Some great advice on how to shop like a local when you travel by Bonnie Tsui.
“I hate shopping, and I’m not alone. The sensory overload, the paralysis of too many options, the stress of haggling — it can all be overwhelming. But when I’m traveling in a new place, I admit to getting outsize satisfaction from unearthing just the right souvenir. I generally don’t look for fancy items, but rather something functional and frugal that’s representative of everyday life in that place. (More often than not, it’s also tasty.) The best way to find these gems, I’ve found, is to immerse myself in a destination and seek out the unusual. With that in mind, here are three strategies for thinking like a local — avoiding the usual suspects to discover something memorable, and well priced, to take home.”
Go to the Source
Kampot, Cambodia, is known among foodies for its quality peppercorns; cooperatives like FarmLink have made it easy and affordable for tourists to buy them from local farms to bring home ($4 for 40 grams of the spice — half of what it costs when purchased abroad). Though FarmLink was founded to help farmers prepare their crop for export, it now offers free educational tastings and tours of its facility, which farmers use to process their pepper.
“Pepper is the No. 1 spice in the world, and yet people know so little about it,” said Christophe Lesieur, an owner of FarmLink, who points out that Michelin-starred chefs are ardent champions of Kampot pepper. “Coming to learn about pepper in Kampot can be compared to visiting a vineyard in Bordeaux.” (I’d add that it’s a lot cheaper.)