I love a good bargain. Who doesn't? The feeling of buying something for a lot less than what's written on the price tag is just heavenly. I know a good deal when I see one, as much as I know when I'm being ripped off.
When travelling, I love to go to those street vendors hawking cheap, small memorabilia. Of course, it's good to be street smart when buying something off the street, especially since as a tourist you have this invisible brand on your forehead that says 'cash cow', very alluring to those key-chain sellers looking to milk you dead.
Over the years, I've learned to be more insistent when bargaining. When I went to Hong Kong, the racist Malay in me finally surfaced when I came across these Chinese vendors who tried to pass off obviously fake Emporio Armani belts for the real thing (stray threads don't lie) and sell them at exorbitant prices. I don't really fancy counterfeit stuff anyway, but I might have considered buying one if they had at least had the courtesy to admit that it was fake. I don't know the first thing about bargaining, so I tend to get ripped off pretty easily.
But while there are street vendors who try to make an easy penny out of unsavvy tourists like me, there are others who are just trying to make an honest living. When I went to Bali, there was this lady carrying a baby in one arm, and a handful of souvenir stuff on the other. She offered us 4 t-shirts for 5000 rupiahs (around 2 ringgit) which is sinfully cheap by any standard. I took 8 t-shirts, but one of my friends kept telling me I was getting ripped off since I could have gotten them for a lot less.
You know what? I don't care. This lady has been walking for hours with a baby in her arm, and all she asks for is 2 ringgit and she's not even begging. I don't crap money, but I know I can afford ten times that amount so why should I insist on an even lower price? That's just cruel. If you can afford to pay for an authentic Balinese whole body massage, you can surely fork out 2 ringgit to buy these t-shirts. Heck, you've paid 90 ringgit for one Hard Rock Café t-shirt and all of a sudden 2 ringgit for four shirts is too expensive?
Of course, I ended up buying those shirts and also some key chains, decorative chinese fans, pens and useless shiny shells (all these for less than 15 ringgit which my friend still considered exorbitant) but when the lady breathed out 'thank you' and looked at her baby with a smile that says 'we'll have something good for dinner tonight', I instantly knew that it was the best 15 ringgit I've ever spent.