Bribing, Police-rip-offs and bargaining


When it comes to this topic, I don't want to give you a bad image of the people you're about to meet. Official Policemen, random traders or other people. We just have to put a few facts straight. You probably earn more money in one day then they do in one week, or worse. In general, life is not as generous as for us in other parts of the world. For some people every dollar counts, while you buy things not thinking about whether they're really necessary or not. What I'm trying to say is, that people in other countries have to make a living with what they're given. They might take the chance to use a "rich" tourist to earn a few more bucks.

Bribing officers

When traveling/backpacking through Asia you will find yourself in a weird situation sooner or later. Especially when driving yourself, say on a scooter or in a car. You will get pulled out by the police for no reason. Random control they say. It might be an random control, but the odds they spotted you as a tourists are high. It might be a wise decision to put in a few bucks inside your passport when handing it over. It's not a bribe exactly, but let's say a nice gesture. You don't want to get into trouble for a scratch on your tire, do you? Or for going too fast, whilst going as fast as everyone else? Be generous, don't get upset over that.


Sooner or later you will visit a market or a store which is not McDonalds, Starbucks or Walmart. Especially on weekly or tourist markets it's easy to be spotted as a tourist. Not only because of your movement, your skin-colour or your clothing. For people who have grown up in Western Europe or similar, it might be not as typcial as for others to bargain. It's considered stupid to buy something for the first mentioned price. At the same time you don't want to be insulting offering a price which is way underpriced. You have to find the thin line between that. "Guess the price!" It is indeed a funny game.
A short example of my experience: I was in the need for a pair shorts which I wanted to buy at a local Thai market. Looking like a usual European "wealthy" tourist I walked up to the tradesman and asked for the price of a pair of shorts I picked out before. "800 Baht". At first nodded and looked at the shorts again. After trying them on, to make him notice I am serious, I pointed out a few loose threads, and asked for a price reducement. 600 it was. I knew that was still to much as I overheard them talking to another Person in Thai, the usual price was 200 Baht. Well, not for me. Well, I knew I would not buy them for that price, so I faked disinterest, gently thanked and walked away. As turning around I hear, the guy saying "450". I turn and look sceptical. There were two shorts I liked, so I asked for a pack price. At last we made a deal for two pairs of shorts for 800 Baht. Not saying that was the greatest deal, but it still was cheap as hell for me, and double the price for the tradesman. A deal.