Well yesterday was a blast, and there was even some icecream involved, albeit less that the previous day. Yesterday, the girls and myself didn't have to wear uniform, because when we got to school, we were allowed to hop in a taxi, just the three of us, and head to the Old Quarter, tourist central, where all the tacky shops are; just what we wanted!
I think out of all the exchanges, Vietnam is the best for many reasons, (I'm not biased, I swear!) but a main reason is how much freedom we get. Us girls can pretty much do what we want when we want, as long as we go to some classes every so often and we're always safe. So this shopping trip was a real test of our maturity and independence. One that, I think, we passed.
So, that's how we ended up being dropped off in the Old Quarter. Because I live near there and Hue had taken me a few times, I had a rough and vague idea of where everything was, but it was mostly just a matter of seeing where we ended up.
We quickly learnt that as soon as three young, unaccompanied white girls walk into a shop, the prices suddenly increase. So we realized that we have to haggle with them. 30,000 for this? I think not. Make it 15,000 or I'll go buy it somewhere else.
And funnily enough that tends to get them to drop the price. Threatening to go elsewhere will usually do the trick. If not, we have another technique, but it only works if you're buying multiple items. They give a price. You halve it. They reject. You go up a bit. They go down from their price a bit. You go up a tiny bit more and say that's your final offer. They will usually say something like "too low, I cannot give you that." so that's when you say that you'll have to put one back, because you can't afford that. They always break and give them to you for the price you want then.
My favourite was when I went to buy some fake Rayban glasses. You don't want to mess with bargaining Kate, she's pretty rude. I point to the glasses and ask how much (in Vietnamese!) and he tells me they're 100,000 vnd (about $4.50). Well this was too expensive, so I say "look, I'm not paying that, it's too much. I know you can do better. "
"I can do no better!"
"look, i bought these" as I point to the glasses on my head that I got for 60,000 at the night markets 2 weeks ago, "for 60 next door." (note that there's about 10 shops in a row that just sell glasses)
Anyway, he tell me he can do 70,000. I repeat what I said, so he says "okay, okay, I gave for 60!"
But $3 is too much for Kate, so I tell him that I know he can do 50, cause if he can't, I'm sure next door will, so I'll go talk to them.
And that's how I got glasses for 50,000.
But basically, everything's more expensive for us. Even the taxis have different rates for tourists as they do residents.
After shopping at the cheap tourist shops, we headed over to the more expensive shops, like MAC, Clinique and Playboy. Id like to point out that Playboy just sold clothes.... We then went to an .... Ice cream shop. BUT IT WAS LIKE, FAMOUS ICE CREAM, WE HAD TO GO. Anyway, it was actually phenomenal ice cream.
After that we caught a taxi to Hanoi Towers, where we treated ourselves to some beauty treatments, (we are girls, after all) before catching a taxi back to school.
Later that night I helped Hue make a present for a friend, then we chilled out on her bed. We were chilling out and gossiping, and soon enough we both fell asleep, fully clothed on her bed. We had a very sisterly night, full of female bonding and doing hair. So much fun. It does bother me I have about 6 days left, I've become to close to Hue it'll be like losing a best friend. I just have to make the most of the time we have left, I suppose.