The Great Chang Mai Suit Scam
Chiang Mai Travel Blog› entry 55 of 117 › view all entries
April 27th, 2007 – by: dan2105
Our journey from Chang Rai went smoothly, and this time we weren't going to make the same mistake as Battambang and miss the country's second biggest city completely. This time, though, it was fairly obvious.
After dropping our bags at a total result of a hostel, we went on one of our trademark explores around town to get our bearings and see a few recommended wats (temples), of which Chang Mai is rammed.
Then after visiting this wat - which was very nice - we were accosted by a second person as we sat by the riverside - a Japanese tourist waiting for his wife and kids to return by boat, apparently. We asked him what he was doing and he told us he was in Chang Mai on business. His wife was a fashion designer and they had bought 600 suits from a local tailors to have shipped back to Japan. Again, it had taken a while to get on the subject of suits, but it wasn't long before he was telling us that Chang Mai is the place to buy one and that in Bangkok it was more expensive for an inferior product.
So seen as Kyle wanted to go check it out, I went with her. One of the salesman seemed to be waiting for us at the door. But, again, I didn't suspect a thing. We looked at some nice suits in catalogues and he said, if we both ordered, we would get a good deal. I was sold once I had weaseled a suit with two pairs of trousers and two shirts and ties. We left feeling rather smug, to be honest.
Then, later, we went out for dinner with a few people from our hostel. We told them about our suits. We speculated as to how peculiar it was that two people had recommended this place, to which one girl added she had someone recommend it, too. Then the penny dropped. I went from suspecting just the Japanese guy - who was near the shop when we spoke to him - was definitely involved to convincing myself there was an intricate network where even the tuk-tuk driver took a slice of the commision. I felt really angry, as you would imagine, having misjudged three people's sincerity, only to later realise it was false. Especially the couple, who we had congratulated on getting married.
That night we had a fitting, which we attended almost dispondently, having convinced ourselves we had actually been fooled into paying money (I hear you groan as we say, yes, we paid upfront!). On the way I had the scariest tuk-tuk drive of my life. The driver was obviously disabled - his jaw was locked and he had a constant stream of dribble running down his chin; his arms were locked, too, and he couldn't speak, either. Obviously, it would be an ideal world if every person with a disability could find work, but this was just too scary! We made it, though. At the shop, I confronted the salesman, and as his answer was stumbled and unconvincing, and delivered to only Kyle, without giving me eye contact once, my suspicions were confirmed. He said the award was only for tailors in Chang Mai and what he said the Japanese guy ordered didn't align with what he told us. But, as it happens, the suits actually seemed spot on - not that we are experts. I will get back to you on the results once it's done.
Anyway, it left us feeling pretty down, even though it will be no great detriment to our trip. I'm sure the worst that will happen is that it might not be the suit that Kyle had really hoped it would be, and that we might have got a better-value product elsewhere. I suppose the biggest disappointment isn't with the product, but the way the three different people fooled you into believing what they said. As a plus, it may mean we keep our guards up with anyone who tries to talk to us again to prevent something more serious happening. It's just a shame that has to be the case, though.
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