Paying the Skin Tax at the Russian Market

It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside it’s a veritable warren of goods of all kinds for sale. My friend Lowie had told me it was the place to go to buy clothing. The garment industry is Cambodia’s biggest exporter, and a fair amount produced by those factories makes its way to the market. According to Lowie, you can buy designer clothing for as little as 2-3 dollars US per item. But apparently, I need to brush up on my haggling skills. I’m afraid that I’m an embarrassment to my genetics as I didn’t do quite so well, especially when the young woman brought out the “pity me” face. Really, I should’ve pulled the “I’m walking away now move” but I just didn’t have the heart. Ah well… after securing a couple shirts to wear, I wandered the rest of the market.

In addition to clothing, there’s also jewelry, silks, souvineers, household goods, food, CDs and DVDs, and imagine my surprise when I found the automotive section!

And by the way, the “skin tax”is the extra you pay for not being a foreigner. Apparently, it doesn’t just apply to places like the market and for motos/tuk tuks. Utility hookups, police fines, etc. are also subject to the skin tax. A Cambodian asking for the same items would’ve payed a lower price for sure(maybe by as much as half) and not just based on haggling skills.

Cambodia’s not unique in this regard. I remember being in a taxi with my friend Anne in Ramallah when the driver’s dispatcher tried to charge us double the normal fare. Some things are universal I guess. I’m not complaining, I still walked away with a good deal, but I could see how it could become annoying after a time.


~ by Samer on August 10, 2007.

2 Responses to “Paying the Skin Tax at the Russian Market”

  1. Hi Samer! The most important of advise I apparently left out- sorry. But here it is. Next time you visit the Russian Market, don’t forget to bring Joy or Girly with you. They’re the haggle queens of Phnom Penh. No such thing as skin tax with those two bargaining for you. 🙂

  2. Ah ha! So that’s the secret. Next time I go in earnest, I’ll be sure to ask them to come along. Somehow I don’t think they’ll mind. 😉

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