery shopping centre opposite Waterbom Park and they had sales on in a department store and on my mental shopping list were summer clothes for JJ as I know that he hasn’t got many things that will fit him for our next summer. Consequently I hadn’t brought many clothes over for him so it was a case of having to buy stuff for him. I got a couple of pairs of shorts and a couple of t-shirts for the equivalent of about $10 Australian each and as they were good quality clothes I was pretty happy with that.
While on the department store tangent I ended up buying three pairs of bras in another place. Bra shopping there compared to here is quite different. For a start, they have absolutely loads of stock and they have loads of stock that was on special. As I like buying things on special here the choice of stock is nearly always limited and my size in bras just isn’t around. The other thing was that there were people to help dig out the correct size for me, they didn’t fit me, but at least I had lots of things to try on. So I have three brand spanking new pairs of bras and let me tell you that trying things on in a warm dressing room when you’re a bit sweaty is hard work.
I didn’t bother with trying to buy other clothes because of the sizes. I’m an average sized Australian woman, about a 12-16 depending on what the item or brand is, and Balinese women are a lot more petite so clothes are catered more for them. And really, I have a pile of skirts and tops in my wardrobes and drawers at home – do I really need more?
It took me a couple of days to even contemplate doing the haggling thing. I’ve done it before in Israel and India but that was a long time ago so I had to build up mentally for it. I had a massage on the beach one day and in addition to people massaging, there’s people trying to sell you stuff too. On the beach near our hotel the women all wore caps with their name on it. They’d bend down before me and tell me their name and ask me my name so they could try and strike a rapport with me. If they’d had their way they would have been talking to me while I had my massage but I asked that I not be disturbed during it and I would be more than happy to talk business after the massage.
It’s all very well trying to do business with one person at a time but everyone wants to sell you some stuff so while you’re trying to look at one lot of things there’s someone else there asking you to look at their items. It can get very confusing and I wonder if that’s not their ploy?
I loved this sign. Not only did it have my name, the shop has set prices and No Bullshit.
I enjoyed the whole process of haggling the few times I did it in Bali. You choose your items and then you ask how much. They always give you an inflated price and you counter with a really low price. They fall about the floor laughing at your first offer and they come down a bit from their original price and so on and so forth. This process can take a while so you want to be pretty sure you actually want the stuff you’re haggling for. But it’s all done in good humour and usually everyone walks away happy at the end.
On one of our last days we were in Kuta and we’d all separated but I wanted to buy some sarongs and things as presents and I thought buying in bulk would be the go so I called The Surfer and arranged to meet up with him. We walked down to Kuta Centre and JJ was ahead of me holding a kite we’d just bought. A man came out of a shop and took JJ’s hand and took him inside the shop. I didn’t freak out as I might have in another place and when I caught up with him the man was trying to sell JJ some string for the kite. I couldn’t be bothered buying string when I knew we could get it at home so told him I wasn’t interested. The whole time were at Kuta Centre this man was still trying to sell me string.
The Surfer was already at a shop and had made his purchases. When he told me how much he’d paid I thought he’d paid way too much but hey, it’s his money. However I had hoped we could do a deal with my purchases as well. I picked out some sarongs, some bags and a dress. A dress that one of the stallholders told me would fit a large woman because it was stretchy. Not a very good salesman as I could have been very offended by this but he obviously didn’t realise that western woman can be a bit funny about their size. I ended up settling on a price and at least at this stage they’d offered me a chair and some water so I was comfortable. Maybe that’s what they do to get more money from you!
A couple of days later I went with The Surfer to a beach stall so he could buy a couple more things and I’m sure that if I wasn’t there he would have paid a lot more. As it was, the stallholder chucked in a couple of extra things so we probably still paid a good price. It was probably the best business she did all day. It would be a lonely existence in a little hut on the beach and quite windy too as we were down near Nusa Dua and it was constantly windy there.
I had some room to spare in my suitcase at the end of the trip so obviously I didn’t go overboard but I was pretty happy with my purchases, and I even managed to buy some presents for people.