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Shopping Scams!    

By Ken Silver About Asia
3036 Views | 8 Comments | 3/28/2013 7:07:46 PM

It was a hot Phnom Penh night. One of the Immigrations officials scowled, shuffling the mountain of papers on his desk.

“We know everything about you, Mr. Silver. Your snide remarks about fascism, you, Mr. the Check is in the Mail and the Money is in the Bank! Damn! About the only thing we can’t charge you with is being funny!”

The second official looked at me through bloodshot red eyes. His reading glasses lay broken on the desk. He wearily shook his head.

“Lord knows we tried our best on that! Well, tomorrow you’ll be thrown to the wolves! And then, we’ll throw the wolves to you!"

My jaw dropped. It couldn’t be! This was impossible!

“Wait a minute! You, you can’t be saying this! Are, are you two saying… you… read my book?”

Both nodded.

“That’s great! Be sure not to tear off my fingernails till I get a chance to autograph a copy for both of you!"

The first official scowled.

“As soon as I sign my name to this death sentence, using this pen which once belonged to the Lord Buddha – see his name, 'L. Buddha, if found return to Nowhere', is stamped on it; you’re history. I bought it yesterday at the night market at a bargain price, because I’m a great bargainer, if you really must know.”

This was my opening… “Listen sir, that pen is a fake!”

Nobody laughed. Well, I was used to that. And I had their attention, unaware that I was going for my hidden pair of box cutters…

Let me tell you what I told them about shopping scams.

First of all, every rare antique Navajo Hopi Zuni Tibetan Persian Egyptian ring statue rug scarab bug death mask of King Tut false teeth of George Washington; they were all made yesterday in a factory in China. The goat camel sheep buffalo cow ostrich reindeer herder who tells you he found them in a dry stream bed (while praying to Buddha Jesus Allah) is actually a disguised Jackie Chan, who also plays the awed shopkeeper.

I mean, today they can make anything look centuries old. Used to be, they buried metal statues in mud to give them that old time look. Now they use modern chemistry to make fresh statues look like they’ve been buried for centuries in mud.

I mean, really, what did you think, Rocco? That a broad like her would go for a two time loser like you?

Oh, wait, that’s another piece I’m writing!

The criminal fraternity and the honest antiquities market both have a precise hierarchy of values. When a discovered temple is looted, the value of each object is determined and matched with the appropriate moneyed customer. No way is a real treasure going to tumble through everybody’s greedy hands to arrive at some souvenir shop in the low rent hotel district.

It’s really amazing how organized human beings on both sides of the legal fence can be when it comes to squeezing every rupee out of an object.

People are the heroes of their own story. That is why it is so hard to talk someone out of a bad idea or a vendor scam. I once spent an hour at Chatuchak Market trying to talk a friend out of buying what the vendor said was an ice age mammoth bone bracelet. No luck. One hundred U.S. dollars for ox bone.

Every cop knows… nobody gets taken who doesn’t want to get taken. My friend wanted it to be what she was told it would be.

I repeat. If it looks real, smells real, weighs real, sounds real, it’s a fake.

It’s not only antiquities we are talking about.

In a “Finest Kashmir in the World” shop in Nepal the salesman went through 5 levels of fakes before – after cursing admiringly – he pulled out an actual Kashmir sweater. It was like dealing with the shape shifting Old Man of the Sea to get to see an actual Kashmir sweater in a Kashmir sweater shop.

Who needs a small, honest profit margin when you can sell glass for diamond?

As for those two immigration officials… I simply promised them a part in the movie version of my book. That was their mental story-line, you see – undiscovered movie stars – and I simply fed it back to them.

There is a sucker born every minute.

Don’t let it be you!

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
Comments
(Showing 1 to 8 of 8) 1
#2013-03-28 21:17:24 by pourquoipasamour @pourquoipasamour

@ Ken Silver The world is getting weird by the minute these days, it seems like an immense stage and there are actors and actresses of all kinds. I love Circuses, but real life is funnier than to go even to the best shows I have seen. I enjoyed a lot your article. Two things came to mind, a time when you would buy some electronic gadget in New York or Miami and when you got to the hotel, inside the package was a phone directory, a brick or something else and a funny story I read recently. An spherical idiot (idiot by all sides) tried to use a household vacuum to "exercise" his penis and make it "bigger and thicker", the main advertising tool to entice people that are interested in these devices. I guess the are usually manual pumps, so the imbecile thought probably using a vacuum cleaner, not only he would save few bucks, but also get better results. Imagine his surprise when his testicles were sucked through the urethra (not to mention the pain he must have felt). So, trying to become the "Superman", he lost the "family jewels" hahahahahahahahahahah. I felt sorry for the guy, but ignorance many times have catastrophic results ....

#2013-03-29 00:32:21 by scubaguy14 @scubaguy14

And here I am thinking the 40 baht Gucci wallet in Hat yai was real.. :(

#2013-03-29 10:57:13 by dramazing @dramazing

Such a great piece of writing, Ken......I loved it, and of course, very informative for the unknowing, ie all of us, at one time or another. It is so very apt that you mention no-one ever gets taken unless they want to - the very pretty young woman looks very well-preserved, but I suspect, at least partially that she is also 'not all that she appears to be'!!
great article, thank you for sharing it :)
Lindsay

#2013-03-29 16:48:41 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

I love this one to Ken, you had me laughing out loud a couple of times. Great stuff.

#2013-03-30 11:39:27 by anonymous5874 @anonymous5874

WOW ~~~这小人妖看上去就是比中国的女人都有味,野性十足还性感,哈哈,,去泰国的男人很有艳福,在那里只要交上一笔钱,就可以随便租一个喜欢的女人当’妻子’如果真有感情就领回去结婚,如果不喜欢玩玩就可以不要了,没任何包伏,要不说泰国是男人的天堂,,,,很爽。。。。

#2013-03-30 18:14:07 by anonymous5880 @anonymous5880

我喜欢泰国的人妖!

#2013-03-31 02:33:57 by twilightsmith @twilightsmith

Ah, let me correct a misconception here, dear readers...
water may well run uphill, time may well turn backwards, but that sure was no ladyboy!

#2013-03-31 13:08:29 by mary0624 @mary0624

i am planing to travel to Tailand this year, thanks for this article.

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