Trip report part 3 by cooked chicken

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Jan 7th, 2006, 04:05 AM
  #21
 
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Hi Kimburu,

I've really enjoyed your trip report -- if you ever give up your day job, you might want to consider travel writing! I haven't laughed so hard in awhile. Your experiences with G are the stuff that travel legends are made of -- I'm sure he will furnish much amusement to your friends and family.

I think the bit you wrote about bargaining is great, particularly for those of us who don't come from places where bargaining is the norm. It's important to enter into bargaining in the right spirit, and keeping in mind that a few dollars means very little to you but may mean a lot to the shopkeeper. Unfortunately, there are some people who get obsessed with saving as many pennies as possible and lose sight of the bigger picture.

I would say your chicken is well-done now!

Cheers,
Julian
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Jan 7th, 2006, 06:05 AM
  #22
 
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Kimburu, I hope youíll soon return to Kenya. Iím looking forward to your next trip report

I thought about staying at the Carnation in Nakuru, but Iím happy I went to Mbweha Camp where I could go for solo walks in a conservancy outside the NP. The only reason for staying in town is to save money.

Your wife could check out the book Colloquial Swahili by Donovan McGrath and Lutz Marten.


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Jan 7th, 2006, 06:22 AM
  #23
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Kimburu:
I enjoyed your report very much. I also appreciated the advice about bargaining. I feel uncomfortabe about it but you have given me a different perspective to make it more enjoyable.

Does anyone have an opinion about whether there is a general rule of thumb (for TZ specifically) about what percentage of the first offer you should expect to pay?
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Jan 7th, 2006, 07:39 AM
  #24
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Thank you for the book tip Nyamera.

Re. bargaining, I originally had a paragraph about how some people are in fact basically trying to overcharge you massively, especially those in the roadside stalls (I didn't mention the hotel gift shops because everyone knows that anyway) but I cut it because I don't know enough about Kenya in particular and so should not comment. Does anyone who spends a lot of time in Kenya know who really owns them and where the money goes to?

bat
Regarding how much the first price offered and the fair price for both parties differs I of course have no idea for Tanzania. However I am sure there is no fixed rule for tourists - and if you try to bring everyone down by the same amount you will end up rewarding those who are gouging the most and punishing the gentler souls, which I am sure you don't want to do. You just have to get an idea of what prices are another way.

Of course what Julian said about it not being much anyway is always to be kept in mind if unsure. I always say to my mother when she is in Thailand that if she is genuinely, deep inside, happy with the price, that is a good price - even if you find out it wasn't the best later. This works with her and with my sister since they confessed they often bought something even though they sensed they were being overcharged simply because they were not sure and they didn't want to be mean. They don't do this now and are much happier at the tourist stalls as a result. Sometimes they do better than me and sometimes worse, but they are always happy with their purchases.

One way to get some measure of price would be to see how much a few things of which you have an idea of normal price cost in a lodge gift shop and work out their normal mark up. Then apply the same to the kind of thing you would want to buy and you will get some idea of what they bought them for. Take account of quality, and then by asking around various vendors you can see what kind of a mountain there is to climb. Generally I found that in Kenya, like in Thailand, if anyone has quoted more than double the price you think is right the best thing is to walk away. Also, if they ask you to make an offer, this is a bargaining tactic and you should refuse and insist that if they want to make a sale they should start from a fair price.

One universal is the richer people think you are the more you are likely to be overcharged. I quickly learned that the word "Serena" would put 20% onto any first offer. Pristine safari gear and a really big camera are probably going to cost you too. We got noticably lower first offers in the matatu than in the 4WD customised safari van!

Another factor is the time of year. If its high season and the place is heaving with fresh things straight off the plane and not yet even able to convert shillings to dollars, you are more likely to be offered a very high price. A quieter time will produce the need to make sales and more genreous first time offers. This of course is simply commerce.

Taking a set of the cheap stone coasters/drink mats with safari animal motif as an example, my own observations of prices offered were as follows:

Roadside stall w. safari van and still pristine safari gear - 1600 shillings

Roadside stall w. matatu and more "rugged" look - 1200 shillings

Souvenir market in Westlands with rugged look - 800 shillings

Actual everyone is happy price - maybe around 550 shillings? (I bought at 600 and he said he'd give me another set for 500 -but business was slow so let's say he wouldn't normally sell a set at that price).

May not help much in practice - but it at least gives you some idea of what's going on.
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Jan 7th, 2006, 07:39 AM
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Paul
Have loved reading your report on this and the other thread... what a fun reporting style and how wonderful to see your wife's transformation from cynic to full-blown Africaphile in the space of just a few days... so glad you'll both soon be back and old-hands on the safari circuit!
I remember when I booked the first trip for my husband and I - I'd been to Africa before but he hadn't and didn't really see the appeal but agreed to go because I wanted to. Guess who first asked the question "when are we going again?"?
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Jan 7th, 2006, 07:54 AM
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Kavey

Yes my wife's transformation was quite something.
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Jan 7th, 2006, 10:13 AM
  #27
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Paul:
GREAT shopping advice. It not only gave me a good shopping philosophy it also made me laugh--ie, the more "rugged" the look, the lower the price, the matatu vs the 4WD. Thanks.
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Jan 7th, 2006, 02:32 PM
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Loved the fresh meat and cooked chicken. I laughed out loud at the arm pit in the breeze from the open window description. How lucky to see the giant forest hog, one of my favorites. I enjoyed your wife's evolution into a real safari addict. Great report, glad you'll return, and looking forward to the next report.
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Jan 7th, 2006, 02:40 PM
  #29
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As tempting as it is to purchase items on your first few days of a trip... I suggest to wait. Use the beginning of your trip to assess what's for sale and prices you're being offered. More than likely you will come across the same, similar, even better items down the road a bit, next day, whatever.

As "cooked chicken" says, if you pay what you feel you're prepared to be separated from... it's bought! No regrets and don't pout if you see it elsewhere for less. Everyone of us have experienced this a few times during our travels. With few exceptions the savings is rather minor. In the scheme of your entire safari - a small amount to pay for something you wanted in the first place.

Patience, unless it's something you are likely to never ever see somewhere else. By the time you're into your second week, you're ready.

When in Thailand, as in every country, I love to purchase dolls in traditional clothing. Was in BKK, no luck; in Chiang Mai, no luck; at the Golden Triangle and even into Burma, no luck. Then as we crossed back into Thailand from Burma - a market (what else) and there with my name on them - dolls, dolls and more dolls. I was so excited and so many from which to choose, I may have overdone it, but I was sure happy. Walked away with three 12"-14" porcelain (yes) face painted dolls and all for $24. The salesperson, to my surprise, actually threw in a tiny doll. They were wrapped in bubble, each in a separate box... the only items I hand-carrier on our flights to/from Phuket and both flights back to the States. And I didn't even have to bargain. How much would I have saved? To me $24 was a bargain.

Bargaining isn't for everyone. Plenty of times I've been intimidated, yes! I just walk away, take a few deep breaths and if it is really something I want, go back for more punishment. Best to look at it as "an experience" - you'll have tales to tell and plenty of laughs when you recall it at a later time.

Happy shopping!
 
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Jan 8th, 2006, 05:46 AM
  #30
 
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Paul:
Thank you for your report - and even though there was no shoot-out at the ok corral after being in the "saloon", I had a great time reading it! Like others, I laughed aloud at some of your descriptions.

Cyn
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Jan 10th, 2006, 03:52 PM
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This is really laugh out loud funny! The 1 LV bag = 3 nights at Finch Hattons equation is great. Will you be posting some pics too? BTW I was told I'm a mzungu too though I would've never thought that term would apply to me as well.
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Jan 10th, 2006, 04:21 PM
  #32
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Thanks Patty
I will tell my wife she is mzungu - not sure if she will be pleased. I will post pictures soon but have to work out how to do it and find some time to spare. Have got as far as registering with Kodak, but no further yet. I plan to post them in this thread, but with a separate link mail. Would that be the best way to do it?
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Jan 10th, 2006, 07:22 PM
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Yes, I think adding them to this thread would be the easiest way for anyone to find them in the future. Looking forward to seeing your photos!
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Jan 11th, 2006, 05:34 AM
  #34
 
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I really enjoyed reading your trip report - thanks! Was it fun to see your wife "converted"? Before my first safari I counted on no more than "worst case scenario" for everything and it turned out to be awesome.
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Jan 11th, 2006, 06:50 AM
  #35
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Yes, it was really nice to see her converted. However, I wish I hadn't bought her Fieldings guide in Nairobi. I peeked at her notes yesterday and concluded that a lot of work is going to be required to make the next trip affordable (she has a romantic soul) - even with her bag savings. From G the safari man to dressing for dinner is quite a leap!



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