Where it can be found: Lê Công Kiều, Phường Nguyễn Thái Bìn, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
After hitting the famous Bến Thành Market in the center of the city, we wanted to check out other places to find those much desired souvenirs.
Paul’s father is an antique dealer. Paul spent his childhood hauling around goods to different showrooms, into people’s houses, and around his dad’s antique store. He learned how to haggle, wheel and deal in early american period furniture, chandeliers, and girandoles. It’s crazy how much Paul and his family knows about antiques. It was fun to walk around with him. When I see antiques, I see a museum where you can buy the objects on display. My mind immediately goes to the past owners and imagining the story of how the object got to the antique store.
Paul on the other hand sees what I like to call, “the game.” He sees two prices. How much the object is and how much it is priced at by the antique store owner. Then he and the owner proceed to play “the game.” It is wild to see two people get into a hardcore haggling tête-à-tête.
After we waltzed up and down each store on the street, we had set our eyes on two large asian art reproductions. They hung on two large scrolls. One was of a coy fish pond and pink chrysanthemums and the other was of an egret in a lagoon. These were not originals, by the way. Most of the street is full of reproductions. Only 20% of the items on the street are truly antique. You gotta REALLY look for the old stuff on the street. Yes, it may be more than 40 years old, but most of it is not from the 1800s. The store owners will tell you it is from the 1800s when it is not. Be aware of “The Game.”
And so the haggling battle began. Paul and this antique store owner went head to head. There were times when I thought he insulted her and she said, “no! No!” waving her hands away at him in disgust. But then a few seconds later she was laughing and patted Paul on the back. It was the oddest exchange of two people I ever saw.
In the end she decided to sell them to us. Paul was taken on the back of a motorcycle to the nearest ATM and we walked away with the two reproductions (that now hang in our living room) as well as a blue painted tea-cup and saucer for me. 🙂