Have You Scanned Everything?

So, there I was, sitting on my patio, in what is rapidly becoming a late evening ritual, listening to the waves and mulling over the events of the day through a haze of rum on the rocks with a dash of freshly squeezed lime juice … yes, life can be tough … when I suddenly leaped up and wrote myself a note which I left in the middle of my desk.

And then, early this morning, wishing I’d poured slightly less rum, I found this piece of paper which said “Have you scanned everything?” Now, I don’t know whether to blame senility or the rum – most likely an unfortunate combination – but I had no recollection of having written the note, nor any idea what I was supposed to scan. Yes, I had scanned some documents yesterday, but I felt pretty sure I had finished the job. So I couldn’t do much more than leave the note on my desk, in the hope a few neurons would align themselves during the morning and would energize a little light bulb in my head to remind me what I was supposed to scan.

Sure enough, around lunchtime, it hit me. It had nothing to do with scanning documents, it was the headline for a possible blog article. This one!

Here’s the story…

I’ve spent more than half my adult life living in Malaysia, so when it comes to money, I tend to think in Malaysian Ringgit. I find them less scary than Thai Baht. Here, a decent car can cost between a half and two million, and to me, that’s a scary amount of money. So, almost every price I look at, I mentally convert to Ringgit. I could claim it’s good to keep the brain active, but when all I need to do is chop a zero off the end, I’m not sure too much processing is needed to achieve the conversion.

And when I do look at prices, especially in supermarkets, I have been known to laugh out loud. A few people look at me, and quickly realize I’m one of those strange farang creatures, and assume it’s normal behavior. But seriously, some of the prices here are laughable.

A while ago, I needed some carrots and not much else, so I popped into a small convenience store, a little larger than the ubiquitous 7/11s. I pointed at three rather large carrots, the only type available in Thailand. The lady kindly bagged them, weighed them, and stuck on the price label. I looked at it and thought “Oh, they’re a tad expensive” but they were just three carrots and I needed at least one that evening for a veggie curry, plus the small store probably had big overheads and low profit margins, so I shrugged and left.

You see, the label said 9.75 and my brain said Ringgit. Now, I don’t know where in the world you are, so I’ll convert everything to US$. RM9.75 would be $3. Maybe where you are that would be normal for three carrots, but to me they seemed expensive. And then of course I realized “That’s THB9.75 you muppet.” Which means my three carrots were actually just less than one Ringgit or about 30 US cents. That’s one of those times when I laughed. They might as well give them away with corn flakes.

Another time I was in a rather posh supermarket where they had lots of expensive imported goods, when I spotted strawberries. It was a huge container, about the size and weight of a house brick. I figured I’d need a mortgage to buy those. I looked at the price, saw a 40 and thought … hmm, RM40, less than I expected but more than I was willing to pay, and put them back on the shelf. And then, you guessed it, I laughed out loud as I realized they were 40 Baht, RM4, or about US$1.25 and hurriedly grabbed them back from the shelf before anyone else noticed the bargain.

But what I was mulling over last night was the price of my weekly shopping, which I had done earlier in the day. It’s not really “weekly” in the sense I go exactly once per week and buy everything I need for the next seven days. It’s more a question of getting low on some essential commodity, such as beer, and thinking well it’s been a while so I’d better go stock up. I’m guessing most people do the same.

So, let me tell you what I bought, at least in general terms. I promise I won’t itemize everything, but for sure, I need to mention the big items.

I started with the essentials for the week. A case of beer. A bottle of scotch – real scotch that is, not some flavored local hooch – and a bottle of wine for the weekend. I confess, the wine was one of the cheapest on the shelf, something I refer to as vino collapso but quite drinkable. Then I figured I should add some food and other items.

I bought enough pork and chicken for more than a week – maybe ten days. Those are about the only meats I can find, except sometimes they have duck. Not complaining. I like both. But right now, I could kill for a steak!

I added all sorts of veggies, fruits, other drinks, snacks, some cold meats, bacon, sausages, you know, the usual fare. I promised not to itemize. I paid and came home. I remember being horrified by the price because I had to give the lady three 1000 baht bills. Another scary amount.

And then last night I realized, for my approximately weekly shopping I had paid THB2400, about RM240 or US$75. I say “approximately weekly” because at least the scotch should last more than a week. Actually that’s why I was drinking rum, to try to ensure the scotch will last more than a week! Sneaky eh!

I used to think Malaysia was cheap, and maybe when I first moved there it was, but in Malaysia those items above would cost way more than double what I paid here. The booze alone would cost more than RM240. And I’m sure the food would have been at least another RM240.

So, the way I look at is, by living in Thailand, I get free booze:-)

Which brings me back to the title of this article. If I’d looked properly at the bill in the store, and realized how low the total really was, I would have been tempted to ask “Have you scanned everything?”


...has been travelling the world for more than sixty years; having lived and worked in five countries and travelled to many many more.

He likes to write about his travels - present and past - along with his other main interests of Drones, Information Technology and Motorsport, and he adds a few general twitterings along the way.

He is currently General Manager of CMY Media in Thailand specializing in drone training plus aerial videos and photography.

You can find CMY Media on Instagram. And you can follow Paul on Facebook.

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