Thursday, April 2, 2009

Do we really need discount?

We would like to thank Mr Sim Tien Leng, Derek Yap (Camphora Pte Ltd) and John Tan (My BMT mate) for sponsoring us to the most expensive touristic sight that we would be visiting in 2-3days time: Machu Picchu. Thank you! Your contribution really lighten our burden and worry.
So careless of me, when we left Villa Kunterbunt, I left my camelbak there. Kind Martina and Miriam went to the town to sent it to me via bus transport. It arrived 5 days after we reached Iquique. Thank you!

50km east of Iquique, there is a UNESCO world heritage. It’s along our route to Peru. it is a deserted chemical factory from 1872. nothing special, just abit ghostly. I came here for a treasure hunt. there are some treasure hunt games online where we could find ‘treasures’ using GPS co-ordinate.
This is what i found.

Hope Too´s new load with a spare tire.

Chile is so different. I remembered once when Sam and I were packing our bike in the public, one guy came to us and spoke Spanish. he handed a brochure about some touristic information. I was annoyed because usually in Argentina, when we are busy, someone will try to talk to us, ask about our identity, or try to sell us some tourist package. So I tried to give this guy a cold feeling that I’m not interested in what he was doing. In the end, he just left the brochure on Hope Too and walked away. He was just a passerby that wanted to give us touristic information to help us. I was wronged about him. I shouldn’t treat them like as how I treat the people from the neighboring countries.

A chinese school in Peru?

The second time was with the Swiss team. Sam and Andreas went into an internet café while Saskia and I watched the bikes on the street. I was sitting on the floor and 2 young kids, about aged 9-10, came to talked to me. I just replied them yes, yes to what ever they said. Saskia turned to them, patiently talked to them in her fluent Spanish. She explained to them where we came from and what were we doing, as like she was doing her profession as a teacher, which she was. One of the kid asked if we have money in Singapore and how it looked like. Well, this question just wake my mind up, 2 little kids want to see my wallet and trying to have some notes from Singapore. I said I do not have any Singapore dollars with me, as a defensive way to a stranger. They waved goodbye.

Half hour later, 2 of them came back and bought each of us a lollipop to make us happy. At that moment, I felt heart broken. I should have not treated them so cold. They were so nice. I was bad.
This is Chile.

This picture was taken by Saskia´s camera. I felt bad about myself and ashame to talk to them. can u see me not in the photo?

I woke up early on the morning where we have to cross the Chile-Peru border in Arica. Here in Arica it laid the world oldest mummy, even older than the one in Egypt but we did not pay a visit. Every border in this country works differently. We had to join the long queue and get our passport stamped out. The immigration officer told me in Spanish that I have to go to level 2 and purchase a piece of paper to fill up for them. Level 2 was a canteen which I bought the paper from the drink operator for 500cpl. Filling the 5 carbon copies of paper took me a short time. All in Spanish but I was now ‘trained’ about the usual question that they will ask on the paper. If unknown questions, just filled with many words and numbers to make it looked official.

This picture got nothing to do with my story.

Immigration done. I have to go to the custom office for Hope Too.

I handed the temporary import permit to the officer, she said that I must have 2 copies of it. I told her that this was what I got when I enter Chile.

‘Oh no! don’t tell me that I have to go back to the entry point, 3000km away to sort it out.’

Luckily the other custom officer were very helpful. They try to understand the situation that I am not having a Chile vehicle and it is not common to happen here. I was invited out of the queue to sit in the office while they kept busy on my papers.

If it were other corrupted countries, it would be a disaster for me.

I just dislike this, when custom officer don’t work things out.

When will we reach Arequepa?

Example: crossing from Argentina to Chile.
I had all the paperwork done for exiting Argentina and Chile border was only 10 meters away. The Chile officer said I have to get a stamp from the Argentina side in order to get into Chile. I walked back but the Argentina officer refused to stamp on my paper and said it was not necessary. I walked back to the Chile officer and told him that the Argentina officer said it was not necessary. The Chile officer said it was necessary! I was stucked in-between. one said yes, the other one said no. guess what I did, I dragged the Chile officer to get out of his seat, walked 10 meters with me to the Argentina officer and make them settle. It happened that the Argentina officer was correct and the Chile officer made some special arrangement for me to get into the country.

Road from Iquequi to Arica. the view when riding, down on our right. It is actually a small village.

Well, this happened only 10 meters away. Remember last year August, entering Bolivia? the Argentina officer said I did not have a proper stamp and wanted me to go back to the Capital, 2000-3000km away to sort it out.

I have to learn to play tricks.

Some times also I had to play luck.

The Peru border wasn’t simple. I was the only one going here and there, getting stamp from him and her. The rest of the people are queueing up orderly. very simple. I was lucky that the Peru officers were very helpful. They had even walked out of their desk to direct me where to go next. I really appreciated.

The Church in Arequipa.

Plaza de armas in Arequipa.

We rode about 10-11 hours to the next town in Peru. Luckily it was all asphalted road but with Hope Too capability, he could only bring me 80km/hr, especially with a new spare tire on the rear and it was mountainous, 2000-3000 meters above sea level.
Sunset was early, about 1745hrs in Peru. The city was a mess. we were spoiled by the Chilean road signage everywhere. Streets were small and 90% of the vehicle in the main city were taxis. we were exhausted when we reach the city, still, we have to navigate in this single lane street, all single way and a city of no signage of street name. We had to make guessing game and trying our luck to find a cheap place to stay and with a safe parking.

Ariquipa was the 2nd largest city in Peru. It was a rest stop for us. We witnessed the Plaza de Armas, which is the best out of many Plaza de Armas we visited in south America. (Plaza de Armas is like a center square of a town). There were some festival or road marches going on. I found it meaningful. They were not protesting but educating the public on abortion. (i mean not supporting abortion.)

When ever we reach a new country or city, we would like to visit the local market. Surprisingly the market here is very similar to Bolivar, and Singapore! I grew up in a market in Singapore. Coming to the market here feels like home. Visiting a market of a country will make you feel the real people of the country.

People here are honest. Market politics are the same. They have the same business along the same row of shop but they do not argue with each other. Shop keepers here are cheerful and high souls.

It is not uncommon to find them gossiping with one and other. Hygiene is generally clean for the local standard. The local will visit the food stalls here. When buying something off the rack, it is usually not necessary to bargain as the price here is very reasonable. They will not mark up the price just because they are dealing with tourist or foreigner. I know that because I grew up in a market. We did not find any foreigners in this big market, maybe they are not used to the smell and do not trust the hygiene.

We continued the journey to Puno, about 300km away which took us 6 hours, excluding 50minutes trying to navigate out of the city of Ariquipa to the right track.

Driving in Peru is very flexible. It is driving in the opposite direction as Singapore. Vehicles here can park on the left or the right of the lane. Usually on the right, sometimes left. When making a turn on a junction, we are allowed to turn left when we are on the right lane or to turn right when we are on the left lane. As the American style of building, the structures are being built in blocks, like paddy field. So when u get a direction to some place, it is easy by saying: straight 3 blocks, left 5 blocks.

The young Peruvians along the march in Plaza de Armas.

Traffic along these blocks are narrow. When it is built like a paddy field, there are many many cross junctions without traffic lights. So, who ever reach the junction first have the right of way.

Many come to Puno to visit the world famous Lake Titicaca. It is the world’s highest navigable lake (what does that means?) and the biggest lake in south America. It is situated above 3800m above sea level.

After our late breakfast, we walked to the lake. Some locals (do u call them touts?) came to us selling tickets to an island named Oros. Price quoted is 20soles (S$10) per person. Usually I would seldom want to take such tourist trips but the Peruvians are so polite. I handed 40soles to him and he passed me 2 set of tickets:

a) boat trip per person (2 ways) 10soles
b) entry to island 2.5soles

he made 15soles extra from me.

After handing the money to him and he passed me the tickets (folded) when we were seated in the boat, he quickly turned away and left.

He was shy about the actual price written on the ticket where he had charged me more. I wasn’t angry, it was his job and I had agreed on the first price he had quoted me.

I was on the boat with all the Peruvians. I saw boat coming back from the island were all blonde. I read a guide book, it says going to the island is better to go in the morning. Lucky me, we skipped the tourist boat.

The folks from the island buying fruits from the vendor on boat that came to visit them.

Upon reaching the Island, we were welcomed by the folks. Their welcome was genuine. I had never seen such hearty welcome before. Not because we are tourist but it feels like a friend. Anyway out of the 11 passenger in the boat, only 2 of us were foreigners.

secretly taking picture of a Peruvian lady.

Their kitchen. they used the dried straw as fuel. I had a glance at other house behind and saw a gas stove.

we were invited to enter the room of one of the folk´s house. they let us try their costume.

Oros Island is built by Schoenoplectus plant, close to Scirpus species. The island, about 20meters by 30 meters, was one of the many group of island in the lake. There are 6 families in this island. It is floating on the water but anchored down 20 meters deep to avoid floating away, to Bolivia?

the fresh straws could be eaten.

The leader of the island demonstrated how the island was form. There was a guess of the depth of the water. Sam made a correct guess and had a souvenir given.

The folks here are really warm. It’s the one of the very few times when we visited a tourist site and does not feel touristy. I bought a piece of handcrafted cloth from them and I did not want to have a discount thou it cost the price of 2 nights stay for us.

check my youtube: what the island is made of...

Discount? Do we really need a discount?

Ask yourself, when was the last time when u asked a discount from someone and who was the target?

If it was in Phuket, the tourist island of Thailand and you know that bargaining with the souvenir vendor is necessary, it is ok.

If you go to a guest house or hostel, you find that it is overpriced as other, asking for a discount if you are staying longer, it is ok.

If you go to a market to buy fish and find it not very fresh, asking for a better deal, it is ok.

BUT! When it becomes a habit of discounting, it is really ugly. I saw many Singaporeans doing this when they patronize a family run business or a shop without a paying counter, or even street vendor. These businessmen kept their business with very minimal profit and yet had to deal with these people with discounting habit. AND THESE FOLKS WITH DISCOUNTING HABIT do not ask for discount when they go to shopping center to buy branded materials because in these places it will be ugly to ask for a discount in such so call ¨high class¨shopping.

to enter the oros island, the boat need to stop and pay a entrance fee.

For me, when I patronize a local shop or someone selling an item on a street, I do not ask for a discount if I find it reasonably priced. If I feel that the price is not reasonable, I will not ask for a discount and walk away, not wanting to continue the business transaction with this person. It shows this person is not very trustworthy in doing business, so why ask for discount? Just don’t deal with him/her!

We must understand that everything had a cost price and a selling price. Between these 2 prices were the profit of the sales person. Why border if they had much profit when we are satisfied with the selling price?

Sam and i had lunch in the market. description from 12 o´clock: onions, fried pork with fats and fried skin, fried corns, boiled potato. Center: chille and spices. all for 6 Soles.

We are on budget travel but we will not short change (Singapore phase: to Alibaba) other businessman just because we are on budget. They would also need to earn money from us to make a living. Please do not mistaken when we do not ask for discount means we are rich or trying to give money away... what do you think?


We had a Rendezvous with the swiss team. We parted 3 weeks ago at Calama, Chile and they went to Bolivia. We will be going to Machu Picchu from here, together!

This piece of handcraft is about 1.3 meters length, 0.45 meters width. We would like to sell it away. Please leave me a message and will get to you as soon as possible.

The second book that i had read on the trip. I would want to give this book away. Just pay for the postage. I finished it during the 48hrs on bus.


andrea said...

you look terrific in these customs :-) like what you have written.. hope you will have more of these nice experiences... say hi to saskia and andreas from us, we leave valparaiso at friday towards santiago and fly at saturday and will keep following your great blog, take care, your friends, andrea and thomas
ps: hugs for both of you :-)

Tan Wee Cheng said...

Cool. Have checked your travelblog from time to time and really enjoyed it. When is your journey completing? You should meet fellow travellers at - perhaps the largest independent travellers group in SG - when you come back.

Wee Cheng
weecheng at weecheng dot com

singaporedream said...

Andrea: hope ur life in swizerland will be the best with thomas over the next 7 years. please plan a trip to singapore ok?

singaporedream said...

Hi Wee Cheng:

had checked your page and it was really great! good to know fellow singaporean also travelling freely. we estimated to be back in singapore in early 2010. we will meet on the sgtravelcafe soon! cya!